It’s coming, I can feel it beginning to loom over the horizon… the yearly yuletide extravaganza that is Christmas is almost upon us and we all need to begin thinking about what presents to buy, what food to cook, which relatives to see and, of course, whether we are going down the tacky decorations route this year.
I have to admit that I get a strange vicarious sense of pleasure out of seeing the peculiarly intense efforts that some people go to, although there is no way I could do my own home up like these people do.
I am not only talking about crazy lights on the outside of houses here either, some people are actually able to live their day to day lives with a house rammed to the rafters with as many leering Santas, gaudy tinsels and dazzling lights as it’s physically possible to fit inside.
So how do those of us who want something a little more refined, low key and (dare I say it) less tacky go about getting our houses in the festive mood? Well first we have to know what it is we are trying to avoid.
The Central Tenants of a Tacky Christmas
If we are trying to distinguish ourselves and our homes from some of the more outrageous decorations that our brothers and sisters feel the need to assault our eyes with, you should be trying your hardest to resist the pull of the following:
- The idea that bigger or brighter is most definitely better
- That you always need to mix 3 or 4 colours together to make an arrangement noticeable
- Making sure that your light displays blink and flash in a seemingly out of sequence and chaotic fashion
- Figurines. Lots and lots of them, both inside and out
- An abundance of the holy trinity of modern Christmas: Santa, Rudolph and a snowman
- A preference for obviously synthetic, rather than natural and rustic, fabrics and materials
So if this is what we are avoiding, what are we looking for?
Some Great Ideas for Non-Tacky Decoration
The main thing to remember is that Christmas is not really about how much stuff you buy but more about a celebration of togetherness within the sparse and spectral beauty of winter. Accordingly, you can create really interesting and arresting decorations for relatively little money.
Here are some great ideas:
- Keep in mind that a carefully selected and complimentary ‘less’ is definitely better then a crammed together and clashing ‘more’ – especially when it comes to decorating your tree
- The above point is especially important when it comes to hanging things on your walls; it is always better to group one or two complimentary things to gather then try and fit everything you own up there
- Focus on one part of a space (e.g. a fireplace or a corner of a room where you’ve placed your tree) and make that festive only, as that way it will be much more striking yet far less intrusive
- Lights are integral to any Christmas decoration, but this doesn’t mean you have to go crazy. Why not hang some lanterns outside and inside to cast a warm, inviting and subtle light over your home in the evening?
- Making your own wreath out of some vines, holly, pinecones and other things that remind you of the holiday season
- A festive scent can go a long way in making us feel in the holiday spirit so make sure you stock up on scented candles!
If you know what to avoid but also what stylistic goals (space and restraint) you are aiming for, you can create a truly distinctive set of Christmas decorations that neither kneels unquestioningly before the temple of tack or denies altogether that Christmas is a time for decoration and celebration.
Has anyone else got any tips or secrets for a tasteful and non-tacky Christmas that doesn’t cost the world?
Estelle Page is an interior designer and a mother who remembers very clearly being led around the neighbourhood by her own mother to look at the flashing lights and plastic figurines. Maybe it was these formative experiences that led to her love of design, especially kitchen design, which balances aesthetics and functionality. Estelle currently blogs for KDCUK.