It’s hard to think of anything more traditional than the family Christmas tree — but that doesn’t mean it has to be decorated the same way every year.
In fact, designers and trend experts say this year’s holiday palettes are more creative than ever, so you can put a whimsical, glamorous, nostalgic or any other sort of twist on this year’s display.
“Just remember there’s no right way to decorate that tree,” says interior designer Anastasia Laudermilch of Annville. “There’s just your way.”
“This is the perfect way to channel your unique personality,” she explains. “Frankly, I like to create my own trends. In my home, tree decorating is all about blending old with new.”
For Laudermilch, ornaments can tell a personal story — and that’s not worth fully abandoning for the sake of a tree that looks ready for a department store floor.
“The items I’ve collected over time tell a story about who I am and where I’ve been, and I don’t like to erase all that for the sake of complying with the latest trends,” Laudermilch says. “I think you can savor those old items and mix them with something new to keep your memories looking fresh. Some of the old decorations were gifts from family and friends, and they are the ones I cherish the most.”
At Christmastime, Laudermilch enjoys adding shades of red to her largely neutral home decor. She prefers a darker red, like burgundy. To keep things feeling current, she mixes it with gray plaid bows.
One Christmas tree isn’t enough for Donna Landis. Every year she puts up three trees to be enjoyed by her large family as well as the frequently visiting members of Lancaster Newcomers & Neighbors, the social group she co-founded back in the 1990s. The main tree is in the living room and is decorated traditionally, with strings of popcorn and ornaments representing memories from special events, vacations and fun with grandchildren.
“Every ornament has a story to tell,” Landis says.
The second tree is her husband’s “golf tree.”
“He wound up with so many golf-related ornaments that we decided to put them on a separate tree,” she says. “The garland is red beads with golf balls.”
The third tree is smaller, decorated with ornaments handmade by the Landis children and garlands of silver beads.
“I love our Christmas trees,” Landis says. “Each ornament I hang is a trip down memory lane of events, friends and family we have enjoyed through the years, and this makes me feel incredibly blessed and happy.”
Ruthie Stoltzfus of Beautiful Homes Interiors in Strasburg is definitely interested in Christmas tree trends. Twice a year, she attends the gift and accessory world’s national shows to learn what’s new, and the trees she decorates for the firm’s showroom and clients reflect the palettes and looks that have trend bloggers and influencers buzzing.
“White trees, flocked or not, are a huge trend,” she says. “And theme trees. This year, we’re highlighting four big trends. First, we have the woodman’s tree, basically an appropriately snow-flecked tree that celebrates nature, with owl and mushroom ornaments and dried flowers. Then there’s the macrame tree, which showcases our creativity, with crafted ornaments that resemble snowflakes, beads mimicking snowberries, and gold-flecked balls. Third, we’ve got the black and white tree, sophisticated, but not at all minimalistic with an abundance of white, gold and silver ornaments. And fourth, we have the princess tree, with pink and blush ornaments winking among lots of snow-white flocking and berry garlands.”
“Every one of them is incredibly lush,” Stoltzfus adds. “And despite their themes, none of them will look out of place even in an ultra-neutral home. That’s important to a lot of homeowners. They steer away from those traditional vivid reds and greens, feeling they clash with the neutral decors that are so prevalent today.”
Nationally, however, some bloggers and columnists have noted more colorful schemes coming to the fore. Channel the Victorian era with a blue-themed tree, decorated with classic blue and white porcelain ornaments, silver balls, blue ribbons and white lights; lean into a red-and-white theme for a candy cane feel; or, embrace the tree’s natural hue with rich greens, decorated with acorns, pine cones and other natural elements. Consider incorporating pinecones sprayed with metallic paint and intersperse them with green ball ornaments.
Expect to see lots of Christmas cheer at the home of Yvonne Pratt, a resident of Quarryville, but known nationally for her Stone Gable blog devoted to everything involved with home life, from cooking to cleaning, from decorating to gardening.
Like Stoltzfus, Pratt applauds the popularity of white Christmas trees.
“Last year, we put one of them in our bedroom, and the effect was magical,” she tells. “It just featured small white lights and the simplest silvery ornaments, and the result far exceeded my wildest, sugar-plumed visions and sweet Christmas dreams.”
This year, Pratt is a big proponent of tabletop trees. “They are terrific for small spaces,” she says. “And I love the way they can spread Christmas cheer in rooms throughout larger spaces as well.”
A tabletop tree should be about 3 to 4 feet, and Pratt recommends putting it in a pretty container, like a basket, bowl or urn.
“Keep in mind if this is a live tree, it needs to be watered,” Pratt says. “I love decorating my tabletop tree naturally with burlap ribbons, pine cones and acorns, plus fairy lights. But, by all means, decorate whatever way gives you joy. Candy canes, red ribbons, beads, strings of popcorn, bird ornaments, whatever. This is Christmas. A time of joy.”
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