50 Quick and Easy Holiday Decorating Ideas | Midwest Living

50 Quick and Easy Holiday Decorating Ideas

Give your home holiday style in a flash with these simple yet creative decorating projects.
  • Pretty platter

    For an easy DIY tablescape, decorate a serving tray with silver ornaments. Tuck in boughs of evergreen for a simple yet elegant centerpiece.

  • No-fuss festivity

    Sprigs of evergreens fill a collection of plain glass vases for clearly inspired decor.

  • Tiny tannenbaums

    Clipped greens (in floral foam) displayed in egg cups make a mini forest when grouped on a silver tray. A strand of starry lights adds sparkle.

  • Winter wonderland

    Winter wonderland

    For custom-colored bottlebrush trees, use fabric dye such as Rit or diluted stamping inks, which come in dozens of colors at crafts stores. Dip to dye.

  • Branch out

    Need something above your buffet? Hang Christmas cards, embellished tags and ornaments from a single evergreen branch tacked to the wall.

  • Snow days

    Like snow globes, apothecary jars hold tiny winter wonderlands. Stand bottlebrush trees and toy deer spray-painted gold in Epsom salts "snow."

  • Fragrant decor

    For a fragrant chair-back decoration, bundle bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and marjoram with twine. Bouquets can be made several days in advance, then refrigerated. Once dry, use them for cooking!

  • Cozy containers

    Everyday decor turns holiday-worthy when wrapped in knits. Cut off the end of a thrift-store sweater arm to a length that will fit your container, plus about two inches. Fold the edge under and fasten with hot glue. Glue on miniature jingle bells for extra embellishment.

  • Go step-by-step

    Spell out holiday greetings on tree containers that climb the stairs. We made paper letter ornaments for white ironstone pitchers and pots and planted a lacy Goldcrest cypress tree in each.

  • Showcase glass and glitz

    Pull glassware out of the cabinets and onto a mantel for a last-minute arrangement. Let curled ribbon drape out of a champagne flute. Place one ornament in a martini glass. Stack mini ornaments in a beer glass. Or create a "flower" in a clay pot with a wine glass and ornaments. Put a votive holder upside down inside the pot as a base for the glass. Secure the glass to the top of the holder with double-sided tape. Crumple tissue paper around the base of the glass, and fill with mini ornaments.

  • Decorate an entry table

    Ice skates with red pompoms made an easy entry table arrangement, while an apothecary jar filled with twigs adds an unexpected accent. A mix of faux and real evergreens brings holiday spirit throughout the area.

  • Play with paper

    Turn holiday-theme scrapbooking papers into an inexpensive tabletop display. Cut and fold papers to create simple cone "trees" of different sizes. Secure seams with double-sided tape.

  • Light bright wreath

    Light bright

    Wrap string lights around a metal wreath form to create a twinkling wall accent. Crafts stores sell affordable forms in a variety of shapes and sizes.

  • Serve up a centerpiece

    To make a showy centerpiece, place solid-color ball ornaments inside a clear-glass vase and "serve" on a silver tray. Sprinkle faux snow (or coconut) over the display, and wrap it up with matching ribbon.

  • Label maker

    Charm party guests with customized drink markers. Simply draw characters—a friend, family member or pop culture icon, perhaps—with paint pens on each clothespin.

    Add facial and clothing details with a fine-point marker. Leave the clothespin legs unpainted to avoid paint touching the beverage. 


  • Festive winter mantel

    Ornament plain frames

    Make a basic white frame a pretty focal point by hanging an ornament from the hanger in back. For a pretty arrangement above a buffet or mantel, flank the framed ornament with framed holiday wrapping papers. To ensure a perfect fit, wrap the cardboard that comes with the frame.

  • Create a scene

    Make a charming winter scene inside a glass bowl using faux snow, spruce or fir spigs, and props such as artificial birds and a nest (from crafts stores), along with mini ornaments.

  • Christmas centerpiece ideas: silver candlesticks

    Make candlestick cones

    Top silver candlesticks with silvery painted pinecones for a glittering display. Group several on a tray, and add some blue or silver ornaments for even more impact.

    To paint pinecones, apply several thin coats of metallic silver spray paint.

  • Triple trees

    Bring a little winter wonderland to your house with this white window box. Create the look by placing three small faux Christmas trees in a metal trough planter and decorating the planter with snowflakes. Place on a wooden bench or other high surface to raise it off the ground or floor.

  • Hung with care

    For a dazzling effect, hang single-color ornaments tied with ribbon from a window near your table. 

    Improvise a tiered cakestand by placing an urn or vase upside down on a large plate and setting a smaller plate on the top.

  • Wrapped pillows

    Give rooms "gifts"

    Tie wide ribbons around solid-color pillows as if they're presents going under the tree. Place on chairs, sofas or beds for an instant spot of holiday color.

  • Advent art

    Advent art

    A homemade Advent calendar doubles as wall art. Containers filled with small trinkets hang with bakers twine from a birch branch. Include a few ornaments that can be moved to the tree when it's time.

  • Handmade holiday tassels

    String me along

    Handmade decorations afford a satisfying sense of creating your own style. To make tassels as shown, wrap yarn around an index card about 70 times. Snake a length of yarn between the card and the wrapped yarn, and tie it off. Slip the yarn off the cardboard and snip in half. Tie a second bit of yarn about 1 inch from the top to form a ball at the top. Idea by Illinois designer Jennifer Rizzo.

  • Evergreen boot decorations

    Bedeck worn-out boots

    Have a pair of boots you won't wear this winter? Dress them up with twigs, greens and ribbon for a welcoming display. To protect boots, line with plastic bags. Add weight with rocks to keep the boots from tipping. Insert twigs and small evergreen branches. Tie a bow around each boot, and drape an evergreen sprig down one side.

  • Holiday kitchen

    Holiday kitchen

    Michigan decorator Kelly Rinzema adds sweet festive touches to her sparkling white kitchen for the holidays: A wreath, copper cups with candy canes, a bowl full of red ornaments and a tea towel framed with stapled-together scrap wood.

  • Twig door decoration

    Tie twigs

    A bundle of brown twigs makes a great hanging decoration to put on a door or above a mantel. To secure, wrap a wide rubber band around twig ends. Tuck one branch of greens, such as eucalyptus, inside the rubber band for color. Cover the rubber band with a ribbon.

  • Red and green table setting

    Set an effortless table

    A set of kitchen canisters -- filled with crinkled newspaper, topped with moss and set amid scattered apples -- forms a simple centerpiece. Perched atop glasses, store-bought felt polka-dot ornaments with name tags attached act as place cards and make fun take-home favors for guests.

  • Christmas mantel decorating ideas

    Make organic art

    Switch out art in existing frames, or buy inexpensive shadow boxes and/or frames with mats. Cut new backgrounds out of burlap or colored paper, then use hot glue to mount twigs or varied evergreen sprigs for art naturally themed to the season.

  • Pretty perspective

    Dressing up the kitchen window makes kitchen duties happy during busy holidays. Hang strands of beads, berries or ornaments on hooks, then create a winterscape using greens and household items. (Don’t overlook the kids’ toy box for inspiration.) Tip: Small cypress pine topiaries are a steal—just $5 at the grocery store. Idea by Illinois designer Jennifer Rizzo, author of Creatively Christmas. 

  • Apple basket

    Display your favorites

    Turn a shallow basket or tray into a fun arrangement for your dining or coffee table. We arranged rows of feathery moss, smooth stones, green apples and spiky pinecones, but use what's easily available to you: other fruits or vegetables, ornaments or bits of nature.

  • Wooden chest

    Create an easy entry

    Clothespins hold holiday cards on burlap ribbon tacked to the back of a mirror frame. Old wood rice scoops act as vases for unusual arrangements of stones and cut evergreen branches. Display a cut tree in a basket. We wrapped its trunk with yarn for a spot of color.

  • Holiday bed decorations

    Do linen tricks

    Temporarily transform your bed. We layered holiday-theme hand towels on our headboard. Red-striped napkins and place mats work as "covers" for pillows. Attach with safety pins or basting stitches to remove later.

  • Air plant ornaments

    Air plant ornaments

    Air plants function as living ornaments. For a garland-like effect, spray-paint tree lights’ cords a bright hue (remove bulbs and stuff sockets with cotton).

  • Picture this

    Decorate your walls with this no-water Christmas tree. Make a tree by forming a large triangle from 16-gauge wire and cutting progressively smaller pieces and twisting the ends to create branches. Hang the tree from an old picture frame and attach a decorative bow if desired. Add ornaments using small S-hooks.

  • Second time around

    Maria Marcusse deftly uses old things in new ways. When a strand of vintage mercury glass garland broke, she hot-glued the beads to her vintage bottlebrush trees nested in mustard pots (teacups work, too). 

  • Holiday table

    Create a better buffet

    Who says lanterns have to hold candles? Filled with apples and cherries, ours "light up" this buffet with red-and-green holiday style. A red table scarf, cut from $1-a-yard burlap, amps up the color. (Pull threads to finish the edges with a fringe.) Our three "trees" are evergreen branches set in wet florist foam in clay pots. (We hid the foam tops with dried moss.) A vintage window stands in as a message board. We spelled out holiday sentiments with stick-on letters.

  • Eye candy

    Filled with peppermint candies, inexpensive glasses make quick centerpieces, decorations or party favors. Tie a coordinating ribbon around the stems for an added festive touch.

  • Small touches

    Small touches can have a big impact. Here, a miniature wreath of fresh greens looks lovely hanging from a display shelf, and a tiny present tucked among white tableware adds more charm.

  • Perfect pair

    A duo of potted lemon cypress trees get a quick dress-up with lengths of paper ribbon and Kraft paper secured with twine.

  • Holiday dress-up

    Sprigs of pine and berries dress up framed photos in the home's entry.

  • Beautify a birdbath

    Fresh greenery, a large red ball, red-painted pinecones and a bright bow look festive in this wintry scene.

  • Holiday terrarium

    Holiday terrarium

    Metallic balls and bottlebrush trees give subtle holiday touches to a countertop terrarium. For custom-colored bottlebrush trees, use fabric dye such as Rit or diluted stamping inks, which come in dozens of colors at crafts stores. Dip to dye.

  • Sideboard star

    Sideboard star

    Michigan decorator Kelly Rinzema updated her grandmother's sideboard with coats of red paint and topped it with a wooden container of fresh greens. She created the sign from scrap boards held together by trim pieces nailed to the back. White paint and a red stenciled message complete the festive scene.

  • Nonstop color

    Eye-catching amaryllis bulbs dipped in colored wax mark a new trend; look for them at garden centers or online. The coating restricts root growth so plants are shorter than average and live just one season, but serious advantages include a fresh presentation style and no need for water, sunlight, soil or the proverbial green thumb. Of course, the traditional method of growing bulbs in glass forcing vases continues to appeal with classic beauty and repeat seasons.

  • Decorative tree

    Put up trees

    A pint-size dwarf Alberta spruce gives a candle sconce new holiday style. Remove soil and bind the roots in damp cheesecloth to fit into the candle hole. Tie a holiday-hue ribbon at the base.

  • Christmas centerpiece ideas: paperwhites

    Pretty paperwhites

    Place paperwhites in a large compote or bowl. Cover the potting soil with mini ball ornaments in colors that coordinate with your holiday scheme.

  • Think small

    Holiday decorating doesn't have to be elaborate. This tiny natural arrangement in a clear bowl reinforces the season in a big way.

  • Acorn tree

    A coat of paint transforms acorns into tiny ornaments. Hang them from a branch with twine loops glued to the caps. The long serving tray, filled with more acorns and a bowl, visually balances the display. Adjust the colors of the paint to coordinate with your table linens.

  • Twig wreath

    Renew a wreath

    A basic twig wreath can be decorated differently every year. We tucked in faux berry branches, a burlap ribbon bow, live greens and a purchased turkey feather for a natural look.

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