(But without looking like the huge nerd you really are.)
Photos by Daniel Collopy.
You know, every year people ask me, “how do you make your holiday décor look so festive AND sophisticated?” And I’m all “I know right!?!” The end.
Just kidding that never happens. But since you didn’t ask, I thought I’d tell you my secrets to creating a holiday look that makes you merry without making it look like Santa came to town and barfed all over your house.
Tip #1 Mix New and Vintage
I love a good holiday accent but you don’t want too many brand new things crowding your cozy home. Instead, add some family heirlooms into the mix. If you don’t have any family heirlooms, run to the nearest flea market and buy some vintage stuff and make up stories about how your grandma gave them to you. Here, I paired two shimmering trees from Crate and Barrel (find them here and here!) with pottery I made in high school and my mom’s vintage Santa.
Tip #2: Find Inspiration in Your Art
I’m in love with the amazing Matin Zad piece I got from Tappan Collective. So I took inspiration from it’s lovely, subtle color palette to create a vignette on top of my bedroom dresser. The shimmer candle holders and the vintage aluminum Christmas tree create a nice little winter wonderland for the two model guys in the image, who are totally aloof and glamorous and don’t care about anything.
Tip #3: Be Methodical With Color
I used to look at color-coordinated holiday spreads in magazines and be like, “NO ONE HAS ALL COLOR COORDINATING DÉCOR. WHAT ABOUT ALL THE DECORATIONS THEY GOT FROM THEIR GRANDMA!?!” Which is partially true. It’s a bit hard to use your eclectic collection of family holiday decorations AND keep a cohesive color palette, but it’s possible. This year, I chose to decorate using blue, aqua, green, gold and silver. In the living room. Then I put the eclectic and color- uncoordinated family heirloom ornaments on the tree in my bedroom. And yes, I can hear you judging me for being a grown man with a tree in my bedroom. But I don’t care. I may die alone, cats gnawing off the face of my dead body, but at least there will be a cheerful Christmas tree in the bedroom. YAY!
Tip #4: Make It Yourself
The most glamorous things in life are those that are handmade. Every year, I like to incorporate at least one handcrafted item into my holiday décor. This year, I made maniacally color coordinated hand-painted wrapping paper. Crafting is also a great activity to do with your friends. It’s as easy as 1-2-3! 1- Invite your friends over. 2- Tell them to make things. 3- Be like, “Sorry I have to keep these cuz I bought all the supplies sorry, time for you to leave.”
Tip #5: Drink
One way to make your holiday décor seem a lot more hip and exciting is to drink more. The season offers so many different bevs to enjoy, from eggnog (barf) to festive Moscow Mules (yum). For those non-drinkers out there, hot cider is a surefire way to trick yourself into feeling festive, even if you hate everything, including Santa.
Tip #6: Use an Unconventional Tree Skirt
One way to give your Christmas tree a bit of an edge is by forgoing the traditional tree skirt in favor of something more interesting. In my bedroom, I used an antique Japanese tea box filled with pinecones to house the base of this white tree. The unconventional tree skirt made my tree so edgy that he started his own band and goes to like super exclusive fashion parties I’m totally not invited to.
Tip #7: Celebrate Nature
One of the best ways to avoid making your holiday décor looking cheesy is to incorporate more subtle hints of festivity. Winter is chock full of evocative icons: trees, pinecones (one my faves this year), polar bears, snowflakes, etc. Instead of putting crazy Santa’s on every square inch of your home, why not try spreading wintry cheer throughout the house?
Tip #8: When Decorating the Tree, Balance Repetition with Monotony
I love to give my tree some cohesion by selecting a few ornaments to repeat over and over throughout. However, I like to mix it up by adding in one-of-a-kind ornaments that don’t repeat so when you get close to the tree it remains interesting. I like to do about 50/50, with half the ornaments on the tree being those that repeat and the other half being interesting, unique ornaments. This ensures your eyeballs get what you’re going for (like “oh I get it, he’s creating an inviting blue atmosphere!”) while the one-of-a-kind ornaments keep your eyes guessing (“WHAT ORNAMENT IS HE GOING TO ADD NEXT I CAN’T HANDLE THE SUSPENSE!!!”)
Tip #9: Put Shiny Things Everywhere
You know what truly sophisticated ladies and gentlemen just love? SUPER SHINY THINGS! The holidays are a great time to put candles and lights all over your house. I used these LED branches as the centerpiece for a tree-decorating brunch and everyone loved them.
Tip #10: Have Fun!
Just kidding. Wouldn’t it be so stupid if I put that as a tip? As if you’d be sitting there, like, trying not to have fun or something. No, my last real tip is to incorporate sculpture, pottery, trays, plants and other everyday décor into your holiday décor. This may seem obvious, but sometimes people don’t think to put modern sculpture and happy green ferns next to snow globes and Santas. Do it. Everyone will think you’re so cool. And isn’t that the real meaning of Christmas? Convincing everyone that even though your home is festive, you’re still cool and aloof and totally untouchable?
Whatever, I’m going back to my bedroom to stare at my bedroom Christmas tree like a huge weirdo.