12 Tips to Simplify Christmas Decorating

How to Simplify Christmas Decorating - great tips so you don't get overwhelmed kellyelko.com

I’ve been decking my halls and trimming my trees for my Christmas Home Tour (take the tour here)!

I love Christmas!

I love to decorate for Christmas!

But sometimes it can get overwhelming.

Here are my tips for surviving Christmas decorating while still getting the most bang for your decorating efforts.

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12 Tips to Simplify Christmas Decorating

1) Start Early

Decorating takes time and the sooner we start thinking and planning, the easier and less overwhelming it becomes. Although you may not be putting your tree up until after you carve your turkey, you can still peruse magazines, Pinterest (and my blog!) for ideas to get you ready (and so you can order whatever you need in advance – make sure to check out my Top Christmas Home Decor Finds Under $25).

Decorating is a process and lots of changes are bound to take place. Starting early helps us figure out exactly what suits us best.

2) Take Inventory

It’s easy to forget what we have stored away in boxes and bins 11 months of the year. Pull out your stuff and look at it with fresh eyes. I love moving things around the house. The mini trees I used on my mantel last year, I plan to put on my stairs this year. The white Christmas tree that has been in my kitchen and family room will make an appearance in my dining room this year. It’s all about using what you have in new ways.

Source: Gnome Cookie Jar

White Christmas tree with vintage Shiny Brite ornaments kellyelko.com

3) Go Shopping

Whether you check out online shops or head to your nearest HomeGoods or Target, it’s fun to see what’s new and different. You may find a show stopper that becomes the backbone of your decor.

4) Pick a Theme

Whether it’s a color (I’m all about red and white this year) or an idea like snowflakes or stars or mercury glass, picking a theme makes it easier to edit your decorations and use only what fits. Shopping early (tip #3) helps you decide what direction you want to go.

5) Choose a Few Main Focal Points

Figure out which area in your home is the most important to you and start there. It could be your kitchen or dining room or mantel. Use that as a jumping off point.

My main areas to focus on are usually my mantel, dining table, kitchen and staircase.

The rest of my house gets a mini tree or a bowl of vintage Shiny Brites – super simple.

Source: Red Car with Tree Cookie Jar

Whimsical Christmas Home Tour kellyelko.com

6) Go Faux

I decorate early and don’t have time to mist fresh garlands and wreaths – I save those for my front porch. Inside, I’m all about faux trees, wreaths and garlands. They are no fuss, no mess and can be used year after year.

Sprigs of faux greenery can be tucked into vases or galvanized buckets. Faux berry garland can be cut up and scattered on coffee tables or tied to Christmas presents.

Snowflake garland bannister for Christmas kellyelko.com

7) Be Real

Force bulbs (see how to force Amaryllis bulbs in jars) early so they are in bloom for Christmas. Add a tiny rosemary tree or a few fresh sprigs of holly throughout the house. The key is to use things that last and won’t shed or create a mess.

Best part – you can keep these fresh greens around until you have to gift them to your favorite people.

Force Christmas bulbs for a fun and easy centerpiece kellyelko.com

8) Cozy Christmas

Think beyond the obvious and use everyday items that can stay out all winter long. Plaid pillows and fleece throws add a subtle touch and you can mix in a cute Christmas themed pillow or two for good measure.

Cozy plaid throw and Christmas car pillow are fun by the tree kellyelko.com

9) Let it Glow

It’s amazing what adding string lights throughout the house does to make your house merry and bright. Add battery operated lights to wreaths, tuck them into centerpieces and add them to garlands for a house that glows. I am all about these remote control fairy lights this year!

Ice skates under a cloche get festive Christmas lights for a fun glow kellyelko.com

10) DIY It

Don’t be afraid to do it yourself to get exactly what you’re looking for. Some of my favorite Christmas decor include things I made myself like a birch wood stenciled wood backdrop on my mantel, quick and easy snowy mason jar candles and personalized Santa sacks.

DIY Grain Sack Santa Sacks kellyelko.com

11) Vintage Finds

It’s fun to get creative with displays this time of year. A unique flea market find or family heirloom like my husbands childhood firetruck is the perfect Christmas backdrop – just add a mini tree and you’re done.

Vintage red fire truck Christmas decor kellyelko.com

My number one take away for Christmas decorating is …

12) Think Christmas 365 Days a Year

I’m always on the lookout for Christmas decor and scour flea markets and estate sales for vintage Shiny Brite ornaments or mason jars I can fill with faux snow and candles. Make sure to check out the clearance racks at your favorite stores to stock up for next year (I’ve found gorgeous mercury glass trees, red berry kissing balls and more for 90% off).

Here’s to taking a deep breath and not stressing this Christmas season.

Now, bring on the sugar cookies!

HomeGoods – Birch Bark Wrapping Paper Table Runner, Green Glasses, Naughty/Nice Mugs, Plaid Throw

Check out my full Christmas Home Tour here

Cozy Christmas Home Tour kellyelko.com

Make sure to check out my past Christmas home tour here 

Whimsical Christmas home tour kellyelko.com

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  1. Lovely Kelly. I gave my daughter our small white tree and am sending her your photo. She wanted to boost her tree in front of the window in their home office and did not know what to do with it under the tree. Thanks!

  2. Kelly, I love your husband’s firetruck. Is it metal? The house looks great. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Pat S

  3. It’s beautiful, we haven’t had Christmas in the last 8 years.Since my husband was hurt.This made me smile.Thank you.I recently found your page and I am loving it.Hope your holidays are bright.You made me a bit happier today.

  4. I love the simplicity and beauty of what you have shown in this post. So wonderful you still have your husbands fire truck. I bought an old blue one that needs a steering wheel. Someone put a tire on for steering. I love the vehicles with trees. Looking forward to your Christmas tour.

  5. I love your decorating. It’s so comfy and cozy and homey! This is the only time of year I envy those with stairs—to decorate.. merry Christmas. Micki

  6. You always have great ideas ,last year i used your cute bags idea. Have a Happy Thanksgiving with your girls and husband.

  7. Really lovely and simple decorations and so refreshing after all the plastic and glitzy stuff I see so often! Thanks so much for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  8. Great advice- I love preplanning. In the last few years I have preplanned to shop the way after Christmas sales for the next year. Cheap deals and it’s fun to see what I’ve gathered.

  9. Thanks for the great tips Kelly. I also shop for Christmas gifts and decor year round. I have found some pretty amazing things at yard sales, clearance racks and flea markets. My husband would like to shoot me because my Christmas bins have doubled, but hey I love mixing it up from year to year. When I am done or over something I just gift it to someone who loves it!

  10. I appreciate the tips about Christmas decorating. Getting more Christmas decorations is appealing to me. I’ll be sure to find a good place to get more decorations.

  11. Hi,
    Love your tour and your cozy home. But I need to know, where did you get those long johns that hang on your mantel. I love them and would to make them for my grandsons.
    Thank you for all your wonderful tips..

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