10 Easy Holiday Decorating Ideas

Spruce up your space with simple decorating and entertaining tips...

Jennifer Connell
Designer Jennifer Connell inspires fun and festivity in every room.

If it seems like this year’s countdown to the holidays is moving at warp speed, there’s still time to make your house party-perfect.

Whether you’re hosting an intimate cocktail soiree or planning a holiday bash, New Jersey interior designer Jennifer Connell has your back. Here is her year-end countdown to simple, chic home fixes that are sure to help make your space holiday-ready and guest-friendly:

10. Take photos of your rooms.
Start your holiday countdown by deciding what needs to be freshened up. To be objective, take photos of each space. You might be surprised if, in real life, your rooms don’t appear exactly as you imagine them. View your photos with an open mind. Is the space cluttered? Dated?

9. De-clutter. Less is always more.

Next, walk through the house and start tidying. There’s always stuff to pick up. No one needs two Snoopy pillows, a fuzzy snuggie and an old college throw lying haphazardly on the sofa. For a quick fix, roll up those blankets nicely and place them in a big decorative basket. Put old or worn pillows in a closet. Prioritize problem areas and attack them first. You’ll find it therapeutic to toss junk that’s accumulated on your coffee table. Grab a big garbage bag and purge it all…make a clean sweep! Then look online for creative ways to decorate. Start with two pretty coffee table books, a large candle, a small tray or box and perhaps a little vase of fresh flowers. Keep it simple.

8. Focus on high-traffic areas
House guests tend to spend time in common rooms like the kitchen, living room, family room and foyer. So concentrate your efforts there. In the kitchen, hide pet food in the cupboard, remove knickknacks from the windowsill, and display fresh winter herbs for a wonderful aroma. Add a new throw rug by the sink, a pretty cake stand on the counter or dishtowels in a cute pattern. Your foyer makes a first impression, so be sure that it’s inviting yet uncluttered. Add an attractive mirror over a chest of drawers and use warm lighting. Swap an old, stodgy lamp with a more colorful one. Layer interesting objects in front of a painting. And remember to put the boots and sneakers in a closet.

7. Don’t overlook your front yard and walkways
Curb appeal is important, so be sure your front yard is raked, trimmed and clean. Your walkway should be well lit, especially if you plan to entertain in the evening. Add exterior holiday cheer with fresh seasonal plants and flowers in terracotta pots on your doorstep. Keep outside decorating simple and remove lights and wreaths as soon as the holiday has ended.

6. Make your guest rooms hotel-ready
Entertaining overnight guests? Make them feel welcome with a fresh, clean stock of linens, towels and pillows. For a special touch, keep fresh flowers, a phone charger, hand lotion and books/magazines in the guest room.

5. Tend to home maintenance
There’s nothing fun or festive about replacing air filters or checking carbon monoxide batteries, yet it must be done routinely for the health and safety of your family. The last thing you want to deal with during the holidays is a breakdown or malfunction of your heating system. Better to spend your money on necessary home maintenance and repairs than on holiday décor.

4. Add lighting and rugs for holiday sparkle
New lamps are easy to find online and in any local home store, and pretty votives and candles can add sparkle and ambiance to your home during the holidays. Although you might not have time to install new flooring, a fresh area rug in the family room or foyer will cozy-up your space. Even a fun woven or striped runner by the sink can enhance your kitchen.

3. Spruce up your windows
Beautiful window treatments can transform a space, but they aren’t always easy to install. One option is to buy pre-made panels. Just be sure the panels you select are of good quality. Another option is to call a professional window treatment guru for help. On a tight budget? Ask to keep it simple, using linen-blend fabric and decorative tape for edging. You’ll still get a crisp, finished look. When selecting hardware, choose poles with rings. Rings are easiest to work with.

2. Don your home with seasonal blooms
Fresh flowers perk up the house in any season. For the holidays, try orchids on a hall table or mantel. Orchids are a good choice if you are green-thumb-challenged because they last a long time. For additional holiday cheer, create your own arrangement of pine cones, pomegranates and apples in a pretty ceramic bowl. Sometimes you can find seasonal blooms, berries and branches in your own backyard. And for the Jennifer’s final tip…drum roll please…

1. Stock your bar and get ready to PARTY
A well-stocked bar should be loaded with cute holiday napkins, sparkling-clean glasses, wine, beer, liquor and mixers for guests to enjoy. Get patterned straws and gourmet sugars for the rims of cocktail glasses. Just remember, as the host/hostess of a party, you are responsible for your guests. So if they enjoy too much alcohol, have the Uber app readily available to arrange a ride, or insist that they spend the night in your super-comfy guest room.

Thanks to Jennifer Connell for these fun holiday decorating and entertaining tips. Jennifer is the former owner/designer for “Fun House Furnishings and Design,” a studio and retail store in Mendham, NJ.  She now focuses on full-service interior design, outdoor space design, retail and hospitality design and design consulting. Jennifer works exclusively through Design Consultants in Bedminster, NJ. You can reach her at 908-781-2092 and [email protected]

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