The holiday season is a whirlwind of celebration and activity. Not only do we have our jobs and daily lives to manage as usual, but at this time of year the extra projects tend to multiply. The dinners, the parties and the get-togethers are fun, but along with all the shopping and festive preparations, it’s a lot to get done! When I’m asked about holiday decorating tips, the go-to strategy I suggest is to engage all 5 senses (taste, smell, touch, sight and sound). This is something we often forget when we decorate.
However, if you keep this simple principle in mind, you’ll leave a lasting impression on your guests. It's a secret recipe for pulling off any holiday gathering, regardless of its size, with flair and finesse. Whether you're throwing a last-minute gathering or simply want to infuse your space with that magical holiday charm, these tips will help you create a delightful ambience.
Ready to get started? Here are a few tips simple and hassle-free last-minute holiday decorating tips that appeal to all your senses.
When it comes to holiday decorating, the first step is to create a visual feast that captivates the eye. One of my top holiday decorating tips is to focus on the main area where your guests will be gathered or see in your home. I love having guests make themselves comfortable in my living room, so that’s where I focus my efforts. Delight your sense of sight with an assortment of ornaments. Mix and match textures, shapes, and sizes to create an eye-catching display.
Think about layering and ribboning color around the room. The thing that I like to do is pick the color of ornaments I want on my tree. Then I take that palette around the room and my whole house. For example, if you choose reds, golds, and silvers for your ornaments, you can ribbon that into the festive accent pillows and throws you have on your chairs and sofa. When doing this in my own home, I bring the same colors into the center of the room with a simple coffee table decor element, by placing some of the Christmas tree trimmings and some gold bells in my large glass candle holders. (I highly recommend using battery operated candles if they are anywhere near live greenery or anything that can burn easily).
Holiday decorating isn’t just about the aesthetics—it's also about creating an atmosphere that indulges all the senses, especially taste! Get the party started from the moment your guests arrive by greeting them with a holiday drinks. For example, create a hot cocoa station with various toppings like marshmallows, whipped cream, and cinnamon sticks. One year, to keep a consistent theme for my guests, I went with a Spiced Cinnamon Apple Cider drink. A good tip here, especially if you have any children in attendance, is to not spike the pitcher with alcohol. Instead, give your guests the choice to do so in their individual drinks with the tipple of their choice.
Another idea is to incorporate edible decorations that not only look beautiful but are also a delight to eat. For example, gingerbread cookies, candy canes, and a bowl of colorful seasonal fruits. These not only add a festive touch but are also inviting treats for your guests.
The scents of the holidays are one of the most powerful triggers for nostalgia and warmth. How your house smells truly helps set the stage for a festive, welcoming gathering... or a not so festive one! Infuse your home with seasonal fragrances that instantly transport you to a winter wonderland. Opt for scented candles in cinnamon, pine, gingerbread, or cranberry. They will not only add a warm glow but also fill the air with delightful aromas.
A quick and easy holiday decorating trick is to simmer a pot of water in a crockpot with aromatic spices like cloves, citrus peels, and cinnamon sticks. For example, if you’re serving apple cider drinks, you could create a Cinnamon Apple Pie scent on the stove. It’s very low-maintenance and low-effort, but makes a big impact! Fill the crockpot half-way with water and add in some spices and fruits:
2 Sliced Apples
1 Thinly Sliced Orange
4-6 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Cloves
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
To make your home extra welcoming, introduce cozy textures that invite touch and provide comfort. For example, soft, plush throws and pillows in holiday-themed colors or patterns, and faux fur blankets add a luxurious feel to your space.
It’s not just about soft textures, though. Having varying textures around your home matters. If you have a fake Christmas tree like I do, I like to make sure I have some festive live greenery somewhere my guests can see and touch it. Create a simple centerpiece with varying textures of a live garland and some pine cones. Start with the biggest objects and then layer in the small ones.
Consider adding tactile elements in your décor, like burlap ribbons, knitted stockings, or textured table runners. These elements not only look charming but also invite touch, adding depth and richness to your holiday setting.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to turn on some holiday tunes for when guests arrive to really get everyone in the spirit! You can find great options of playlists on Spotify or Pandora or even right on one of your TV channels.
Another subtle auditory element you can add to your décor is to place jingling bells in your centerpiece. Or hang them on doorknobs to create a delightful sound every time someone enters a room.
As you deck the halls and trim the tree, remember that the true essence of holiday decorating lies in creating an atmosphere that engages all the senses. From the visual appeal of vibrant colors and twinkling lights to the inviting scents and delightful sounds, each element contributes to a magical holiday experience.
I hope you enjoyed these tips! Tell us in the comments what your favorite holiday decorating tips are.
Wishing you a season filled with sparkling festivities and joyful celebrations!