When it comes to decking the halls this season, be inspired by what you’ve already got

The last bite of pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving dinner was barely consumed before many stores had Christmas decor items out on display. We’re talking Canadian, not American, Thanksgiving, which precedes Halloween!

All that sparkly and cute holiday merchandise will be tempting us for even longer this year. Or could it be more off-putting than alluring? In a time of greater awareness about sustainability, are more pre-made holiday decorations the way to go? And for things that are brought out only once a year, is it worth using up precious storage in increasingly smaller living spaces?

In the (holiday) spirit of being a bit more sustainable, BCLiving asked two design professionals—Vancouver interior designer Kelly Deck and HGTV star and decorator Samantha Pynn—how to keep the commercial side of holiday decorating to a minimum but still achieve an inviting, festive ambiance...


1. Let it glow

deerLighting is key to creating a warm yet festive experience. Samantha Pynn says that it’s simple to create that holiday look for a room with “a little sparkle, candlelight or glowing lights that make the room feel candlelit.”

Candles or fairy lights—which are super versatile thanks to numerous battery-powered options—can be used in various places in the home. Flameless candles are a great option for tight spots—like book shelves—where open-flame candles could be a fire hazard.

And festive lighting isn’t just for the holiday season. Kelly Deck says that lanterns, candle holders and other glow-enhancing items like crystal or mercury glass vases and metallic garlands all can be used for other celebrations like birthdays.


2. Au natural

eucalyptusHelen CheungOne element that can be excused from any less-is-more approach to decorating is plant material.

“Eucalyptus, holly, cedar bows and pine branches are all readily available for holiday decorating by early December,” says Deck. “My recommendation is to choose one or two that work well together and use them liberally throughout the home.”

Deck advises that even natural materials lend themselves to certain holiday decor colour combinations.

“Eucalyptus has a soft blue-green colour that works well with silver, gold and white. Holly and cedar can easily be mixed together and work brilliantly for a classic Christmas colour scheme of red and green. Pine has a great texture and can easily be mixed into just about any colour scheme with other greens.”

Pynn says natural elements can be used in multiple ways to create a luxurious holiday display—such as magnolia or cedar garlands, wreaths, Christmas trees or branches with a dusting of faux snow.

“A Christmas tree is not for everyone,” she observes. “I love an urn or large vase filled with branches … but the last couple of years I have really loved all the living trees.”

Pynn also suggests using edible decor— yes, you read that right—such as mandarin oranges, chestnuts, nuts or gingerbread. They’ll get eaten up, making them ultra eco-friendly.


3. Heavy metal

metalMichele MarkoLighting definitely sets the festive mood, but the holiday sparkle is boosted by bringing out all your metallic accents. Deck says they are key to making everything celebratory and festive. And putting it together is simple.

“Gather up your candle sticks, mercury glass vases, votive and silver serving ware from generations past,” she advises. “Fill your vessels with arrangements of greenery and pepper the candlesticks on the mantle and dining table along with more greenery for an easy and elegant Christmas vibe.”

To create a more elevated holiday look, Deck employs gold spray paint, metallic ribbon and a handful of sparkly ornaments. She advises dusting “the greenery with a little gold paint and finish the branch ends with pretty ribbon—incorporate these pieces along with some of the ornaments for an elegant but restrained bit of holiday decor. For ambiance, you can weave white fairy lights throughout the greens.”


4. New year, new use

Using candles, fairy lights and lanterns in different settings and arrangements is easy to imagine, but try looking at other items around the house to use in a unique way for the holiday season. Pynn says that she uses a soup tureen for mini Christmas trees and then for ferns in the summer and spring bulbs. And adds that most of her glasses have been a holiday flower vase at one point. 

“All my linens [Pynn designs home textile collections for Simons] are versatile. I can make any solid or patterned linen work for the holidays or summertime.”

Pynn suggests just looking around the house for inspiration. She recommends rounding up mismatched candlesticks or candles and displaying them on a tray. “There is strength in numbers,” she says. “Fill a large bowl with chocolates in pretty wrapping, candy canes or peppermints. A single holiday bloom in a tea cup in the bathroom or on a tray on the coffee table.”


6. Embrace tradition

gnomeIndigoIt can be difficult to resist all those charming Christmas-themed decorations. The thing is, if you love that gnome snow globe or the felt mouse in a toque and scarf, you should add them to your holiday-scape.

Christmas decorating should be fun and reflect your own style. Re-purposing what you’ve got and buying into commercial decor can both have a comfy place in your home. It’s merely a matter of balance.

“I think it's important to have a handful of themed items throughout your home,” says Deck.

“My recommendation is to buy a few quality pieces you really love so that you're excited when you unpack them each year. I personally have a few garlands of gold stars that we hang in the windows, a collection of different Christmas tree figures in gold and silver that stand on side tables and consoles and wood block letters that spell JOY—I put them on the mantle among the greenery.”