You have visions of sugar plums in your heart this holiday season, but walking into your living room leaves you flat. What can you do to turn your abode into the holiday wonderland you so crave?
Start with your front door. Hang a wreath, and wrap it like a gift box with ribbon and bow, or paste last year's holiday card covers all over the frame.
Next, step inside and find a focal point, meaning an area where your eyes settle naturally: a window, a fireplace mantel, an open corner that's perfect for a tree, a grand piano or a cozy seating area. Concentrate your holiday decorating in this area. Dress up wall art with ribbons and bows.
Use colored lighting to brighten a dreary corner. Muted greens and bright reds will make a room cheery. Wrap shiny tinsel garland around a pole lamp, and then hang it from a banister or a mantel. You also could display garland on a coffee table or a dining room table or even use it to frame artwork on your wall. Do you have a large potted plant in the room? Wind a strand of tiny blinking lights around it to create a festive holiday look.
Dress up your old couch and chairs with Christmas-themed knitted throws. Wrap wide-width ribbon in holiday colors around your throw pillows, and scatter them around the room like gift packages waiting to be opened. Drape ribbon or faux garland over a lampshade for a quick holiday upgrade -- but be careful to use fire- and heat-retardant materials. Add a few scattered rugs, even over wall-to-wall carpet, in greens, reds or whatever color theme you choose. Hang garland from your curtain rods to spice up your everyday window treatments.
A gaily decorated Christmas tree practically shouts "Merry Christmas!" Decorate your tree with a special theme or color scheme, or hang a variety of ornaments, tinsel and garland from its branches. Give each family member a special ornament that is theirs and theirs alone to hang each year. Bright, colorful Christmas ornaments and balls aren't just for hanging on the tree. Fill a large candy dish with an assortment of ornaments, and place it on your table. Similarly, fill a variety of containers -- such as candy dishes, fruit bowls, clear vases and small serving trays -- and place them around the house.
While the Yule log is a common addition to a holiday theme, even a nonfunctioning fireplace can be lit with rows of colorful pillar candles set at different heights in front of the fireplace -- but take precautions if you have pets and small children. Don't forget to hang stockings in all sizes, patterns and colors from your mantel or banister, or even from an entertainment center or table. The use of metal displays for holiday greeting cards makes a warm addition to your seasonal decorating.
The decorating team at HGTV suggests that you "repeat some elements to pull a room together. Spread an accent color around the room, and choose holiday decorations that go well together and blend nicely with the style and colors in your home. Also, use the same greens and accents throughout a space, such as sugared berries and glass ornaments on garlands, wreaths and in bowls."
Are you using an artificial tree or a faux wreath? Tuck in sprigs of live evergreen branches to create an authentic smell. This is also a great time to display homemade family decorations, which keep the mood warm and cozy. Hang glitter-edged pine cones from garland, or fill the top of an umbrella stand. An angelic tree-topper doesn't need to sit on the tree; display it on a mantle or tabletop. Miniature holiday villages and felt-snow coverings can dress up any tabletop. Nativity scenes are just as lovely on a shelf as they are under the Christmas tree.
Don't forget about your other rooms! Use a bold-colored tablecloth and bright contrasting dinner plates in the dining room. Bundle sets of festive towels in the bathrooms, and cinch them with bright ribbon. Decorate your refrigerator with shiny gift bows.