The holidays are here (already!).  It’s time to bring out the boxes of decorations – the ornaments, greenery, candles and holiday figurines you’ve collected over the years. With so many treasured items, it’s hard to imagine not showcasing all of them during the holidays.

In a fit of Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation, your living room becomes more a “Christmas Shop of a Thousand Items” instead of your home decorated for the holidays. The warmth and festive feelings that drew you to your holiday decorations in the first place become muddled with disorder and confusion.

How to Combat the Clutter

Remember The. Most. Important Rule: Add One, Subtract One. When the holiday accessory comes out, remove the regular accessory and store it until after the holidays.

For example, if you currently display a bowl of colored and textured decorative balls that complement your everyday decor, swap these out with holiday glass ball ornaments in silver or gold. Store the everyday items in the closet. When the holidays are over, make the return swap.

The same goes for decorative pillows and holiday candles. If you add a holiday pillow on your chairs, sofa or bed, subtract the year-round pillows. If candles and candlesticks are part of your regular decor, remove the existing candles and replace with holiday-colored versions.

Last, but not least, don’t forget to spread the decorations throughout your home. The bedrooms, kitchen, hallway, even the bathrooms, often get overlooked. Even though your guests don’t spend as much time in these spaces, the attention to detail is appreciated.

Avoid the Point of Diminishing Returns  collection of nutcrackers

Refrain from using every ornament you own on the tree. If you’re like me, you fell in love with all your ornaments and find it impossible to restrain yourself from putting them all on the tree. The result: an overstuffed tree. To ensure the special qualities of the ornaments and the stories behind them are not lost, separate ornaments by color, texture and design style.  Rotate the new “sets” year to year.

If your shelf or credenza displays framed family photos, rather than adding holiday frames and photos to the bunch (making it difficult to focus on any of them), swap out the frames and/or photos with the holiday versions. In my house, the formal portrait-type picture of my sister and her two kids changes during the holidays to the one with the kids laughing (and crying) on Santa’s lap.

It’s OK to Step Away from the Red and Green… and the Traditional 

Ifholly berries and cinnamon sticks reds and greens don’t feel comfortable in your room, don’t be afraid to use colors that complement the existing color palette. Shiny, sparkly Christmas ornaments come in all colors and textures.

What if you hesitate to use the Victorian-era painted glass ornaments your grandmother gave you because your overall design aesthetic is Rustic Modern? Try mixing the painted glass with simple, solid-colored, pressed metal ornaments or frosted pine cones strung with rope twine. The seemingly disparate types merge as you ground them with color, texture and shapes that don’t compete.

And finally, if you’re not a poinsettia fan, no worries. Instead, bring in the holidays naturally with red berry sprigs and greenery.Fill a silver bowl with red apples. Fill vases with red amaryllis, or red and white lilies. Add fresh greenery and pine sprigs and Voila!

Love It, Don’t Just Live With It

What it boils down to is this: Resist the temptation to use everything you own and feel free to explore non-traditional decorating ideas. You will be surprised at how much you will experience your holiday decor, rather than count down the days to putting it all back!

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