Design Hints

Holiday Help

Decorate your home for a special holiday gathering with expert advice from an experienced event planner.

From catering and cakes to flowers and linens, events planner Lori Carlson, owner of Creative Gatherings in Francesville, Indiana, knows entertaining. Here are a few of Lori's tips for decorating your home for a special holiday event:

Make it personal. "When we plan a special event, we want it to reflect the host's personality," Lori says. Don't just decorate to impress. Instead, she suggests decorating "with things that you love." Your party will be warmer and more intimate when the atmosphere genuinely reflects your natural disposition and individuality. For her own home, Lori chooses plenty of sentimental signage, stitched pillows and other accents that speak to her values.

Bring the outdoors in -- or leave it out. Pinecones, twigs, branches, greenery, vines and fresh-cut trees all add texture as well as natural fragrances to a holiday gathering. Create a large centerpiece using fresh flora, or arrange long aromatic branches across a mantel or cabinet. Even the exterior of the Carlson home follows this rule, with snowflake-dotted evergreen boughs peeking out of window boxes installed on the front of the house.

Group like items together. If you have multiple holiday collections (for example, Santas, snowmen and candy canes), Lori suggests not crowding all of your icons into a single space. Instead, create themed rooms or areas, which will draw focus to your prized collections rather than overwhelm your guests' eyes with too many competing motifs. Alternatively, creating themed trees and placing them throughout your space is a great recipe for igniting conversation and inviting guests to explore your decor.

Keep it simple. Unfussy decorative items -- such as a few candles, sprigs of mistletoe and pretty Christmas linens -- are sometimes all that's necessary to spread holiday cheer, so don't get overwhelmed by the details. For instance, most of the evergreen garlands in the Carlson home are simply lit with strands of white lights and trimmed with occasional ornaments instead of masses of accents.

Lori Carlson's home is featured in our November 2013 issue.

Written by Nancy Rebecca J. Razo
Photographed and styled by Franklin & Esther Schmidt