6 Smart Ideas to Make the Holidays Merry and Bright (Despite Decor Shortages)

Christmas present and string
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We’ve all been hearing about supply chain disruptions for months, and now that Christmas and the winter holidays are looming, retailers are seeing it firsthand. If you’re in the market for new decorations this year, you might be finding the shelves are lacking. Fortunately, the inspiration for thinking outside the decorative box is not!

We turned to the experts to find out how we can handle any decor shortages this year, and they came back with some key suggestions for making the season merry and bright—even if you couldn’t track down a new tree skirt or set of lights.

Meet the Expert

Look to Nature

By and large, the top suggestion was to source your own decor, straight from your backyard or nearby wild area. But where to begin?

William Dyson, curator at Great Comp Garden, says, “When it comes to Christmas decorations, we like to decorate our house with greenery. We adorn the place with holly, [or] with branches from the Lawson Cypress or the Western Red Cedar tree. The smell is wonderful. You can even leave collecting your decorations until Christmas Eve—rise early, it’s a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the garden all to yourself.”

Along with holly, cypress, and cedar branches, Dyson also suggests fresh bay leaves. Along with displaying some, Dyson tells us, “I also love to make gravy with fresh bay leaves. I usually cut a small stem and save the rest for the new year. I’ll throw the bay leaves in with the giblets and prepare the best gravy you’ve tasted!”

Lynne Tocchet of Pacaso agrees. “Greenery never goes out of style,” she says. “The farther we get into the winter season and the less green we have surrounding us in nature, the more we want to be reminded of a warm summer day and see our interior decor screaming green! No matter what other trends are circling around it, greenery is always at the epicenter of winter decor.”

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, Mary Maloney of Bee’s Knees Interior Design tells us, “Less is more and fresh is best! Winterberry is lovely for a pop of red. Add in pinecones for texture. Evergreen clippings are long-lasting and add such a lovely smell to your indoor environment.”

Layer in What You Already Have

Kristin Bartone of Bartone Interiors is also pro-decorating with natural decor, but she sees it as the perfect way to add to what she already has.  

“I like bringing out fresh decor during the fall that will last through the spring, then layering Christmas decorations on top of that so you aren’t starting from scratch,” Bartone tells us. “Think fuzzy, heavily textured earth tone pillows and throw blankets that can easily add a pop of red or green to get you in the Christmas spirit. I often keep the same pillow inserts and change only the covers to minimize storage requirements for off-season items.”

Go Homemade

Along with lots of greenery, Tocchet also suggests leaning into the folksy vibe. “Homemade decorations and recycled materials are [our] go-to for the season,” she says. “Heartfelt handmade trinkets, as well as larger-scale folksy wall decorations, exemplify the timeless household traditions we cherish so much.”

“Embellish your displays with a ribbon accent,” agrees Maloney. “If organic is your thing, twine will do quite nicely, but if you want to step it up a notch, the sky is the limit—use your imagination!”

In case you find a shortage of wrapping paper, the urge to go homemade and folksy can extend to gift wrap, too. “We keep an industrial size roll of craft paper on hand,” says Maloney. “Packaging and presentation are key, and one of our fave holiday traditions. Dress a package with a little greenery and ribbon and you are sure to delight the lucky recipient!

Harriet Saywood-Bellisario of Saywood also agrees that homemade is the way to go this year—both because of the supply crisis and because it’s more sustainable: “[We] handmake Christmas decorations to order, from leftover production fabrics and scraps. [They] are a great eco-friendly option for your tree or make for a great gift!”

Decorate for the Whole Season

As Tocchet also suggests, think of your decor as seasonal rather than for one specific holiday. “Creating the baseline decor that will last for months and layering in specific holiday accessories that can easily be changed out is an effective way to decorate for the winter season,” she says. 

“For example, a long wooden bowl filled with pine cones may permanently sit on the center of the dining room table," Tocchet says. "In the fall, that arrangement may be sprinkled with rust, orange, and earthy colored potpourri. Moving into winter, those earth tones may be replaced with red and green, blue and white, silver and gold, or any other color combination that represents the winter holiday season to you. Keeping the foundation of the decor the same and just changing out the ‘accessory’ layer keeps it simple and easy.”

Reuse Leftover Gift Wrap as Decor

If you find yourself with leftover or excess wrapping paper, Hepsie Goddin of Martha and Hepsie suggests using it in your decor scheme.

“We use our luxury gift wrap to make paper chains, cut into strips around 2cm by 15cm lengths—you can get just over 100 from one sheet of our gift wrap,” says Goddin. “Bend the first piece of paper into a circle, and seal with glue, or if you want to be able to recycle them, use a slotted join.”

To do this, Goddin says, “At 5mm in from the end of the strip, cut a 1cm slit at the bottom. Then, at the opposite end, cut a 1cm slit at the top 5mm in from the end. Form a circle and slot the two ends together. Repeat this process until you have a chain long enough for your room. We recommend tying some thread to each end chain and draping them over the corner of a hanging picture, or using them as an alternative to tinsel on your tree!”

Rent Your Decor

If all else fails, the team from Light Up Your Holidays—an outdoor holiday decorations company—suggests renting your decor this year. 

“There's an even higher demand this year for outdoor holiday lighting, as many families are still choosing not to travel,” they tell us. “So, they are instead creating a magical experience at home with their family by using outdoor holiday displays.”

Katie Parker of Pitch Boutique agrees, noting that “Event stylists across the country will have various options—from tree styling to tableware—for the complete Christmas look. Not only does this solve the issue of decoration shortages, but it is also an environmentally friendly option that promotes the re-use of items rather than throwaways.”