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If you are like me, decorating for the holidays is half the fun. I have at least two trees every year, and every year I want at least one more. There are so many beautiful decorations available, I have decided a themed Christmas is the way to go. With a themed holiday decor, you have direction and don’t have to stand in the ornament section with that glazed-over overwhelmed look on your face. While some themes evolve over time (and get reincarnated in variations of the original), there are always one or two new trends that look promising.
Holiday Themes Can Get Pricey
If you are a little bit creative and don’t mind a little work, a theme can be surprisingly easy! Once you get your basics, add a few items every year. Most of these themes aren’t going away anytime soon, and even if they do, they will likely show up in a slightly different format. How should you start a holiday theme for your home? See my post on How to Theme Your Home for the Holidays here, then check out the suggestions below.
- Pick a theme. This seems obvious, but sometimes the first step is the hardest! Check out the list below, and see what speaks to you. Something will stand out to you above the others. Pick a trend that represents you and your family’s personality, whether it be elegant and formal, relaxed and comfortable, or over the top!
- See what you already have. I decided to do a White Christmas theme a few years back, incorporating white, silver, and crystal. I already had some crystal garland I ordered from a chandelier company (I have no idea why), and some random crystals that would hang from a chandelier. I took the chandelier “drops”, threaded them with clear or silver thread, tied a mini white organza bow at the top, and hot glued some (very cheap) greenery to the bow. I had a ton of them, and I could have done a whole tree with those ornaments alone! See if you have glass balls or ornaments already in your collection that you can use. Don’t get rid of your old stuff just yet, we have plans for all that stuff too!
- See what you can modify. Old ornaments can get a new life with a few simple enhancements. Paint, glitter, hot glue, and adornments can transform drab old ornaments into decorating superstars! Try to think outside the box….Do you have an old wreath that can be reworked? Do you have plain linens that could be (simply) embroidered? Or even, do you have some old sweaters that could be made into new cozy pillows? I have used sachets, hair clips, silk flower corsages, and walnuts (yes walnuts…painted gold with a ribbon hanger and baby’s breath) and any number of other items on my trees over the years. These DIY marbled ornaments from landeelu.com are beautifully upcycled and easy to make!
- See what you can find super cheap. Start at the dollar store, and remember that you can always add paint, glitter, or whatever your brilliant mind can come up with! I have found lovely ornaments at Big Lots, TJ Maxx/HomeGoods and Tuesday Morning. Not to mention the big box stores, which always have a few treasures mixed in. Buy some of the glass balls (you know the ones, they come in a box nested in cardboard and have a clear acetate box top). Choose the colors that work best with your theme. These are always on sale throughout the holiday season.
- Lights! I am a huge fan of white lights (they are magical), but there are so many options available now, you can have lights in practically any color you choose. If your tree is prelit, you can always add more! And don’t be afraid to add color over white or larger lights over smaller ones. As long as your wiring is up to par, the sky’s the limit!
- Now that you have a stash started, it’s time to start collecting the “jewels” of your collection. The pieces that will really define your theme and stand out from the crowd. This will usually involve different item types for each theme, so I will discuss each theme in detail. Many “highly promotional” stores (the ones that have a lot of sales) will discount these items at least 50% a couple of times before Christmas.
The 12 Themes of Christmas 2017
Actually, these are the twelve I’ve seen the most. 12 themes just sounded nice.
In my opinion, the prevalent themes this year are as follows:
- Colors- think pastels. Watery blues and greens like sea glass, pinks like the lining of a seashell, and sand and driftwood.
- Patterns and motifs- Shells, seahorses, starfish, and mermaids! You could also go a little nautical with anchors and sailboats.
- Cute Ideas- use rope for garland. Starfish tree toppers. Sisal bows. Translucent glass balls to mimic vintage buoy markers. “Seas and Greetings”!
- Here is a beautiful Coastal Christmas tree by Four Generations One Roof
- Colors- Often black and white with accents of red, maybe ivory, tan, pale blue or silver.
- Patterns and Motifs- cozy cable knits, pine cones, mittens, sweaters, berries, and simple geometric patterns.
- Cute Ideas- mini mitten garland, mini pompom garland, sweater knit throw pillows and throws. Keep it simple like this vignette from My Scandinavian Home.
- Colors – vintage colors that can include aged traditional colors, distressed white. Aluminum,
- Patterns and motifs – vintage trucks, snowmen, blackboard sayings, cotton bolls
- Cute Ideas- Christmas “bucket” (a pail filled with branches, greenery, ribbon and white lights),
- Roosters, antlers, burlap, and buckets like this tree from Ashley Hackshaw (AKA Lil Blue Boo)
- Colors- White, silver, grey and crystal
- Patterns and motifs – think elegant forest. White owls, foxes, and glittery deer. Glimmering crystal accents, snowflakes, icicles, and birch.
- Cute Ideas- Vignettes with trees, birch candles, fur “snow” and crystal like this stunning table setting from The Grace House Interiors
Mad for Plaid
- Colors- variations of black, white, and red prevail, but there may be some hunter/navy combos as well.
- Patterns and motifs
- Cute Ideas: Plaid scarves as table runners, plaid wrap and ribbon, and coordinating ornaments like on this tree from The Craftberry Bush.
Gold, Ivory and Forest Green
- Colors: gold, ivory, and forest green. Sometimes seen with a deep cranberry.
- Patterns and motifs: bows, musical instruments, gilded fruit, magnolias
- Cute Ideas: Drape garland diagonally over a mirror. Use gold ribbon and ornaments to decorate your stair garland. Spray paint old ornaments with gold paint, then dip in gold glitter. Mix in touches of deep cranberry like this look from BHG.com.
Black and White
- Colors- Umm…black and white. Maybe some grey. Possibly a touch of red and/or gold.
- Patterns and motifs: stripes and plaid, polka dots, toile, words.
- Cute Ideas: Combine with plaid theme, use buffalo checks. Can be either modern or rustic like this look from By Stephanie Lynn.
- Colors- traditional red and green with ample gold, ivory, and silver.
- Patterns and motifs: Traditional Christmas patterns. Santa, snowmen, reindeer, gifts
- Cute Ideas: Can be elegant or whimsical like this tree on Amazon.com.
- Colors- depends on the theme
- Patterns and motifs: Whatever your child is passionate about. Their bedroom would be a great place for this tree. Is your child a sports fanatic? a ballerina? a princess? Does he or she love dogs, horses, or dinosaurs? Is your child a budding astronomer? Whatever it is that inspires your child, create a tree with this for the theme.
- Cute Ideas: Let your child help design and decorate the tree. Find craft ideas like this one from Remodelaholic and let them make ornaments and garland with their theme.
- Colors- faded pastels, ivory, tarnished silver and gold.
- Patterns and motifs: Vintage greeting card images, flowers, santas, trees, and bells.
- Cute Ideas: Use vintage ornaments like these from Little Bit Funky. Break out the tinsel and let it shine! Use bottle brush trees, antique tree toppers, and antique toys as decor. Use vintage jewelry on the tree, on a wreath, or in a frame.
- Colors – from your favorite team, of course!
- Patterns and motifs- Your team mascot, elements of the sport (basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, hockey sticks, etc.)
- Cute Ideas: Choose a sport or a specific team! Use hair bows (for a girls tree), pompoms, ribbons in team colors, and repeating motifs. Top the tree with a mascot or bow featuring a cut out picture of a team hero. This tree from Kids Fun Reviewed is a great example!
- Colors- Evergreen, berry, and brown with white and grey mixed in.
- Patterns and motifs: Pine cones, animals,
- Cute Ideas: Combine with vintage skis and snow shoes like this vignette from Country Living
The Most Special Trees
While all of the above can be dazzling, there are a couple of very special trees that deserve some discussion. Over the years our families grow and change. Loved ones depart, and new ones arrive. I think it’s very important to document all of our memories, especially at Christmas. These are some of the trees that I have seen that I think capture the spirit and love of Christmas in a way that no themed tree could.
- Christmas Past- One of the most poignant things about Christmas is remembering the joy of Christmases long ago. It’s so much fun to remember the traditions, excitement, loved ones, and toys (of course) of our youth. These memories are too precious to live in a box or book, never to see the light of day. I started this tradition a couple of years ago when I found a stash of my MIL’s old photos. I scanned in some of my husband’s favorite holiday pictures and sized them down to about 2″ x 3″ (some slightly larger). I purchased mini frame Christmas ornaments like these used on It’s Always Autumn and put the pictures in these frames. I have since started making my own, but either works beautifully. We have a mini tree that is now covered in memories, and it’s so much fun to look back through the years every Christmas. Vintage ornaments or ornaments from your childhood (if you are lucky enough to have them) make great additions to this tree, as do old-fashioned Christmas lights (multi-color of course) and icicle tinsel.
- Children’s Ornaments – This is a tree I always wanted to do but never managed. One of the things I remember about Christmas growing up was making tree decorations in school or Sunday school, and sometimes at home. I think it would be a fun tradition to start if you have smaller children to let them have a tree to decorate entirely with hand-made items. Construction paper chains, popcorn and cranberry garland, mason jar lid/ recycled Christmas card ornaments, and cut paper snowflakes are just a few of the many ideas you will find when you search for kid’s craft ornaments.
- Milestones- My cousin had a baby this year, and I thought it would be nice to have a milestone tree just for her. Collect photos every year at Christmas and create photo ornaments for every year. Include special events, trips, and recognitions from the preceding year, and add to it every year. When your child is grown, you can decide if you want to hand down the tradition or keep the memories for yourself!
- Departed from our world, but not our hearts – My husband and I started this when we moved in together. Christmas is always a difficult time for him because he lost his father at an early age. To remember his father, we put a single blue light on our white tree (blue was his father’s favorite color). Over the years we have lost many loved ones, and our little bulb has grown into its own theme. Similar to the “Christmas Past” tree, this tree has photos of our dearly departed. Many of them are from Christmas, but some are from special events, trips, etc. This tree is bittersweet because we miss our loved ones, but it’s so important to keep their memory alive – especially the happy memories.
When I was growing up we always had two trees. “Mom’s tree” was upstairs which was usually a themed tree of some sort (Victorian usually). The “family tree” was downstairs, and it had all the ornaments I grew to love because they were on the tree year after year. This tree also displayed the ornaments that the children made at school and church and “special” ornaments like keepsake ornaments from places we visited that year or funny ornaments that represented a family joke. This tree is the one I always remember. However you decide to decorate your home, it’s the people and traditions that will make your holiday special. I hope you have a wonderful holiday surrounded by those you love the most.
Until next time,