Monday, December 2

5 Tips to Simplify Your Christmas Decor

Minimal + Christmas. Two words that may not naturally go together. And while I wouldn't call myself a  true Christmas minimalist, I am finding ways to embrace a style of Christmas decorating that means less clutter, less to store, and less to pack up when the season is over. It's all about making careful decor choices that can make a big impact with minimal effort!

I might just call myself a simple and uncluttered Christmas decorator. In fact, this year I had an entire tote of decor left over from years past that we didn't even put out. And it feels like a huge step toward my Christmas decor goals of less fuss and less clutter. I've always struggled this time of year to strike a happy balance, because I want my home to be warm and festive, and I want to create lifetime memories with my boys. But I also know that I get stressed out when my home feels like chaos. This year, I'm here to find the best of both worlds.

Check out all my Christmas projects and tutorials here.

So today I'm sharing a few of my favorite Christmas decor tips that bring a punch of festive style without totally smothering any already overwhelmed folks like myself. Here's what we'll cover:
  1. Greenery
  2. Lighting
  3. The Color Red
  4. Beads
  5. Using Your Space Well 


I always start with the greenery, because nothing says Christmas like evergreen boughs! Whether you're thinking trees, garlands, wreaths, or just a few cut branches, greenery is always the best place to begin.


On top of adding Christmas cheer, greenery packs a double punch because it can also totally freshen up a space - which is a challenge in the winter. Using the natural greenery of the season is the best way to naturally transition the whole feel of your space! And the more realistic your garland looks, the better. When a fresh garland isn't an option, you can make your own faux garlands look more realistic by mixing multiple garlands together - which is also a budget-friendly way to get a huge garland!

This garland in my dining room is actually three garlands twisted together and it looks SO. MUCH. BETTER. I started with one of those really pokey pine garlands that are super cheap (I think I paid $4 for a 12' garland after Christmas). It barely reached across the window. Then I added two 8' garlands, one across each half of the 12' garland. Those two garlands had a mix of two different branch styles with pinecones mixed in (also bought on sale after Christmas). The different types of garlands + pinecones made it looks so much more lively and realistic! And buying garlands after Christmas saves a good chunk of change.

If you don't have the space or budget for larger greenery items like garlands or a tree, even just sticking a few evergreen branches in a vase can have a magical impact!

We also love hanging wreaths on our doors (inside and out!). And if you're worried about storage space for faux garlands or wreathes, you can pick up live garlands each year. Home Depot and Trader Joe's both typically carry fresh greenery (Home Depot usually has theirs on sale Black Friday) that won't take up space in your closet. We're going to try making a few fresh wreaths this year and double-up our Christmas cheer with family memories of making them together.

My final greenery thoughts are about those classic Christmas trees. We actually have four up this year (which is why I'm not a Christmas minimalist). I love them, but I'm still trying to be more intentional about how we decorate them - sticking with the meaningful ornaments instead of just loading them down with every cheap ornament I've ever bought.

So that's Step 1. Greenery is your best weapon that feel Christmassy and wintery and fresh all in swoop. Be intentional and choose good pieces. Fill your space well with appropriately-sized items and edit out the extra.


There's nothing like twinkling lights to set the Christmas mood (and brighten your space!). Put them on trees, on garlands, or string them across the ceiling (pro-tip: if you call them "party lights" you can leave them up year-round). But please, for the love of all the twinkles, stick with warm white lights. That bluish tinge that's so common with LEDs is the literal opposite of cozy and not the vibe we're going for.

The goal with lighting at Christmas is to get cozy. You want an atmosphere to hunker down with your loved ones. It can be as simple as using a few side table lamps instead of a bright overhead light, lighting the fireplace or a few beeswax candles, or putting electric candles in the windows. And don't forget to add a string of twinkly lights whenever possible.

I just learned this year that you can simplify lighting your tree by using icicle lights. Have you heard that trick before? You only have to wrap them around a few times, then tuck in all the strings hanging down. It's so fast! I also discovered garland lights last year that have the bulbs grouped much closer together and give you a perfect amount of twinkle on every garland. I twisted my garlands together, then wrapped the garland lights around the whole bundle and I'm hoping it will stay together when I pack it up so it's ready to go next year.

So Step 2 is to add some twinking, cozy lighting. It does so much for that cozy Christmas atmosphere without adding clutter.

The Color Red

This may be the most under-appreciated secret to simple Christmas decor. For better or worse, red is the most obviously Christmas color of all time. And it's one of the easiest ways to instantly add Christmas charm. I keep my whole house feeling cheery and tied together with a simple Christmas color scheme - red and white, accented with natural elements (all on a foundation of greenery, of course).

I like to use red in traditional Christmas elements (like stockings and beaded garlands), but I also love to work it into our spaces in everyday ways. One of the easiest (and more affordable) ways to do this is with fabric items. Like a red throw blanket on the couch or bed, swapping in red curtains by the kitchen sink, a red table runner, red hand towels, or making a few quick pillow covers. I love pillow covers because they are so easy to use, take up minimal storage space, and totally up the Christmas factor without a bit of clutter (you're just recovering the pillows you're already using anyway). I use Christmas pillow covers both in the living room and the bedroom!

Step 3: just look at your normal, everyday spaces and ask yourself "where can I swap-in a little red for the season."


Disclaimer: it doesn't have to be beads. But beads make me happy and elevate my greenery and tie all our spaces together. If you have something like that - ribbons or gold stars or little felt birds - that ties all your decor together, go for it. Because it's not about doing as little decorating as possible. It's about doing whatever decorating makes you happy, then stopping before you add the rest. (Because I think we all have some decor we use out of habit, not out of love.) So all around my house you'll see strings of red or natural colored wood beads - on my Christmas trees, with my garlands, or strung across a headboard. I love adding a big of depth, but again without adding any real clutter.

Use Your Space Well

I saved this for last, but it's one of the most important aspects for me. I need spaces that are tidy and uncluttered (you know, to balance the chaos of this house full of boys) and when I don't use my space well, I pay for it, mentally, all season. So here are a few of my best tips for making the most of our space while still embracing Christmas decor (because you can totally do both).

1. Keep using the space you're already using. I realized a couple years ago that a big part of my problem with Christmas decor was piling it on top of our everyday decor. It was just. too. much. So now, instead of adding-on Christmas decor, I swap-in the Christmas decor. So when I want to hang a Christmas sign, I take down something else and hang that sign in its place. Like this:

It's the easiest way to add Christmas decor without over-crowding.

2. Just keep swapping. I "swap-in" all kinds of other things for the season, too! We normally keep a bin of toys in our sunroom, but for Christmas I move it to the basement and replace it with our Nativity and reindeer toys. We still get the memories of special Christmas things without being overrun by toys. I also swap pillow covers on the couch, and have a large reversible sign in the kitchen that I flip to the Christmas side for the season (see how I made it here).

3. Look for ways to mark the season that don't take up any space at all! I love to pull a tip from the Cozy Minimalist Home book and speak to all five senses to create an atmosphere of Christmas without using physical space. Play Christmas music, bake cookies, snuggle under cozy blankets, let the fire crackle. There are so many ways to bring coziness and cheer without needing bins of decor.

That's how we'll be bringing in those Christmas vibes this season.

But, just to be clear, my mantle did look like this by the time I was done with it:

I have a mini tree problem. I know. I also have a boys-jumping-in-the-picture problem. But that's the best kind of problem to have.

You really can keep things simple and still have a beautiful Christmas.

So remember as you decorate this year (or as you pack up afterwards) - it's okay to let go of the things that aren't serving you and your goals for the season. Focus on those key elements to build a cozy Christmas vibe, do what makes you happy, and leave the rest.

Here are a few more posts that might help you simplify and make memories in the process:
Fast + Easy DIY Christmas Decor
More Easy Christmas Decor Projects
Minimal Gift Guide for Kids
No-Sew Felt Garland

How about you? Do you keep your decorating simple? Or are you all-in?

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