The snow has barely fallen but there’s something unmistakable in the air. Frigid evenings and the smell of freshly cut trees can mean only one thing, the holidays are near, and with them, the opportunity to break out the decorations and reimagine our spaces.

For those like myself it’s all we can do to wait until after Remembrance Day to break out the garland, but for others, the season’s approach is met with resistance. Regardless of whatever camp you’re in, I hope we can all agree that there’s something special about walking into a seasonally decorated home or shop over the holidays. Festive décor and twinkling lights can bring a smile to a scrooge’s face and make us feel right at home while cozying up with friends and family. Green bows, red ribbons, and winter scenes spread around the home are a welcome way to celebrate the indoors as we hunker down for another long winter season. Love it or loathe it, a decorated space can help get us in the holiday mood. Here are some tips for how to get started:

Layout Everything and Edit

If you’ve been decorating your home for the holidays for years it can become a bit routine. You may be tempted to decorate the same as you have in years past simply because it’s familiar, but there’s something to be said for laying things out and going through them before repeating what’s been done before. Maybe you’ve picked up or been gifted some new items? Or maybe last year’s wreath was the last time it should make an appearance? Holiday decorations are like your favorite jeans. Despite your attachment to them, they’ll still need to be replaced at some point. This could be the year to add a few new pieces or rethink the placement of the tree. By laying everything out before you start you’ll give yourself the chance to edit items and consider new arrangements for things in your home. At a minimum, you should take 3 pieces and try them in at least 3 new places. Seasonal decorating is about variety in your décor so there is no reason for your home to look the same from year to year. Spruce up the old, and spice up the arrangement. You’ll have more fun doing it and your guests will notice.

Start With Your A-game

Start with your nicest decorations and focus on the most important areas in your home; the focal points. It’s the best way to approach an entire home transformation. Your coffee table, dining table, railings, and archways are never a bad place to begin. There’s no point fussing over the bookshelf in the office if you’ve yet to finish your mantle. Once you’ve laid everything out and decided which decorations make the cut this year, highlight your 3-5 most visually significant areas to decorate and utilize your nicest pieces to make them shine. Depending on the number of decorations you have to work with this could limit the number of rooms or surfaces you decorate, but think quality over quantity when it comes to seasonal décor. If you plan to buy (or don’t but inevitably will buy) some new decorations, approach this with specific areas in mind. Knowing you need something for your entrance table specifically is much easier than buying something you like and then searching for a suitable home for it after you’ve purchased it.

Decorate to Scale

Decorate to Scale

The basic rules of decorating apply to seasonal décor, but perhaps with a little more room for forgiveness. Larger spaces require larger trees, and larger surfaces require bigger decorations. Wherever possible, draw the eye up. Whether it’s garland over a mirror or the entrance to a room, find ways to add dramatic flair to your space. That’s really what holiday decorating is about after all. Adding more in terms of décor will often require that you take out some things to balance the space, so be prepared to store whatever may become excess clutter once you add a dose of holiday cheer to it.

Add Ambient Lighting – With or Without a Tree

The only upside to the sun setting at 5 pm in the winter is turning on some lights that warm up our spaces. The obvious way to incorporate lights into your room is by having a tree, but even if you don’t, you’ll benefit from having soft yellow glowing lights in your décor. Lights look great in greenery, so garland is the next most obvious choice, but aside from that, string them on to a houseplant or wrap them around a decorative ladder. They’ll add warmth to your space and help create a welcoming environment with little effort. When the long winter nights arrive and linger you’ll be glad you took the time to hang them.

Work With your Colour Scheme

Work With your Colour Scheme

Not every home needs to be red and green around the holidays. The best holiday décor works with the existing colour scheme of the house. You’ll always want to add some new colour to it, but it doesn’t need to be a conventional choice. If you have a room with pastels or teals, consider adding more silver and gold decorations to it. Deep, rich wall colours look great with garland and evergreens, but can easily be paired with burnt orange and brass. The point of decorating for the holidays is to freshen up your space and make it warm and inviting for what can easily be a gloomy season. Layering in some new colour and texture is one way to do it.

Whether it’s a passion or a chore, reinvigorating your interior space is a great way to kick off the season and get you ready for the holidays. From a single string of lights to a home full of decorations, the changes you make will be a welcome sight to come home to after braving the cold. Start the season off right by adding something to your décor that helps you feel festive.

While you’re in the holiday mood, be sure to check out our outsourcing blog on getting prepared!


Kiel-StormsKiel has been a member of the BREL team for three years and a designer for UPstaging since its founding in 2019. As a McMaster alumnus in Communication and Design at George Brown, he soon made his life-long dream of spending other people’s money…err.. we mean decorating… into reality with the BREL team! When he’s not staging homes, he can be found searching the Junction for vintage furniture and unique accessories.

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