Find Your Holiday Style: 20 Scandi Christmas Decorating Ideas
December is the darkest time of year in Scandinavia. So as the snow falls softly on the native evergreens, homeowners light their Yule logs, fill their windows with candles, and gather over warming dishes and mulled wine. Everyone basks in the hygge. Is it any wonder so many North Americans are drawn to the idea of a traditional Scandi Christmas? Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite homes from the pages of H&H that embrace the unique customs and holiday decorating styles of Denmark, Sweden and Norway — plus the Nordic countries of Finland and Iceland — to create warm, inviting and undeniably magical spaces.
In Pheona’s Wright’s farmhouse living room, a towering tree is topped with an illuminated Moravian star — a popular element in Scandi holiday decor. Artificially-lit paper, twig and metal stars are regularly hung in windows during the festive season, providing visitors with a warm welcome on dark winter evenings.
Many-pointed origami stars make a charming addition to packages wrapped in a traditional Scandi palette of snow white and lingonberry red.
Find more holiday paper crafts on H&H TV.
The ubiquitous holiday hearth also nods to Nordic tradition. Historians note that today’s Scandinavian Christmas finds its roots in Jul/Jól (Yule), a pre-Christian celebration of the midwinter solstice, when the days would finally start to get longer and brighter. A roaring Yule log represents the return of the light.
Today’s Scandinavian decorators and retailers are known for putting a whimsical spin on holiday decorating. Here, Canadian designer Sophie Burke followed their lead, reinterpreting the classic Christmas tree as a fun wall treatment and mod tabletop sculpture.
With its warm fireplace, touches of greenery and crisp, white-based color palette, this living room also has plenty of Nordic appeal. A fresh-cut pine is as essential here as it is in Scandinavia, where families still trek out to the countryside to fell their own trees.
A playful felt garland never fails to lighten up a trad mantelpiece. This one features Sweden’s gift-giving Jultomte (Christmas gnomes) — known as julemand in Denmark, julenisse in Norway and joulupukki in Finland — with their signature red caps and long beards. Want to tempt a real Jultomten to visit your home? Do as the Swedes do: put out a bowl of porridge topped with a pat of butter.
This simple wreath punctuated with tiny birds also winks at Scandinavian lore. According to rural Norwegian and Swedish folktales, if lots of birds came to feed on the julenek/julkarve (Christmas wheat sheaf) hung from your door, you’d have a good harvest.
Learn how to make this DIY Bird’s-Eye-View Wreath.
Another easy way to reference a wintry Nordic look is by filling rustic vases — this one was hand-made out of birch-bark — with red berry-dotted branches.
John Baker and Juli Daoust-Baker, owners of design store Mjölk, appointed their Toronto home with a wide array of Scandinavian finds. In their living room, a streamlined fireplace is paired with a modern log rack, plus all the tools required to stoke the stove and create a little Danish hygge.
Like hearths, clusters of candles lend Scandinavian homes a warm, winter-friendly ambience. In addition to lighting them on window sills and dinner tables, the Advent season brings its own tradition. Each Sunday of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, a candle is lit on a four-candle holder (the first candle on the first Sunday, the first and second candle on the second Sunday, and so on).
Minimal seasonal decor — a couple sculptural antlers, a handful of tea lights — contributes to this dining area’s simple, yet striking look. It’s the perfect backdrop for a dinner of traditional Icelandic Hangikjöt (smoked lamb) or Finnish joulukinkku (Christmas ham).
Clean-lined dishes in natural materials like copper and stoneware are also a must. Scatter some juniper or pine fronds here and there for some texture and fragrance.
If you’re tired of decorating with evergreens, consider the humble thistle (native to Scandinavia). Their delicate flowers and pretty, dusky violet color will add plenty of interest to a modern tablescape.
Complete your Nordic table with understated paper-and-twine napkin bundles, then bring out the glögg (mulled wine) and julöl (Swedish Christmas beer)!
…you’d also be remiss if you didn’t set out a few sweets. Decorated Norwegian pepperkaker (gingerbread) is a crowd-pleaser, and warm Finnish pulla (sweet, cardamom-spiced bread) pairs particularly well with tea.
Wintry Scandi design elements also have a way of adding charm and warmth to bedrooms. Lay out a faux or vintage fur rug and slip on a graphic duvet cover — like this one from Finnish brand Marimekko — to bring a little life to cold, grey mornings.
A miniature, burlap-wrapped Christmas tree and fun temporary wall decals will inject festive spirit into a kid’s room.
Want to get the look? Scandi giant Ikea has a range of affordable accents in their Vinter collection. Grab a star-shaped light to hang in your window, or go for a classic Yule goat figurine (while these figures are traditionally made of straw and string, we think this soft yarn version is just as cheerful!).
Nordic design company Muuto’s Balance bud vases would make ideal vessels for feathery thistles or foraged branches on the dinner table.
And no Scandi-style holiday look would be complete without an Advent candleholder and calendar. Ferm Living’s Danish-designed holiday offerings are particularly chic.