Holiday Housewalk 2021: Classic Christmas Decor Ideas
Our 2021 Holiday Housewalk home tour with classic Christmas decor ideas you can implement yourself for a timeless, nostalgic Christmas.
Holiday Housewalk day is here and it is chock full of alllllll the classic Christmas decor ideas that just give ya the vintage nostalgic fuzzy wuzzies all over! Or at least, that’s how I feel walking around this place. Cozy fuzzy wuzzy feel goods for days!
For the past several years, I’ve joined in with the talented Jennifer Rizzo to share our home all decked out for the annual Holiday Housewalk, and I feel so honored that our home is among so many beautiful ones this year, 27 homes to be exact.
If you missed the beginning of the tour, you can find Day 1 here to get all kinds of Christmas decor ideas. (If you’re visiting from Stop #20 Kristen’s house at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, grab a cup of cocoa and make yourself at home.)
I could just play Vanna White and vaguely flourish around this place to present our decked out halls, but I figure that doesn’t really serve you a real purpose in your own home.
So maybe it’ll help to break down some classic Christmas decor ideas that you can easily recreate yourself inexpensively, if you want a few ideas.
Classic Christmas Decor Ideas You Can Recreate Yourself
1. Bowls are your best friends.
Dig any big bowls out of your kitchen cabinets… even if you typically use it as a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter or a popcorn bowl for movie night, no one has to know, right?
Fill it with rocks and paperwhite bulbs (real or fake). Use moss and pillar candles. Or throw in some glass ball ornaments (I mean, don’t throw them in… you know what I mean).
I put a bowl of jingle bells on an end table in our living room every year because we have a 3 year-old, and this is our life right now. She jingles those bells every chance she gets.
This bowl of paperwhite flowers in our foyer worked out perfectly.
2. Frame Christmas sheet music as art.
Fact: I always have “O Holy Night” featured somewhere in our house each Christmas because one of my favorite memories of my grandaddy is him singing that song in church every Christmas season. Every time that song plays on the radio, I think of him. So it’s my tribute to him each year.
Last year, I even framed an entire gallery wall with Christmas sheet music torn out of a thrifted piano music book for $1.
3. When in doubt, tie some ribbon on it.
I tied up that garland with twine so it would hang from our staircase railing, but it wasn’t that pretty to look at. So I just covered up the twine with a few strands of ribbon. Use it on wreaths, tie it on the ends of tree branches, add some to stockings or gift wrap. Real fabric ribbon somehow adds that layer of classic Christmas decor nostalgia.
I love changing the color of our ribbon every year for a “new look” without having to buy much else. (Here are a few more tricks for inexpensively changing the look of your Christmas decor.)
This year, I was feeling copper and green. Robert’s family from his mother’s Irish side came to visit last week, so copper and green just felt Irish to me.
4. Dry orange slices or other fruit.
You can see how to dry orange slices, pomegranates, and cranberries in this post as well as how to preserve fresh leaves from the yard. Bonus points: it makes the whole house smell heavenly!
I love sprinkling orange slices on dining table centerpieces, stringing them up as garland, hanging them as ornaments on the tree, tucking them into wreaths, on gifts, on place settings… anywhere you want.
5. Raid your stash of summer/spring flowers and greenery.
I dug into my bin of artificial flowers and stems and found these faux magnolia blooms to tuck between the branches all over our tree in our dining room. Yay for recycling decor from other seasons!
By the way, we just finished this dining room makeover a couple of months ago, and I still can’t get over how well it turned out.
6. Stick to neutrals as much as possible.
I used that exact same table runner, napkins, and candle holders for our Thanksgiving table, but it still works perfectly for Christmas.
Red is fun and all, but the downside is it’s limiting for use in other seasons for me, and then I have to store it many months out of the year. So, if I want red, I try to use it sparingly in more disposable items like wrapping paper.
7. Shop your yard.
Or maybe ask a neighbor if they’ll let you snip some branches from their yard. I love walking around on a scavenger hunt for evergreen branches to scatter on tabletops. Dip them in a sink full of water with a capful of vinegar and let dry first to remove any bugs.
I stuck some whole cloves in a few oranges to place around the centerpiece, and I put a sprig of rosemary at each place setting. It smells amaaaazing!
8. Give family heirlooms the spotlight.
Robert and I have cherished this nativity scene since the beginning of our marriage, and it’s a treasure for us every year. I always try to find a new place where it will be noticed on a tabletop. (By the way, I painted that secondhand buffet last summer.)
Surrounding that nativity set with little trees, a vase of juniper stems, and shiny bells seemed right.
9. String ornaments onto ribbon for DIY garland.
I happened to have these snowflake ornaments in a bin that I’d used on the kids’ playroom tree for a few years. But instead, I tied them up to make a garland on the playroom fireplace mantel.
(Yes, our playroom has a fireplace and it’s wild. This house was built in 1960, and before an addition was built in the ’80s, this was the original family room.)
See? Cutie patootie ornaments-turned-garland whimsical mantel.
10. Display childhood collections.
I used to dance in The Nutcracker every year growing up, and each year, my parents gave me a bouquet of flowers after my last performance with a little nutcracker inside. I kept them, and now my little Nutcracker-obsessed girls can enjoy them too. (Olivia, our 9 year-old, is dying to dance in it next year.)
11. Add colorful ribbon and a box of color themed ornament balls to mingle with handmade ornaments.
I added the blush pink ribbon to this playroom tree, handed the box of ornaments to Robert and the girls, and they did the rest.
They’re especially clustered together at the bottom juuuuust where the Regan our 3 year-old can reach, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I bought a big box of shatterproof pastel color ornament balls to help the tree feel a little cohesive from a distance.
Up close, you can see all of the handmade preschool ornaments, wooden pieces Robert’s dad hand carved, bobbles picked up on our travels, baby’s first shoes balanced on tree branches… I get all mushy gushy just thinking about it.
12. Display Christmas books.
If we don’t have our Christmas storybooks in plain sight, we forget about them. So we like to display them under the playroom tree as “presents”, on tabletops, or on open bookshelves to grab and enjoy any time. But it totally counts as double duty decor (say that 5 times fast).
(P.S. See those little wooden Dutch shoes? My grandaddy brought those back from Holland when I was 5. Regan is determined to wear them every day to give me heart attacks as she slides around doing multiple wipe-outs on the slick hardwood floors. Good times.)
You can see more about our playroom makeover here. We still have plans for the other side of the room in 2022. 😉
Last spot… the living room! Where all the magic happens on the big day.
13. Display Christmas art on your smart TV.
You definitely don’t have to own a Samsung Frame TV to display art. See this post to display art on any smart TV to enjoy on Christmas morning or during a holiday gathering. You can find TV art for $2-3 on Etsy.
14. Hang wreaths on your windows.
I found these faux boxwood wreaths for $5 at IKEA nearly 5 years ago, and they’ve been so fun to dress up with different colored ribbon each year! You can see how to hang wreaths on windows here.
15. Bundle some logs to place on your hearth.
It’s even better if you can nab some for free if logs need splitting in your yard. Bundle them up with some twine… instant coziness.
16. Spray paint rocks at Christmas.
I’ve spray painted thrifted Christmas village houses, ornaments, bells, pinecones, Nutcrackers, you name it. This year, I found some colorful initial keychains that I changed up with my favorite gold spray paint to add as name markers on our family’s stockings.
17. I’m just gonna say it… say no to Christmas-specific pillows.
I know… it hurts me too… but not as much as having to store millions of Christmas pillows 11 months out of the year. You know what’s cooler than Christmas pillows that say “merry” on them? Pillows that last all through winter and can even work all year long.
If you’ve gotta have ’em though, throw one in as a “pop” of color.
18. Keep an eye out at thrift stores year-round.
I find the BEST Christmas decor at the thrift store smack in the middle of summer, though some of the best decor doesn’t have to be Christmas-specific.
See that little brass footed bowl with the pine cones in it? 99 cents, baby. It just needed someone to believe in it. Bless.
19. You can add fairy lights to basically anything.
I don’t even bother worrying about finding pre-lit garland anymore because fairy lights are so easy to add instead. And they’re battery operated anyway, so there’s no dealing with power cords. Win/win. It worked perfectly for the garland on our mantel.
20. Less is more.
True story: As we were setting up our Christmas trees this year, I said to Robert, “Let’s just do simple, ornament-less, naked trees this time. I’d really love something minimal without any fuss.” And his response, Mr. Buddy the Elf King of All Things Christmas over here, goes, “Are you crazy?!” My bad.
So this tree with just ornaments, candle clips, and a few bows was our compromise. 😉 Minimal-ish?
There’s something about minimalism that feels light and relaxing, don’t you think? Maybe that’s just me. Or maybe that’s just the mom in me overwhelmed with stuff everywhere.
So there we have it. We’re ready. Bring on Christmas! Except “Santa” still has a good bit of shopping to do. Tiny details. 😉
P.S. There’s a plug-in air freshener next to the tree in our attempt to make those plastic branches smell like Balsam Fir because one time we made the mistake of buying a real tree before Thanksgiving and were terrified to turn on the lights by Christmas Day for fear of catching our house on fire.
So you’re lookin’ good, air freshener, lookin’ goooood.
House tour aside, I hope all of those little classic Christmas decor ideas helped. They’re by no means earth shattering, but sometimes this season feels so busy and overwhelming that it’s easy to feel smothered by all of the Christmas stuff everywhere.
Whatever your home looks like, whether minimalist or maxxed out, carefully curated or decorated by a gaggle of toddlers, I hope you know that your home is beautiful right here and now because you and your family live there. And that is what this season is really about.
That is what makes your home beautifully and uniquely yours with your very own story.
The next stop on the Holiday Housewalk is my sweet friend Stephanie’s beautiful home at Casa Watkins! Go tell her hi. Don’t forget your cup of cocoa. Feel free to help yourself to seconds before you click that link there.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13