There is no question that this holiday season looks very different than seasons past. What is supposed to be the happiest time of the year is fraught with a second surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a divisive presidential election. Financial and emotional hardships are plaguing many, but if the challenges of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s the importance of family and friendships.
This is where Benjamin Bradley, aka Mr. Christmas, a veteran in the interior design industry, comes in to help us save the holiday spirit with his new four-part Netflix
reality series Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas. Starting on November 18, you can kick off the holiday season right and get step-by-step DIY tips to help you transform your home for the holidays. With so much time spent at home these days, why not learn to decorate your space like an expert?
The tools of his trade include lights, garlands, a lot of pinecones and enough tinsel to blanket the North Pole. The viewer will gain ideas as he and his team of elves work around-the-clock to bring holiday cheer at a time many can really use it.
“This holiday season looks very, very different for people,” Bradley said in a recent phone interview. “We filmed the show pre-pandemic last Christmas and realize this year, people are really suffering emotionally and financially. Many have asked me what they should do this year and they’re questioning what the point is in decorating and having a Christmas tree if family isn’t coming over to celebrate the holidays. I feel Christmas trees are the scrapbooks of our lives. I’m going to be pulling it all out this year because this is a way for me to have those loved ones close to me even though I may not be with them in person.”
Here are 10 tips to help you decorate your home:
1. No Pressure: This year do what feels right for you. This has been an unusual and difficult year for all of us. If going all out is what lifts the spirits, go for it! Be the neighborhood beacon. If a candle and a simple wreath are reflective of how you feel this year, enjoy the simplicity of that statement. This year is the year to let go of the pressure of the holidays and really connect with what Christmas means to you. I know for myself, this year I am going to begin a bit later and let Christmas come to me slowly.
2. Change Things Up: Different year, different thoughts! Holiday décor doesn’t always have to live in traditional places. Is the tree always in the living room? Move it into the dining room or den. Do you always have multi-colored lights? You can swap out with clear. Traditionally, stockings are hung on the fireplace mantle. Try hanging these on the staircase railing this year instead.
3. Decorate The Kitchen: Many people overlook the kitchen but it’s where we spend the most time over the holidays. To avoid taking up valuable counter space, place a garland around a window, fill bowls on the island with oranges and spices and decorate your hanging light fixtures. If you have a large kitchen, put the tree in the kitchen. We all spend so much time in this room either cooking, baking, wrapping or crafting, why not dress it up to reflect the season? Use cookie cutters, cookies, rolling pins, cinnamon sticks, etc. Think sugar and spice and everything nice.
4. Ornaments Are Key: Select your favorite ornaments and highlight them on an evergreen garland. You can place the garland on the mantel, over a doorway or above a bookcase. Add lights, ribbon and pinecones and you have created a display space to enjoy those ornaments that have the most meaning to you.
5. The Magic Of Candles: Never forget the power of candlelight to create a holiday mood. You can mix battery-operated candles, which are wonderful in places where real candles would be a fire hazard, with real candles. I like to place battery-operated candles in votive holders to further the illusion of reality. Real candles can be used on dining room tables, mantles and such to further the illusion that the battery-operated candles are real. Enjoy a holiday dinner by candlelight. The magic it emits will be memorable, guaranteed!
6. Create A Unique Tree Stand: Use the kids’ toy box as a tree stand. Just place the tree, real or a permanent lifelike, in the toy box and fill in the extra space with stuffed animals. Then place their favorite toys among the branches along with colorful lights. You can also use this as an advent tree of sorts and each day of December, tuck a small gift or new toy within the branches for the child to find. This is a great way to count down the days until Christmas!
7. Set A Beautiful Table: Be sure to personalize your holiday table. Start with a charger plate, which is typically decorative and adds a nice layer. Follow this with a holiday-themed dinner plate and top that off with a holiday-inspired salad plate. Instead of a napkin ring, you can simply tuck a holiday themed napkin under the dinner plate and just let it fall over slightly. I like to use variations of napkins, as well. I also like to add a small gift, such as a candy cane on top for each setting. Then, I add water and wine glasses and flatware. You work so hard on the dinner that it might as well be supported by a really beautiful table setting. Pick a theme, pick a holiday and run with it. Tablecloths can also be swapped out for other options, such as confetti.
8. The Charm Of The Christmas Card: It’s a great time to return to the old-fashioned tradition of sending handwritten cards. This year has made me long for the connection that is not present and so I am going to make and send Christmas cards. Craft stores are filled with blank stationery and all sorts of small items that can be glued on to create fun holiday images, including family photos. Add a bow or a sprig of artificial greenery and it becomes all that more special.
9. Create A Winter Wonderland: This can be done by adding a few evergreen branches and some pinecones to your existing mantel, tabletops and windowsills. Decorate the tree with white lights and pinecones and sprinkle plastic snow liberally on all! It will look like Jack Frost paid a visit and the prep time is nil. The clean-up might be a bit more but you won’t have to dust the entire month of December!
10. Don’t Forget The Exterior: Make a simple exterior statement. The old-fashioned spotlight does the trick. A simple evergreen wreath on your front door with a red bow, highlighted with a spotlight says Christmas better than anything. My grandparents had a large holly tree in their front yard. They would put a large red bow at the top and place a spotlight on it and this created an instant and easy Christmas!
Tune in to get more ideas for a variety of homemade ornaments, unique ways to personalize your tree, tips on making the exterior of your home unforgettable and Mr. Christmas will teach you how to make his intoxicating stovetop potpourri.