From tinsel to garlands and string lights, festive decor is a cornerstone of the winter holiday season. This is a ripe space for interior design lovers and holiday revelers alike. And hey, let's be real: Even the biggest Scrooges among us can't help but crack a smile at an immaculately decorated Christmas tree.
However, the sheer plethora of holiday decorations out there can be overwhelming. Gone are the days of snagging the cheapest string lights from your local hardware store. Between big-box shops and online storefronts, there are countless decorative items available in every shape, size, and colorway imaginable.
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With December in full swing, Hunker turned to some of our go-to interior designers for insight into this year's must-skip — and must-have — items. Read on to learn more about which outdated holiday decor trends to avoid, and which to partake in, this winter.
1. Over-Decking the Halls
When it comes to holiday decor, it is tempting to go overboard. They don't call it "the most wonderful time of the year" for nothing. But Justin Williams, interior designer and owner of Atlanta's Trademark Design Co., strongly cautions against a maximalist approach. "In my experience, it's imperative that holiday decor isn't overdone," he tells Hunker. "My principle is 'less is more.' [Seasonal] decorations should accent, not overpower, your home."
Kirsten Blazek, founder and principal designer of A1000xBetter, shares the same philosophy as Williams. "Carefully selected decor makes a bigger impact than an explosion of holiday decor," she tells Hunker. Blazek recommends assessing the dominant colors in your home and using some of those as your primary palette for holiday decorating. This will ensure that any seasonal additions align with your existing aesthetic.
2. Fake Garland
In line with his "less is more" approach, Williams is a big fan of seasonal accent pieces, such as garland. He's especially excited about this year's decor trend of real Christmas tree garland, which adds an "imperfect," organic element to a room and perfumes your home with the festive scent of fresh pine. It's pricier and requires a tad more maintenance than the fake stuff, sure, but if you can swing it, he highly recommends making the swap.
Blazek loves incorporating fresh greens, too. As an alternative, she suggests burning a winter-inspired scented candle in your home, which will create a similar multi-sensory effect.
3. Only Decorating With Bright Jewel Tones
Although most of us associate the winter holidays with bright, bold jewel tones, Blazek says we shouldn't let arbitrary color conventions limit our decor options. Plus, muted hues are more on-trend right now. "What feels outdated in one house might feel perfect in another," she explains. "However, in general, I do believe there is a move toward more palette-forward, tonal decorating."
Personally, the Los Angeles-based designer plans to switch her red Christmas tree ornaments with burgundy ones, which mesh well with her home's earth-toned decor. She's also a big fan of neutral-colored, "nature-inspired" holiday items, such as linen tablecloths or napkins. "This will set a neutral palette for you to work additional decor onto," she says.
4. Over-the-Top Christmas Lights
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase "holiday decor"? For many of us, it's probably festive outdoor displays. You know the kind — come December 1, these homes are reliably decked out with flashing, colorful lights and enormous, elaborate lawn blow-ups. The spirit is there, but Williams still prefers to err on the side of subtlety. He's very over icicle-shaped exterior lights, which he says "have long outlived their time."
Consider changing yours out for a more subdued option, such as simple string lights, which look and feel more contemporary. Blazek generally favors warm white lights, which create "a cozy and magical atmosphere" whether they're strewn outside your home or across your Christmas tree.
And if you must add a bold element to your home's exterior, William is partial to placing life-size figures — think nutcrackers or reindeers — near your front door to "greet" guests. "Seeing these figures standing tall and wowing guests is a trend that I think will enhance any home's holiday decor," he adds.
5. Conventional Christmas Tree Skirts
Still adorning your Christmas tree with a plain skirt? Try switching it up this year by introducing an unexpected element to the bottom of your tree. "I like to find a piece of vintage fabric in the right color palette to complement my ornaments," Blazek advises. This subtle, contemporary swap will infuse some of your unique flair into an otherwise unremarkable fixture of holiday decorating.
6. Tinsel Christmas Tree Streamers
These glamorous, metallic embellishments are a quick and affordable way to decorate your Christmas tree, but their heyday has come and gone, says Williams: "Much like icicle lights, there are so many other options to glam up your tree for the holidays that will take you out of the 1950s." What's more, cheap streamers are known to shed. Modernize your tree — and minimize your clean-up in the new year — with a more delicate, tasteful alternative, such as ribbons or strings of dried citrus slices.