After years and years of decorating my home and others' for the holidays, I've come to this conclusion: I think Christmas decor looks its best when it's subtly woven into our year-round displays, adding just a whisper of the season in a few key spots, rather than being the center of the show. Understated displays feel more natural and less contrived, and keep your house feeling like a home, not a Christmas store.
To pull off an elegant but edited look for the holidays, all you need to do is add a few fabulous seasonal accents to your existing decor. Here are a few of my favorite picks this year.
GREAT GREENS: Gorgeous greens are the heart of memorable holiday displays. My favorite is pine garland, loose and lanky and dotted with pinecones and berries, that looks so real you'd swear it will drip sap on your furniture. Wind some garland around your banister - not in tight, regular circles but in random, natural-looking loops. Weave twists through the arms of your chandeliers. Let a rope of garland lazily hang off your mantel, cascading to the floor.
I also adore lifelike evergreen picks. Cluster them in urns for crisp and clean winter bouquets. Tuck them into the branches of your artificial Christmas tree so it looks more natural, or use them to fill in bare spots in your fresh Christmas tree.
For a rustic, organic look, knit your faux greens in with the honeysuckle vine you already have up for fall. You'll be amazed by how the honeysuckle vine instantly takes on a holiday feel when you mix it with evergreen picks and silver and gold accents. If you want to make the presentation a bit more glamorous, mist the honeysuckle vine with silver, gold or ice spray paint.
PINECONES: I am a huge fan of oversized pinecones because they are both naturally beautiful and decidedly dramatic. To glitz up your holiday look, hang glitter-covered Sugar Cone pinecones on your Christmas tree or work them into your dining-room centerpiece. I also like to include glittered Sugar Cones in my exterior displays because, believe it or not, they are so sparkly, you can see them from the street.
RIBBON: Beautiful seasonal ribbon is the crowning touch for holiday decor. Every year I like to pick a group of sensational holiday ribbons to repeat throughout my displays. This year, I'm crazy about ribbons made from burlap, wool plaid and satin that's so soft, it wilts and flops, giving it a charming vintage feel.
Pick a few ribbon patterns you love to accent your holiday decor, then use them to hang ornaments from your chandelier, tie up napkins on your dining table, hang wreaths from the windowsills or turn a plain package into an irresistible present.
GLASS ORNAMENTS: I am addicted to Christmas-tree ornaments. Even though I already have boxes of balls and baubles, every year I fall in love with something new and just have to add it to my collection. This year, clear glass ornaments have swept me off my feet. Apparently, they've had the same effect on everyone else, because they are flying out the door at my home-furnishings stores.
You'll find clear glass ornaments in a myriad of styles, from simple globes etched with a sweet design to oversized works of art that twist and turn and seem to stretch on forever. The beauty of these versatile ornaments is that they go perfectly with every holiday look, from glamorous and traditional to playful and contemporary.
Cover your tree with glass ornaments to give it a hint of shimmer and shine that doesn't obscure the tree's natural beauty. Glass ornaments also make a perfect backdrop upon which you can showcase a few standout ornaments.
But don't stop with your tree. Clear glass ornaments also look wonderful hung by beautiful ribbon from your chandelier. You can also suspend them from the pine garland or picks decorating your mantel, slung over your doorways or above your windows.