10 Fresh and Unexpected Ways to Decorate for the Holidays

Cozy winter living room with bare tree and bottlebrush trees on mantel.

Cottage + Sea

There is something sweetly sentimental about retrieving your storage bins full of holiday décor on November 1st and adding your classic, tried-and-true decorations to your home once more. Meaningful décor that signals the season is always great—but there should always be wiggle room to try something fresh and new.

Maybe red and green just aren't your colors, or you don't gravitate toward shiny bows and sparkling tinsel. If you want to try some holiday décor that feels different, yet still inviting, this is the inspiration you need. We're sharing some fresh and unexpected holiday decorating ideas straight from designers that are sure to bring tidings of joy, without the overdone décor of Christmas past.

Deck the halls with something other than boughs of holly this year—with this list filled with fresh takes on holiday décor, you're sure to find the perfect new idea that might just become tradition.

Meet the Expert

01 of 10

Embrace Your Home's Features

Minimalistic Christmas living room with small trees.

Cottage + Sea

Work with what you have rather than trying to recreate a scene from A Christmas Story, designer Reena Sotropa advises. She tells us that using your preexisting décor is the perfect place to start building a beautiful holiday scene.

"Instead of removing all of your everyday accessories to make way for holiday décor, transform your existing accessories into holiday décor," she says. "Grouping like items such as pillar candles, pottery collections, or glassware together adds instant impact."

Make the most of your cozy fireplace hearth or mantel space, as shown above, and find ways to adapt them for the season.

02 of 10

Try a Nontraditional Twist

Christmas ornaments dangled from potted plant.

Allie Wilson Home

There's nothing wrong with going a bit off-script during the holiday season. Add some ornaments to faux plants or light your favorite seasonal candles, whatever makes you feel festive. And if things don't look perfect (for example, your décor from previous years has seen better days) make the best of it, says Sotropa.

"I am most inspired by holiday décor that appears effortless—with extra points scored for a sense of humor," she shares. "One year, I had a set of tiny twinkle lights that were so hopelessly tangled. So, I gave up and displayed the huge twinkly knot under a large glass cloche—and it looked great." 

03 of 10

Keep It Simple and Neutral

Neutral living room with minimal neutral Christmas decor.

Amber Pierce Designs

There's no need to stray too far from your home's current aesthetic to decorate for the holidays. Sotropa suggests keeping things minimalist if that's more your style.

"Holiday décor should vibe with your home’s aesthetic—overdone trees and fussy, traditional décor does not translate well in clean minimal homes," she notes. "Fresh greenery, simple holiday décor, and sparely decorated trees are more at home in this type of environment."

04 of 10

Try a Bare Tree

Bare Christmas tree in living room.

Ann Living

If you favor the natural vibe in your home (read: you're a houseplant parent who loves some good greenery), then let your Christmas tree shine all on its own and go sans ornaments or bows. Skipping the ornaments is sure to save time, and the final look is a tree perfect for minimalists.

05 of 10

Splash in Unexpected Color

Bright colored bedroom with Christmas tree.

Design: Shavonda Garndner; Photo: Lisa and Gary Ashley

Decorating for Christmas always equates to using traditional color schemes, but admittedly, those aren't for everyone. There are plenty of ways to be festive while embracing a fresh, new color palette.

"Your personal design aesthetic and favorite colors should extend to your holiday décor," Sotropa says. "Practically any color combination can look festive and co-exist peacefully with your furniture, fabrics, and wall coverings."

This bedroom is decked out in all kinds of cheery colors, from sweet pastel pinks to pops of energizing yellow. And yet it still feels festive—take that, red and green.

06 of 10

Add Minimalist Pine Branches

Minimalistic Christmas branches on shelf.

Esther Schmidt

We're seeing these minimalist pine branches pop up everywhere, and we are loving the trend. This is a chic, subtle way to add some cheer to your home, all without chopping down a pine tree yourself.

07 of 10

Design a Less-Is-More Tablescape

Minimalistic Christmas table with a few glass trees.

Design: Emily Bowser and Erik Kenneth Staalberg; Photo: Sara Liggoria-Tramp

Though decking out your holiday tablescape in deep emerald linens and your finest china can be grand, it's not the only option available. Create a more casual, inviting environment with a few thoughtful table decorations, and you'll be on your way to hosting the dinner party of the year.

08 of 10

Deck Your Bathroom Walls

Luxe neutral bathroom with holiday wreath on window

Design: Emily Henderson; Photo: Sara Liggoria-Tramp

Often, our holiday décor doesn't make its way into our bathrooms. But after seeing this cozy scene, we don't know why we ever skipped it. Find little decorations that could thrive in your bathroom, like a few seasonal candles or small decorative trees, or go all-in and hang a lit wreath from the window, as shown above.

09 of 10

Keep Things Natural

Simplistic holiday table with greenery.

Design: GreyHunt Interiors; Photo: Christy Kosnic

Sometimes, your holiday decorating could be so minimal that guests hardly notice it. Whether that comes in the form adding of white poinsettias to your dining room or lining your table with candles and greenery, keeping it natural is an unexpected way to freshen up your home for the holidays.

"Greenery makes the most beautiful centerpiece," Sallie Lord of GreyHunt Interiors shares with us. "In this space, we used this stunning-yet-simple candle centerpiece and draped greenery over the base."

10 of 10

Skip Decorating All Together

Minimal white living room with plants.

Esther Schmidt

If you're in the business of saving time and money this holiday season, we have another option for you—skip decorating altogether. Though this doesn't work for everyone, it is a great option for those who aren't into holiday decorating or simply don't have the time.

Believe it or not, the tip is designer-approved. "For anyone on the fence about decorating, or who feels like it's an obligatory ritual, consider skipping it altogether," designer Leah Alexander of Beauty Is Abundant tells MyDomaine. "If the thought of this brings a sense of ease or relief, do it with conviction, unapologetically, and put the money, time, and energy into something you love or that will serve you in the looming new year."