your house for the holidays can be a ton of fun, but it can also be a real time
squeeze. That’s because when it comes to decorating, the holiday wish list can
get quite long. From lighting the exterior of your home to setting up the tree,
decorating the mantel, and filling the house with cheer, there’s a lot that we
want to do to get our home holiday-ready. So how do you tackle that list in a
way that saves time and energy while making your home look like magical elves
decorated it? We went to two of the top experts in holiday decorating to find
1. Before you buy a tree, test the branches.
See if they can hold the weight of your
ornaments. Sometimes the cheaper the tree, the finer the needle, which means a
droopy tree once it’s decorated, which puts your ornaments in danger on top of
ruining your holiday photos around the tree. Blue spruce and fir trees are
generally good choices.
2. Use 50-bulb light sets.
Whether lighting trees inside or outside, opt for 50-bulb sets instead of 100-bulb sets. “The 100-bulb sets are too long and difficult to work with” says Scott Parrish, a Chicago-based, professional light installer with Illuminight Holiday Lighting, the company that’s been lighting the Lincoln Park Zoo for the past decade. “When they go out, you’ve lost a lot more of your tree.”
3. Light your tree from the middle and top first.
This makes it easier to go up and down
and you won’t use as many light sets, says Parrish. “Make the main power point
in the middle of the tree,” he adds. “Run an extension cord along the ground in
the back then place the cord up the trunk and start stringing lights out across
the branches, starting from the top.” Going from top to bottom ensures you
won’t get tangled and trip on your work.
4. Organize your ornaments.
Ornaments tend to fall into two categories: those you love and the fillers. The fillers go in the interior of the tree for depth. “If you have kids, look for modern plastic ornaments in a palate of the same color, such as three shades of gold,” says Melanio Gomez, a photo stylist for the past 20 years and a contributing editor at Martha Stewart Living. It’s nice to mix classic glass and ceramic ornaments with these newer plastic ones, plus it’s harder for kids and pets to break them. “The ornaments you love most, you want to place at eye level.”
5. Try lighted snowflakes.
If stringing lights across a roofline or through trees and plants aren’t your idea of a good time, Parrish suggests hanging lighted snowflakes in key spots instead. “They fill a big area, they’re easy to hang, and they look really pretty.”
Do low maintenance holiday decorating styles appeal to you? Find out if your real holiday hosting style matches your holiday decorating style with this fun quiz!
6. Hide an outdoor extension cord.
When placing lights along a roofline, run
the extension cord behind the downspout of a gutter and use Zip ties that blend
with the color of your gutter to secure it. This will keep it out of sight.
7. Spruce up your mantle by showcasing a collection.
Most people hang all their stockings here
but you can also try something else – perhaps your nutcracker collection? If
you’re not a collector, fill glass containers in various sizes with holiday
ornaments for the same look, says Gomez, a trick he picked up during his years
styling rooms for Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma. Pro tip: put a ball of
tissue in the container first, then fill around it – you’ll get the same full
look without using quite so much filler.
“I’ve also placed batting on the mantle
with fake snow and tucked in village buildings, so it looks like a town spread
out across the mantel,” Gomez says.
8. Fill lanterns with flickering LED candles.
If you have stairs, place lanterns with
flickering LED candles in them along the sides, starting with the largest at
the bottom. “You can put them on timers and they can go for up to eight hours,”
9. Add a touch of vintage modern whimsy.
Faux antlers are a ton of fun and very on
trend right now, especially a pair of white ones hanging on a wall. Hang them
in unusual places, like a bathroom or a hallway.
10. Spray frost made to look like ice, not snow.
“Most people spray it on windows, but it
looks beautiful on mirrors, too,” says Gomez. “It’s an easy way to add a
festive touch throughout your home with little effort.”
11. Hang wreaths on interior doors and windows, not just the front door.
Even inside on a bathroom window, it can
make a basic space feel special. “Look for wreaths that can carry you from
Thanksgiving to Christmas, like magnolia,” Gomez says. Keep in mind that with
so many advances in faux plants these days, it’s no longer considered tacky to
forgo the fresh kind in favor of the faux.
12. Pick up a few shiny branches.
Place glittery branches sold at most craft and home stores inside tall clear vases and sprinkle them throughout the house. “If the branches are sturdy enough you can hang small ornaments,” Gomez says. The result is holiday elegance with minimal fuss.
Ana Connery is former content director of Parenting, Babytalk, Pregnancy Planner and Conceive magazines as well as parenting.com.
While editor in chief of Florida Travel & Life magazine from 2006-2009, she covered the state’s real estate and home design market as well as travel destinations.
She’s held senior editorial positions at some of the country’s most celebrated magazines, including Latina, Fitness and Cooking Light, where she oversaw the brand’s “FitHouse” show home.
Ana’s expertise is frequently sought after for appearances on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and CNN. She has interviewed the country’s top experts in a variety of fields, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and First Lady Michelle Obama.