The Ultimate Holiday Decorating Guide
The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Decorating
We've been readying you for the holidays since 1966. In those 48 years, we've trimmed a forest of trees, strung runways of garland, and hung countless wreaths. Through it all, we've tried and tested every idea imaginable. We promise to have you and your home all ready soon so you can relax and enjoy the season.
Make a splash at your entry by offering a sneak peek of your tree decor.
The Big Idea: Take inspiration from the surrounding landscape to infuse your tree with festive spirit and local flavor. The setting for this tree is Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, and that shows proudly with a profusion of palm fronds, oyster shell accents, and a palette of gold, burnt orange, and chartreuse that matches the interior. Tweak the look to suit your own home.
Our favorite tree? The Fraser fir. Native to the South, it's fragrant, boasts the ideal shape, and has soft needles.
The key to a perfectly imperfect-looking tree? A smartly curated mix of ornaments. We advise a five-type formula: three sizes of balls in shades that coordinate with your chosen palette, a star shape for edge, and a few one-of-a-kind ornaments for a collected, personal feel. Select ornaments in an array of reflective finishes to bounce light around the room and give the tree a layered, sparkly look.
Rather than buying all your packaging supplies, forage for creative materials. Here, oyster shells reference the coastal location and are easy to get in December from local seafood markets. Wash them with soap and water, brush the edges with gold paint, and then hot-glue them to the gift. Finish the natural look with faux-bois wrapping paper and a sprig from the tree. Land-locked? Label presents with pinecones or leaves.
We all have the ornaments that we look forward to pulling out year after year. These are the pieces that give our trees personality. They can be either fine collected objects or priceless handmade ones. Hang these from the tree with notice-me, extra-long felt ribbon so they will stand out from the others. If they are weighty, hang them 3 to 4 inches back from the tip of the branch to keep them secure.
Every tree needs a garland that snakes its way from top to bottom and focuses attention on your ornament mix. Avoid high-shine tinsel, and try a more subtle 12-inch ribbon that's wrapped horizontally around the branch ends. Gold fronds and gilded faux berry branches add extra dimension.
As with the ornaments, choose lights in assorted shapes and sizes. We doubled up and used a combo of classic white twinkle lights and larger round cafe lights to add brightness without having to wrap each branch. Start at the top, and wind down with one set. Then repeat with the second set.
The Big Idea: We started with plain boxwood throughout the house because it's beautiful on its own and won't shed like other greenery. Our boxwood of choice comes from North Carolina's Gardens of the Blue Ridge. As the season progresses or if we're hosting a special party, we dress up the garland with ribbons, fruits, and flowers. This method will work for any type of greenery.
Our golden rule of garland: Always let each end fall all the way to the floor. To ensure the right length, measure your mantel's height and width before shopping.
With so much traffic, keep doors simple with a crisp swag over the top, accented with trailing ribbons and ornaments. To best secure the garland, hang it with nails placed right above the molding to minimize visible holes. Cut different lengths of ribbon, string the balls, and knot the lengths together before attaching to one side of the door frame. Repeat on the other side.
A fireplace is a natural focal point, so adorn it accordingly with a single swag, letting the ends trail to the floor. Early in the season, hang basic boxwood with ribbons, dried hydrangeas, faux crabapples, and silver brunia berries. When company's coming, add white roses, lilies, and fresh hydrangeas in florist water picks (secured with florist wire) along the center.
Climbing the Stairs
Set an elegant tone with a cascade of boxwood and ribbon that attaches to the banister with coated wire and chenille stems to prevent scratching. For more formal events, dress up the garland by creating an arrangement of fresh hydrangeas, succulents, and seeded eucalyptus in a florist foam cage. Finish the spray with a bow and trailing Champagne-colored ornaments. Then wire the cage to the banister.
The Big Idea: The only formula we follow for wreaths is to experiment. Here, we embellished premade wreaths and filled do-it-yourself wreath forms with foraged evergreen clippings to make several options that can hang in just about any room in your house. Here are six of our favorite ideas that you can make all your own.
For this organic wreath, use three different kinds of moss from a crafts store and use florist U-pins to attatch the moss to florist foam or plastic foam wreath form. Vary the mosses while pinning for an authentic garden-like feel.
For a cheery retro look, start with a grapevine wreath (we painted ours white) and hot-glue classic round Christmas ornaments in a single color but different shades and sizes. When gluing, adhere the balls to both the wreath and one another for extra hold. Although this wreath makes a big statement, it's lightweight enough to be hung from a stick-on hook.
This presentation elevates premade grocery-store wreaths. They hang from fishing line that runs over the top of the door. Then, striped ribbon trails the fishing line. This allows the wreaths to move a bit, giving them a striking, free-hanging look. Sprays of fresh bay leaves, seeded eucalyptus, and large gray berzillia berries add tone-on-tone interest and texture.
Every home needs a touch of red and green during the holidays. This year, we freshened the typical motif with a shapely wreath made from real Granny Smith apples wired to a florist foam wreath form with florist picks. Red hypericum berries and bay leaves fill out the rest of the wreath. The apples do make this wreath weighty, so hang it from a sturdy nail.
As a Centerpiece
Give the hanging wreath a break, and incorporate one into your table setting. Here, we spruced up a boxwood wreath with succulents, eucalyptus sprigs, and gold ribbon and placed a grouping of mismatched green candles in the center. If guests are coming, add a few fresh white tulips to the wreath with florist water picks and light the candles. Because this is a low arrangement, dinner-party conversations will flow easily all night.
The Dapper Deer
Start with cypress clippings stuffed into a chicken wire wreath form. Then cut the wreath in half with wire clippers to place over the deer's head. Wire the wreath back together, and cover the cut area with a bow. Finish the look with ball ornaments strung from the antlers.