Decorating for the Holidays: Less is More!

Let me tell you a little story about one of the senior living communities that I work with, and how holiday decorating almost caused a mutany in the organization! The staff at this community have huge hearts, and wanted to make sure every resident felt the holiday spirit – but there were no guidelines, or plan for what this would actually look like.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, a fake tree, pine inspired, showed up and was decorated with colored lights and a hodge-podge of ornaments, from santa to silver bells. The next week another tree showed up, this time a long-needled pine with white lights and purple ribbon with lime green ornaments. By the second week in December, there were a dozen poinsettia plants in a range of colors placed throughout the halls and living areas, as well as a myriad of santas, snowmen, and nativity scenes on nearly every available surface. When one of the organization leaders came in for  a meeting, she was taken aback by what appeared to be more disarray than decor in the facility. After considering her options, she asked the staff to take home the items that they had brought in; she sent the plants home with staff and family members, and asked me to help create a cohesive, comfortable holiday look.

This situation is not unusual for facilities and even in many homes! If we’re not thoughtful about our holiday decorating plan, things can go off the rails really quickly, and suddenly you’re living in a sparkling, clutter-filled space that is more difficult to live in than before.

Here is the holiday decorating approach that I took for this senior living community, and that I use in my own home:

1. Start with the basics. 

Choose pieces that will give you the holiday feel that you’re seeking, without taking over your entire space. Some great, basic starting points include:

  • Tree
  • Wreath
  • Fireplace/mantle
  • Sofa table

Christmas Decor Basics

Photo reference: Woohome, Better Homes & Gardens, The Ugly Duckling House, Country Girl Home

2. Choose a color theme and stick with it. 

One of my favorite themes is a neutral, natural look with white lights, craft paper, and beige and champagne colors, like this:

neutral holiday decorPhoto reference: With Love From Kat

A more traditional palate is red and green, and there are many beautiful variations on this, including the use of lime!

Red and Green Holiday Decor

Photo reference: Better Homes & Gardens

And you can even get away with much more non-traditional color schemes, like shades of blue, brown and dark metallics, or even pink – but only if you stick to your palate!

Non Traditional Holiday Color Schemes

Photo reference: Honey We’re Home, Sweet Something Designs, and Woonstijl

3. Eliminate decorations that are actually clutter.

Ask yourself, are my decorations getting in the way of actually living and functioning well in the space?

holiday decor non clutter

Photo reference: Liz Marie Blog

There are a number of things done completely right in this holiday design:

  • Holiday wall art is used in place of regular art, not in addition to it
  • Holiday pillows and throws are used in place of year-round accessories, not in addition to them
  • The end table is used for holiday decor, but not so much that you can’t use it for it’s primary purpose – to set drinks on and have coasters available

I hope these quick tips will save you from a cluttered holiday this year! I’ll be fighting the good fight at my own house, since my husband loves a multi-colored look everywhere, and as I mentioned above, I’m more of a natural gal. I’m still trying to come up with a way to accommodate both of our sensibilities!

And for all of your interior decor projects, always remember, less is best! 

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