Decorating your home for the holidays doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Here are 10 ideas from designers and entertaining experts for decking the halls simply and inexpensively this yuletide.
Gift-wrapped. Don’t hide Christmas gifts under the tree. Use them throughout the house as cheerful decorations. “We use wrapped gifts as decor at our house,” says Lisa Mermis, of Twigs Interiors, in Overland Park, Kan. “The settee in the dining room and the buffet look fabulous stacked with packages decorated with candy-colored ribbons. The mantel looks gorgeous with multiple wrapped packages spaced across it.”
Winter wonderland. Create a pretty wintertime scene by filling several clear glass containers with salt, then placing twigs from the yard inside. “You can even throw a couple of mini ornaments in, too,” so it looks like a Christmas tree with ornaments that have fallen to the snow, says Los Angeles-based entertaining expert and author Jeanne Benedict, of www.JeanneBenedict.com.
Sweet centerpiece. Transform candy canes, peppermint drops, foil-wrapped chocolates and other colorful treats into edible d√©cor. Fill clear vases with layers of candy and use as a colorful focal point for tables or the mantel. “Old vases filled with licorice, color-coordinated candies and wrapped candy create inexpensive drama,” Mermis says.
Garlands of greetings. Turn Christmas cards into a cheerful display. “Typically I will poke a hole in them and string them together like a chain of paper dolls so they make a nice, funky garland,” Benedict says. “Hang it around a doorway or on your mantel.”
Winter greenery. Raid the winter garden for holly or yew clippings. “Tie them with fresh cinnamon sticks onto chair backs, dining room chandeliers, door knobs, stockings or napkin rings with holiday ribbon or raffia,” suggests Lorna Ricotta, of Ethos Creative Group, in Fayetteville, N.C.
Visions of sugarplums. Skewer fresh fruit, such as apples, lemons, limes and oranges, and attach to green garlands, using floral wire. Drape garlands above the fireplace, along the banister, or around window or door frames. To dress it up, “add a little sparkle with floral picks from a craft store,” Ricotta says.
Bundle up. Layer the table with colorful wraps and scarves pulled from your closet or purchased at a thrift store, Mermis suggests. Place the fabric over upside-down Pyrex containers or stacks of books to create height variation, then top with candles in vases. If you’re decorating a buffet table, this a great way to display platters of food.
A plaid scarf creates a more traditional seasonal look, but nontraditional patterns can work, too. Mermis often uses a zebra-print linen scarf. “The graphic quality is perfect for New Year’s Eve, but I’ve used it for Halloween and kids’ birthdays,” she says.
Winter’s light. Consider using battery-powered candles, especially during parties, when you’d rather be visiting with guests than monitoring burning candles. “They provide ambient lighting without the fear of fire during a party,” Ricotta says.
Holiday color. Dry beans, rice and colored lentils make a great base for mantel d√©cor and centerpieces. Benedict pours the dry goods in layers around a large pillar candle placed inside a clear glass vase. “Decorating with items you can get at the grocery store saves you from running all over town,” she says.
Bright lights. Fill six drinking glasses or votive holders with colored water (dyed with food coloring), add a floating candle to each, “and boom, you’re done,” Benedict says. “It’s beautiful and simple, and it creates atmosphere all over the room for very little money.”