Christmas Decor Ideas and Inspiration

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christmas garland on mantel with black taper candlesticks and fresh flowers
Image Credit: Paul Anderson for Hunker

Sure the holidays are magical, but they're also a tad bit overwhelming, to say the least. There are gifts to be purchased (and then wrapped!), menus to be planned and cooked, and of course, halls to be decked. Whether your list of holiday decor ideas is long or short, we guarantee that prepping sooner rather than later will ease you into the season so you can say "Happy Holidays" and actually mean it. Need a little help with your planning efforts? Read on.

Christmas Decor Ideas: Styles and Themes

The best way to begin? Make a list and then check it twice, naturally. Gather festive decor you might have in storage, tossing anything that's broken, and donating looks you've outgrown. Then assess what rooms you'll be decorating this year: Remember you're infusing the essence of the holidays, so unless you're styling for a photoshoot, we're not going for perfection here. Even a subtle nod to the season in the form of excess ornaments displayed in a bowl will add a festive note.

Next, determine the overall theme or style you're trying to achieve: no need for a mood board, but devising a general vibe will give your home a cohesive feeling and it will be pleasing to the eye. There's no shortage of Christmas decor ideas. Are you obsessed with farmhouse charm or are you a traditionalist who longs for the nostalgia of Christmas past? Or, do you prefer a Scandi look with lots of natural wood, felt accents, minimal adornments, and a restricted color palette? How about something with a midcentury bent or rustic flair?

Consider your home's aesthetic and either complement it — a coastal Christmas tree idea for your water-adjacent home, perhaps? — or punctuate it with decor in an entirely different style. For example sleek, modern holiday accents with their streamlined silhouettes, monochrome hues, and unconventional materials (we're talking marble, brass, and feathers) look unexpected and bold against a rustic backdrop.

If you prefer to steer clear of whimsical Christmas motifs, put the reindeer down and plan your decor around a color scheme. It's a great way to create continuity and make a visually memorable impact. Of course, obvious yuletide pairings include red and green, and silver and gold, but what about more unconventional palettes that incorporate shades of pink, or tonal combinations?

Christmas Decor Ideas: Table, Mantel, & Stairs

Will this year's dining decor look different from year's past? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, you'll be setting a dinner table worthy of a celebration. So start with a seasonal tablescape, flaunting a festive runner like this DIY eucalyptus idea from Hunker contributor Caroline Burke, or a sparkly centerpiece that showcases pampas grass and then pull out your finest linens, tapers, dishes, and silverware.

But the holiday spirit shouldn't die once you leave the table — give your fireplace mantel and staircase a makeover, too.

Christmas Decor Ideas: Trees, Flowers, & Plants

Faux evergreen Christmas wreath on wood door with framed art and white bookshelf

Does any single element scream Christmas more than a pine tree? While you can bypass some holiday decor, the tree, which serves as ground zero for so much celebrating, not to mention imparting that signature evergreen scent, is a staple in our book. Not all Christmas trees are created equal and the type you're drawn to might harken back to what you remember from your childhood.

Colorful trees are a fun substitute for an au naturel fir. They come in a range of colors (pink was trending in 2019) and introduce a decidedly whimsical take on the holidays. If you simply don't have the space (or the bandwidth) for a tree this year, don't pout. There are many Christmas tree alternatives, including the hard to resist pineapple trend.

Once you find the one you are looking for, it's time to add all of the tinsel, lights, garlands, and ornaments your heart desires. From sparkly baubles to glass adornments to clay figurines to paper trees, there is literally something for everyone. Last but not least, don't forget your tree topper.

Plants and flowers enhance a home any time of the year, but during the holidays they add another layer of festive beauty. Classic options include red and white poinsettias, holly and mistletoe, but don't overlook unusual florals or under the radar plants to add character and color to spaces.

Christmas Decor Ideas: DIYs

The frenetic pace of the holidays doesn't stop us from tackling at least one seasonal DIY, which we find meditative and satisfying. Choose a project that you can do with your family — stringing popcorn garland, wreath-making, dyeing stockings, or even creating simple table decor — and then make a night of it. If you're looking for more of a challenge, try your hand at a DIY Christmas tree, such as this minimalist option from Caroline Burke, or fashion some homemade ornaments. Get started on these early for maximum enjoyment.

Christmas Decor Ideas: Outdoor

Share your Christmas spirit with the neighborhood by devoting time and energy to your home's exterior holiday decor and make a cheerful first impression. An evergreen wreath is a standard door flourish, but did you know they're available in a variety of materials from aluminum cans (truly) to flowers? String lights look beautiful wrapped around tree trunks, while garland draped above the door or on porches adds dimension. Consider lining a walkway with candlelit lanterns or hanging Christmas swag on outdoor sconces — there are endless exterior ideas that exude that festive feeling.

Best Places to Shop for Christmas Decor

a diy holiday centerpiece made of colorful cardboard cones, sprigs of greenery, and faux snow

CB2

West Elm

Balsam Hill

Wayfair

Ballard Designs

Target

Anthropologie


Jaclyn Schatzow is a freelance writer living in Santa Monica, CA

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