Want to make your holidays pretty, organized and as put-together as those homes you see in magazines? We’ve got the details on how to make your space glitter, your presents look professionally wrapped and keep your favorite holiday bits and pieces easy to find — and safe — until you do it all over again next year.
Pick base colors, add accents: Trish Van Vliet and Beth Riddell run Stylish Staging, a Lawrence-based home staging and home decoration company. The pair are accredited stagers and designers and have plenty of ideas for cheap but beautiful decoration.
Their first tip for a beautiful holiday look? Set yourself up with an easy theme by going with a three-color scheme. Pick two colors you love and that go well together and buy the majority of your decorations in those colors. Next, pick out a third accent color you want to use this year. Buy just a few ornaments, bows and other odds and ends in that color.
For example, the pair have decorated Van Vliet’s home to be a showcase of their work, and on display in the great room are accents of white, silver and gold. Last year, it was white, silver and teal, says Van Vliet, who uses white and silver as base colors. Van Vliet likes the white and silver because they work well with nearly any accent, though you could pick white and gold, black and silver, or whatever color combination really draws you in.
Having a base means you don’t have to buy all new items to update your look each year. All you have to do is decide if you want to update your accents with a new color, or just use the same ones you used this year. Going the base-and-accent route allows you to be frugal yet up-to-date.
Plus, if you hang on to this year’s desired accent items, you can use them again in a few years when you decide you want to have a teal Christmas again.
Make the whole house festive, not just one area: Riddell and Van Vliet suggest making sure some of your festive items end up all over the house, including in your guest bedroom and all the bathrooms. Having decorations concentrated in just the family room or the kitchen isn’t going to convey the feeling of the season in a cohesive manner.
Do little things: Unused spaces are ripe for decoration. Put garland or candles on top of your cabinets, twine bits of festive decoration “picks” on the arms of your chandeliers, put tiny glass ornaments inside your holiday china in the china cabinet. These touches will add to the ones that are more obvious: holiday table centerpieces, decorations on your coffee and end tables or the little items making your entryway festive.
Another little thing that means a lot? Smell. Pick up some festive candles in a scent that reminds you of the holidays and place them around the house so that the smell drifts along with your guests.
Don’t pitch “family” ornaments; layer them: Those handmade ornaments do have a place on your tree, even if you’ve decided to go with Stylish Staging’s three-color theme. Rather than keeping your unmatching (but memory-laden) ornaments in a box, use them; just layer them in a such a way that the ornaments that match your color theme end up on the ends of branches and your homey ornaments are closer to the trunk. That way, when looked at from afar, your tree will maintain your color scheme, but when guests get closer, they’ll see the ornaments that you cherish.
Find decorations in your back yard: Use festive spray paint to decorate pine cones or sticks found outdoors. One of the decorators’ favorite tricks is to arrange painted sticks in the branches at the top of a tree to create a topper, rather than placing a staid star or angel on top.
Use what you have: Van Vliet and Riddell highly suggest trying to look at your everyday objects and seeing how you can make them more festive, rather than buying similar things anew. They suggest decking out topiaries or house plants with bits of holiday decor (lights, ornaments, garland, etc.) and putting out cherished family heirlooms and photos in a cohesive display or special room that revelers can enjoy while sipping cocktails and catching up.
Store by color: After the holidays, rather than jumbling all your ornaments and festive bits together in a mishmash of boxes labeled “Christmas,” sort them by color, say the Stylish Staging ladies. That way, it’s that much easier for you to find what you’re looking for next year. Of course, this works especially well if your choose to use a three-color theme.
Use clear plastic bins: Get bins that are clear and stackable to aid in your organization. Not only will you have the color labeled on the outside, but you’ll be able to look through at what you have and find things easily in a nice stack of holiday decor. Stay away from opaque specialty containers (you know the ones — red and green) because they are often large and jumble-inducing, and, well, they’re opaque, so you can’t see through them to take an inventory or find something quickly.
Keep boxes: Also going inside those clear bins? The original boxes for ornaments and other breakables, if you still have them. If you don’t, wrap breakables in paper, tissue or even end rolls (newspaper that hasn’t been printed upon).
Pick quality: It’s safe to say Susie Huffman, who has been wrapping Christmas presents at Weaver’s Department Store, 901 Mass., since 1995, knows a thing or two about wrapping.
Among her top tips for wrapping like a professional? Going with the best quality items you can get.
Pick heavy paper rather than bigger rolls of thinner stuff. You may feel like you’re wasting money, but what you’re doing is ensuring that you won’t have paper crease or tear on you.
Huffman also says that if you pick quality ribbon, it should curl easily and in a uniform way.
Make it easier on yourself: If you have a high table or counter where you can stand and wrap, use it. You’ll get much better leverage than sitting on the floor. Huffman says that at home she’ll often cover the family’s pool table with plywood to mimic the wrapping counter at Weaver’s.
Don’t tape your paper to your box: If you just tape the paper to itself initially, it’ll be a help to you, says Huffman. That way, if your wrapping job comes out wonky, you can shift it easily to line things up at the ends. It’s much harder to change things around if you start by taping the paper to the box below.
Cut ends that are too long and won’t fold in right? Huffman suggests pushing the two shorter ends into the box, then just cutting the long ends that are left sticking out. That way, you don’t have to awkwardly cut all the way around the paper.
Color continuity: If you took the earlier advice of the Stylish Staging ladies and went with a color theme, try to pick wrapping paper in similar colors. That way, your theme really follows through to every last inch.