Easy Festive Touches for Your Home

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You don’t have to put in a lot of time and effort to make your home feel festive. Here, easy and elegant ideas for your holiday decorating

Update your wreath. Hung inside or outdoors, the wreath may just be the essential holiday décor item. If you’re after a new look, no need to start from scratch. Update your current wreath with a new ribbon and some new add-ons like flowers, berries, pine cones and beads. You can even add a few of the decorations that don’t fit on your tree.

For something completely different, look online for inspiration for wreathes can you create from greenery, flowers, lights, wrapped parcels and ribbons.

Tie one on. Bows aren’t just for presents. Big and small, they can brighten up a banister, candle holder, vase or potted plant, or make an elegant napkin ring. You can even use ribbon to give your chandelier an update.

Pick up a poinsettia or potted plant. It’s a holiday staple for good reason: in all shapes, colours and sizes, this traditional plant can bring a splash of colour to any space — no arranging required. Look for white or red, white and green variegated types for a break from the traditional. (If you’re worried about pets, consider picking up some silk blooms instead.)

If you prefer a live plant, look for potted miniature evergreens or other assorted holiday greenery. Set them in a pretty pot on a side table, or combine three different sizes for a coffee table centre piece. (For more ideas, see Deck the halls – and keep them blooming.)

Go green. Greenery isn’t just for wreathes and garlands — there are many ways you can use a sprig or two around the house. For instance, load up a basket with some branches and place next to the fireplace or front door. Use smaller pieces to decorate a shelf, mantle or table top. Stick a few sprigs of flat greenery in a small vase or cranberry-filled jar for the bathroom, or use them to top a present or holiday plate.

And yes, you can raid your yard. Holiday decorating can be a good excuse to prune your trees and collect some pine cones.

Add some glitter. If you don’t have the space for a lavishly set table, think shiny shapes to add some glamour. No, we’re not talking the small stuff that gets into everything — look for larger shapes like stars, leaves and berries. Another option: pick up cut-outs that say “Merry Christmas” or “2012” for New Year’s Eve.

Create a sweet still life. Candy canes, peppermints, gumdrops… There’s no shortage of sweets to be had this time of year. Get out your crystal and candy jars and create a feast for the eyes by arranging various shapes and sizes in a still life. Fill them with colourful candy and add a bow or two. When the evening is over, let guests indulge their sweet tooth.

Hang it all. Don’t worry about wrapping your railings with garland (it can be a safety hazard anyway). Instead, hang a wreath, wall hanging or your favourite decoration.

On a smaller scale, don’t overlook your doorknobs! They’re a perfect place for a jingle bell or non-breakable ornament.

Fill it up. We all seem to have a bowl, tureen or vase perfect for filling with colourful Christmas balls, pine cones or fruit (like fresh citrus, pomegranates or apples and mixed nuts).

Or take this hint from Martha Stewart: fill up a garden cloche (one of those bell-shaped glass containers from a gardening store) with decorations. Simply turn it upside down, fill it, cover it with a plate or tray and flip it over. (See the full instructions on MarthaStewart.com.)

Clip it up. Show off your cards and photos, and switch up the display to change the look. Use a couple of self-adhesive hooks (the kind that won’t wreck your walls) and create a clothes line. You can use ribbon or twine for the rope, and upgrade plain wooden clothespins with a coat of craft paint.

If you’re feeling more ambitious or don’t have the wall space, you can make a photo wreath instead by gluing clothespins to a large embroidery hope. (For instructions, see How to Make a Pinup Wreath.)

Layer on colourful linens. Table cloths, table runners, place mats and napkins can provide a colourful backdrop or take centre stage — and they don’t have to sport a bold holiday print. Anything red or green offers an instant touch of Christmas, and solid colours won’t compete with decorations or centre pieces. For instance, try red and green tea towels in the kitchen and colourful hand towels in the bathroom — or classic white dishes set on a rich red table cloth.

If you’re buying new, think multi-season. A red with cool undertones will see you through Valentine’s Day, and a lighter green or gold will work year round.

Go with the throw. A themed quilt or blanket can add warmth in more ways than one. Drape it over the back of a couch, or use it to add holiday cheer to a guest room. Make it a focal point by choosing a print or pattern. If you want it to complement your décor rather than compete with it, choose a solid colour with a welcoming texture like chenille.  Other accents in your room can pick up on the colours.

For a kid’s room or family room, inexpensive, washable fleece throws are everywhere this time of year, or you can make your own — no sewing required. (See Instructables.com for directions.)

Throw cushions in shiny, Christmas-y fabrics can also accent any room.

Let there be light. Christmas lights add instant warmth and atmosphere, but they aren’t just for the tree. Use them around a window or doorway, or as part of an arrangement or wreath. Try them on mirrors, on chandeliers and even straight on the wall, courtesy of adhesive hooks. (Check out the examples on ApartmentTherapy.com.)

Go flameless: Want to add a little sparkle to arrangements or find a safe way to use your favourite candle holders? Battery operated tea lights, votives and pillar candles add light to your décor without the fire hazard — especially if kids and pets are around.

Use your common scents. Sight isn’t the only sense to please this season. If your home isn’t already filled with the aromas of holiday baking, add a festive touch with scented candles, potpourri and fresh greenery.

If your guests are sensitive to scents you may want to skip perfumed products and go with more natural alternatives — like boiling citrus peels and cloves on the stove top, or using peppermint essential oil in a diffuser. Citrus fruits can be studded with cloves to make pomander balls.

Either way, be careful not to overdo it. Strong smells can trigger breathing problems and affect people with migraines, and you don’t want to compete with any refreshments you’re serving.

Choose mood music wisely. What would the holidays be without traditional music? Unless there’s dancing, choose softer tunes to set the mood — they won’t hamper conversation.

Finally, remember, you don’t have to do it all — or do it all at once. If you find it hard to set aside time to tackle the decorating, try doing a little at once. For instance, hang up a wreath or dust off an arrangement while your water boils for tea. Set your decoration stash in the living room and put one thing out each time you pass by.

In addition to drawing on our own stores of ideas, here are some other sources we used for inspiration:


DIY Network

Martha Stewart: Christmas

What’s your favourite holiday decorating tip? Tell us in the comments.

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