As I was planning this year’s Christmas home decor, the process felt a bit different from past years. That reminded me of the questions I’ve been getting lately on Instagram about how I plan my Christmas home decor. And that led to this post! (I do realize this information may not be relevant to everyone, but I thought it was worth posting.)
Before I get into details, please know that what I’m sharing is not a bunch of hard and fast “rules” I follow every year or the way things always unfold. Sometimes inspiration will strike mid-season and take me completely off course (for better or for worse!). However, in general, my planning process goes something like this.
My First Thought is about Color (and my Trees).
When I’m designing anything, nine times out of ten, the first thing I think about is color. This is the case when I’m planning a room design, party, or tablescape.
However, when it comes to Christmas home decor, thoughts of color and thoughts of my Christmas trees usually go hand-in-hand. This means that during the fall, I try to be especially open to inspiration that might help me come up with a color scheme. I know it may sound crazy, but I sort of have a conversation about this in my head.
If you’ve been following IBC for a while, you might remember the year I was inspired by gradients and the colors of the rainbow. That led me to make this Rainbow Gradient Christmas Tree. Another year I LOVED a dress Adele wore at a live performance, and that inspired this gold and green tree. Last year I found green velvet chairs for my living room, which inspired me to go green. That decision prompted me to go mostly red in my family room.
Then I’ll Think About Themes.
In general, I try not to get too “themey.” But there are times when a loose “theme” can help with the decorating process.
For example, this year I’m going with reds in my family room. I chose that color because I used it in the space last year, and I loved how it looked and wanted something similar this year. However, I also wanted to change things up a bit, so I’m using the theme of a “lodge in England.” I realize that probably makes no sense to anyone, but when I think of “lodge in England,” I get a clear vision in my head: ski lodge meets the house in England where Cameron Diaz goes in the movie “The Holiday.” Can you see it now?
Another example is my living room decor from last year. I had the theme of the Emerald City in mind. You wouldn’t think of the magical city in Oz when you looked at that room, but that’s what guided many of my decisions. I hope that makes sense.
Having a color scheme or theme helps me resist all of the pretty distractions I find as I’m decorating. There are too many temptations this time of year, and if I want a cohesive look, I know I can’t have all of them at the same time in one place.
Yes, I Coordinate My Wrapping Paper.
Another area where a theme helps is in selecting wrapping paper. I realize this makes me sound like a loon, but here’s the deal. I like wrapping paper. I like it so much that I want it ALL. Having a theme lets me narrow my focus when I’m out shopping. It also helps to create a coordinated look under the tree. This might not be important to everyone, but for someone like me who takes lots of pictures of his home and wants an area to be aesthetically pleasing, it’s important.
Yes, it’s sort of weird, but it suits my sensibilities.
With those three things in the back of my mind, I take inventory of what I have. I store my Christmas items in totes in my attic. Before decorating begins, I bring down the totes and look at what I’m working with. Since I’m a blogger, I change my decor every year, so I have plenty of decorations in storage. After taking inventory, I pack up things I won’t need or use this year and then either donate them or put them back in the attic. This keeps me from feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff.
As you can imagine, I do love shopping for holiday decor, so I also hit up some of my favorite places for holiday decor.
They include but are not limited to:
- HomeGoods / TJ Maxx
- Crate and Barrel
- Balsam Hill
- Local Shops
- Antique Stores
At this point, I’m always feeling slightly overwhelmed and freaking out a bit. As someone who puts his decor on display to the world via the internet, I’m prone to panic: “Is this the year I’m going to miss the mark? What if my ideas suck? What if my creative well has dried up?”
When I start feeling this way, my go-to rule is: “Just Start.” I pick something I’m comfortable with or know is going to be a “win” for me and start there. This builds my confidence, and in no time I’m up and running! I still have my moments of doubt, but in general, it’s good from there.
For example, I recently posted my Christmas Kitchen Tour. This was the first time I was decorating this space for the holidays, so the misgivings and fear of failure rolled in. It only took hanging two wreaths on the windows, and then the ball started rolling! The rest of the space came together pretty smoothly and without a lot of second-guessing.
Another tip is to just try things. When I was decorating my kitchen, initially I had my Santa mug collection on shelves in the dining room. They looked good there. However, I decided to try them in my pantry, and that’s when the magic happened. They look fantastic in there! So try and try again until YOU love it!
Need help getting started? Looking for more Christmas inspiration? I’m so excited to share a list of my favorite blog posts to help inspire you holiday endeavors. These are a few of my favorite that I’m certain you’re going to love.
The Ultimate Christmas Idea and Recipe Resource List:
- 100+ Creative Christmas Ideas – my favorite resource!
- The Best Christmas Cocktail Recipes
- My Favorite Christmas Cookies
- Christmas Q&A – answering YOUR Christmas questions
- Christmas Appetizer Recipes
- The Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist
- 2018 Christmas at Bayberry House – latest Holiday Home Tour
- 2018 Evening at Bayberry House
How I Decorate My Trees:
This section is slightly out of place in this post, but a number of you have been asking about this, so I wanted to include it. (I am going to try and put together a full post on this topic, but I wanted to give you some information right away.)
As with the rest of my decor, when decorating my trees, I start with a general theme or color scheme. In recent years it’s been a color scheme. Once I have that, I review my inventory and start shopping, if needed. I check out the stores listed above and see what strikes me. (You can see a round-up of some of my past trees here if you need a little inspiration.)
Once I have most of what I need, it’s time to trim the tree.
Here’s the order I follow:
- Set up and fluff tree.
- Add lights, if not pre-lit. (All of my current trees are pre-lit.)
- Add ribbon. (Please see my tutorial here.)
- Add large or heavy ornaments*.
- Add smaller ornaments*.
- String garlands.
- Add the tree topper.
*Tips about adding ornaments
-For the most part, I use ornament hooks. My current favorites are these from Amazon. They are small so they disappear. I’m not a fan of decorative hooks because they tend to take attention away from the ornaments.
-I do wire heavy, delicate, or sentimental ornaments to the branch with floral wire.
– I like a layered look with ornaments, so I tuck some into the tree and hang some on the tips of branches.
– I use only glass ornaments.
I wanted to make a few more comments before wrapping things up.
- Most years I do not switch out furniture or paint walls as part of my holiday decorating. I limit my decor to seasonal items and soft goods such as pillows and throws.
- If you have sentimental ornaments or decorative items that don’t match your theme or color scheme, use them anyway. Treasure them. Family, friends, and memories are what’s most important during the holidays (and all through the year).
- This list is intended as a guide. You do not have to do any of these things to have a beautiful and happy holiday season. Do what works for you. My friend Kate of Centsational Style just wrote a brilliant post about this topic. If you’re feeling stressed, I encourage you to read it.
And that’s it, my friends. If I’ve missed something or you have questions, please leave them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to answer your questions and update this post as needed.
I hope this information helps you create your happy place for the holidays!