From Spotlight: Household Hacks for the Holiday Season

What’s Your Christmas Decorating Vibe?

Find which of these four holiday decorating styles is the most you and learn the latest trends to upgrade.

House and yard with a vibrant, beautiful and extravagant Christmas light display.
Image: HannamariaH/getty

Family feuds and couple spats have ignited over Christmas decorations. About a quarter of households admit they’ve disagreed over their holiday décor, usually because a family member or spouse prefers a more traditional decorating scheme than someone else in the household does, according to a survey from Angi. (The longstanding white versus colored Christmas light debate is for real!)

To prevent any Christmas feuds from spoiling your holiday spirit, your household may want to agree on which of these four people best represents your style:

  • The Traditionalist: Favors classic and timeless pieces, such as red and green colors, Christmas figurines, wreaths, and garland
  • The Minimalist: Adopts the less-is-more mantra with more sparse holiday touches, muted color schemes, and a focus on quality over quantity
  • The Maximalist: Prefers over-lit, grand holiday displays that aim to grab the most attention
  • The Techie: Leverages smart LED lights and plugs, programmable decorations or sound automation in controlling décor from a smart phone or voice assistant

Learn more about which type of Christmas decorator you are and the latest trends you might choose.

The Traditionalist

A fireplace and hearth decorated in the traditionalist style with a classic Christmas tree.
Image: LTuray/getty

Nostalgia is at the heart of this style. Interior designer Bree Steele, with the design firm RJ Living in Melbourne, Australia, says it’s about embracing the classics: red and green color palettes, plaid patterns, and natural elements, like pine cones and holly. “The key is in the details: wreaths on doors, garland-wrapped staircases, and a beautifully decorated tree with heirloom ornaments,” she says. Also, scents like cinnamon or pine candles create a sensory experience, she notes.

  • Vintage flairs and handmade touches: On-trend items include vintage-inspired ornaments — like brightly painted glass ornaments reminiscent of the 1950s and personalized decorations that “tell a story or are custom-made,” Steele says. “As people continue to value experiences, decorations that evoke memories or personal connections will be particularly cherished.”
  • Modern twists: Enhance traditional décor, such as by using modern geometric ribbons along with the classic reds and greens, says interior designer Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight in New York, N.Y. Also, consider adding trendy dried citrus slices into wreaths and garland, a newer element than pinecones and holly.
  • Gingerbread Girl: Etsy called out this Cottagecore-rooted style in its 2023 Holiday Trends report, noting it’s “about returning to a wholesome rustic lifestyle that celebrates simplicity and tradition.” Etsy searches are rising for Gingerbread Girl holiday items including wreath sashes, country-chic gingham bedding, personalized recipe boxes, and vintage holiday cookie cutters.

The Minimalist

A pretty Christmas tree stands in a mostly undecorated living room, representing a simple, minimalist decorating style.

“The key to minimalist decorating lies in simplicity and sophistication,” says Steele, adding that the style embraces muted or monochromatic colors, an understated tree, and soft lighting. "For the exterior, simple string lights and a modern wreath can convey a chic and understated holiday spirit.”

  • Scandi style: One of the hottest holiday styles this year: Scandinavian, a simpler approach featuring neutrals, like whites, soft grays and muted earth tones; natural elements like pinecones, branches, or berries; and subtle accessorizing. “Go for a couple of big beautiful statement items as opposed to a myriad of decorations,” Kropovinsky says.
  • Eco-friendly: Steele says more consumers are favoring eco-friendly holiday decorations, like pine cones, evergreen branches and berries, and biodegradable ornaments. Repurpose or upcycle by using dried flowers in a wreath or refreshing old ornaments with a coat of metallic paint. “There is a growing inclination toward crafting Christmas décor that exudes sophistication and eco-consciousness,” says Niko Rasides, design director at Nicholas Anthony, a London-based design firm.
  • Sparsely decorated trees: Select just a few cherished ornaments rather than covering every tree branch. Fewer ornaments allow each to shine more. “Achieving a sophisticated look hinges on favoring quality over quantity,” Rasides says. “Invest in enduring, finely crafted ornaments that stand the test of time.”

The Maximalist

A beautifully decorated house with lots of Christmas lights and lawn ornaments is an example of a house decorated in the maximalist style.
Image: can72/getty

“For those who love to go all out, the ‘over-the-top’ style is perfect for creating that wow factor,” Steele says. “Vibrant colors, elaborate light displays, and animated outdoor decorations can make your home the talk of the town.”

  • Supersized displays: Christmas decorations are supersized. For example, outdoor inflatable Christmas décor — like skiing snowmen or towering Santas — can rise 12 feet or taller. Six-foot nutcracker figurines can grace a front porch. Large ornaments can make a larger statement on a Christmas tree. “Employ grandiose decorations combined with overt lighting,” Kropovinsky suggests.
  • Candycore: Make your holiday displays even sweeter: Etsy’s 2023 Holiday Trends report called out “Candycore.” This style features pastels and pinks and inspires a "sugary fantasy world filled with lollipops, candy canes, and gumdrops” through playful, childlike displays. Etsy reports an uptick in Candycore-related searches — like “iridescent sequined items,” “stained glass ornaments,” and scalloped placemats, napkins and runners — that are reminiscent of cake decorations.
  • Themed displays: Maximalist decorators may want to choose a theme, such as a “winter cabin theme” in the living room or a “candy cane laneway” outside, Steele says. Or, recreate Santa’s village, anchored by a life-sized Santa’s sleigh. “The key is to have fun and let your creativity run wild,” she adds.

The Techie

A house with a high-tech, smart-enabled light display for Christmas serves as an example of the Techie decorating style.

Armed with smart plugs and a smartphone, indoor or outdoor Christmas decorations can be transformed into teched-out light shows. Erin Lawrence, who heads, has seen growing interest in high-tech holiday decorations. “People are looking for easy-to-use holiday decorating solutions that don’t always require them to climb a ladder to change a burnt-out bulb or reposition a string,” she says. “Smart, app-controlled lighting is the ultimate low-maintenance solution.”

  • Smart plugs and lights: Add smart plugs to existing indoor or outdoor Christmas lights for instant automation. Smart plugs — available for under $20 (for example, Amazon’s Smart Plug and WeMo Switch) — can allow you to turn plugged-in devices on and off from a smartphone app or through a voice assistant (“Alexa, turn off my Christmas tree!”). Or, buy LED light strings you can control via smartphone or voice assistant, and customize colors, set timers, and add special effects (like flip-and-fade or twinkling).
  • Holograms and projectors: Project 3D images onto your home or on your Christmas porch decorations. For example, a hologram projector can display a real-life Santa waving from a window. Or, add projectors to your Christmas yard decorations to have dancing snowflakes or flashing lights race across your home.
  • Sound-reactive decorations: Many smart lights can be synced to holiday music. Have your smart doorbell get in the spirit, too. For example, the Ring Battery Doorbell Plus with Chime Pro has a customizable feature to play holiday sounds, carols, and even jingle bells whenever someone rings your doorbell.
Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Melissa Dittmann Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey loves to talk real estate and is obsessed with the design of other people’s homes (but in a noncreepy way!). You can hear her weekly on the syndicated radio show and podcast, Real Estate Today, in her housing trends segment “Hot or Not?” She is also the creator of the Styled, Staged & Sold blog and host of The Housing Muse podcast. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @housingmuse