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.)

How I Plan my Christmas Home Decor:

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.

Adele Inspired Christmas Tree Decorations #christmas #tree #decor

Gradient Rainbow Christmas Tree Decorations #christmas #tree #decorations #rainbow

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.

A Christmas Tree Fit for the Emerald City - Emerald Green Christmas Tree #christmas #chirstmastree #emerald #decor #decorations #holiday

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.

When I was in my apartment two years ago, I went with deep teal, gray, and white as my theme. Last Christmas I used mainly plaid/tartan and buffalo check papers.

Yes, it’s sort of weird, but it suits my sensibilities.

These Plaid-Inspired Printable Christmas Gift Tags are the perfect finishing touch on your holiday gift wrapping! #printable #christmas #gifttags #plaid #tags #holiday #wrapping #giftwrap

Take Inventory.

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:

Christmas at Bayberry House - Holiday Home Tour with color Christmas Decoration ideas. #christmas #holiday #home #decor #decorations #christmastree

Just Start.

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:


Festive and Beautiful Christmas Kitchen Decor Ideas #holiday #christmas #kitchen #decor #decorating #ideas

Festive and Beautiful Christmas Kitchen Decor Ideas #holiday #christmas #kitchen #decor #decorating #ideas

How I Decorate My Christmas 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.

A Nostalgia-Inspired Christmas Tree - How to Decorate a Christmas Tree inspired by the past. #christmas #decor #christmastree #decorations #holiday

Modern Christmas Living Room Decorating Ideas

Final Notes:

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!

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links as part of the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that receives a small commission by linking to and other sites at no cost to the readers.

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  • Lindsey at

    This is so great! I love that you only use glass ornaments – they are so pretty and classic. I have my childhood ornaments that I put on a tree in the kitchen but our big tree in the living room is slowly going to all glass. Love your page – thanks for making the world a more beautiful place!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      I so appreciated this, Lindsey!! Thank you!! <3

      xo Michael

  • Elaine at

    Over the past few years as my nieces have gotten married and asked me for advice on their first Christmas trees, I steer them right to your website. I tell them nobody does Christmas trees better than Michael. Your trees are perfection from top to bottom. How could anyone not be inspired. I really look forward to seeing your trees and decorations every year. Thank you

  • Deborah P at

    I love seeing your Christmas decor and am really looking forward to the full magilla when you have finished. One question on the order of decorating the tree. You mentioned that you string the garland after hanging the ornaments. I’ve always done the garland first and then the ornaments. Isn’t it difficult to guide the garland around all those ornaments?

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Thank you so much! So, when I say garland I mean the smaller, typically beaded kind, if you garland is thicker or fluffy, I would put that on before or after the ribbon. Hopefully that helps to clarify.

      xo Michael

  • Karen F at

    It does seem overwhelming, and in the beginning I feel a little humbuggy! But as the process starts, I embrace the obligations, the work, the stress and find the joy of Christmas. It’s there, I just have to look for it.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      So true, Karen!

      xo Michael

  • Lisa at

    Thank you for being real and saying that you get anxious about your creative choices and how things will turn out. I think we all feel that to some degree- but I’m sure having a decor blog makes you really feel it. Ever since we inherited my grandmothers vintage ornaments and Christmas decor (we have a similar tree to the one in your pantry!) it’s made the process for me purely sentimental and traditional and less about creating some big Holiday decor statement. I change out ribbon etc. but always have those key pieces to use- wouldn’t be Christmas without the sentiment. You do a great job of combining tradition with an artistic and modern flair.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Yes! I think sentiment, tradition, and nostalgia are so important! There are certain pieces of decor and ornaments I used EVERY year no matter what my theme.

      xo Michael

  • Julie J at

    Michael, your words cheer me. I appreciate how much more pressure you have than us “normal people,” and my hat is off to you. If I lived near you I would come over to help decorate, and we could eat broccoli cheese dip, and revel in all your cool decorations and your beautiful house.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      You are so sweet, Julie! Thank you!!

      xo Michael

  • Elle at

    Thanks for the excellent advice! It’s just what I needed to prime the pump this year. I hope you can feel all the love being sent your way. (You get what you give!)

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      I sooooooo appreciate all of the love. It means the world to me! Thank you!!

      xo Michael

  • Lynn at

    I love the pom pom (maybe felted wool) garland on the last tree! Where did you get it from, or perhaps you strung hot yourself? Thanks!
    PS Loving the posts

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      It was from West Elm several years ago. I’m not sure if they still carry it.

      xo Michael

  • Cathy Claus at

    As always, your Christmas decor blows it out of the water! I actually get giddy scrolllng (trolling) thru each shot! I think one of my all time faves is the garland w/ the ornaments in your last house! I can appreciate how much time that must’ve taken putting that all together! Love this years’ red themed tree in the living room – along w/ that unusual fireplace! Love it!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Thank you so much, Cathy! It is a lot of work, but it’s always worth it in the end.

      xo Michael

  • Michelle Conley at

    Hi Micheal,
    I so enjoy following your blog. You are spot on with this Christmas post! I get so overwhelmed hauling out ALL the things every year. I am making a pledge to not repeat this habit this time around! I do have a question for you though. Could you provide advice on decorating a flocked tree? I purchased one last year after pining for one for a long time. Lo and behold, I found it extremely difficult to decorate! My ornaments seem to just fade into the tree! I attempted a chartreuse and aqua color scheme last year but it still seemed subpar. Any suggestions?

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Thank you, Michelle! You’re right about flocked trees. I think this is something that just happens. In general, I think people need a lot more ornaments than you think you do, especially if you want to make any impact on a flocked tree. Without seeing it, I’d say more ornaments.

      xo Michael

  • Diane@InMyOwnStyle at


    You are the Christmas Tree Decorating Master. No one and I mean no one does trees as well as you do. Every one of them is simply beautiful. When you were a little kid did you help to decorate the tree or did you find your passion for it when you got older? It sure is a talent that you do with great style.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Diane!! You are the BEST! Thank you so much! Yes. I always helped at home with the tree. I also worked in a gift shop throughout high school and decorated trees there. I also owned a gift shop.with my B&B and decorated at least 6-8 trees there every year. So, I guess … lots of experience!

      xo Michael

  • Cara C. at

    I have never related to someone more in my life! You are such an inspiration! Thank you for being you. Cannot wait to see your end result this year!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Awww! Love that! Thank you Cara!

      xo Michael

  • Rebecca at

    Thank you for this. I think planning in this way will keep me focused and from not wanting to buy as much. Often I buy what I like and don’t end up using most because it either isn’t as cohesive as I thought it would be or I realize I already have things that I like better. Then I have chaos of retuning stuff.

    Another mantra for you to consider in addition to “just start” is to trust your gut. You are very talented and have such a wealth of versatility in your vision. It’s really amazing to witness.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Yes!! I’m guilty of overbuying too. Having a plan / theme really helps to curb this.

      And yes, I definitely need to learn to trust my gut more. I appreciate that thought. Thank you!

      xo Michael

  • Karen at

    Love your decoration no matter what you do .

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Thank you, Karen!

      xo Michael

  • Roxanne at

    So much beautiful inspiration here! I’ve collected Santa’s…ornaments, standing Santa’s, etc… for 40 years. Santa’s are the souvenir I purchaser on every vacation. If you’re not a Santa in my house, you get a Santa hat plopped on your head (watch out hubby and dogs!). The challenge is to use them in new and refreshing ways each year. My resolve this year is to not pull out every single decoration I own. It’s a bit panicky to know December 1 is Thanksgiving weekend, I have guests for Thanksgiving weekend, AND I’m having a retirement party for a friend on Dec 14.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      This is great!! Having a collection is such a wonderful idea for holiday decorating. And yes – Thanksgiving is late this year which is always a challenge.

      xo Michael

  • Pam at

    Thank you Michael this post is helpful and very informative and I will be using it. I’m one that has to have a theme for my wrapping paper. I love everything to match. I passed this on to my daughter. She called me asking what “our” theme was going to be this year. I let her pick since she is hosting. We are going kitchy llamas and cactus bold reds and greens. I’ve been working on yarn pom poms for the packages to match the llamas headdress.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Yessssssss!! Love your theme. It sounds like so much fun! The addition of the pom poms is perfection!

      xo Michael

  • Marla at

    This post came at the perfect time for me! I’m having Christmas “alphabet soup” brain at the moment as I try to decide what decorating direction I’m going in this year. My wonderful husband has young onset Dementia and I’m struggling with how much will be too much for him. I LOVE Christmas decorating and NEED that continuity and stability of traditions and holiday sparkle in my life. You know, the big sigh ……Ahhhhhhhh……. when you are overwhelmed and those wonderful lights and cozy decor just take you to a better place. Thank you for sharing your tips and inspirational photos.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      I certainly hope that this post was helpful and that you’re able to stir up a little holiday cheer and magic for you and your husband. Love to you both!

      xo Michael

  • Michele at

    Your style is just my absolute favorite! I really enjoy your blog. Your kitchen is perfection!!!!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Thank you, Michele!

      xo Michael

  • Trish at

    Love your blog and what you have accomplished in remodeling your home. Thank you for the great decorating info. Wishing you much happiness and love this holiday season. 🎄

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Thank you! Thank you!!

      xo Michael

  • Rachel at

    Your trees inspire me every year!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Thank you, Rachel!

      xo Michael

  • Barb Feidler at

    I chuckled when I got to the wrapping paper section. Hallmark closed in State College PA. My daughter-in-law loves their coordinating and double sided papers. I’m making a Thanksgiving basket to take to dinner there and decided to add paper for her. So Friday I’m in DuBois photographing papers and texting until we find the perfect 4 papers! I also change out trees every year. Love change! Love Inspired by Charm!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Oh no!! I love Hallmark papers too! Be sure to check TJ Maxx and HomeGoods! They have great paper and you can’t beat their prices.

      xo Michael

  • Reenie at

    I always love seeing your trees. My fav was the gold & green. I told myself I was not buying anything new this year. So, I think I’m going to try the gradient tree. 🙂

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Yay! I’m sure it will be stunning!!

      xo Michael

  • Emily at

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one that feels somewhat anxious about upcoming decor (and I don’t even post anything online!). I vowed this year to not think about things so much and just “do.” I’m also a wrapping paper coordinater; people look at me like I have two heads when I mention it… oh well!

  • Judith at

    Such a talented and creative man. You are special.

  • Judith at

    You are such a talented , creative man. Thank you for your wonderful ideas.

  • Marla at

    Great post! Your Cameron Diaz comment made me lol. 🙂

  • Shelley Murray at

    I always wonder how you do it! Thanks for posting this. It’s given me some help I need with my Christmas decorating.

  • Melissa Smith at

    YES Michael!
    I am not a blogger, but I look to y’all for inspiration and I love this timing of THIS post! Here we are a week from Halloween (I have been decorated for Halloween for 5 weeks already, it’s my FAV!) and I am planning Christmas and winter decor.
    Please let us start a petition that wrapping paper must match your decor! Love your blog!

  • Ann W at

    Thanks for this post on your thinking process for decorating….you are the King of Christmas!! It seems like I just love every holiday post you do, and then you do a new one and I love it too! I decorate for Christmas mostly with reds and greens, as those hues are prominent in my home. I also have been collecting vintage looking Santas for awhile and like to incorporate those. You really had me in the wrapping section….I would buy it all if I didn’t reign myself in!!! Where do you buy your beautiful ribbons you use to for your packages? Thanks for all the inspiration–all year round.

  • Margaret at

    I love your posts and so want you to come decorate my home! In my dreamsI……..

  • Reenie at

    I always love seeing what you come up with. I did a green and gold the year after I saw yours. I’m always thinking this time of year what color I should do. Although, I told myself I am not buying anything this year and will use a different color combo with the stuff I have. Ha!! We’ll see if that sticks. Because I have the color Orange (I have a white tree) in my head, or Navy Blue that I can’t get out of my head. Yikes!

  • Reenie at

    Oh…. and I use pillow covers instead of buying new pillows each year to match. Check Amazon ~ they have a lot. 🙂

  • Anne at

    Your blog is the BEST! I love everything you do! You are so talented!
    Thanks for all of the great information.

  • Kimberly at

    You are hands down my absolute favorite for Christmas styling/decor inspiration! It boggles my mind that you might have moments of doubt, because I always wait with baited breath for your beautiful images and scenes. You are the Christmas guru!!! 🙂 Can’t wait to see what this year brings! Thanks for being so fabulous each and every Christmas season.

  • Teresa at

    I love reading your thought process in decorating for Christmas. I too start with a color theme and work around that. Of course, I dont feel the same pressure as you since my home wont be featured in a magazine or blog.
    Back in late September, I was in Hobby Lobby looking at the Christmas ribbon that had just been stocked and nothing seemed to speak to me. Last year, I did a non-traditional copper, cream and deep teal color theme and used mini Moscow mule mugs on my tree and bar cart and loved it! It wasn’t until I moved across the store where they stocked their regular ribbon that I found a color scheme I loved. A plaid, tartan ribbon with red, white and light turquoise. I picked up three spools of the ribbon for my garland and wreaths and walked back over to the Christmas section and found some light red and white peppermint ornaments that paired well with the ribbon.

  • Mary Jo at

    I am downsizing from a 9 foot to a 7.5-foot tree this year and feeling a little panicked, this was so helpful. I did get the same Balsam Hill tree, that I love, but worrying about how to pick and choose what ornaments to use. I have a lot! They may be an understatement. I’m going to use your advice and start with those that are my favorite or sentimental to me. I can’t wait to see what you design this year. Happy tree trimming.

  • Jen Herold at

    Michael – I love your post and read every one. I especially love this one because we have loss several family members around Christmas and it makes it hard to celebrate. Thank you.

  • Jess at

    Gorgeous trees!!! Can’t wait to see this year’s!

  • David Beagin at

    In addition to being an outstanding decorator, you are also an excellent educator. Thank you for presenting such thoughtful, well-written blog posts that are easy to follow and filled with excellent links. You have become my number 1, 2 and 3 resource!

  • Tessa at

    Hi Michael, I basically love everything you do, but Christmas is where you really shine!! I look to you for inspiration every year and find it hard to believe you could ever miss the mark! Hope you have a wonderful and happy holiday season!! P.S. I have been known to plan an entire decorating scheme around a roll of wrapping paper! 🙂

  • Debbie at

    I would love to see pictures of your plaid Christmas. Thank you for all the inspiration. You are a marvel.

  • Diane Ruebel at

    Talented friend,

    Since I’m fairly new to your blog, discovering the Emerald City Tree caught my attention. I grew up in the actual Emerald City…can you guess where? I’m heading to your recommended sites to create my own.

    Loving your extraordinary talent,
    Diney on Camano Is.

  • Erin Prohaska at

    You miss the mark? Can’t even imagine that…but if you did for some strange reason, I’d still be here! 😊 That green tree will always be one of my very favorites! Can’t wait to see this year! I used your dining table as my inspiration last year. Thank you for all of the endless inspiration! ❤️ 💚

  • Sandy at

    I love all your ideas! Thanks for sharing your heart with us all! Sandy

  • Ivory at

    I feel sad when I am not able to get around to checking my emails daily. However, when I do check them and see an email diy email from you, I get all excited because I know you don’t disappoint. I love this post. You gave many helpful ideas I plan to use in my Christmas decorations plans. Thanks for never disappointing! Happy holidays

  • Cathy at

    I know it has to be so much pressure to reinvent the wheel each year so your design is fresh and exciting… but your taste is so classic and so very inviting that it’s truly timeless and inspiring… Christmas is a time of nostalgia coupled with beauty … and sometimes a twist on old ways and traditions… every room in your house, and every styling you do, shines through with so much class… and love. You’re just what we need this year…. because, especially this year, “we need a little Christmas, right this every minute!” (Auntie Mame!)… that scene in Auntie Mame embodies how we are all feeling this year… watch it again and you’ll see what I mean… thanks Micheal … you are so very talented.

  • Craig Potter at

    I love that you have been inspired!! Have fun decorating this weekend and future crafting. Happy day!!

  • Brenda Nicholson at

    Great tips! I’ve read this post at least twice!

    Your comment about wrapping paper makes perfect sense, but I have to share a story with you about my neighbor. She LOVES wrapping paper! Sometimes she has to hide new purchases from her husband. She doesn’t coordinate the way you do; she has her own quirky system. For instance, one year, when her daughter first got her license, she bought her some accessories for her car. Since the car was red, the wrapping paper, ribbon, and even the pen she used to write the tag all had to be red as well! We wrap presents together every year. It’s always fun and entertaining!

  • Dee at

    Thank you so much for all the wonderful information – it’s so helpful. Now, if only I could decorate as well as you 🙂

  • Interior Designer Blake Riley at

    I m running a little late on my Christmas decoration this year and found your blog when searching for decoration ideas. Thank you so much for sharing. I found it really helpful.

  • Nina at

    I am new to your website and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT AND YOU !!!! 😉
    Happy Holidays !

  • Claire Smith at

    No need to wait for December anymore. I now have an idea what is my theme for this coming Christmas

  • Paul at

    Wow! Why didn’t I found this article last year? But thank you! I now have an idea for this year’s theme. The gold and Red combination looks elegant!

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