Your favorite ornaments are hung on the tree, your stockings dangle from the mantel in wait for Santa’s arrival, and your wreaths and garlands festoon doorways, windows and staircases—so, what’s next? Plenty, say Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad and Catherine Parker. “We’re all used to big displays at the holidays, but smaller vignettes make a huge impact if they’re placed in just the right spot,” Sally-Jo says. “Smaller displays are especially smart if you have some leftover decorations and you don’t know what to do with them.”
If your display of misfit furnishings seems a little empty, the stylists note, you can fill in around your accessories with everyday items, repurposed pieces or simple texture-boosting add-ons. “Don’t have a table runner that’s just right for your arrangement? Look in your scarf collection,” Catherine advises. “Run out of ornament hangers or napkin rings? Try tying on some twine. You can always find a creative solution.”
When deciding where to situate your seasonal vignette and what kind of surface to place it on, consider a room’s function and how well the space can accommodate a display. “For high-traffic areas, use smaller or moveable furniture, such as a half-circle table that is easy to get around or a kitchen island on wheels that can be relocated,” Sally-Jo says. “With a little planning and creativity, you can dream up a truly delightful holiday scene!”
Written by Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Styled by Sally-Jo Enstad & Catherine Parker
Photographed by Brian Nightengale
Produced by Dennis Morgan
1. End on a high note. Does your bedroom need a yuletide boost? Dress up the end of the bed with a display of holiday accents—such as a bobbin decorated with greens and a metal reindeer or a taper holder outfitted with a striped candle—atop a half-circle table. “Tables with square corners don’t always lend themselves to tight quarters,” Catherine says. “Furniture with rounded edges is easy to get around. Plus, displays look fuller because you need fewer items to fill out the top.”
2. Scarf it down. Soften a wood surface with a cozy scarf, such as this windowpane-pattern wrap that picks up on the tones of the black-and-white box and caddy resting on it.
3. Make memories. “You can easily turn an ordinary picture frame into seasonal decor just by putting a holiday photo inside,” Sally-Jo says.
4. Use up your leftovers. Don’t pack away those extra ornaments just yet—tuck them inside a decorative caddy amid pinecones and Christmas cards, or arrange a few in a pretty candy dish.
5. Pull out all the stops. Whether it’s small-scale compartments, such as the drawers on the black box at right, or the bigger bins of a dresser or a buffet, cubbies supply lots of hidden potential when you’re seeking a spot for a yuletide scene. Open one or two drawers on various levels for a high-interest vignette.
6. Honor your nesting instinct. Create a textured bed for ornaments or bottle-brush trees by filling drawers with tangles of tinsel or, for a natural look, a handful of wood excelsior or Spanish moss.
7. Hang around. “Don’t forget to decorate the knobs,” Catherine says. “Use twine or some thin holiday ribbon as a hanger for ornaments. On a larger piece of furniture, you could also hang wreaths or garland on the knobs.”
8. Lead the pack(age). Create gingerbread-inspired packages in just a few simple steps using kraft paper, acrylic paint and a sponge brush. First, wrap an empty box in kraft paper; or, use the unprinted side of a brown paper bag. Dip your brush in some white paint and dab off the excess on a paper towel. Apply the paint to the box’s edges for a frosting-inspired outline. When the paint is dry, tie on a festive ribbon to complete your sweet treat.
9. Hold your own.
Inside the Box
Holiday goodies don’t have to be strictly for the taste buds—sometimes delighting the eye can be just as much fun! Construct a dazzling kitchen counter display around glass-sided treat boxes filled with shiny hard candy or other delectable desserts. Or, for filler that won’t get snatched up by hungry passersby, pick glittery ball ornaments, nature-inspired pinecones, or orange slices and cinnamon sticks that coordinate with a pint-size primitive tree situated nearby.10. Top this.
Give accessories a little extra holiday spirit with a few sprigs of evergreen or holly tied on with a plaid bow. “I like wire-edge ribbon because it’s easy to manipulate, and you can make the tails look fuller by shaping them,” Sally-Jo notes.
11. Bottom out.
Address the ground level of your grouping and boost items on antique wood peels or silver napkin trays. Or, use one of your boxes to hold a decorative dish towel in place.
12. Drink it in.
Bring your holiday dishes out of hiding, and repurpose a teacup as a holder for a miniature bottle-brush tree.
Log and Order
13. Mix and match. “I love combining natural and artificial materials in a vignette,” Catherine says. “In this dining room, we based a display around real birch logs, but we filled in with faux vines and bottle-brush trees.” Contributing to the grouping’s continuity, the trees’ texture is repeated by the large snowman’s wreath, and both of the frosty friends feature a creamy color that picks up on the logs’ bark.
14. Trim down. Saw a few slices of wood off the end of a fire log to make some quick and easy boosters for candles, miniature trees or figurines.
15. Raise cane. Embellish clear or frosted glass jar candles with a belt of red-and-white striped ribbon that mimics the classic pattern of a candy cane.
16. Draw a blanket. Everyone loves wrapping up in a warm wool blanket on a cold winter day. Infuse that feeling into your tablescape with a soft plaid throw spread beneath all of your other accessories and dinnerware.
17. Say fleas and thank you. “You just never know what you’re going to find at a flea market,” Sally-Jo notes. “This chair crafted from a snowshoe was an awesome discovery. It’s quite unique, but you could get a similar look by using a snowshoe as a display’s base level or by placing a snowshoe behind a vignette for background interest.”
18. Play tag. Adorn everything from chairs to cabinet doors with an oversize tag bearing familiarly festive faces.
19. Jingle all the way. Set an electric candle in a terra-cotta saucer for an unexpected reminder of spring, but stay true to the current season by filling in around the light with gold, silver and green jingle bells.
20. Find a companion. To give an arrangement more oomph without overwhelming an area, accompany a central-focus display with a few less extravagant pieces, such as a small lighted tree or a glass brick reminiscent of an ice block.
Vintage bobbin with greenery and reindeer, Hickory Dale Handcrafts, LLC
Tin basket with handle and striped vintage tin box, Home Decor For Your Style
Keeping Room taper holder, Cardinal’s Farmhouse Sampler
Six-drawer box, Hillside Custom Woodworking
Inside the Box:
Gingerbread tree, The Rusty Heart
Holiday treat boxes, Copeland’s General Store
Holiday towel, Lodge Podge
Log and Order:
Chief and Holly snowmen, Old Mill Originals
Frosted and clear jar candles, Simply Divine Candle Company
Handpainted Santa tag, Cottonwood Lane
Electric candle, Simply Divine Candle Company
Frosted tree, The Country House
For more information, visit our Craft Fair online.