Easy holiday decorating ideas

By Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 23, 2010; 12:28 PM

Thanksgiving is a day when you enjoy your family, your friends, your meal and your day off. The last thing you want to think about is decorating for the holidays. We get it. And we want to help. To make things easier, we put together a list of quick ideas that you can implement this weekend (with many items you probably already have). Then you can consider yourself done. By Monday you'll be able to officially move holiday decorating off your plate.

The front door

The simplest way to say you're ready for the holidays is to hang a welcoming wreath on your front door.

For something a little extra, "add a large bow that complements the colors of your house," says Arlington designer Melissa Broffman . Then, tack up a single swag of real garland to frame the door. If you want, attach a string of lights to the garland.

Bonus idea: Hang wreaths (real or artificial) indoors with wide ribbon in front of mirrors or from the center of curtain rods.

The mantel

Swap your existing mantel decor for a grouping of potted flowering plants, such as red amaryllis, paperwhites or another of your favorite seasonal greens, suggests Daren Miller, owner of the D.C. shop And Beige . "Mantels are always a fun and festive spot for a row of flowering holiday plants massed out like soldiers," he says.

Do groupings in threes or fives (odd numbers are more visually interesting), "remove all existing foil wrap and simply drop your plants into clay pots, decorative pots, bowls, baskets, large jars or silver pieces." It's okay if your containers don't match, Miller says, because the red or white flowers will tie everything together.

Where to Find Plants

American Plant. Locations in Bethesda and Great Falls. www.americanplant.net.

Behnke Nurseries. Locations in Beltsville and Potomac. www.behnkes.com.

Garden District. 1740 14th St. NW. www.gardendistrict-dc.com.

Ginkgo Gardens. 911 11th St. SE. www.ginkgogardens.com.

Johnson's Florist and Garden Centers. Locations in the District, Olney and Kensington. www.johnsonsflorists.com.

Merrifield Garden Center. Locations in Merrifield, Fairfax and Gainesville. www.merrifieldgardencenter.com.

Buffets and consoles

"Use cream candles throughout the house in various shapes and sizes," says Broffman. "They look great with all types of greenery and decorative accents."

Group candles in odd numbers, she says, and consider making things easier with battery-operated, flameless candles. Some even have timers and remotes.

One of our favorite holiday ideas, which we picked up from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is to fill the bottom of a hurricane lamp with cloves and nestle a pillar candle on top. The warmth of the flame should release the spice's scent.

Shopping guide

Set of three flameless candles with remote, $15 at www.bedbathandbeyond.com .

Wax flameless candles, from $19 at www.restorationhardware.com .

Various styles at www.batteryoperatedcandles.net.

The entry

Buy an inexpensive bulletin board, or clear off one that you own, and hang it in plain view. Pin greeting cards to the board as they arrive to create an always-changing holiday collage. All you need to do is provide the board; your holiday well-wishers will do the rest for you.


Fill large bowls, vases, jars or other vessels with ornaments. Use a mix of colors, shapes and styles (vintage and new), or use one color and one shape for more of a statement. "A bigger vase filled with oversize holiday ornaments makes a bigger impact than several small-scale items," says Fredericksburg designer Andrea Hick man. For a finishing touch, tie the same color ribbon around the top of each container.

If your ornaments are being used on your tree, fill bowls and vases with seasonal fruits such as oranges, apples, persimmons, tangerines and pomegranates. Natural elements such as pine cones, magnolia leaves and evergreens are good choices, too.

And if you don't have the time or space to trim a big tree, opt for a tabletop version. "Find a three- to four-foot fresh-cut tree and use one of your favorite decorative urns, baskets or galvanized buckets," says Miller. Pour pea gravel around the base to hold it in place and add a simple string of white lights.

Bonus idea: Invest in an artificial tabletop tree this year so you can quickly pull it out in future years.

Shopping guide

GE four-foot pine decorative artificial tree with clear lights, $48 at www.lowes.com .

Four-foot spruce Christmas tree, $149 at www.ballarddesigns.com .

Austrian pine Christmas tree in urn, $249 at www.frontgate.com .

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