Holiday decorating is one of our most cherished traditions of the year, but even with something as time-honored as this, that doesn't mean we do it the same way every winter. Rather, we're always on the hunt for new and statement-making ways to let our holiday decor show off our personalities without giving up the more traditional parts of the season we love so much.
And it seems we're not alone: This year, we've seen many designers and enthusiasts alike trade the classic red-and-green or silver-and-gold schemes for something more closely resembling their year-round palettes, infusing distinctive (and sometimes quirky) elements into their holiday decor to punctuate the classic iconography of trees, stars, and bells with something a little more unexpected.
Keep reading for our favorite holiday decorating ideas for the season.
A Cactus Christmas
Southwest-inspired holidays? Sign us up. We love how this holiday decor incorporates elements of the desert-chic look that's been trending lately, infusing tons of personality into this not-so-typical holiday fare. While the look might not be for everyone, it's certainly up our alley—and it provides an unmistakable conversation-starter among holiday houseguests.
While we love to add a little holiday cheer wherever we can manage, there are some surfaces that should be left clear for the actual logistics of hosting for the holidays. "A kitchen island or dining area won't typically have a lot of decor—rather, it'll be full of food prep and chaos. Adding a statement to the backs of chairs lends a pop of unexpected holiday warmth in an otherwise 'harder' space," suggests Lauren Clement of Lauren Nicole Designs. "And if you want to get really creative, you can add a name tag to your arrangement so everyone will know where to sit!"
Home For the Holidays
Even if you're not hosting a holiday dinner, it's fun to sprinkle seasonal touches throughout multiple rooms. Iconic nutcrackers and a wintery centerpiece imbue this dining space with cheer without compromising its classic, country-chic aesthetic.
And the low profile of this centerpiece has a functional purpose, too: "I love a long, low and skinny-ish centerpiece on a dining table, so that friends and family can still see each other, and still pass the food while enjoying a special tablescape just for the occasion," Clement adds.
Pick Your Palette
There's no rule that says you need to default to the traditional red-and-green color scheme for the holidays, but determining a cohesive palette from the get-go will help you set your decorating up for success. Clement uses her color palette—here, a medley of whites, creams, and muted pastel touches—to guide her ornament-selection process.
"Decide on a palette for your tree and plan for various size (and shape) ornaments and fillers that are all different, yet relate back to your theme," Clement advises. "From there, sprinkle in some personal ornaments with sentimental value—this personal touch is sure to warm the hearts of all family members during the holidays."
Consider this a throwback. A frosted tree is the perfect vintage-cool complement for this midcentury-inspired space, and it ties in beautifully with the plush emerald velvet, bottle-brush trees, and forest landscape painting. The result is a little rustic, a little retro, and 100% obsession-worthy.
If you're into the snow-dusted look, opt for a faux tree. Trying to get this look yourself (unless you're very skilled with spray paint) can be extremely messy and difficult to pull off.
Flocked trees are back—in a very big way. But they're not just about channeling a glam, vintage-inspired vibe; the crisp white color of the needles actually helps highlight your most treasured ornaments, according to Decorist designer Stacy Graves. "I love how flocked trees provide the perfect neutral background to let your ornaments stand out," she admits.
"I'm a fan of using sentimental ornaments over rotating through trendy color schemes. Growing up, my mom had me pick out an ornament special to me each year, and I still have these ornaments on my tree today. I love unpacking them every year and remembering the memories attached to each."
In our professional opinions, the best holiday decorating schemes are the ones that feel in-line with the homeowner's year-round style—that is, not a generic scene from a holiday home catalog.
This entryway from Casa Watkins epitomizes the personal vibe for us, incorporating worldly, eclectic elements and a bright, cheery color palette reminiscent of the designer's bold, free-spirited home. We also fully approve of sprinkling holiday items in your home's entry area—a small detail that kicks off the holiday spirit from the moment guests step in the door.
Take a cue from some of the Scandinavian countries that do the holidays very well. Understated greenery on the walls, plenty of reflective surfaces, and simple, sculptural figurines lend an undoubtedly Nordic air to this tablescape. And of course, the glossy black chairs are a perfect complement to this less-is-more design style.
A perfectly decorated seasonal front porch is the stuff of Pinterest dreams, but it's not actually necessary to give your door a makeover every month. This understated but still celebratory setup from Chelius House of Design opts for the less-is-more approach, creating a welcoming and greenery-filled entrance that can live from the first falling leaves of autumn well through the new year. Just pepper in a few string lights, lanterns, or a fresh welcome mat as needed—this chic setup really stands on its own.
Reflection & Light
Two elements that always make a space (or a place setting) feel holiday-ready: flickering candlelight and something to reflect it. This non-traditional color scheme of violet feels no less celebratory than typical red and green, thanks for chic natural candlesticks, shimmering crystal coupes, brass flatware, and of course the stunning chandeliers overhead.
Natural materials can be your best friend when undertaking seasonal decorating. Unlike flashy tinsel and baubles—which have a special place in our heart, don't get us wrong—it's almost impossible to overdue it with greenery and the unique natural character of organic materials.
Take this gorgeous kitchen space, for instance. While bottle-brush trees and foliage crowd the view, the look is far from overdone. We love the mix of different fibers creating a mini-forest on the island.