Design & Decor

How to decorate for the holidays

Here are five tips to get your home — and your family — in the festive spirit without breaking the budget! Plus, we have three more tips to help prepare your home for guests
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Getting your home ready for the holidays can be stressful but with proper planning — and a big dose of holiday spirit — you can turn a stressful time into a fun, family event.

Here are five tips to get your home — and your family — in the festive spirit without breaking the budget!

Plus, we have three more tips to help prepare your home for guests.

Decorating Tip #1: Pick a few choice spots

Decorating-holiday-winter-bedroom. Selling home in winter months
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Want to make holiday decorating easier on you, your family and your budget? Forget about getting every nook and cranny and, instead, focus decorating on the main areas in your home. Choose areas where your family gathers and where guests come to visit.

Areas to consider are your living room, dining room, a fireplace, the entranceway or the spot where you hang your stockings or set up the tree.

Decorating Tip #2: Pick a theme

selling your home during the holidays
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Again, to make it easier on you and your budget, consider picking a holiday theme. Some people pick memories — such as France-inspired ornaments or food inspired decorations — while others focus on colours, such as red and gold, green and yellow or blue and white.

The theme allows you to let your kids loose on decorating an area of the house, without it looking scattered or disorganized. Plus, it helps you narrow down what have and what you need.

Decorating Tip #3: Bring the outside in

Christmas decoration
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Most designers will emphasize the importance of bringing the outside in, and this definitely applies when decorating for the holidays. Add real pine branches and sticks of holly berries to shelves and tables to add in seasonal touches that make your decorations come alive. Even a bright red, white or yellow poinsettia in the middle of a kitchen island or dining room table can really add a splash of colour and spot of freshness that ties all your holiday decorations together.

Decorating Tip #4: Add in personal touches

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One great way to add in personal touches, honour memories and keep the expense down to a minimum is to use old holiday cards in a creative, festive way. You can purchase fake garland and some old-fashioned clothespins and attach the cards to the garland. Or use a pretty ribbon and a glue gun to add the cards to a pretty branch to create a wall ornament.

Other options include re-using old present ribbon to create table place settings or to decorate vases filled with fresh evergreens.

You could also raid your attic or the local thrift store for old skis and plaid blankets (make sure they have a winter vibe). Use these to create entrance-way decorations or to add a holiday-theme to any room.

Decorating Tip #5: Pick a centre

holiday decor tips
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Most of us envision stockings hung at the fire when we think of holiday decorating, but not every home has a fireplace. Not to worry. To recreate that holiday feel, pick one spot in the room where everyone will gather on Christmas day and create a focal point. Use  artificial garland with colourful ornaments to outline a spot for stockings, then hang the stockings using whimsical or ornamental hooks (you can do this by adding them to a live-earth wood plank that you mount to the wall or, if you don’t want to make too many holes that you’ll have to repair, consider using stick-on hooks that you can add a few decorations to create holiday-themed hooks). Consider adding a cozy, holiday-themed blanket or two to the floor or a bundle of branches and a basket full of magazines. All this creates that centrepiece feel even without the fireplace.

Prepare your home for guests this holiday season

Prepare for guest tip #1: Purge and declutter

The holiday season is the perfect time to purge and declutter. Quite often we are getting items out of storage and trying to find space to put up decorations, which means we get a chance to review what items in the home are no longer needed. Got a bucket of old skates that the kids have outgrown? Bag it and donate it. Got a bag of blankets no one has touched in a year. Donate it.

The more space you create, even in your storage area, the more space you’ll have in your home for the added holiday decor — and this will go a long way to making your home feel festive and cheery rather than cramped and cluttered.

Prepare for guest tip #2: Wi-Fi passwords

Don’t fumble around for a tiny slip of paper with your home’s Wi-Fi password. Instead, give your guests the password to your wireless network, by displaying it where they can find it easily.

For instance, a gold-framed chalkboard that hangs in your guest bedroom is a great option. So is a kid-friendly chalkboard or whiteboard in the kitchen. As soon as your guests arrive and settle in, just point to the board and let them know they are well-connected at your house!

Prepare for guest tip #3: Stock up on supplies

If you have a dedicated guest room, make sure the linens are fresh and clean and that the room is cleaned and dusted. This will take any musty feel away and help brighten up this room.

To add in a hotel-feel, consider creating guest baskets. You can find wicker baskets from the thrift store or retailers like Pottery Barn or Michael’s craft store, add in matching towel sets and travel-size toiletries. Other baskets can be filled with magazines and in-room treats, such as bottles of water and snacks. Even small touches, such as extra hangers or bags for dirty linen, can add a special touch.

Romana King
Romana King

Romana King is an award-winning personal finance writer and the current director of content for Zolo. King has contributed to business and lifestyle publications including CBC.ca, Toronto Sun, Maclean’s, MoneySense, Globe & Mail Custom Content Team, and Toronto Star. She is a passionate speaker about financial education and engages her audience on a variety of personal finance topics from kids and money, home buying and selling tips, and estate and investment planning. King won the 2015 SABEW Business Journalism award and is currently nominated for a COPA 2019 award, Best Service Article, for her annual project Best Deals in Real Estate. As editor of CI Top Broker, King guided her magazine to obtain its first KRW Business Journalism nomination, and she was part of the small team in 2011 that helped MoneySense win Magazine of the Year at the 34th annual National Magazine Awards.