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Marni

The best invention since the twist top, battery-operated strands of holiday lights mean you can stop decorating based on where your outlets are. Now you can have lighted mailbox swags, door wreaths and garland on your mantel with no unsightly cords dangling. 

I will decorate, minimally, which is more tasteful anyway, and choose seasonal looks that I don’t have to box up again until well into next year.

For suggestions on how to do that, I called my friend Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design for The Home Depot, and veteran home stager Janine Callahan, owner of a Showhomes franchise in Chicago. Here are their tips for decorating with a lighter touch while getting an elegant holiday look that will carry into February:

Decorate for the season not just the holidays. Rather than hanging a wreath bearing santas, elves, candy canes or nutcrackers, hang one that can extend the season, said Fishburne. Wreaths of green foliage, embellished with colored ribbon and silk florals, and winter motifs like snowflakes won’t time out New Year’s Day. Instead of a Santa doormat put out one with a snowman. Flank your front door with topiary, wrapped in seasonal ribbon and lights, and “there’s no reason you can’t keep white lights on into winter.”

Pick your spots. If you want a holiday look that is both simple and easy to set up (and take down), create holiday focal points, said Callahan. Don’t pepper the whole house with Christmas chotchkies as if you blasted it with a firehouse hooked up to a Michael’s store. Rather pick three to five areas and hit them big. 

Let light and ribbon be the heroes. These two elements will carry you well into February without making you the neighborhood embarrassment for leaving a Santa on your lawn until March.

Go metallic. Though classic greens and reds, are still part of the holiday color story, metallics have more staying power, said Fishburne. “Gold and silver look festive and have longevity,” she said, adding that today’s tones are less brash and shiny. Another trend is mixing metallics, including gunmetal grey.

Take advantage of battery powered lights. It’s about time someone came up with lights that you don’t have to plug in. Fishburne turned me onto wreaths, garland, and mailbox swags that use battery operated lights. No more decorating around your outlet, or putting up with dangling-cords. A glass bowl filled with gold and silver balls and a string of 10 to 20 battery-operated lights looks gorgeous on the coffee table, said Callahan.

Take away, then add. Don’t just layer holiday décor over what you have. That gets cluttered. Remove and replace. After the season is over, switch back.

Don’t over decorate. Over decorating is the most common mistake Callahan sees home decorators make. To get a great look, avoid using too many small things, too many colors, and too much in general. 

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