Decorating & Design

September 19, 2010

Holiday Countdown

Bake up some gingerbread this weekend.

From the best Christmas tree and outdoor decorations to holiday entertaining, Hanukkah recipes and gift ideas, we’ve got the advice you need to make this the merriest and most stress free season ever! Starting November 1st, bookmark this page and our Christmas & Holiday Guide and then return daily for holiday style and survival tips from designers such as Sarah Richardson, Sharon Mimran, Michael Angus, Meredith Heron, Debbie Travis and Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan from Colin & Justin’s Home Heist, and chefs like Susur Lee, Bonnie Stern and more. Plus, get ideas from House & Home editors, as well!

Friday, December 17 to 19 — Bake Up Some Gingerbread

Nothing says holiday like the wafting scents of cinnamon and ginger. Whether you choose to make elegant iced gingerbread cookies as gifts, or get ambitious and create your own designer gingerbread house like style editor Michael Penney, who built the gingerbread beauty above from scratch, baking gingerbread is a fun and festive way to spend a weekend.

If you’re looking for a unique and unexpected way to wrap small presents, why not try baking a gingerbread gift box ? It an eco-friendly (and not to mention delicious) way to surprise loved ones this holiday season.

Thursday, December 16 – Gather Your Best Appetizer Recipes

Skip the main course at your festive soirees over the next few weeks. Hosting a holiday party is painless when serving a wide variety of make-ahead appetizers instead of a full dinner. “I’ve watched people stuff themselves on my husband’s appetizers and have no room left for main courses,” says designer Meredith Heron. “Now we skip the main course and encourage grazing throughout the evening. It means fewer dishes to wash, too!”

To keep a steady supply of appetizers flowing throughout the evening, food editor Amy Rosen recommends keeping prepped food toasty in a preheated 200 degree F oven.

Pick your favourite canapés and h’ors d’oeuvres from our Holiday Entertaining guide, including the baked brie with a fig crown appetizer pictured above!

Wednesday, December 15 — Reinvent Classic Christmas Flower Arrangements

Amaryllis, paperwhites, and bowls of ornaments are all Christmas staples. If you want a different look this year, try these clever takes on the Christmas classics.

Designer Sarah Richardson played with convention by using unexpected materials in her country farmhouse, featured in our November 2010 issue. In her kitchen, she decked the handrail with a boxwood garland, and filled vases and bowls with pine cones and cotton branches instead of ornaments and flowers. It’s a lighter touch of the holidays, and can stay up until spring.

Albert Limshue, senior designer at Powell and Bonnell, recommends leaving the poinsettias at the market. “Nestle a group of white orchids inside a thick cedar wreath, hiding the pots with piles of pine cones or mercury glass Christmas balls,” he says. After the holidays, the orchids can be placed around the house.

Should you decide to stick with the classics, designer Jessica Cotton, principal of Jessica Cotton Design, recommends using everyday vases, instead of holiday-specific designs, for a chic look. “Small vases can also be used for serving veggies, breads, and chocolates, too,” she says.

See Lynda Reeves’ favourite vases, plus get tips on which shape is best for your favourite flower arrangements, in our Online TV episode!

Tuesday, December 14 – Clean And Polish Tableware (Even If It Doesn’t Match)

It’s Christmas tradition in many families to cram dozens of people into a space that normally seats four. This year, embrace the chaos and set a charming, mix-and-match table. Designer Sarah Richardson’s table last year featured a mix of silver cutlery from her mother-in-law, antique Limogoes plates from her own mother, dinner plates from her grandmother, and placemats made from an Irish linen runner. “I think what’s important is not getting too caught up in having a perfectly matched setting for 12 people,” says Sarah. “I can’t imagine anything looking tickety-boo because then it has no reflection of history.”

That said, make sure what you do have is washed and polished and ready to go, so that you don’t have to worry about that on the day of your feast. Browse through our gallery of table decorations and get ideas for setting a personal and pretty dinner table this year.

Monday, December 13 – Ditch The Guilt

Skip the post-weekend, post-indulgence angst and give in to seasonal excess. After all, there’s no such thing as ‘too much’ during the holidays.

“The dimension of the holidays that I appreciate is the glorious excess, because it feels great for once to have too many cookies, too much eggnog, too much champagne. And too much family!” says Susur Lee, chef and restaurateur. So go ahead, indulge; after all, resolution season doesn’t begin until January.

With that in mind, plan your holiday feasts tonight using our 75+ holiday entertaining recipes and menu ideas.

December 10 to 12 – Build The Perfect Playlist

Picking the perfect music is imperative for setting the mood at a party, and a holiday party is no different. “Music sets the scene so much, so why not produce a festive party soundtrack on iTunes, play it for your parties and then give guests a copy on CD as a memento of the day?” ask Colin MacAllister and Justin Ryan from Colin & Justin’s Home Heist. “We produce a Colin & Justin’s Alternative Christmas Carols CD each year and our friends have enjoyed collecting them year after year!”

An unobtrusive portable stereo, like the stylish iPal radio from Tivoli Audio, lets you play music from your iPod or CD player. Simply set it up on the buffet and let the party begin!

Thursday, December 9 – Gather Fresh Ingredients For One-Of-A-Kind Cocktails

If you have the inclination, stray from traditional spirits and create your own signature drinks. Dian Brun Gow, a.k.a. The Cocktail Deeva, says, “It’s all about fresh ingredients and infusions. I use all the same ingredients you would in food — fresh fruit, real juices, vegetables and herbs — only I mix them in cocktails.” To make your own infusions, muddle herbs, vegetables and fruits with your chosen spirit, then strain and serve. Dee loves using vanilla, basil or cinnamon to flavour spirit infusions at this time of year, so stock up on these at your grocery store.

Having a drink waiting for guests as they come into your home is a nice holiday touch. “I love serving a special drink, like a martini or sangria, when guests come over,” says chef Bonnie Stern. Try one of our holiday cocktail recipes, the perfect addition to traditional eggnog and wine selections. Bookmark our Holiday Entertaining Guide, also, with menus and decorating ideas for parties big and small.

Wednesday, December 8 – Go Monochromatic

Designer Meredith Heron says you can make any space look holiday-ready with a monochromatic scheme. “Choosing one colour and using it as you decorate maximizes your decorating budget and impact,” she says. “The repetition of a single colour throughout your home will make it look stylish and pulled together. Vary texture and materials and think about decorating spaces that people will spend a lot of time in – don’t forget the powder room!”

Be inspired by our White Holiday Decorating gallery and get tips for carrying a single colour through your entire home for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 7 – Stock Up On Growing Gifts

“I love to give live hostess gifts, like a potted cypress tree or rosemary tree,” says designer Erin Feasby of Feasby & Bleeks. “I plant it in a beautiful pot and cover the dirt in mini-ornaments, in whatever colour theme I am going with that year. That way, if the host is not a green thumb, they can enjoy the plant for the holidays and then use the ornaments in their own decor year after year.”

Potted plants are easy to keep on-hand, too: “Amaryllis and paperwhites are such personal and inexpensive gifts,” says designer Jessica Cotton, principal of Jessica Cotton Design. “I usually buy six or seven plants at the big box store, and get some inexpensive but pretty ceramic or galvanized pots to put them in. Keep ribbon on hand, and tie a bow around it before you leave.”

Get more great ideas for giving plants and flowers as gifts in our DIY Holiday Flower Arrangements gallery

Monday, December 6: Max Out Small Yet Festive Spaces

No space for a 12′ tree? You can still create a holiday focal point on a smaller scale. “I love the idea of doing a small tree on top of a table,” says senior design editor Sally Armstrong. “I don’t do that — my kids won’t let me go that small. But maybe some day…”

If there is no space for even a tabletop tree, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. “Every year I go to my local florist and get a huge, 3′ diameter boxwood wreath made up,” says stylist and designer Trish Johnston. “I hang it inside my condo on a mirrored wall. It’s a huge impact for a very budget-friendly price.”

See Trish Johnston and Cameron MacNeil demonstrate how to create a show-stopping wreath arrangement for interior or exterior doors in our episode of Online TV, plus learn how to make a dramatic boxwood and pine wreath.

December 3 to 5: Create A Simple Christmas Tree Skirt

If kitschy tree skirts covered in waving snowman aren’t your thing, take a cue from designer Jennifer Worts: “I love using burlap around the base of our Christmas tree in lieu of traditional tree skirt. The contrast of greens, sparkling ornaments and white lights against the rough look of the burlap is fantastic!” The best part is that no sewing is required; simply buy enough burlap to wrap around the tree base and you’re done.

Early December is the best time to choose the perfect tree; the selection is great, and it should stay fresh until Christmas Day. Decorate your tree with DIY sconces and ornaments or store-bought ornaments, like those in our Christmas Decorations gallery.

Thursday, December 2: Make Spontaneous Get-Togethers A Snap

“I think that having a bar stocked and set up at all times is really helpful for the holidays,” says designer Trish Johnson. “There is so much socializing, and a lot of it impromptu. With a little bit of planning, you can always be prepared for the drop ins. And it’s easy to do – it can be as simple as a tray with liqueurs and pretty glasses set up on a console table or sideboard.” Food editor Amy Rosen says to buy more than you think you need: “You can never have too much alcohol.”

To set up your own home bar, first establish your holiday drink menu. Choose a few classic cocktails, like martinis and Caesars, a few spirits, such as brandy and scotch, and a selection of exotic drinks from our Holiday Drink & Cocktail recipes. Stock up on ingredients, and whenever company drops in, you’ll be ready to entertain. Plus, get instructions on how to transform an Ikea side table into a DIY bar cart like the one above in our December issue, on stands now.

Wednesday, December 1: Fry Up Crispy Latkes

“Something I always make at least once a year at Hanukkah is potato pancakes,” says chef Bonnie Stern. “They are so delicious.”

Even if you’re not celebrating Hanukkah, latkes are a yummy treat. Try our version of the traditional fried potato pancakes, or create your own flavour by adding cheese and different herbs. Punch up your Hanukkah celebrations with one of our 20+ recipes for the season. These delicious recipes — some traditional, some non-traditional — can be served during Hanukkah, Shabbat dinner, or even at holiday dinner parties. Learn old world cooking methods and savour fresh ingredients like honey, sweet potatoes, liver, beef, pickerel and apples.

Tuesday, November 30: Add Sparkle With Metallic Accents

Go bold with an on-trend mixture of silver and gold this holiday season. Designer Jessica Cotton recommends pairing silver and gold, rather than the traditional silver and white, for an on-trend statement. “It’s a mix of both contemporary and classic, and I think looks really fabulous and chic.” For a more understated take on the metallic trend, bronze is the season’s unexpected second choice. “If you use a vase filled with bronze balls, that could be quite fabulous,” says Jessica.

Browse our Decorating With Gold photo gallery for more inspiration, plus check out the December 2010 issue of House & Home for more metallic decorating ideas!

Monday, November 29: Make Your Own Upscale Holiday Chocolates

Streamline holiday baking by choosing elegant treats that do double-duty. “Homemade chocolate bark is an easy holiday treat; it’s perfect as a dessert, a hostess gift, and take-home present,” says chef Bonnie Stern. “My version is healthy – as long as you don’t eat it all! It uses 70 percent dark chocolate, almonds, orange and ginger.”

Not an orange fan? Try our cranberry or peppermint bark, or our other holiday treats, including cookies, squares and chocolate, to treat yourself or party guests! Plus, watch Michael Penney demonstrate how to turn inexpensive trays, bowls and ribbons into elegant wrap for baking.

November 26 to 28: Create An Alternative Christmas Tree

Many people will be buying and trimming their Christmas tree this weekend. But if you have a small space, or want to try a new twist on tradition, consider these ideas.

“Last year, we purchased an old slide projector and made our own slides by printing festive scenes onto acetate sheets and then projecting them onto bare white walls,” say Colin MacAllister and Justin Ryan from Colin & Justin’s Home Heist. “Dressed doors with wreathes, Christmas trees and giant chandeliers were all projected, much to the amazement of our guests. Being practical, you get all of the décor with no need to clean away tree needles after the festive period, plus nothing to store away!”

Joel Bray’s chalkboard Christmas tree project offers another fresh spin on the Christmas classic. If you’re not feeling crafty, Marie-Eve Best’s blog on is full of even more stylish tree alternatives.

Thursday, November 25: Hang Christmas Cards For Display

With all of the pretty designs out there, it’s inevitable that you’re going to receive cards you want to show off. So, why not turn them into a temporary art display? “Every year, I pin up a length of twine or ribbon on the wall in my front hall, and I hang all of our Christmas cards with clothespins,” says senior design editor Sally Armstrong. “It’s a fun way to enjoy them.” Or, follow the lead of House & Home editor Suzanne Dimma and affix cards to wide ribbon using double-sided tape.

No room to hang cards? Turn an existing corkboard into a Christmas Card Board for a festive touch.

Wednesday, November 24: Stock Up On Hostess Gifts

Keep a few small presents stashed away to avoid being caught empty-handed when receiving surprise guests with presents. “Extra ornaments, chocolates, candles and other small items can be grouped together for a charming, impromptu gift,” says decorator and television host Debbie Travis. (See her Christmas collections!)  Keep a few of our hostess gift ideas, like these scalloped napkin rings from west elm, on hand as a chic last-minute present.

Handmade aluminum ornaments, bottles of wine, and small felt bowls will also be appreciated.

Tuesday, November 23: Break Out Your Unique Cups And Glasses

Rather than using a traditional cut-glass or crystal vase for flowers, why not use unexpected vessels? Michael Angus, owner of Angus & Company, says a distinctive silver julep cup, originally designed for the Mint Julep cocktail, is the perfect place to display flowers, foliage or greenery all year long. “It’s so perfect for changing flowers from season to season, and always having a little accent of something festive or seasonal out,” he says. Classic cocktail glasses, gilded tea cups and silver tea accessories can all be repurposed to add sparkle and whimsy to holiday arrangements.

Get more ideas to ready your home for entertaining with our photo gallery of party rooms, featuring advice from Sarah Richardson, David Rocco, Sabrina Linn and more!

Monday, November 22: Avoid The Mall

With Hanukkah just a week away and Christmas coming soon, holiday gift anxiety is on the rise. So, why not dial back the stress and consider a great gift that doesn’t require scouring the mall? Order a series of Cosas Minimas prints from for everyone on your list, for instance, or consider offering a great experience in lieu of a gift.

“Last year, my husband and I gave each other the gift of time,” says Candice Olson, designer and star of Divine Design. “I said, ‘You have a day off to yourself; if you choose to have it with me, great.’ He didn’t, but in a roundabout way it’s timesaving. It’s funny how we loved both of our days. I went off for a spa day, and he went off skiing. Well, his day turned into a weekend, so it was for two years.”

Use our Organizing & Time-Saving Holiday Tips for even more stress-reducing ideas.

Friday, November 19 to 21: Shop For And Make Baked Gifts

Many holiday treats can be frozen for giving later, so take the chance to get your baking done before the seasonal rush really begins.

“Most people don’t consider making gifts to give,” says designer Sharon Mimran. “Homemade treats wrapped beautifully are very coveted. I make biscotti and wrap them by the dozen in a decorated cellophane bag to give to all the people in my list. (That’s 10 batches!) But they salivate for them every year.”

Even if you aren’t much of a baker, there’s a cookie for everyone on your list in our Holiday Cookies Guide. Chef Jennifer Lo shares her tricks for making shortbread, plus Michael Penney demonstrates how to wrap baked goods in our Online TV episode!

Thursday, November 18: Use Vintage Ornaments Around The House

Vintage and collected ornaments have timeless charm that appeals to almost every taste. “Every single year I add to a collection of ornaments I’ve had since I was a kid, and every year I use them,” says Michael Angus, owner of Angus & Company. “What everybody gives me, I just add to the tree, instead of always having a pretty, set tree. I probably have 100 ornaments, at least.”

When your collection becomes too numerous to fit on a single tree, use ornaments to bring holiday sparkle to all corners of your home. Create a beautiful bedside table display using boughs and clip-on ornaments, as above, add ornaments to wreaths, garlands and presents, or pile them in bowls to add colour and shine throughout the house. The possibilities are endless!

If you’re not lucky enough to inherit a collection of vintage ornaments, the web is full of resources. Sites like etsy, eBay and Craigslist are full of listings for vintage, retro or handmade ornaments. Plus, browse great ornament picks in our Christmas Decorations gallery.

Wednesday, November 17: Decorate Using Seasonal Produce

“Using fresh produce or flowers and greenery is a great way to add a bit of festive cheer to any home,” says designer Meredith Heron. “Adding Mandarin oranges grouped in white bowls, placing cedar boughs along a buffet, or atop of artwork on the wall, can add a huge impact to your everyday decor and make it feel special for the holidays.”

So, hit the grocery store and stock up on mandarin oranges, whole cloves to stick in them (if you choose), pomegranates, shelled nuts and other seasonal fare that double as decorations and festive treats.

Tuesday, November 16: Go Green For A Subtly Festive Home

If you’re tired of over-the-top holiday decorating, paring back to the basics is a sophisticated way to celebrate the season. “Crisp lush greens, red berry branches, and white blooms are all on-trend,” says designer Jennifer Worts. “I love a mixture of greenery on its own, because it’s clean and simple. It lets the room shine, and strikes a nice holiday vibe without being too in-your-face.”

A simple way to incorporate greenery into your holiday décor is with a classic wreath. It makes a great first impression, especially during the busy holiday season when guests are coming and going. “Whether you invest in a live one every year and add your own personal touch or purchase one that can be used year after year, and just update it, definitely buy the best you can afford,” says Erin Feasby of Feasby and Bleeks. “And don’t skimp on the ribbon!

Evergreen foliage, such as cedar and pine, makes a perfect (and aromatic) choice for indoor decorating. Boxwood and magnolia leaves also make gorgeous wreaths, especially since, if dried and properly stored, they can last for years. Extend the life of any arrangement by keeping it out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources.

Learn how to make a stunning wreath arrangement for indoors or out, plus get step-by-step instructions for creating a boxwood and pine wreath with Suzanne Dimma and Emblem florist Todd Caldwell in our Holiday Wreath episode of Online TV. Come back tomorrow and learn how to incorporate seasonal produce into your holiday displays!

Monday, November 15: Decorate Outdoor Buildings For The Season

Add impact to your yard with small displays. “I have an adorable Irish Cord shed in my backyard, which my family and I decorate to look like a mini-decorated house,” says designer Cindy Bleeks of Feasby & Bleeks. “It’s fun to switch up every year, and it is something that’s really pretty to look at from the windows of our house.”

For easy elegance, decorate your shed or garage like you do your home, only on a smaller scale. Browse our Outdoor Holiday Decorations gallery for inspiration.

November 12 to 14: Pot Traditional Holiday Flowers Now

Designer Colleen McGill loves displaying flowering paperwhites around the house at Christmas. “You can keep them in their plastic pots, just put them in larger bowls or urns and then cover the base with a mess of pine cones, oranges, berries or whatever you have,” she says.

Live greenery also brings the delightful fragrances of the season into your home. “I am a big advocate of getting away from the artificial and using the alive,” adds stylist and designer Trish Johnson. “Cedar boughs, paperwhites, amaryllis – these are all such beautiful elements that can be used in decorating your home for the season. Plus you get the added bonus of the scent.”

If you plan on displaying amaryllis or paperwhites, now is the time to pot them: It’s easier to manipulate the plants before they are in bloom, plus your arrangement will be constantly evolving throughout the holiday season. Amaryllis and paperwhite kits can be found at grocery stores, florists and nurseries beginning in early November, and come in a variety of cultivars and price points.

For easy ways to display flowers and plants this festive season, browse through our DIY Holiday Flower Arrangements gallery.

Thursday, November 11: Showcase Holiday Memories

The holiday season is all about family and friends, so it’s only fitting that memories take centre stage. This year, gather old cards, family letters, heirloom ornaments and photos and turn them into handmade displays. “That element of handmade, touched by hand, is a big trend,” says designer Candice Olson, star of Divine Design. “Not that everyone has the time and energy and wherewithal to do something themselves, but it just brings that personal element into the space.”

Feature family photos on the tree like artisan Heather Shaw of Pi’lo, who turned a black-and-white family photo into a charming tree ornament using fabric scraps and gauzy fabric. See a tour of Heather’s home for holiday inspiration, plus get more of her DIY ideas. Or, why not turn turn your dinner table into a giant frame? Try our stylish trick for framing your photos under glass.

Frame precious heirloom ornaments too delicate for the tree in a sophisticated shadow box. Get step-by-step instructions for creating shadow boxes with Joel Bray in our Online TV episode! 

However you choose to showcase holiday mementos, be creative and have fun.

Wednesday, November 10: Decorate With Ribbon

“Ribbon is one of our favourite things to introduce into holiday décor,” says designer Erin Feasby of Feasby & Bleeks. “They are easily changed with the colour trends and can be added to everyday items, such as classic linens, to give them a new look and festive feel. Our favourites are wide satins, grosgrain and organza, and mixing up widths and textures of ribbon looks great.”

Learn how to tie a classic double bow from Alison Dawson of ribbon emporium Mokuba in our How To Wrap Holiday Gifts video.

Tuesday, November 9: Stock Up On Birch Logs

“Birch bark logs are always timeless,” says designer Sharon Mimran. “You can stack them in piles on tabletops as accents, stack them in the fireplace, make wreaths out of them, or just use the bark around the house for accents.”

Decorating with logs is an easy way to add rustic charm to any space. If you’re not lucky enough to find a fallen tree or branches to repurpose, check out your local nursery or garden centre in late fall, or keep an eye out for ads selling firewood.

Experience the warmth and cosiness of the season and get further inspired with our fireplace and mantel photos.

Monday, November 8: Start Planning Holiday Party Details

If you’re hosting a festive party, chances are you’ve already chosen a date and sent out invitations. (Ideally these should go out four weeks beforehand.) Now’s the time to start thinking about menus, booking a bartender, ordering flowers and choosing tableware, too.

“If you are hosting a large gathering, consider renting dishes and glasses from a local party rental company,” says designer Meredith Heron. “You need to book this well in advance. The bonus: You can return them dirty and save yourself a big, messy cleanup.”

As rental dishes are typically quite simple, start shopping for other holiday tabletop decorations. Browse our Table Decorations photo gallery for inspirational table settings. Plus, get more advice from event designer Marla Brown’s party planning tips.

November 5 to 7: Start Outdoor Urns Now

Visit your local garden centre and craft or big-box store to stock up on fresh greenery, twigs, lights and more. “I like to change up my urns in front of the house, and it seems that there is a sweet spot to do this, time-wise, between the first and last day in November,” says House & Home style editor Morgan Michener. “You want the earth in the urns to be workable so you can add branches and other decorations and still work outside. Once everything freezes, voila, the urns are done and look good until the thaw.”

Browse our articles and photo galleries to get front-door decorating ideas and tips on seasonal urns, garlands, outdoor Christmas trees and more!

Thursday, November 4: Pick A Christmas Palette

Purple, particularly mauve, lilac and lavender, is this year’s top holiday colour pick for Albert Limshue, senior designer at Powell and Bonnell. “Pair purple with antiqued silver for a fresh approach to Christmas decorating that has character.”

Designer Colleen McGill likes keeping her holiday palette traditional, however: “I love simple and sparkling – silver and white always look great during the holidays.”

If you’re a big fan of colour, former House & Home staffer and designer Erin Feasby of Feasby & Bleeks says the brighter, the better this year: “We’re big fans of the unconventional yet festive colours, such as lime and chartreuse greens, orange, watermelon and raspberry pinks, aqua and teal blues, mixed with lots of white and silver.”

Whatever colour palette you choose, be sure you play with texture, too. Designer Meredith Heron says glamour is back with a vengeance. “Mercury glass, glitter, mirror mixed with matte and frosted textures are perfect for holiday décor,” she says. “Maximalism is back, with lots of layers, textures and vignettes.”

Wednesday, November 3: Review Your Decorative Assets

Take your holiday decorations out of storage to assess your needs for the coming season. This will prevent you from buying things you don’t need or already have, as well as provide an opportunity to donate items past their prime to the local Value Village. Colin MacAllister and Justin Ryan implore you, in the name of good Christmas taste, to avoid the following holiday pitfalls:

Recycle or donate anything inflatable or musical: “There’s nothing more annoying than some Frosty the Snowman that just won’t shut up!” they say. Stick with a traditional tree, too. “Do not under any circumstances buy an upside-down tree – they’re just dumb!” Finally, don’t go overboard: “Less is more unless you want your home to have that scalped bare look once you take everything down come twelfth night!”

For best results, choose a theme or palette and put everything that doesn’t fit that theme aside until another year. See House & Home’s decorating picks in our Christmas Decorations photo gallery for inspiration.

Tuesday, November 2: Take Stock Of Your Budget

In the busy holiday season, it’s easy to overspend on a variety of decorative items that may not even go together. Albert Limshue, senior designer at Powell and Bonnell, recommends focusing your energies if you are decorating on a small budget. “If that means you can only do one thing, like a Christmas tree, put all your energy, efforts and budget into that tree and forget about the small bits and pieces,” he says. “The impact will be much greater and will make a much stronger statement.”

Another way to save is to make your own chic DIY ornaments and wreaths. Check out our Holiday DIY Guide for stylish holiday home projects that won’t break the bank.

Monday, November 1: Consider Your Indoor Decorating Theme

If you haven’t started holiday decorating yet, now’s the time to think about an on-trend scheme that works for your home and character. “I recently came back from Sri Lanka and am theming my holiday decor around elephants and leopards — very appropriate given the prevalence of animal print in fashion and decor this season,” says Toronto-based interior designer Sharon Mimran. (See photos and videos of her work.)

Just make sure that your scheme works with the spirit of your home. “When decorating for Christmas, add colours, shapes and styles that tie in with your existing room,” say Colin and Justin.  “If mid-century modern is your thing, then add decorations that share a similar aesthetic. Your festive decor, after all, should enhance your home style, not compete or clash with it.”

See our decorating and holiday theme photo galleries for inspiration!