A tree in the living room is a given, but how can you bring the holiday spirit into the rest of your home? We asked Manhattan-based event designer and author Maria McBride for guidance. Her top tip? Don't overdo it. "Skip the Santa-shaped soaps and the dish towels with Christmas trees and think more creatively," she says. Here are her smart, stylish and affordable suggestions for five different spaces.
Make a festive first impression by placing an antique-looking filament bulb in your light fixture and arranging evergreen branches in simple fiberglass planters. If you have stairs that lead to a second floor, place a mason jar with a tea light on each step. (Leave the metal ring on the jar for a sparkly effect, and use battery-powered tea lights.)
"Put a few votive candles on the windowsill and fill your fruit bowl with ornaments—fast and easy!" McBride says. She also displays her seasonal cookbooks in a neat stack ("I'm more likely to use them, too"), and draws a holly border on her kitchen chalkboard.
A candle in a seasonal scent like cedarwood, cinnamon or clove will stir up memories and set the holiday mood. And if you have guests coming, upgrade your hand towels. McBride likes hers white and hemstitched, but if you want to make a statement, "keep the print simple and vintage." She'll bend her no-kitsch rule for one item only: a rubber duck wearing a Santa hat.
Cordless candles in every window are a pretty, updated take on a long-standing holiday tradition. Playful touches like a snow globe on the dresser and a copy of The Night Before Christmas on the nightstand will make guests feel like kids again.
If you don't feel like hanging lights, fit the back porch fixture with an amber bulb to create an instant, cozy glow. And don’t ignore the back door—wreaths look festive on every entry. As a rustic alternative, McBride suggests displaying a single evergreen branch. "Choose one with a beautiful shape, wire on berries and pine cones, and hang it with ribbons," she says. Complete the look with miniature evergreens in your planters.