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Tradition with a Twist
By Tracy Dickinson
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Tradition with a Twist

Holiday decorating isn’t just red and green anymore.

The holidays are all about tradition—Grandma’s special cookie recipe, Dad snoring on the couch after too much pie, kids sneaking peeks at the wrapped gifts under the tree. When it comes to decorating for the holidays, each family’s tradition is more like a basic recipe, adapted and reinterpreted to reflect the tastes of the family.

Here are some ideas for making traditional holiday decorating reflect your personal tastes and favorite things.

Start with basic ingredients

Whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist or you like to mix it up, holiday decorating still starts with some foundational pieces: a tree, some lights, and some seasonal elements.

“Homeowners are definitely opting for pre-lit trees,” says Trieste’s Tammy Burmester. “And if they have the space, they’ll often leave them set up and just cover and store them ’til next year to eliminate the hassle of assembling the tree every Christmas.”

A popular twist on the traditional is to opt for a flocked tree. Mindy Seeman of Forget Me Not in Ankeny says, “Manufacturers offer different levels of flocked trees. You can get a lightly dusted look, a fuller flocked tree, or even the snowdrift style, which is entirely white.” Flocked products are also available in soft pastel shades to add a warm glow when lit.

“Having multiple trees is more common now, too,” Forget Me Not’s Missey Michel, Mindy’s sister, says. “My kids each have one in their room. A lot of our clients do this, as well as having a primary tree in the family room with maybe another tree in the entry or in another family area.”

Having several trees allows for differing decorating styles and extends the holiday cheer from room to room. But for homeowners who don’t choose to decorate numerous trees, there are other ways to add seasonal touches throughout the home.

Add some spice

Greenery can be incorporated into a room’s decor to add a holiday touch and then adapted for the rest of the cold-weather season. “Using greenery with candles or adding mini pine trees on a counter with holiday lights can make a room feel festive for the holidays,” Burmester says. “Then afterward you can remove the holiday elements. The greenery alone is nice during the winter.”

She says red is always a popular color for holiday decorating. The addition of greenery brings in the traditional green without making it a dominant color. “We see a lot of red and plaid, and the wintery blues are popular, too,” she says.

Michel agrees. “That bright blue with white is a really hot right now. And it works well with the neutral color scheme so many people have.”

Each designer says that most homeowners prefer a tree that reflects the decor throughout the home, but theme trees are also a trend. Seeman says, “We always have a remembrance tree,” a centerpiece tree that is a tribute to the sisters’ husbands, who died in 2016.

“We opened Forget Me Not after we lost our husbands because we didn’t want it to be a retirement dream anymore,” Michel says. “You’re not guaranteed a someday.” Dedicating a tree to the men’s memory is a way to make them a part of the holiday and an opportunity for their families to acknowledge their absence and celebrate their lives at the same time.

Theme trees can honor loved ones, like the remembrance tree, or they can focus on a particular type of ornament, such as woodland creatures, pets, or snowmen. And themes can change from year to year or from room to room.

Make it sparkle

“Pre-lit trees are popular, but we’re also seeing more and more lights on trees. It used to be just a strand of lights wrapped around the tree from top to bottom. Now people are wrapping each branch over and over; the tree is just covered with lights,” Seeman says.

Burmester agrees. “We have a number of clients who really like sparkle, so their holiday decor is full of glitter. But even people who don’t like glitter can add some sparkle during the holidays with some shiny ornaments or sparkly greenery in flower arrangements or even the centerpieces for their table.”

She says oversize ornaments are also more common, in part because trees are larger. “So many homes have extra-high ceilings, so the trees are really tall. Putting small ornaments on a huge tree can make it seem too busy. Or the small ornaments almost get lost on that big tree. Plus it takes so many of them to fill it. Using oversize ornaments solves that problem, and they just look gorgeous.”

Every family has its own traditions. Holiday decorating is always high among them. With the colors and decor available, you can create a tradition that’s as individual as you are.


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