7 Tips to Decorate Your Home for the Holidays From an Avid Decorator

holiday decorations

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When the leaves turn from green to brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow, home decorators make a run for their storage containers and start setting up celebratory scenes for each coming season. For some, however, every day is a day for dressing the home in signs, figurines, and florals—October through the year's end is like their Super Bowl. 

You would definitely put Cyndi Johnson in the home team’s starting lineup. 

Johnson, a registered nurse living with her family in Arizona, has loved decorating her home for many years. “I’ve always loved holidays and decorating since I was a child,” she says. “But I really started concentrating on home decor about three years ago after my daughter helped me start my Instagram account and I saw all the beautiful home decor.”

Meet the Expert

Collect From the Couch

Instagram is the source of inspiration for many and Johnson is no exception. It is a great way to peruse what’s available each season without having to leave the house. When you see something you like online or in person, think about where the item would fit in your own space. “I imagine something I see in a room in my home or see an idea on Instagram and shop for something similar if not the same item,” says Johnson.

Theme Scheme

Some home decorators mix and match their seasonal decor, and others like to pick a theme and stick to it. The theme can change from year to year, maybe with witches one Halloween and cute little ghosts the next—there are no rules! Johnson’s fall plans were all about the pumpkins, with cute gourds. She is especially excited to set up her winter wonderland this year. “Christmas is my favorite holiday and I’m currently loving snowflakes this year.”

Plan Your Time

For avid decorators like Johnson, setting up seasonal decorations is much more than setting up a tree and tossing on some ornaments. The sheer magnitude of her embellishments requires her to set aside enough time to get every piece set up, especially because she also is busy with her nursing job. “I feel like I’m constantly decorating every day, moving things around from room to room and always adding new items,” says Johnson. “But I love decorating and wish it was my full-time job!”

It isn’t just set up that is time-consuming, though it is probably the most fun part. Taking everything down and putting it away at the end of each season requires commitment as well. Johnson says it takes her about three days to get each season stored safely for the next year. 

Share the Seasons

You can imagine that if you continue to add to your turkey collection that you roll out for Thanksgiving, it will soon gobble up much of your home. Consider a one-in, one-out policy when you want to buy something. Regularly reviewing what you already have can also help you from being overwhelmed by your decorations. 

“Each year, I go through items and take out the ones I know I won’t be using again and either gift them to someone or sell them,” explains Johnson. Culling the collection means you always have your very favorite items or meaningful ones ready to display when the season comes around again. 

Fall decor laundry room


No Limits

Certain spots in your home are just a natural fit for festive additions, such as a fireplace mantel, hall table, or front door. However, there really are no “rules” in decorating. “I say do what makes you happy! Everyone has their own style, and you will be the one enjoying it each day,” says Johnson. “So if you love it, I say go for it.”

Hang a wreath above your headboard, string garland through window coverings, or artfully place figurines in unexpected places. “I decorate every room, including the laundry room and bathrooms,” says Johnson.

Storage Savvy

When putting away a season’s worth of decorations, consider more than just how many bins and boxes you will need to contain it all. Your home’s available space and the weather in your area also come into play.

“In Arizona, since there aren’t many homes with basements for extra storage and the outside temperatures get so hot, most items need to be stored inside if possible,” says Johnson. “I have a linen closet plus two bedroom closets as well as garage shelving [for decorations].” 

If you are fortunate enough to have basement storage space, think about whether the space is heated or cooled. Climates that see very low winter temperatures will be harder on breakables, and humid areas can really do a number on paper and wood decorations. Even dry areas have special challenges.

“I definitely keep all wood items or anything that can be warped or affected by heat and cold inside the house in the original box, marked on the outside with a Sharpie with what’s inside each box,” says Johnson.

Heavy Lifting

Once you have space cleared out for storing decoration and have the proper containers and padding to keep everything as safe as it can be—think about bulk. It might be tempting to find a big plastic bin with a tight-fitting lid to corral all your Christmas things in one spot—don’t do it. 

“I’m still in the process of perfecting this job and will be separating each Christmas tree/room into its own box and making sure it’s not too heavy to pick up and put on a shelf,” says Johnson. 

Proper labeling will make your treasures easier to find, and keeping each container to a maximum weight will ensure you don’t throw out your back in the process. By making a loose plan before you start decorating each season and storing everything safely, you will make next year’s celebrations just as merry and bright.