My Go-To Christmas Decor

November 30, 2011

Well…it’s finally starting to look like CHRISTMAS up in here! I had forgotten how much I love turning off all the lights and letting just the Christmas lights twinkle. Magic. :)

As I was pulling decor out today, it occurred to me that I use the same formula every year for most of my holiday decorating. I’ve mentioned it before, but I think it’s worth repeating.

I think any home can look Christmas-tastic with three things:

1. Garland/greenery
2. Ornaments/sparkle
3. Natural elements

I used to decorate with mostly holiday-specific things – so that meant I had to take down all the current accessories and replace them with new. Let me tell you, it gets exhausting. :) All the lugging stuff down to the basement, lugging the bins up, lugging them back down, lugging the year-round accessories back UP after the holidays.

Whew. Lots of lugging.

Now I do my best to use what I already have up and Christmasfy it.

Like taking the lemons and limes out of a basket and replacing them with pinecones and ornaments:

decorating with ornaments

Score one for ornaments and natural. ;)

Remember my DIY trough thingy I made for the family room? I used all of the above to make it work for the holidays and I love how it turned out!

My favorite tool this time of year is my wire cutter:

wire cutters for garland

I cut my garland all apart using this baby. I leave some in one piece as a base, then cut individual pieces off different types of greenery to stick in here and there. It makes the end result full and more interesting. (I think.)

Then I add the lights (OK, there should be a No. 4 on that list – lights are a must for sure) and fill in any empty spots with ornaments, sparkly beady stuff and pinecones:

greenery and lights

I drilled a hole into the back of the trough so I could put the lights right through it.



OK really, not kidding.

I added a sparkly dollar store ornament to the mirror above the TV and called it done:

LOVE. :)

Today I worked on the Goodwill shelves in our kitchen -- again, using what we already have. I stuffed some sparkly red pics in my little pitcher and then some real greenery as well:

greenery in pitcher

Is it sad that one of my very favorite parts of our new backyard is the fact that we had arborvitaes planted, so now I have access to REAL green in our house this time of year?

It makes me positively giddy. I felt like Heidi frolicking around the evergreens out there.

I used little snips of it to fill in some spots, and bigger swags that I just laid on the shelves, along with some sparkly faux greenery (that I cut off of it’s stem).

Sparkly, yes. Natural, yes. Greenery, yes. I tell ya – it works!

Add some ornaments to the mix and I really don’t think you can go wrong:

green bowl red ornaments

I LOVE the pop of green of this vintage pedestal from my late father-in-law’s house. The added bonus is I think of him every time I walk by this little vignette. :)

I wanted to keep some fun in the display, so I added a couple dollar tree trees (huh?) from a few years ago:

red and white felt trees

I love love love how this little mix turned out:

red green white christmas vignette

Best part is I already had everything. Boo.yah.

I don’t think you can get more classic than red, green and white. As much as I try to get into different colors for the season, I ALWAYS gravitate back to the classics for most of our decor.

I went the same direction with our (new) mantel – here’s a sneak peek, just cause I’m so giddy about it:

red green white mantel

This is why it takes me longer than I hope to decorate for the holidays – it’s not always just pulling an item out of the bins and setting it up. It’s taking different parts of a recipe and making something visually yummy. :)

Trying to use what I have and making it work for holiday decor is a challenge, but I eat it up. It’s WAY more fun to me – it totally gets my decorating mojo going and I love watching it all come together. It’s my thang.

By the way. This is behind the scenes of it all coming together:

I firmly believe there has to be a bit of madness in order to get to the good stuff. :)

So what are your go to’s for decorating for the season? Do we have the same list? What colors do you use in your holiday decor? I’d love to hear!

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  1. I'm with you all the way on swapping out items and adding some ornaments to the mix! Those two shelves are pure Christmas perfection might I add! I'm loving gold and silver this year with red as an accent color.

  2. Your house is definitely looking Merry & Bright!! I LOVE the way your shelves look!! Martina

  3. I love the classics! Your house is coming together beautifully, and I can't wait to see your new fireplace! I used to have my Christmas decorating process down to a science, but since we've moved, I'm still working on my holiday mojo! It's coming together, and it's a lot of fun in the process (although I think my hubby is tired of seeing my Hobby Lobby receipts...)


  4. I agree with everything you say and have been hard at work using the same tricks you've been using and I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one who gravitates to red and green!! Your house looks fab! I can't wait to see the mantel!!

  5. lol.. i don't comment often but read all the time :) i do the switching of pinecones and christmas balls you mentioned. this year for the first time ever, i ordered real balsam wreaths through a school fundraiser. i love the smell! and the idea that i don't have to find storage for them later. hmmm... :)

    also, just wanted to wish you a merry christmas and thanks for always sharing your wonderful ideas in such a fun way.

  6. It all looks amazing! A true testament to the fact that sometimes simple can be the most beautiful!

    -Cortney @

  7. I'm so glad to see I'm not the only one whose house looks like Hobby Lobby blew up in it when I'm in transition! I also love the classic red/green/white, but I gotta say I'm going blue, green and silver in my dining room, and the kitchen is in Fiestaware and bright colors, too. Happy holidays!
    Terry @Domestic Dilettante

  8. YEAH! I love those shelves! I am pretty impressed with myself and the decorating for the season...I've gotten the table and a few little tings done around...and I'm making a ton. I totally neeeeed to do a classic red, white, and green sometime..this year its very bright and colorful. But everything sparkly sure puts you in the mood for some matter what the color!

  9. Love all of your decorating and love that you're using what you have and just adding or changing out things. I love your trouthy thing - it's gorgeous and the lights do just make it! :)
    Lots of pretty.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  10. I use natural elements like blue spruce, pinecones, spray painted (silver and gold) branches, and cedar all from our Lovely Indy backyard. (the previous owners were genius to plant this stuff!)

    I also use LED lights, evergreen garland, and ribbons in red, aqua, and limey green but not neon green, oh and all the penguins people have given me over the years.
    I have figures, ornaments, statues, etc.

  11. Very pretty! As always. I tend to find myself gravitating toward lots of white and silver this year. And red. And gold. And green. And peacock blue. And copper.

    Oh who am I kidding? It's a Christmas rainbow in my house. No rhyme or reason. If I like it, it's coming home with me.

  12. Here, here! Leaving about 50% of my Christmas decorations in their bins and simplifying things. It's saving my back!

  13. Gosh! Your house looks great! I love all the Christmas-y touches that are just everywhere the eye roams. Thanks for sharing your tips for us.

  14. I am with you on the lights, garland, ornaments and I would add candles! I love candlelight especially this time of year. I had my hubby make a wooden box to hold my Tday arrangement. it was 4ft6in. and it turned out great, full of artichokes and limes, curly will and candles. I just did a post today on the natural look of Christmas, your elements would have been great for my post. I really like the simplicity of your designs it is so festive and inviting,

  15. My living room floor looks like your kitchen island. I've put 3 trees up in my house and done some decorating but I'm running out of steam and ideas. Might have to use some of yours. Can't wait to see your mantel...not liking mine so far! Might have to redo it. Haha!

  16. Love it Sarah! I totally agree, I have to use classic Christmas colors, and I did a double take when I saw your vignette because I have that same vintage green pedestal! Inherited it through my family too, and now I know what to do with it! Can't wait to see the rest of your home decked out for the holidays! :)

  17. Its looking fabulous and I can hardly wait to see more.

    I'll be giving away a lot of my older holiday decor and using more natural next year. its time to let others enjoy these things.

    Happy Holidays

  18. LOL! You crack me up! I love your words! Your house is looking Christmas-tastic! Can't wait to see your mantel!!

  19. Oh, that is so beautiful!! I too love the red bows/ornaments, greenery, white lights, and sparkly stuff. I also love your idea about using what you already have out. It is so overwhelming to me each year to figure out what to store while the Christmas stuff is out so I love your idea of using some of what is already out and adding bits and pcs to it. Great idea!! can't wait to see what the mantle/fireplace looks like with the Christmas decor.

  20. Looks so warm and cozy! Thanks for the great ideas!!!

  21. It looks so beautiful! I love the sparkle and the greenery and lights and can't wait to see the entire mantle! My go-tos are lights, garlands and greenery, sparkles and ribbon. Love to do everything in white and green and silver with red. I also love to use oranges with greenery, used Christmas ornaments instead of bowls of lemons and bananas. Happy sparkly decorating!

  22. I just have to say that I love ya for showing us behind the scenes. :) I have always loved your Christmas decorations--they feel so warm and cozy!

  23. Hmmm....that messy creative scene reminds me of my kitchen table...I pulled out lots of fake greenery, pine cones, and sparkly ornaments, too this year. Plus I like to have candles everywhere. They get lit on Christmas week. Might go invest in some battery operated ones, but for now I am done. I kept it simple this year after purging a whole lot of my Christmas decor stash last year. I think when you keep it simple it detracts from the stress of the season. Less stress = more fun. Love those cute Dollar Tree trees.

  24. Beautiful! I love to use red, green & gold in my decor mostly & in some spots of the house I use alot of blue & silver b/c I can usually use that decor throughout the winter. :-) What did you put up on the new mantel?

  25. I love the items and color and that your work area looks almost as creative as mine :)

  26. Love the simplicity of it, and when there are small children in the home I think simple is best. Less for them to accidentally break!

  27. Yep we have the same formula! I also stick with the same colors just add in a splash of gold. The hard part is all these cute things you see on blogs, I don't need anymore decorating stuff because I use alot of what I have and I agree decorating that way is really timeless.

  28. Haaa haa!!! MY diningroom AND kitchen table looks like yours. The man keeps asking me..."when are we going to be able to eat on ONE of the tables?". Of course, I've added a level of difficulty to my decorating...I just moved a month ago and STILL haven't unpacked...*sigh*. So I'm decorating...AS I'm decorating...:) And I'm with, green...natural looks. I stick with what I like. I actually just painted one of my ceramic Had it for WAS blue. Decided I loved the look of white ceramic, so out to the garage I went and after four was beautiful!

  29. Your Christmas vignettes look great! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who likes to just add Christmas to what's already there (for the most part). It's way too exhausting to pack and unpack and then do it all again. Since my home is decorated in mostly blues, greens and purples, my Christmas decs are also in those colors. I love the traditional, but it always looked so out of place with everything else, and I didn't want to pack, unpack.... :)

  30. I have that same sparkly dollar tree red star in my home and it is on a mirror too! Great minds think alike. :) Oh and that kitchen scene?? I saw your Bubs sneaking into the pantry in that picture and that made me laugh.....that is how I get the kids to give me just a little more time to decorate. :) Looks just gorge in your home. :)

  31. Good morning!
    I have been a loyal follower for quite a while, and I normally just sit quietly and peek in on your great blog..but never leave comments. Well, I just had to tell you how much I enjoy your inexpensive yet fabulous decorating and diy..not to mention your great sense of humor! That comes through in your posts! Hope your holidays are merry and bright!!!!

  32. We've got the green down in our house. Last winter, we painted the living room a deep pine color. We go for the Northwoods look here at Christmas time. The red and black buffalo plaid or checks really cozy it up! As for the trough stuff...I had 2 strings of white lights left over when I did our patio and didn't feel like stringing them up anywhere. (It was getting really cold out there!) I mashed them all into a trough style planter, put it on top of the outside bakers rack and called it good. Lovely glow! Thanks, Sarah, for sharing your "recipes" with us!

  33. it's funny that you write about this. because i've taken down fall/thanksgiving and putting up winter/christmas. and i just realized i do the same thing!! and how smart are we for thinking of this?! swap out a few themed items but leave the basics the same! i do heavy nature, pine cones, twigs, wood, and add the holiday themed items and im done.

  34. Love what you did. Always do the greenery, but I string sparkly red ribbon through spots where I can't get lights cause of lack of outlets (doorways especially)to get that shine. I leave the ribbon in when they go into storage, so they are ready for next year. Blue dining room gets silver accents. Ugly kids door gets wrapped like a present until we can get it replaced or painted. Thanks for all the ideas! Belinda

  35. Your hose is lovely! Thanks for posting the formula; it's great to have a starting point!

    And like the others have said, thanks for the behind the scenes photo. It's great to find a blogger who is honest enough to keep it real!

  36. Lookin' good, Sarah! I love what you've shown us so far. Can't wait for you to share the mantel and the tree. : )

    I always try to use things I have around the house in my holiday decorating. It just seems like an extra expense to buy new every year. Why?

    ~ Catie

  37. Your home looks so nice and Christmasfied! I too hated having to take out my everyday knick knacks but it's only for 1 month so I deal :/ I'll be decorating my apartment tonight and your post is just the added inspiration. Thanx!!!

  38. I absolutely dread holiday decorating. Thanks for the inspiration!

  39. I love all your decorations and the way you mix them in with your year-round decor. You did a beautiful job!

  40. Love the white pitcher with greens in it. My favourite, though, is the look on your son's face as he opens the door - what ARE you doing Mom? :)

  41. I love it all! And Webster's should recognize Christmas-fy, Christmas-tatstic and my fave--festabulous (festive + fabulous), ha!

  42. Gorgeous. Especially the red berries and greenery in the white jug. So classic :)

  43. Some things I like to use are battery operated candles, & greens that are from my backyard pine trees. I also use holly bushes and other greens from the garden, but the pine trees really get utilized. I make a swaggie thingy for the front door (a version of a wreath, not round) and add pinecones, a bow & other greenery. Free!

    I also have some decorative Christmas items that come out of storage that are family heirlooms, passed down, that sort of thing.

    I was wondering if you have a problem that I have had in the past. (I'm doing better) Every year, do you find something Christmasy well past Christmastime you forgot to pack away?


  44. I'm so with you on the whole redecorating thing, I've given up! I like to add a few touches here and there, but it seem every year I add a little less, because I hate the clean up after. Your house looks lovely, and I'm absolutely drooling over that box you built for under your tv.

  45. You are brilliant with the Christmas decor. I love how you pull the vignettes together and I will borrow some of these ideas.

    I've started my decorating with a Colonial-inspired front door wreath. You can see pics on my site. :-)

  46. Looks great and you are brave to show behind the scene. I haven't gotten that brave yet. I use the same colors that I've had for the last 14-15 years. What can I say, I like it. I use white, gold, and silver but this year, I did add some red. My walls are red. I'd love it if you'd hope over to my blog and take a peek. Feel free to tell my what you think. I love feed back too. Thanks for sharing your home.

  47. LOL to the gal who thought her house looks like an explosion of Hobby Lobby while the transformation happens. I changed my method so as not to go mad....Day one is completely dismantle fall decor. Day two is clean head to toe (or stem to stern). Day three is decorate. Each of these days only includes a couple of hours of work at the most that way it isn't overwhelming. I used to do a whole day changeover and then have a decorating hangover the next day.:)

  48. Everything look amazing.. But your home always does.. Can't wait to see more..Happy Weekend

  49. I love incorporated the natural with sparkly! This year I used a lot of cards from Christmases past in my decor. They are nice to look at and have special meaning! Your shelves look great by the way!

  50. I love the real greenery ~ all of it looks so cute. I'm going to be walking my neighborhood to snatch some greenery :) HA!

  51. I agree completely with your formula and do the same...Christmasfy everything. I usually go for classic, but the kids keep bugging me to add color, so I'm stepping outside my box a bit this year - YIKES! Colored lights and all!

  52. I love your take on using waht is already there and adding a festive touch. It gives me hope. Holiday decorating is my favorite and I have the bins to ptove it. Sadly, I took a fall a couple of weeks ago and just had surgery. Two plates and 6 pins in my wrist. Using your twist on decorating fits the bill for me. Thank you!

  53. please forgive my spelling in my last comment. one handed typing is baddddd

  54. I love it all! So jealous that you have greenery just out the back door. I have oak trees...not too Christmasy looking. (spell check doesn't like that one either)
    My fave from this post, the green pedestal. Yep it's awesome...vintage, green, stirs a memory, it's fab!

  55. Thanks for posting your Christmas look! :) I also appreciate seeing what it "looks" like in all it's madness. My mom struggles with trying to have it change a little bit every year and it goes on forever! Feels like by the time it's done, it's time to take it down. Now that I have my own apartment with hubby I decorate my tree with red and purple (including purple lights). I love DARK purple! :) I had this small tree and decorations before marriage and it matched my room. And I'll add your fireplace looks nice.


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