BY ANNIE HUSTON,  BIRDSALL & CO.

Holidays are all about creating memories with loved ones in warm, cozy surroundings. But if you’ve decided to upgrade from the macaroni garlands your children made in school, change up the holiday décor you inherited from grandma, or are just starting your holiday traditions from scratch, where do we turn for help and inspiration?

It may feel early, but your local merchants have been thinking about and ordering their holiday inventory since January. To compete with big box stores that start putting holiday products out in August, even your small neighborhood stores are starting the season very early. We might as well accept and embrace this new trend in retail to gather inspiration for our own holiday décor. I actually LOVE the holiday season and I gladly immerse myself into it halfway through the summer. So, let me share what I love for this season: 

In continuing with the design trends of honoring the natural environment, where less is more and striving to reconnect with nature inside our homes is becoming paramount, we cannot go wrong by keeping our holiday décor simple and elegant. The over-the-top decorations of the eighties are tamed down to feel-good elements that represent serenity, seasonal warmth, and joy of life. The key is identifying and highlighting the pieces of the décor that bring you joy and happiness and discarding the rest.

Light is taking a prominent place as a fundamental accent to many displays. With the energy-conserving LED strings now being manufactured in all sizes and shapes of bulbs, light strands are the stars of the holidays. I particularly love the extra-fine scintillating ones that can be wrapped, intertwined, woven, or hung from pretty much anything. A simple grapevine wreath becomes a holiday treat with one of those super mini strands around it.  Use an empty bottle of wine (this is the kind of crafting I can get behind) and fill it up with the mini lights. Line up five of them on the windowsill, surround them with large sugar pine cones, et voila! 

In order to accommodate smaller living spaces, Christmas trees have adapted and options abound.  I mean artificial trees, of course, not the ones you kill to enjoy for a couple of weeks at the peak of their growth! Pick between tall and narrow, flocked (traditionally sprayed white), lit with incandescent or LED lights (the latter is more expensive), short table top, two-dimensional, or even the outline of a tree made in string lights on your wall. Just stay away from the trees hanging upside down from the ceiling: the trend was ugly when it came out and it still is.

Blue and green in dark hues are the latest in design for 2019. Baubles are easily changed and replaced for a slightly updated look from one year to the next but for once, the trendy colors are neutral enough that they stand the test of time. Mix them with dark forest green, which will always be seasonal and accent them with metal touches: gold, silver, rust. The industrial rust color is increasingly popular and easily replaces gold tones for a more subtle and urban arrangement.

Glass ornaments continue to have a place on our tree branches. They reflect lights, give an airy feeling to dense foliage, and can be personalized if you fill them with your favorite touches: white sand from the latest beach trip, blooms from your grandma’s hydrangeas, a lock from the first hair cut (you parents out there know what I’m talking about). 

The DIY trend is here to stay, but with a twist (or a twig)! Organic elements are easily incorporated into a holiday décor and will bring nature indoors. Gather twigs and include them in your decorations. Cut evergreen branches and use them as a table runner. Bring in feathers, dried blooms, spent perennials and weave them into your tree. Mix your ornaments with natural favorites to create an elegant balance of rustic and refined quality. Mother Nature should definitely spend the holidays with you!

Wreaths, good people! Wreaths!!! Not just for the front door, but leaning above the fireplace mantle, hanging in front of mirrors, on the walls, horizontally as a chandelier above the table – wreaths literally have a place everywhere. Choose from fresh greens, artificial evergreens, vines, metal, or moss. Their circular shape is adaptable to many uses and is an emblem of life, perfection, unity, and the warmth of the sun. No wonder Martha loves them!

You have time to round up your natural materials, so here are suggestions of what you can bring in: boxwood, evergreen branches, red twig dogwood, hydrangeas, yarrow, rose hips, random branches, grapevines, pine cones, willows and, even, tumble weeds! 

Now, start creating your memories for your generation and the ones to come. Soon, you’ll enjoy a glass of mulled wine while your loved ones marvel at your lovely home and envy your impeccable taste! Well done!!

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