5 Decorating Tips for Fierce Holiday Mojo


Holiday Decorating Tips

What if your holiday decorating could be as pretty as the pros?

What if you could do it without creative talent?

Any of us can scour Pinterest and find enough DIY holiday decorating ideas to fill every hour through New Year’s, and break the bank while at it. But what if you could easily make your decorations memorable? Impactful? Even do it with some of your own stuff? I’m going to tell you how.

Through my years of interior design I’ve learned the best decorating tricks aren’t always done with decorations. A little magic mojo (translated: ingenuity) can go a long way. I share five of my magic tricks below, and no matter how lavishly you decorate your holiday mantel these techniques will add some serious design mojo. Are you ready to decorate?


FIRST: Make a scent-sation with enticing smells.

I may have stolen this decorating trick from my Grandmother, the concept is simple: a room that smells amazing looks amazing. My Grandma smelled great! And so did her home. I didn’t know it then, but the nose-and-eye combination every Thanksgiving and Christmas scent-cemented a perfect image into my childhood memory: Grandma’s house was the most beautiful place on earth.

Infuse your holiday decorating with wonderful scents. Heat a wax melter, burn a scented candle or try my favorite trick: a stovetop pan of warmed apple cider with a brew of additives for the season. Add in canned pumpkin and pie spices for fall; orange slices, cranberries and cinnamon sticks in December.   If your house smells awesome, the decorations look awesome.


SECOND: Tune the room with inspiring music.

We use this technique in our house for more than just decorating. The constant buzz of great music is an inspiring setting for life! Jazz for grumpy homework-doers, Classical for designing, Dance Pop for kickin’ sweaty workouts. And if you visit our house you’ll discover that Jack Johnson Pandora Radio is great for dinner parties.

Set the foundation for your holiday decorating with hand-picked tunes. Make a custom station on Spotify, build an iTunes playlist or flip on a holiday radio station. Any decorations, whether sparse or luxurious, look better with a backdrop of music.


THIRD: Pull heart strings with thought provoking hangings.

We have this cute chalk board near our front door that says things like “Welcome so and so” when a person comes to visit.   At other times it displays a list of summer characteristics, scribbles a favorite poem or fills with fall leaves and holly berries depending on the time of year. Our simple chalk board is encountered by every threshold-crosser and has inspired more happiness than I can count. I love this!

Purposely create emotional interaction between your guests and the decorations in your home. Hang photocopied family photos (or your friends’ photo-cards) as ornaments on your tree. Use written plaques that speak inspiration like “Ever Thankful” or “Peace on Earth.” Hang a mirror in the midst of your family photo wall so a passer-by sees themselves included. Leave a holiday-themed journal hanging around for guests to pen their thoughts or read from others. And don’t forget to steal our family’s chalk board idea! Your house-goers will will think you are a holiday decorating genius.


FOURTH: Cheat with treats!

So this trick is under-handed, I admit. But who doesn’t love a holiday handful? Pre-wrapped, gorgeously themed treats. Adorable! Edible beauties will practically beg your household (and yourself) to eat them. Case in point: the afore-mentioned Grandmother who’s side tables sported such gorgeous cut-crystal bowls of beautiful candies we’d hover over them like they were the only presents in the house.

Grab a handful of pretty candies and fill anything fun: boxes, tin cans, pitchers and vases. Check your once-a-year dishes, catch-alls and decorator chotchkies for any interesting containers. If you rock at thrifting, peruse the glass aisle at your local antique or charity store for unique glass bowls. Placed in strategic locations, pre-wrapped candies act like little edible beauties who’s only job is to sweeten your decorating deal. Your family and friends will keep coming back.


FIFTH: Use the hands-on approach with DIY take-home guest crafts.

I discovered this idea at our kid’s birthdays, their party-guests always loved making something to take home. This has also proven great for adult parties since grownups are kids too, they just happen to be grown up. Why not inspire the inner child?

Offer a holiday craft in a basket on the coffee table. Or kitchen island or wherever you hang out. (Bonus: cute basket = cute centerpiece!) Be sure it’s an easy craft and that all tools and supplies are available in the basket. Popcorn garland, fabric-and-pin styrofoam ornaments or hand-makable Christmas cards are a few examples of easy and fun DIY’s. This trick’s reward is huge: your friends and family will take a piece of your decorating home with them, and the memory that goes with it.

Ready to decorate like the pros?

Rev up that Mojo and get started!

These tricks head you in the right direction and we want to hear about it. If you’ve used the strategies in this article (or devised your own) please comment below and tell us how. Happy decorating!

Diane Luna

Diane Luna has been active in the interior design field since 1989, when her exciting career began as assistant to upscale Interior Designer Marsha Broderick in Los Angeles. Working beside Marsha for six years, with celebrity clients and luxury construction projects, Diane gained valuable field experience any "newbie" would dream of. Continuing on to assist other designers in the Los Angeles area, Diane then relocated to San Diego where she spent a few years in the model home industry learning the tricks of the model home trade. Freelancing for the past 10 years, Diane continues to accept both residential and commercial design consulting projects.

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