Holiday Decorating Guide

Tired of the same old holiday decorations? Mix it up this year. A color scheme of ice white, silver and blue tones blend together for a fanciful sparkle. And creative ideas give old items like ornaments new life. By layering different shades and adding accents beyond the tree, you’ll create a look with an elegant touch. Here’s how to get the look:

Frame Your Wreaths
Choose a mirror or frame that has a contemporary color to upgrade this decoration to a true piece of art. Plus, it’s a perfect way to work around your existing décor.


Look for Basic Shapes
Let the shapes of Christmas inspire you. Simple cylinders, circles and stars all represent the season’s silhouette, and can be embellished with lots of sparkle or bright colors for big impact.

Cohesive Colors
The color scheme you choose reflects your personality as much as the style of ornaments. Pick nontraditional shapes, or mix in items that remind you of meaningful moments.


Get Creative with Gift Wrap
An easy way to pull double duty when gift-giving is to attach an ornament to the box. Pair it with matching gift wrap, secure with ribbon — and see how the gift of lasting memories is truly tied up with a bow!


Expert Wreath Lighting Tips
There are plenty of wreaths already equipped with lights, but if you want to do it yourself, keep the wreath’s size in mind. Use a piece of string to wrap around the wreath for a rough estimate. And make sure to keep in mind the extra length you’ll need to reach the outlet.

Take Ornaments Beyond the Tree
Christmas ornaments aren’t just for the tree. Fill a decorative bowl with colorful balls to make a pretty centerpiece. Keep the container’s color neutral so that the ornaments truly shine. And feel free to mix it up! Traditional single-hue ornaments get extra attention when they’re paired with others that use stripes or unusual shapes. Paint faux branches and berries in complementary colors for an easy way to bring it all together.


Home Decorating Tips: How to Style Bookshelves Like a Pro

If there’s one piece of furniture with endless style potential, it’s bookshelves. These spaces are often used for function only, but you can style bookshelves so they display your personality through meaningful objects and unique knick-knacks in addition to your reading collection.

“[Bookshelves] are the absolute architecture of a space no matter where they are on your wall,” says Ashlina Kaposta, a New York City–based interior designer and popular blogger on The Decorista. Kaposta styles bookshelves on a regular basis for clients and is never at a loss for items to fill them. “You can use anything,” says Ashlina.

Anyone can style bookshelves with Kaposta’s easy home decorating tips. Here’s how.

Begin With Empty Bookshelves
Move everything off your shelves and onto the floor. Group similar objects together to better see what you have: Try organizing books by jacket color (see below), by subject matter or by the years or places they were collected. Also gather unique objects and knick-knacks you want to display. See what fits in your plan and what doesn’t, and play with the placement of items. As far as the bookshelf itself goes, affordable units from discount stores will do just fine. But if you’re looking for showcase shelving, Kaposta’s personal favorite finishes are vintage chrome and brass, which will really highlight what they house.

Maintain a Sense of Balance and Symmetry
When you’re deciding where items should go, vary the placement to increase visual interest: Try stacking some books horizontally while lining others up vertically. Create balance and symmetry on your bookshelves by mirroring one placement pattern on an opposing shelf. Kaposta also suggests grouping things in odd numbers.

Color Coordinate Books and Objects
Grouping items by color “instantly changes up the space,” says Kaposta. Line up book spines in a rainbow order to turn books into an eye-catching element from a distance where titles are indecipherable.

Group Collections Together
If you have a collection of similar items — such as colorful rocks or sea shells — keep them together in one area. Give order to your collection by placing the pieces on a lacquered or mirrored tray.

Stack Boxes Full of Paperwork
Keep important documents within reach — but out of sight — by storing them inside chic boxes. Buy boxes in multiples and look for luxe textures and graphic patterns to make a stylish impact.

Include Travel Keepsakes
Remind yourself of fun getaways with objects from travels, such as volcanic rocks and carved statuettes. Mix them in with other treasures to keep it interesting.

Use Mirrors and Artwork Sparingly
Remember, this is a bookshelf — not a wall. Save most, if not all, of your artwork for a wall instead of hiding it away in a bookshelf. If you want one piece, that should be sufficient; use two small pieces at the most.

Make Use of Eye Level
A standout photo or detailed statuette is of no use to anyone on the top shelf of a floor-to-ceiling unit. Arrange objects that require a more detailed appreciation within eyesight.

Capitalize on Storage Opportunities
Your bookshelves can serve as functional storage for more than just your books. For example, a showpiece serving tray that’s too big to fit in kitchen cabinets can find a home among other objects. Plus, it can be appreciated at all times from this perch, instead of just a few times a year when you’re entertaining.

Holiday Décor: Home Decorating Ideas for Inside and Out


  • Branching out. This free home decorating idea takes just a minute. All you need is a large leafless branch and a pitcher or hurricane lantern. Fill the pitcher with enough sand to hold the weight of the branch, then place the branch in the sand. If you’re using a clear lantern, fill with colored sand. Add more personality with a set of twinkling lights or ornaments with a theme or color. Set near the front door or stairway or make two to flank a fireplace.
  • Inside the box. Cut florist foam to fit an old wooden box (the more weathered, the better!). Add greenery — try trimmings from your Christmas tree — plus snippets of juniper, hemlock and holly branches. Tuck in pinecones, votives in glass canning jars or apples and pears for a rustic centerpiece for your mantel or table.
  • Family sentiments. The holidays are all about family, so place them front and center in your home decorating. Ask each member of your family for one word they feel sums up the holidays. Print their words on a piece of heavy-duty paper and cut each word out. Embellish the cards with a stencil, if you wish. Attach a piece of florist wire to the mantel or stair rail, then clothespin each word to the wire. Cover each end of the wire with a large velvet or burlap bow.
  • Forgo the red and green. Just because red and green are the holiday colors doesn’t mean you have to use them. If your living room is a color that clashes, play up that hue instead. For instance, a silver-sage living room becomes the backdrop for a white-and-silver color scheme. Choose white candles, silver candelabras, paper cutouts or German feather trees, spray-painted pine cones and twig wreaths, white poinsettias and white and silver pillow covers and throws.
  • Keep it simple. You don’t have to go crazy with the decorations. A grouping of same-color candles in the fireplace, a bowl of ornaments on the dining room table, an unadorned swath of greenery on the mantle all give nod to the season while staying subdued. If you have an open or glass-front china cabinet, add some pinecones or ornaments to the shelves. Have a collection of pitchers or glassware? Add a few bare branches to your favorites.


  • Gather the greenery. Swap out the flowers in your window boxes for an armful of cut evergreen and berry branches. Insert a florist bow and plastic gold or silver balls too. If you prefer, use potted dwarf conifers such as golden false cypress, boxwood, Old Gold juniper or even lavender.
  • Dine al fresco. Who says Christmas dinner needs to be in the dining room? Move the meal outside if you live in a warmer climate (or use outdoor heaters). Use an old plaid blanket as a tablecloth and set the table with mismatched white or old holiday china patterns. Add a runner of evergreen and twigs woven through with a colorful or burlap ribbon. Place hurricanes with candles intermittently down the center. Don’t be formal and matchy-matchy. Remember: you want rustic! Tie place cards to pinecones or natural brush ornaments.
  • Deck the outdoor halls. If you live in a warm climate, bring the holidays to the lanai or porch by incorporating the colors of the season. Typical holiday plants such as poinsettia or amaryllis will do just fine outside. And a plant on each table or a swag across the fireplace makes the season merry.
  • Festive façade. Dress your house for the holidays with a wreath on each window. The look is timeless, but you can easily make it modern with grapevine wreaths or rustic with naked evergreens and no bows. Too many windows for this to be practical? Center a battery-operated votive on each windowsill instead; flameless candles can be bought for about $15 a dozen.
  • Festival of lights. You don’t need to be Clark Griswold to light up your home— and you don’t need to use those “little twinkling lights.” Try a giant chain of snowflakes so your house twinkles in a different way, and add some to the trees, too.

How to Organize Holiday Decorations

The holidays have come to a close, which means you can finally relax and stop worrying about that persistently pesky to-do list. But before you get too comfy, you’ll need to tackle one more holiday task — storing and organizing holiday decorations.

These expert tips will get your decorations perfectly organized and ready for next year. Your ghost of Christmas Future will thank you!


• Downsizing is an important element of organizing holiday decorations. Before you pack away this year’s items, bring out all the decorations that didn’t make the cut. Decide which treasures you can donate, give away or throw out, suggests organizational expert Kammie Lisenby of Seattle Organizing Experts. Just think: If you get rid of old ornaments, you’ll have extra space for new ones next year!

• Store decorations in “the heavy green and red containers that are on sale this time of year,” suggests Marilyn Bohn from Get it Together Organizing. You’ll immediately recognize them as Christmas decoration containers thanks to the festive colors, and you won’t be scouring the attic or storage shed next year to find them. In addition, Lisenby suggests storing all your holiday decorations in one area for easy access next year. Somewhere that’s not prime year-round real estate — such as the back of the garage or attic — is best. And make sure that your containers are made of hard plastic and have a tight locking lid.

• Label, label, label, Lisenby says. Mark even individually wrapped ornaments so you’ll immediately know what’s what next year without having to unpack everything first. Clear nametag inserts attached to the outside of boxes are great because they allow you to change the label from year to year if needed.

• Accidents happen, so keep a tube of crazy glue with your Christmas decorations, suggests Bonnie Joy Dewkett of The Joyful Organizer. If you open your holiday decorations next year to find a break, you’ll be ready for a quick fix and the broken ornament won’t be left sitting in the corner all holiday waiting for you to “get around” to mending it.

• We all like to keep the original boxes with our grandmother’s writing on them, Lisenby says. But to really preserve memories, make sure you have the proper storage for your treasures (large, sturdy boxes in which to store the smaller treasured boxes).


• One trusted (and inexpensive) trick for organizing holiday lights: Keep them from becoming tangled by wrapping them around a flat piece of cardboard — a paper towel tube also works. Bohn, Dewkett and Lisenby all love this trick. On an exposed end of the cardboard or on a label tag, jot down where the lights belong next year (Christmas tree, mantel, entry window, and the like). Wrap lights in newspaper or packing paper and store them in a hard plastic, durable container.

• Bohn recommends investing in a Lightkeeper Pro (about $25), the complete tool for fixing miniature lights. It is worth its weight in gold as it fixes light strands that have been rendered useless thanks to a fixable problem. Keep it with your lights for next year for ease of use.


• Next time you’re at the wine or liquor store, Bohn suggests asking if you can take some empty boxes with bottle separators off their hands. The boxes are perfect for dividing and protecting bubble-wrapped delicate ornaments.

• For another affordable option to safe-keep breakables, glue the bottoms of plastic cups to a flat piece of cardboard, says Dewkett. Once the ornaments are inside the cups, place another flat piece of cardboard on top, tie them together and store in a tote or large box.

• Lisenby warns against wrapping ornaments (particularly delicate or valuable ones) in printed paper. Always use plain packing paper or tissue paper so the ink doesn’t rub off on your ornaments, she says. And when you purchase new ornaments, keep the original packaging if possible.

• If you have broken ornaments that you want to keep, fix them before storing them, Bohn says. As you’re downsizing, get rid of those you don’t like or don’t plan to use in coming years. If there are ornaments you don’t plan to use but will keep for sentimental reasons, store them in a smaller box, label it and place in the bottom of the larger storage container. This will save you the time of separating these ornaments from the others next year.

DIY Decorating with Halloween Lanterns

Gearing up for a Halloween fright fest — or perhaps a candy-coated kids party? For some DIY decorating inspiration, try these easy Halloween lanterns. Bonus: It’s an earth-friendly way to repurpose old glass jars. Chic and environmentally friendly? Nothing spooky about that!



Glass mason jars, washed and dried

Spray paint in desired colors

Acrylic paint, black

Paint brush, small enough to paint detailed designs

Patterned ribbon

Tea lights

Step 1

Turn the jars upside down on your painting surface and apply several coasts of spray paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the jars dry completely.


Step 2

Paint your chosen designs on the outside of the jars with black acrylic paint.  (It may take a couple of coats to get a solid color.) Our favorites? Pumpkin faces, spiders, ghost eyes and bats. Let dry completely.


Step 3

Optional: Apply a coat of high-gloss varnish to the outsides of the jars. To finish your lanterns, glue a patterned ribbon around the top and place a tea light in them to add a nice glow to your holiday party. This is a great project for kids — until you put the candle inside. Then please keep out of reach of children.

Decorating Inspiration: 5 Easy Holiday Centerpieces

When you’re hosting for the holidays, it’s your time to shine. The perfect way to show off your hostess-with-the-mostest prowess is by placing an “I-would-never-have-thought-of-that” stunner atop your table or in your entryway. Check out our five holiday centerpiece ideas for some decorating inspiration. They may move you to create your own unique showstoppers — or just duplicate these and call them your own. We won’t tell.


1. Old is New Again

To create this simple centerpiece, interior designer Virginia Burney dug through her old and unused ornaments and found a hodgepodge grouping that looks like it came in a ready-made pack. Stick to two or three colors of ornaments so the display isn’t too jarring. Here, a couple shades of red are accented by gold and topped with fresh pine branches from the yard for the perfect Yuletide table topper (and the pine adds a nice, fresh scent too!).


2. Understated Elegance

Want an elegant holiday centerpiece for your table? Let your table sparkle and shine with white tulip arrangements adorned with pretty ribbon and sparkling silver ornaments. This one, created by Laura Trevey of, looks crisp and classic. Placing a few identical arrangements atop mirrors adds extra sparkle. Flank the arrangement with taper candles to further add to the ambiance.



3. Centerpieces of a Feather

This centerpiece by interior designer Candace Volz is particularly attention-grabbing, but it’s a style that can be used year round. Find a beautiful display box at a vintage store, fill the box with craft Styrofoam (sold in blocks at craft stores), then stick feathers throughout the foam in your desired arrangement. Try peacock feathers for extra color!


4. Simple Style

Want a contemporary centerpiece? Go the route designer Megan Crane went by filling a tall glass cylinder with water and floating a single stalk of orchids in it. Use glass stones to anchor the flowers at the bottom. “To make it more dramatic, try adding multiple containers to the table or try different heights and sizes,” she suggests. “The result will be a custom-designed floral arrangement that is sleek and unique!”


5. Fun and Fruity

To create this colorful display, interior designer and artist Carole Meyer used artificial fruit placed in shapely glass containers. “I try to buy the most real-looking artificial fruit I can, which is a bit more expensive but the look is worth it,” she says. To add extra color and contrast, place green moss at the bottom. These fruit displays can work year round. For a look that screams holidays, use pine cones and Christmas decorations. “Let your imagination go and have fun!” Meyer says.

10 DIY Home Décor Projects to Get You Through Winter

Forget winter doldrums! Power through the cold and the gray with these fun and inspiring DIY home décor projects.


1. Boring Cabinet Redo

Skill level: Moderate


Why we love it: We all know those store-bought, low-personality furniture pieces. They’re great on the budget, but not so good for making a style impact. Naomi, of Design Manifest, saw the potential in two boring-and-basic dressers and turned them into a one-of-a-kind TV console.


2. Sweet Fabric Votives

Skill level: Beginner


Why we love it: Not only does this DIY home décor project from Claire at Fellow Fellow offer a perfect way to put those favorite fabric scraps to good use, but it also reuses glass jars in a unique way. And if making Mother Earth happy weren’t enough, these pretty little beauties create a sweet display for dinner parties — or any occasion.


3. Yarn-Wrapped Frames

Skill level: Beginner


Why we love it: Even home accessories need a winter sweater! Rachel, of 52 Weeks Project, gives old frames a new, cozier life by dressing them in her favorite colors of yarn.


4. Dip-Dyed Vases

Skill level: Beginner


Why we love it: You know those basic, clear vases you get with florist arrangements? Here’s another idea from 52 Weeks Project that’s a quick-and-easy way to add some artistic style to them (and your interior!).



5. Geometic Duct Tape Lamp Shade

Skill level: Beginner


Why we love it: The end result of Justina Blakeney’s project is an attention grabber that you won’t find in any home décor store. And all it takes to achieve the look is some duct tape and a little creativity.


6. DIY Stair Runner

Skill level: Advanced

Why we love it: Jenny Komenda at Little Green Notebook gave her stairs a refreshing new look by ripping out the existing carpeting, refinishing the stairs (for the eventually exposed wood floor) and laying down affordable area rugs to create a sleek runner. Whether or not you have carpeted or wood stairs, this is an easy way to spruce up a bland stairwell.


7. Books Headboard

Skill level: Moderate


Why we love it: Reading in bed has never looked so stylish. The most difficult part of this DIY home décor project from Design Every Day’s Kassandra is finding the perfect selection of books to fit your needs. But the end result is a stunner — and would make a great accent wall too.


8. Rope Vases

Skill level: Beginner

Why we love it: Want to repurpose or give a new look to old vases? Justina Blakeney has another great idea that’s even easy enough for kids to do. These rope vases will add a unique rustic style to your interior.


9. Refinishing Furniture

Skill level: Advanced

Why we love it: Jenny Komenda’s easy DIY instructions for stripping paint from vintage furniture (to refinish and beautify a console table) is a helpful how-to for any homeowner who has a beloved piece of furniture or a random vintage find that needs a little TLC. Take on this DIY to check off that “I’ll get to it someday” home décor project you keep putting off.


10. Antique Mirror Project


Skill level: Moderate


Why we love it: Cheryle Rhuda and Danika Herrick came up with O’verlays, an awesomely affordable way to add architectural detail to furniture. They can also help you achieve that antique mirror-frame look. If you’ve been eyeing that pricey vintage mirror at your local antiques store, take on this project and it’ll be a thing of the past (yet again).

New Ways to Reuse Old Holiday Decorations

As you dust off your boxes and bins of holiday decorations this season, you may be feeling excited for the holidays — but uninspired for your décor. Rather than replenishing your stock of seasonal décor items, consider giving those “leftovers” a new lot in life by repurposing them in new ways. Try these seasonal décor ideas from interior designer Virginia Burney.

Have a Re-Ball

Have some old ball ornaments that you no longer use on your tree? Burney suggests spray-painting them a favorite color or covering them in a thin coat of glue and rolling them in glitter. Then tie them to gifts as part of your gift wrap, or group a selection in a bowl and display as a centerpiece on a table or mantel. You can also purchase a circular wire mold at a craft store (in your desired wreath shape and size), then use fishing wire or clear elastic cord to tie the balls around the mold for a modern DIY wreath. Another option? Take them outside! Tie them to trees or bushes in your yard for some added seasonal curb appeal.

Go with Garlands

If you have strands of garlands gathering dust, try weaving them into your favorite wreath to give it some new flare. Is your garland outdoor friendly? Consider a new place for it outside, such as around your mailbox or above your entry steps. Does the garland itself need a refresher? Paint it with spray paint and add embellishments such as glitter and tied-on beads or accents.

Grow Up and Out

Just because you’ve grown up doesn’t mean your favorite childhood ornaments need to gather dust. Opt to display a second, smaller tree in a less formal space (such as the kitchen, family room, kid’s room or office) and pay tribute to holidays past. To display the ornaments in another way, Burney suggests hanging a selection of favorites from a garland above your mantel. Place a grouping of framed family portraits throughout the years along the mantel to create a nostalgic display.

Prevent the Hum-Drum Next Year

To prevent your style from feeling tired or stagnant, Burney recommends taking photos of your holiday décor after you’ve finished decorating each season. File those images with the ornaments. Next year, refer to the photos and aim for a new look. Having the previous seasons’ photos will help inspire you as well as remind you of unique ways you’ve used your seasonal decorations before.

Pare Down

If your seasonal décor collection continues growing each year, but you (like most of us) neglect to discard or donate old pieces, heed Burney’s advice: “My counting system for ornaments (and all collectibles): One is a find, two is a pair, three is a set, four is a collection and five or more is an obsession.”

And sometimes, of course, it’s just time to say goodbye. “When you haven’t used an ornament in any way for two years, it’s time,” Burney says. “Date your leftovers after decorating, and then delete necessary items to make room for new memories.” Find a new home for your unused decorations at a resale shop or with a deserving friend or neighbor.