Holiday at Home: My Go-To Tips
The holiday season is one of the best times of year, especially when it comes to spending time with family and friends in your home. It’s important to really make your space feel festive and set the tone for the season. That way, everyone who visits, as well as you and your family, will be filled with holiday cheer from the moment you walk in the door.
Of course, there are lots of elements that go into a festive holiday home, from trimming the tree (or trees!) to gift wrapping, and even the fragrance that’s in the air. To help you deck the halls in style, I’m sharing my top tips and tricks for how to get your home holiday-ready. ‘Tis the season!
How to Decorate a Luxurious Christmas Tree
If you celebrate the Christmas holiday, your tree can act as a centerpiece for your entire home and the focal point of your holiday decor. After all, it’s the place where people will naturally want to gather as Christmas approaches. In fact, if you get it right, you don’t really need much more to create a festive feeling all season long! Of course, if you want to go all-out, it can also be the starting point for your entire décor theme. The tree is a beautiful symbol of life, generosity, grace, and gratitude. It’s also a great way to show off your family’s personality, history, and traditions. Best of all, there’s no right or wrong color or theme combination, whether your style is traditional or out of the box (or even if you like to change it up from one year to the next!).
No matter your personal tree-decorating style, here are some of my top tips for creating a luxe, luxurious tree that is the perfect reflection of whatever atmosphere you want to create this holiday season.
- Starting with the tree itself, the denser and thicker, the more luxurious.If you usually go for a real tree, you’ll know that a spruce has thicker, dense needles than a fir tree. Look for a tree with sturdy branches that are close together, but not too densely packed. You want hanging ornaments to actually hang, not just lay on the surface of the branches below.
- Faux is fabulous! Faux trees, especially the newest wave of pre-lit trees, will save you time, money and hassle over the life of the tree. The only thing missing is that freshly cut pine aroma, which you can get by placing real fir wreaths or fir-scented candles around your home.
- More is more. If you have the floor space, why not multiply your blessings with more than one tree together? (After all, it will make all the more room for Santa to bring more presents!) If you opt for multiple trees, vary the heights and sizes, just like you would any accessory item in your house, for a fresh, innovative look. This combination is really a dramatic statement all on its own and you won’t need to go overboard on ornaments. In fact, you could even get away by simply using just lights.
- Go minimal. On the other hand, if you prefer a minimalist aesthetic, choose a single beautiful, airy tree and just a few large, precious ornaments that are more or less the same color. Combine some that are shiny, matte or light up for a bit of subtle variation. A smaller number of well-chosen objects can be just as luxurious as a tree that is densely packed with decorations!
- If it glitters, it glows! On your tree and throughout your decor, add shiny ornaments, as well as crystal or cut glass, lights, mirrors or metallic finishes, which will sparkle and bounce the light around for a magical, rich atmosphere. Sparkle goes with every color palette and decor style! Remember to guide the eye around the tree, and the room, like you would with any other design or accessories.
- Start with the lights first. It’s so much easier to distribute lights evenly around an empty tree. You also won’t have to worry about knocking down the other ornaments. Work your way around the tree with each string of lights, but arrange them loosely up, down, and even inside the branches so you don’t have just uniform rings of lights around the tree.
- If you decorate with thick ribbon around your tree, hang that after the lights, and before the rest of the ornaments.
- Hang all the similar ornaments at one time so they’re evenly distributed. For example, if you have a bunch of shiny red ornaments, silver ones, white ones, sparkly snowflake ones, etc., hang all the red ones first. Then, hang all the silver ones, and so on. Make sure you don’t have a cluster of any particular style, size or color too close together, or holes where there are none of that type, color or size of ornament. It’s all about creating a pleasing sense of balance.
- Add impact with a lot of objects in a similar color scheme. Choose a simple palette or theme that you love and stick to it. Vary the size of the ornaments, shiny ones contrasted with matte ones, and different textures, but essentially the same or very coordinated colors, such as off-white, silver and gold.
- Mix in your sentimental favorites! No matter how luxe, your tree should also feel personal. So be sure to add those ornaments that you love and have collected as a family, even if they don’t all ‘go’. Figure out the dominant color, size or characteristic of each treasure, and hang it when you hang other ornaments that are the most similar. It’s OK if it’s not all perfect, these are the ornaments that add interest, and express your personality and family. Alternatively, you could place multiple trees throughout the house and give each a theme based on those sentimental items.
- Use different sizes of lights to add depth. A variety of lights adds interest by making some of the lighting look like it’s further away, giving the impression that there is even more depth to your tree display. Two sizes make a big impact, three even more so, but that is plenty. If your tree is pre-lit, choose extra strings in a smaller and larger size. Buy three times as many strings as you think you need. The lights should look like they operate on magic, not on electrical cords. And use the “fade” or “twinkle” mode on just one of these sizes, not all. It should feel magical, not like a disco!
How to Gift Wrap Effortlessly
Here’s a little secret: gift wrapping is something I often put off! Even though it’s fun once I get going, especially during the holidays, I often find myself scrambling to finish at the very last minute. So, my presents never look perfect, from the tiny boxes on the table I sometimes use as name cards to big gift boxes. I have a little trick though! Even though I have a casual approach, I help myself out by collecting attractive paper, supplies and items so I can pull off an effortless gift wrap quickly. Here are some ideas to help you do the same.
- Throughout the year, collect plain colored or metallic look wrapping paper, plain brown paper gift bags, twine, raffia, ribbons and tissue paper. You can use this for any occasion. I especially like natural colors like white, off white, newsprint or brown kraft paper. Stock up especially after the holidays for the best deals!
- Recycle perfect bows from gifts you receive to use again.
- Mix ‘high end’ with ‘low end’ materials such as a beautiful paper and simple jute twine, or plain newsprint and a beautiful velvet ribbon.
- Not sure how to get the perfect bow? Tie the ribbon, twine or raffia like you would your shoelaces, but then cut the loops and trim all the ends on a diagonal, to the same length. This is much quicker than trying to get the bows just perfect!
- Gift wrap doesn’t have to be paper! Use decorative fabric napkins or squares of burlap to wrap your gifts ‘boho’ style, with the first two diagonal corners knotted together then the other two. Or gather all four corners together and fasten securely with twine.
- If you have pine trees where you live, tuck a clipping from a branch inside your bow to bring in the winter season. The smell of pine sets a holiday tone for the gift and makes a lovely natural touch.
How to Fragrance Your Holiday Home
When you imagine being home for the holidays, what is one of the first things that comes to mind? Many of us think about the aromas! The lit candles, the fresh tree or fir boughs, roasting meats in the oven, cookies, gingerbread…What is it for you? The sense of smell is a powerful trigger for comforting memories and delight. For the finishing touch to my holiday decor, I pay extra special attention to how my home smells. During the holidays, especially when you have a gathering of friends coming over, you can make your home smell more festive with holiday scents. And here’s something you may not have known – a slow cooker is a great way to let something aromatic simmer while you enjoy your guests!
Here are some of the best ways to use your slow cooker this season:
- Mulled wine or spiced apple cider both work well and smell amazing. Plus, it doubles as a beverage you can serve your guests!
- Simmer cranberries along with lemon, vanilla and fresh rosemary for an effortless holiday scent.
- Try a mix of water with vanilla beans, orange rinds, cardamom, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Don’t feel pressured to gather all of these items at once, any one of them will make your home smell amazing even on its own!
- Peppermint or other holiday herbal tea with vanilla beans will evoke an invigorating atmosphere.
- Pine needles or peppermint work really well too for a festive aroma!
How to Elevate Your Festive Cocktails
Champagne, anyone? Toast to time together this season with a simple glass of bubbly, but with a holiday twist!
- Opt for glassware you wouldn't ordinarily use; this will make your libations feel even more special and memorable for toasting.
- Add a simple garnish made of cranberries and rosemary sprigs for instant holiday flair. It's that easy. Cheers!
Sometimes the pressure of making the holidays perfect is so daunting that we lose sleep over it! So keep it simple and go easy on yourself. You'll find that your generosity, warmth and personal style will bring joy to your friends and family this season without much effort at all.
Happy holidays to you and yours!