There are as many ways to decorate a house for the holidays as there are houses.
Is your style colorful and abundant, or monochromatic and minimalist? Do you like decorating the entire house, or just a few rooms?
Some people focus on their more formal areas. Or, if you’re like me, perhaps you enjoy placing Christmas accents in every room, including guest rooms and bathrooms.
There’s no right or wrong. Holiday decorations are intensely personal and represent a wonderful opportunity to express your creativity.
The first thing to decide is the feel you would like to evoke. Are you looking for traditional and formal, or maybe playful with unexpected colors and materials?
Colors: Traditionally, the most popular hues for holiday decorating are red, green and white. Accent colors include gold and silver, but why not try something different this year? Single-color decorations are beautiful and stylish.
Decorate your tree with all gold ornaments or shimmering white lights – you’ll be surprised at the effect. Non-traditional colors are a great idea too. Over the years, many of my clients have come to me at holiday time and asked for help getting beyond the obvious. Some would like their decorations to match the general color scheme of their house. There is nothing more beautiful than lush, surprising colors.
Why not start with your favorites? Blue and beige is your thing? This year, consider sewing the family’s holiday stockings out of the same fabric as your favorite throw or pillow – and then look for ornaments to complement that sophisticated color scheme. Brown and burnt orange are your favorites? Go for the same colors on your tree and wreath using real and faux fruits and flowers.
For all the senses: Decorations that stimulate holiday sights, sounds and scents evoke powerful memories of family gatherings from years past. Put out wooden or metal bowls filled with pine cones, greenery and seasonal fruits.
Try scented candles and potpourri. Play holiday music softly in the background. Float candles and flowers in silver or crystal bowls to create a magical effect, and place scented candles with fresh blossoms in the powder room.
A tree with a theme: This is a favorite of mine. Your themed tree may use vintage ornaments – perhaps wooden hand-painted ornaments – or be a boys’ tree with cars, trucks and planes, or a white or gold-themed monochromatic tree, or a “family tree” decorated with miniature picture frames filled with images of family and friends.
This part of the house always sets the stage, but never more so than during the holidays. Decorate your entry table with oversized hurricanes and garland. Let the garland neatly surround the main door.
I recently saw a decorating catalogue with a fan-shaped plaque made of faux greenery and fruit – bright red apples, dense green boxwood, magnolia leaves and pineapple come into life in a magnificent focal point perfect for a doorway.
Grace your mantle with fresh flowers and use a variety of candles to accent the glow of the fireplace. Where better to display topiaries, candlesticks and wreaths? Make sure your display is nicely balanced and not too crowded.
The most beautiful results can be achieved if the decorations are reflected in a mirror. With flickering candles and lush greenery, this can be a real holiday luxury. The wreaths can be placed on stands or hung from the wall or mirror frames.
Topiaries and wreaths can be made of greenery or a mixture of seasonal fruit, real or faux. My favorite is a combination of both where magnolia leaves complement oranges and cloves mixed with cinnamon sticks, dried lemon slices and natural pine cones. This can be truly spectacular in colors that work right through the holidays.
Use special forms to build the season’s favorite fruit cones and other centerpieces. The metal or plastic forms come in different shapes and sizes and really help execute your decorating ideas.
What is more cheery than to drive through town on a frosty evening and be greeted by home after home with beautiful candle-lit windows? As a matter of fact that was my first experience with Ridgefield two winters ago, which led to our decision to move to this lovely town.
Window candles come in different metal finishes, the most popular being polished brass and brushed nickel. They are either electrical or battery powered. They can come with one, two or three candles on one stand, and they fit most of the standard window sills. The effect is even more beautiful if you add a mini window wreath or beautiful garland.
A rich, colorful table cloth, family silver and special dinnerware all find a welcome place on a holiday table. Keep an eye out for distinctive coasters and napkins, as well as unusual centerpieces and candlesticks with candle rings. Top it all off with card holders with pinecone or berry themes.
Creative holiday decorating is also exemplified in households celebrating Chanukah, where festive arrangements feature flowers in traditional blue and white. This color scheme is ideal for a foyer greeting or a dining table centerpiece.
Fresh evergreens are appropriate for decorating around the menorah. Traditions include placing dreidels and “gelt,” chocolate coins, around the table for children to enjoy.
Those of you who visited Ridgefield Holiday House Tour on December 2 were greeted by life-size manger scenes, nutcrackers standing by entryways and hallways decked with the season’s finest greenery.
The tour featured beautiful Christmas trees, elegant table settings, fireplace mantles decorated with seasonal greenery and stockings just waiting to be filled with gifts.
You can look for inspiration at our finer inns and restaurants, like Bernard’s and The Elms in Ridgefield, or Harvest in Brookfield and the Inn at Newtown, both owned by the Ryder family of New Canaan.
Darlene Ryder personally decorates all five of their restaurants (the latest is The Cookhouse in Darien), each with a unique take on Christmas that never fails to earn oohs and ahhs from patrons.
Need some help?
Overwhelmed with choices, or simply too busy to do it all yourself? You can get hands-on help from decorating services that can turn your home into a holiday spectacular. They can help you buy decorations or creatively use what you already have, as well as handling installations. The best part: when the time is right they will take your decorations down and put them away for you.