Practical, on-trend solutions to celebrate the holidays elegantly.

Christmas Tree Ornament
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As the countdown to Christmas continues, all I can think about is how I should decorate my home for the holidays. In Southern California, we don’t experience the seasons and our ocean-inspired paint colors seriously contrast with traditional red and green holiday decor. So, I was curious about how interior design experts in my area decorate their own homes and what they recommend to their clients. 

During my investigation, I chatted with three Orange County-based interior designers: Melissa Hanle of Hanle Interiors, Julie Hovnanian of Hovie Interiors, and Ashley Clark of sKout Interior Design. Below, you can review their suggestions for choosing holiday decor that highlights and complements your home.

Multicultural Influences

Thomas J. Story

Draw Inspiration from Existing Decor

You don’t necessarily need to transform your home into the North Pole during the holidays. “Take inspiration from your own home to keep things cohesive,” Hanle says. “Pull colors from elements you currently have around your house like artwork, fabrics, and furniture. This will create a holiday look that complements your home.” 

Create Special Corners Throughout Your Home

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“I like to pick selected areas of the house and have little vignettes of decorations that people really notice, as opposed to decorations on everything,” Hovnanian says. Her favorite decor accents? Ornaments she’s collected over the years that hold sentimental value and vintage antique ornaments. She also uses her favorite ornaments to decorate her tree, as well as these special spaces in her home.

living Christmas trees

Thomas J. Story

Focus on Balance and Symmetry for Your Tree

Decorating your Christmas tree comes with a key strategy from Hanle: Combine sentimental ornaments with solid-colored sets of balls or other simple shapes. “Spread these repeated colors and shapes throughout the tree, in a balanced manner, then hang the personal, unique ornaments in between,” she says. “This approach helps keep the tree from looking juvenile or disorganized but still allows the personality of the homeowner to be on display.”

Holiday Gift Wrap

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Get Creative with Kraft Paper

There’s a lot you can do with a roll of Kraft paper, Clark says. She recommends writing names on Kraft paper in lieu of traditional place cards or using it to label platters of food. You can also use it as wrapping paper or table decor that adults and kids alike can doodle on. “It’s just a simple thing, but it looks great and provides some fun entertainment,” she says. “Listen, a game of tic-tac-toe can come in handy when uncles are discussing football or politics.”

Exterior Red Door Decorated with a Wreath for Christmas

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Add More Plants in and Around Your Home

You can also freshen up your home with fragrant, bright foliage. Hovnanian says this is another one of her favorite unique holiday decorations. Hanle agrees, and says her favorites include magnolia, boxwood, and the classic-yet-current fresh pine. Some of her placement ideas include garland around columns, mailbox posts, and window frames outdoors, and swags and garland on banisters, tabletops, and fireplace mantels indoors.

“Greenery is best left unadorned to let its natural beauty shine,” Hanle says. “It’s also a good rule to match the type of greenery to the region in which you live. This feels more natural to me… the way it was before we had overnight shipping!” She also loves adding groupings of white hydrangea and red poinsettia in strategic locations both indoors and out.

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West Elm Connectable Micro String Lights, $46

Use White Twinkle Lights

“These are an inexpensive way to highlight shrubs and trees on the exterior of the home,” Hanle says, adding that she stays away from more tacky multi-colored options. If you want to add color, she recommends adding single-colored lights (“usually red!”) with the white lights.

Don’t Stress About Making Things Too Perfect

“We are not ‘pretty’ Christmas people over here,” Clark says. “We love the idea that more is more when it comes to Christmas, and everything goes!” This concept can be achieved in a number of ways, but Clark recommends bringing out the “old and new”—think your kiddo’s handmade decor and flocking on the tree. “Perfect is boring!” she adds. 

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