In this post: Decorating for the holidays can be fun! There are many ways to deck the halls – from wreaths to garlands and more. Here’s how to decorate for Christmas…without creating more stress. 

I am a huge Christmas person. I adore everything about the season. The lights, the trees, the movies, the nostalgia, the giving, and of course, celebrating baby Jesus. It’s just such a magical time of year. And each year, I love to make our home cozier than the year before. So, here are my best tips for how to decorate for Christmas! 

Even if you’ve been decorating for Christmas for years, hopefully, you can glean a new tip or two to help you this year!

white shiplap wall, beige ikea sofa, christmas tree all decorated

Who am I?

If you’re new here, my name is Shannon Acheson (pronounced ah-chuh-son).

My husband, Dean, and I started this blog in 2010 when we renovated a tiny little war-era bungalow in Ajax, Ontario.

We’ve since renovated and sold that house and another and are now making over a slightly larger home a bit further east of Toronto.

I design, write, and photograph our projects. Dean is the one who makes our projects fly. He also uses the power tools that I don’t touch. (It’s not a sexist thing – I’m just way too clumsy!)

He puts up with my creative ups and downs (there are many). And he makes me laugh daily. Which is a really good thing, let me tell you! 

Christmas is one of my absolute favorite times of the year.   

AKA DESIGN christmas living room piano

How to Decorate for Christmas

Here’s how to decorate for Christmas so that your house looks decorated and you’re still relaxed enough to enjoy it! 

Consider the space you have

I know that in all the blissful Hallmark Christmas movies every house is full of floor-to-ceiling Christmas decor and Christmas colors. 

But most of us just can’t fit all that holiday decor in our homes. Nor should we want to because the Holiday season only lasts for a little while and we’d soon tire of the Christmas decor and colors the rest of the year. 

Keep in mind your home’s ceiling height (for the tree), the surface areas (for vignettes), the wall space (for Christmas art), and the floor space (for presents and decor) when you’re shopping and decorating for the holidays. 

So be realistic about the space that you have. 

black shiplap wall balustrade coffee table xmas tree

Choose a color scheme

Whether you decide to use the same color scheme every single year, or if you want to change it up each holiday season, it’s good to have a color scheme. Think of it like having bumpers around your Christmas decor. Knowing what colors you’ll work with will help you when you’re shopping and decorating. 

kitchen desk corner Christmas windsor chair

Swap out the basics

The one mistake that many people make is trying to ADD their Christmas decor to their regular decor. Which just leads to crowding and clutter. 

Instead, swap out everyday art and accent pieces for their holiday counterparts. Put away the regular coffee table vignette when you put out the Christmas candles and baubles. Replace the floral arrangement with the poinsettias. 

Don’t try to keep all the things out at once! 

pine bookcase with doors beige sofa Christmas

Consider the practicality of your decorations

If you’ve got kids, pets, or a tiny space, you want to make sure that you consider the use of the space before adding decor.

For example, if you’ve got a dog, you don’t want to have live poinsettias because they’re poisonous to dogs. Or if you’ve got little kids, opt for a beautiful plastic lantern with battery-powered candles (yes, those exist and they’re actually really pretty!) instead of a metal and glass version with a real flame candle. 


Sprinkle holiday decor around the house

Adding a little holiday touch to each room is such a fun part of the season. 

Add a little faux plant or candle to the kitchen. A Christmas hand towel to the bathroom. A bowl of ornaments to the entryway. 

neutral and black christmas tree

Consider making one area of each room the decorative focus

While adding a little “sprinkle” of decor to each room is great, rather than placing little bits of Christmas decor all over the room haphazardly, consider creating a focal point for your Christmas decor, like the Christmas tree, the mantel, or a table vignette. 

Christmas fireplace sitting area

Think about guests and their comfort

Much like thinking about the practicality of your decor and your space, think about your guests too. 

One holiday I hung a pretty seasonal quilt over the headboard in our guest room. It looked great…until my sis told me it fell on her head and startled her in the middle of the night. Lol. While I found it mildly amusing – sisters! – it wasn’t really the best place to put that particular piece of decor. 

Consider your guests and what will be comfortable for them. There’s no point in all the decor if it makes things uncomfortable or inconvenient. 


Deck the halls inside and out

When you’re decorating for Christmas, make sure you decorate inside and out. See below for ideas for both. 

Decorating Inside

Of course, you will get the most joy yourself from decorating the inside of your house because you will get to see those spaces the most. Here’s how to add a little festivity to the inside of your home. 

christmas tree 2021 for home page

Christmas Tree

Of course, right? Whether you go all out on one tree or you have several trees in your home, the Christmas tree can be so much fun to decorate. 

You can find out more about how to decorate a Christmas tree the easy way in this post, but here’s the gist: 

  • Step 1 – Put up the tree and fluff it up
  • Step 2 – Add Christmas tree lights
  • Step 3 – Add stems or greenery sprays
  • Step 4 – Add any ribbons you’d like
  • Step 5 – Add the largest ornaments
  • Step 6 – Add multiples or sets of ornaments
  • Step 7 – Now add any other ornaments
  • Step 8 – Vacuum and put down your Christmas tree skirt or tree collar
  • Step 9 – Add the tree topper


Another classic spot to decorate for Christmas is the fireplace mantel. Even just a few garlands, bells, ribbons, or stockings can make this surface look festive. 

Got a tv over your mantel? No worries. Here’s how to decorate a mantel with a tv over it for Christmas

And if you don’t have a fireplace mantel, don’t let that stop you! Build something similar or decorate a shelf or tabletop as you would a mantel! 

mason jar floating candles

Candles and Lights

Beyond the tree and a mantel, adding all manner of candles and twinkle lights to your home during the holiday season has a way of warming it up and making it feel much cozier. 

Keep safe with real flame candles by placing them on a tray or the stovetop where they can’t get knocked over. 

Try flameless battery-powered candles if you’ve got little kids. Or use battery-powered twinkle lights in spots where there are no electrical plugs handy.

HML Merry Christmas 2019

Festive Throws and Pillows

With throw blankets and throw pillows you can easily swap out for the season, you can very easily add a little holiday charm to your living room, entry, dining room, and bedrooms. 

You can go all out with Christmas-colored or themed throws and pillows. Or you can be a little more subtle and just add heavier fabrics in deeper colors for the winter months. 

I always recommend feather inserts for throw pillows anyway for retaining their shape. Plus throw pillow covers are much easier to store when not in use than fill-sized throw pillows! 

faux eucalyptus garland on barn beam mantel

Greens & Flowers

Greenery and flowers are such a wonderful addition to winter decor when it’s all gloomy and dark outside. 

I like to use a mixture of real and faux greenery. The faux stuff is great to keep around because it lasts longer than the real stuff and you only have to buy it once. But it’s super nice to add some real boughs as well just for the scent alone! 

Keep in mind that pets and poinsettias don’t mix! 

mini christmas house


I mentioned this already above, but creating focal points or vignettes of Christmas decor is a beautiful way to decorate for the season. 

Try combining an uneven number (3, 5, or 7) of items on a tray, tabletop, or shelf. 

By gathering things together your holiday decor will look more deliberate and less scattered or haphazard. 

Miscellaneous Tips

These non-decor times can add to the holiday fun for double-duty decor!

Advent Calendar Final Product Context (full, with xmas)

Advent Calendar

If you’re celebrating advent with your family this year, consider keeping your advent calendar of choice in mind when you’re planning your decor. 

Presents as Decor

The gifts under the tree can act as holiday decor as well. Coordinating gift wrap, ribbons, and bows with your color scheme is a fun and pretty way to decorate too. 

Family Christmas Photo Display

If you’ve embraced the tradition and had holiday family photos taken each year, consider putting together a tabletop display or a gallery wall of those framed photos for the holiday season. 

Christmas Card Decorations

Some still send actual Christmas cards each year, so why not display them? Tuck them into your tree, hang them on a string, use a card stand or tape them around a doorway for instant holiday cheer! 

Decorating Outside

Decorating the outside of your home can bring joy to your neighbors – and to you each time you pull into your driveway. 

Christmas Planters

Christmas planters are my favorite way to add holiday cheer to our front porch. 

Depending on the year I’ve used store-bought, ready-to-go planters, or I’ve made them myself using greenery, birch logs, dogwood branches, bows, etcetera. Sometimes I’ve added ornaments or even snowshoes! 

The trick to keeping them looking good – and not blowing over in winter winds – is to build your planter and then add water. The water will freeze as the temperatures plummet and keep the planter sturdy and fresh! 


Wreaths are also super festive and you can find so many different styles and price points. Of course, I always have to buy two because we have double front doors, but it’s worth it! 

Lanterns & Lights

We always hang a string of lights around the lower level roof of our house/garage. And depending on the year, we also sometimes add spotlights, light show lights, lanterns with battery-powered candles (although with our weather the batteries don’t last long), and a blow-up Santa. 

Layered Garland

Garlands are also great outside. You can layer them for a fuller effect and hang them from banisters and porches or wind them around pillars. 

French Farmhouse Christmas Decor Idea - Frame, Skates and Greenery 2

So those are my ideas for how to decorate for Christmas. There are lots you can use – choose one or two or use them all for a super festive house you’ll love to come home to!

More Christmas Ideas You’ll Love

What’s your favorite part of decorating for Christmas?

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