Decorating your home for the holidays doesn't have to be a burden. There are tips and trends that can help make the experience enjoyable.

Dress Up Your Home for the Holidays

Whether you enjoy decorating your home for the holiday season or dread the work involved, we’ve found some tips from the experts on how to make holiday decorating simple and enjoyable.

Decorating your home for the holidays doesn’t have to be a burden. There are tips and trends that can help make the experience enjoyable.

It’s that time of year again. Time to get toasty under a soft and cuddly throw as you relax with a nice cup of hot chocolate (or wine) and sit back and soak up the magical ambience of the holiday atmosphere in your home.

A holiday environment, mind you, brought to life with your admirable and brilliant decorating skills.

Wait, you might be saying. I would love if that vision were my reality.

But I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to holiday decorating. I’m usually sitting there unwinding a tangled box of lights and unpacking a box of ornaments as I feel overwhelmed with the whole process. So, I never really attempt to broaden my decorating horizons.

Well, we’re here to help! Read on for a few tips and tricks courtesy of our region’s experts. Their advice is sure to help you take your home from dull to dazzling this holiday season.

Carry the Holidays Throughout the House

There are a few things to remember when decorating for the holidays. For starters, don’t limit the areas in which you choose to decorate. Some people may have a fear of overdoing it, but let go of that worry. Simply hanging up lights around the outside of your house may be a tradition that has worked for generations, but you can take things further and still prevent your home from looking like Santa’s workshop (unless you want it to, of course).

These days, less is more when decorating.

“I always like to bring a little bit of Christmas throughout the house, a little in each room,” says Mary Batson, owner of Out of the Box, a gift store in downtown Crystal Lake. “Use items such as holiday tea towels in the bathroom. Things like this are good for spreading holiday cheer.”

Batson also enjoys placing Christmas trees in her kids’ rooms, and she lets them pick a Christmas figure or plaque for their rooms to help them get in on the holiday decorating spirit.

In the kitchen, work with items as simple as holiday-themed tablecloths and napkins. Even using plain, but versatile linens will turn out nicely.

Spaces such as tables, mantles and porches can also use bits of holiday cheer and shouldn’t be overlooked.

“My favorite places to dress up for the holidays are the mantle and tables,” says Mary Meyn, owner of Yours & Meyn Simply Designed, in downtown Crystal Lake. “Dress up the dining tables, coffee tables and also the front porch. Nothing says ‘welcome’ like the beautiful setting that you can create at the front door. One of my favorite things to do for the porch is to scour my yard for natural tree clippings and dropped pinecones to make a great first impression. Plus, it helps with yard cleanup.”

In your porch space, hang garlands of leaves and elegant seasonal wreaths; arrange wire or woven baskets filled with glittered gourds, pumpkins, pinecones and greenery; or, set out trendy interchangeable pieces, such as do-it-yourself wood pallets with painted fall scenes on one side and winter scenes on the other.

Simple Touches Can Add Sparkle

Candles, glittery ornaments and metallic vases are easy-to-find items that add little bits of shine to a home. Strategically placed candles on a mantle or table give off an inviting, cozy glow as they fill rooms with lovely scents – perfect for setting the holiday mood. If you want to create additional warmth, try mulling spices on the stove or making your own do-it-yourself potpourri blend.

Decorative trays are also an option.

“A really simple touch to add to any home, for any season, is a decorative tray with a lantern,” says Meyn. “These two simple items are things that you may use all year long and are the bases to building an easy seasonal display. You could add things such as candles, picks or stems and have a wonderful change-of-season piece.”

Fancy Things up with Flowers

Let’s not forget how flowers can bring so much life and beauty to a space. Seasonal flowers, greenery, branches and mistletoe can add a special sort of vibrancy to your decor.

In the transitional time around late fall and Thanksgiving, plants such as mums make ideal decorating choices when paired with and dried accents like pods, wheat, gourds and squash, says Marcy Cronin, of Countryside Flower Shop, Nursery & Garden Center in Crystal Lake.

“Broom corn, gooseneck gourds, mums, heather, kale and dried seed pods can really showcase your home in fall,” she adds.

During the holidays, popular choices are fresh greens, pinecones and lanterns. Planters filled with fresh evergreens, pinecones, magnolia leaves, decorative branches and berries can beautifully accent a front door as easily as the rooms inside your home.

Poinsettias are always a holiday favorite, and at Countryside they come in a wide variety of colors and sizes.

“When strolling through our ‘Winter Wonderland,’ you are sure to find the perfect poinsettias that will bring life to your holiday decor, and these will last well past the holiday season,” Cronin says. “Big statements of solid colors are also trending this year: red and white, red and gold, green and white, plums, burgundy and gold, deep green and brown.”

Bring on the Whimsy

Don’t be afraid to add touches of whimsical elements when it comes to holiday decorating. After all, the holidays are supposed to be all about family, fun and magic. Children tend to look at this time of year with an enchanted sort of wonder. As adults, we can also find that special wonder and magic again – if we choose to do so.

“For me, I always like to have a little bit of the whimsical, especially with kids and grandkids around,” says Batson, of Out of the Box. “It’s fun to mix the whimsical into a comfortable and family-oriented look. For example, this year, we’re doing a holiday gnome display in the shop. Pick a theme that you can add to each year – such as adding a snowman to your display – to enhance what you already have.”

Other ideas can include fun projects such as illuminated winter scenes in mason jars or incorporating the popular Elf On the Shelf doll into your decor. This toy “magically” changes position during the season, in order to keep a watchful eye on children’s good behavior and report back to Santa.

Shopping for Inspiration

Not feeling very crafty? When it comes to finding ready-made holiday decor, local merchants can help you to brighten up and stylize your home for the holidays.

“Our floral designers have an eye for bringing in nature’s beauty and marrying it with clients’ color themes,” says Cronin. “Customers coming in will also see many types of berries, pinecones and pomegranates used in arrangements. Countryside offers a huge selection of silk and fresh flowers year-round, and customers are encouraged to bring in an item – maybe a lantern or a special keepsake – and our floral designers will create a custom floral arrangement incorporating that item so it can stand out and be admired, once again, for the holiday season.”

Meyn says her shop also has a unique collection of seasonal item that, when combined, create a holiday look like none other.

“From natural to elegant design styles, we have it all,” she says. “This season, we have so many new items that we are bursting at the seams just waiting for the elves to create a magical wonderland here at the store. Many items will carry you from Thanksgiving to the end of winter, in addition to our Christmas collection.”

Out of the Box also specializes in seasonal items that are very “giftable.”

“You can bring holiday cheer to others with the gift of small Christmas decor items like plaques, candle holders and ornaments,” Batson says. “We can help anyone find the perfect hostess gift or an ornament for someone special.”

Traditional Elements Top 2017 Holiday Trends

By Stephanie N. Grimoldby

There are always a few trends that sweep in each holiday season to give homeowners and shop owners alike a new, fresh way to decorate their spaces.

This year, bigger is definitely better, says Kelsey Haas, co-owner of Strawflower Shop and Rug Merchant in Geneva. Expect to see larger ornaments on showcase, especially on Christmas trees. Large ornaments give a tree depth.

It’s actually an easy style to pull off, Haas says.

“Bigger ornaments are easier to do because they take up more space in the tree, so you don’t have to use as many,” she says.

Many holiday manufacturers are also referring back to a more natural look that blends well with traditional decorations, Haas says. For example, you’ll still see ribbon decoratively draped on Christmas trees, but you may also see slightly worn silver tin wrapped around the branches as well.

Perhaps the easiest trend this year is to stick with traditional Christmas colors.

“I think traditional is really coming back – like traditional red and green,” Haas says. “I don’t know if everyone is sick of all the other colors, but it’s a good standpoint, and I think a lot of people remember Christmas that way.”