Not Your Grandmother’s Christmas Decor

Author: Alecia Pirulis


Ah, the holidays. Kitschy Santas all in a row, red stockings with white fur trim hanging above the fireplace, the startling combination of red and green Christmas ornaments hanging on the tree, poinsettias, garish garland twisted around the banister complete with pinecones and red velvet bows, sparkle and glitter and twinkling lights – it’s pretty for the first few days … and then the wait begins … to get it all down, boxed up, and put away … so you can have your house back.

For those who love the traditional trimmings of the holiday season, it just isn’t Christmas without the plastic reindeer and snow globes! But for those who are thinking about trying something different, here are some non-traditional decorating ideas:

Ditch the partridge in a pear tree in favor of the peacock: Instead of red, green, and gold think dark purple and vivid blue for your Christmas tree. First, go to the craft store and purchase some peacock feathers. Take one with you when you shop for ornaments and try to find ones with the same vivid shades of blue and purple. (Use a traditional green tree – it creates a beautiful backdrop for the blues and purples.) Use the peacock feathers in the tree – just stick them in here and there all around the tree (save a few for the top of the tree, as well).

For the top of the tree, you can use the traditional gold star surrounded by the peacock feathers, you can look for a peacock-inspired tree topper, or you can make your own. Bunch together some peacock feathers, gold sprays, and some purple and blue ribbon and attach it to the top of your tree. Make a matching wreath for your fireplace – get a foam wreath form and cover it with peacock feathers using hot glue. Attach a wide, satin ribbon in a vivid shade of gold, purple, or blue and hang.

Go ahead and theme it up: Themed trees can be great fun. A “kitchen” tree with ornaments shaped like food, tiny tea cups, rolling pins and baking sheets, and actual candy canes and popcorn garland will spark interest and conversation with all of your holiday guests. Live near the shore? A nautical theme works great – seashells, boats, shore birds, and surfboard ornaments, with a color palette straight from the ocean: think blues, sand tones, and sunny yellows.

Are you eco-friendly? Go ahead – decorate your tree with reused and handmade ornaments or pinecones from your yard and make garland from burlap and twine. Make your own stockings using felt – or upcycle fabric you already have into stockings (blue jean stockings, anyone?) Use pretty fallen branches bunched together for your tree topper (paint them a bright and cheery color or leave them natural).

As for the tree, use a real one! A Norfolk Island Pine is an ideal houseplant, but use any indoor tree that appeals to you. Keep your pine in very bright, indirect light or in a spot where it gets morning sun. Water it when it feels dry, and you’ll have this tree to decorate year after year – and you can enjoy it the rest of the year, as well.

Decorate to fit your space. If your studio apartment is just too small for a traditional tree, a tabletop tree is an ideal solution. If you’d prefer something less traditional, gather some branches from outside and spray paint them (white, green, neon pink …). Put them in a container (a wide vase, a galvanized tub, a bucket) and secure them with floral foam and cover the foam with moss. Hang your favorite ornaments on the branches. Want something even more unusual? Try an upside-down tree – or make one on your wall using free-floating shelves arranged in a “tree” shape. Set your Christmas ornaments and holiday decor on the shelves for a unique display.