Organized holidays: With families home from work and school, visitors coming and going, and multiple events to attend, the season can quickly collapse into disarray. Staff writer Jura Koncius tapped Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of the Home Edit for ideas on how to infuse the holidays with “calm, not chaos.” First, they suggest purging as many unneeded items as possible before the gifts and new supplies start coming in. Take inventory of your coat closet. Discard or put away summer items to make space for puffier coats, and add strong wooden hangers to hold them. They also suggest creating dedicated areas for writing holiday cards and wrapping gifts. Read on for more advice from Shearer and Teplin.
How to pick a Christmas tree: A holiday staple, the Christmas tree has become endlessly customizable, and options include fresh-cut trees and convincing artificial models (including black versions). Artificial trees have come a long way in terms of style and quality, and they can last 10 to 20 years, experts say, while real trees provide that unmistakable holiday smell. Writer Laura Daily has tips to determine which tree is right for your celebration. When buying an artificial tree, she writes, examine the tree’s size, shape and weight. And it’s important to be hands-on when buying a live tree; smell and touch it, and look for vibrant greenery and a height that makes sense for the room it will be displayed in.
Christmas lights: Who hasn’t done battle with tangled strands of holiday lights, whether it’s testing them before they go up or putting them away after the holidays? Laura Daily has tips to help you stay focused on the lights’ warm glow rather than on the headache of installation and breakdowns. First, she writes, consider how many and what type of lights are needed to accomplish your holiday bling goals. LED lights, for example, come in numerous colors, shapes and sizes, and they use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs. Read on for more advice.
Old-school table accessories: It’s time to beak out Grandma’s china and sharpen that calligraphy pen nib. The grandmillennial trend, which favors antiques and a more traditional style, is showing up on holiday tables. That means punch bowls, place cards, place mats, decanters and candlesticks are back. They provide a personalized touch that feels warm and homey. Jura Koncius has the scoop on how to use these items; for example, consider sending guests home with a customized place card as a souvenir.
Easy and elegant: The holidays are all about traditions, but what if you want to try something new? Writer Megan McDonough spoke with interior designer Iantha Carley for ideas to refresh your decorations in an elegant, easy way. Her guiding principle? “Don’t wear yourself out trying to create the perfect Martha Stewart Christmas.” Use a simple color palette and replace lighter textured fabrics with rich, tactile velvets and fleeces, she says. Use extra ornaments as centerpieces on tables and sideboards. And don’t overlook ho-hum areas of your space, such as a bar cart, which could benefit from a blanket of faux snow or a bowl or two of seasonal treats. Here are Carley’s other ideas.
Elevate your decor: If you want to go a little bit overboard this year, experts at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, known for its stunning holiday displays, are here to help. Biltmore’s floral manager, Lizzie Borchers, shared her top tips for holiday decorating with writer Virginia Brown. Most of us aren’t working with the space and budget that Borchers has, but her practical tips can be adapted to any setting. For example, she advises experimenting with colors, textures and nontraditional elements, and she suggests making your decorations personal by drawing on family history and your home’s surroundings. She also shared her preferred way of hanging lights.