Decorating for Christmas means different things to different people. Some don't think it's the holidays without glitzy garlands, brightly colored ornaments and sparkling accents as far as the eye can see, while others prefer a simpler approach, such as understated greenery, muted-hue tree trimmings and subtle white lights.
Whichever approach you prefer, no holiday room is complete without a festive focal point that has plenty of personality.
With that in mind, Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad, Catherine Parker and Debbie Plantery joined forces to design a variety of yuletide vignettes that look right at home in any space.
"The beauty of these Christmas displays is that they are perfect for just about anywhere," Enstad said. "You can put one in the family room alongside the big tree and a lot of other garland and accents. Or, you can use it more as a self-contained burst of seasonal interest in a bedroom that is otherwise undecorated."
The stylists say the key to each of these distinctive groupings is simple: Start with an accent and use it as the inspiration for a theme, such as music or books.
"Find a decoration that you just love, maybe a unique stocking or a classic Santa," Parker advises. "Then, take an element from that item and turn it into the jumping-off point for the rest of your elements." Read on and check out the photos for 18 more detailed tips from our savvy stylists that will help you devise a delightful holiday scene in your home.
1. Start somewhere. An adorable snowman serves as the basis for a display featuring various containers put to unique uses. 2. Have a ball. Some of the frosty figure's elements inspired other aspects of the vignette. For instance, the shiny balls on the wreath coordinate with jingle bells attached with pipe cleaners to small planters. 3. Be sweet. Highlight artistic holiday treats by arranging them around a whimsical picture frame perched on a pedestal. For more serving space, place the pedestal on a pretty dinner plate. 4. Hang around. More sweet decor comes in the form of photo-framing cookie cutters and pipe-cleaner candy canes adorning a spray-painted branch tree with a mini bushel basket base. The basket joins the snowman figure in a bed of fiberfill snow on a woven tray.
5. Earn your stripes. For this foyer arrangement, the stylists centered the theme on a red-and-white-striped stocking. "We played up the pattern with a bow on one of the craft boxes stacked on the stairs," Enstad said. "And, we used it to inspire a knitting-and-sewing scheme in the rest of the space." 6. Feel secure. "Instead of hanging the stocking on the mantel or from a hook, we held it in place atop these stacked red and yellow benches with a glass candleholder," Plantery said. "It's an easy way to have a decorative item work two different ways." 7. Spin a yarn. Several yarn-wrapped wood spools set on and around some stacking boxes also complement the knit stocking and put a twist on traditional yuletide decor. One of the spools even serves as a card holder thanks to a paper clip inserted into its hole. 8. Cue up color. On the banister, a whimsical spool garland layered onto a traditional pine swag brings a bright burst to the space. Red mitten ornaments and a petite present complement the tones of the vibrant rag rug. 9. Find a loophole. The stylists also used yarn to make hangers for plain wood spools, turning them into sew-adorable ornaments for a miniature, snow-flecked tree. Resting in a graphic stacking box boosted by another box, the tree's base gets added interest from a burlap square. 10. Wreath all about it. "Instead of a typical bow, attach a banner to your wreath," Parker advises. "We used a piece of lettered burlap garland that ties in with the fabric and sewing theme."
Music to my ears
11. Put a song in your heart. "Music is one of the most important elements of the holiday season," Parker said. "Bring the feeling you get when you hear your favorite Christmas tune into your decorating." 12. Dressed to impress. These back-in-time caroler figures sound an old-fashioned note as the centerpiece of this musical vignette. 13. Be a flake. Instead of a tablecloth or other textile, try using flat snowflake ornaments to bring wintry charm to a tabletop; here, white flakes contrast a black side table and set off the carolers and the small framed stitchery. Or, prop up a sign, such as the one at right, behind accents for a fun backdrop. 14. Get in the hot sheet. Vintage sheet music -- or copies of out-of-copyright songs -- can make a wonderful graphic statement. Gather rolled sheets in a vase, cut pages into strips to make garland, or glue cut out squares onto ornaments. 15. Wrap things up. You can also use sheet music to wrap gifts; make the package extra special with an instrument ornament, a lettered tag or even a pair of earrings added for sparkle.
By the book
16. Support the Claus. Toting a storybook and a teddy bear, this Santa figure is ready to send kids off to sleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. He also brings bookish charm to a vignette full of smart ideas. 17. Know when to fold 'em. An old book with its pages folded at an angle crowns a spool set on a stack of antique classics. To make the paperback tree, Plantery removed the book's cover, double-folded all of the pages, glued the front and back pages together, and set a papier-mâché star on top. 18. Get glowing. "The finishing touch in any display is a lighting element," Plantery said. Here, a wood candle tray carries a pair of decked-out candles: a green grubby version with a stocking clipped onto a ring of twine and a red one wrapped in burlap ribbon. More burlap ribbon with rusty bells adds texture when wound around the display's elements.