Tips for stress-free holiday decorating

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press •December 3, 2016

If you haven’t given your holiday decorating a thought, you aren’t alone!

Simple and elegant: garland with crystal ornaments draped over Frontgate’s Rosamund wall mirror. Photo: Frontgate.

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, I face the same dilemma as my clients. How much do I want to do this year and what is the best way to get it all done with the least amount of stress? And yes, it has to look fabulous! Especially that. And cheerful.

There’s no need to go over the top. Simple really is better when it comes to the holidays. I‘ve had years to practice that philosophy in my own home and in those of my clients. There are advantages to a more simple (but beautiful) decorating scheme. It’s prettier. There is less clutter. You can appreciate the quality of your decor rather than creating visual overload with too much. An added benefit: there is less to put away when the season is over. Love that.

Use your traditional favorites. But don’t be afraid to try something new.  Some of my favorite (simple and stress-free) decorating tips:


Have a plan.

Don’t head out the door without it. Come up with a color scheme and a specific (short) list. Stick to it.

Make an entrance! 

Add some bling with a celestial starburst tree topper. Beautiful on a tree, shelf, wall or mantel. Metal, hand painted with glitter and bead accents. Photo: Frontgate.

Start at the front door and take your door from drab to fab with a fresh pop of color!  Think greens, reds, turquoise (if you are bold). Remember, it is only paint, so don’t be afraid!  And don’t stop there! Take last year’s wreath and give it a makeover to complement the door.  Beautiful shells, branches, feathers, colorful ribbons or burlap will help you create a new wreath in no time. A huge impact with minimum expense and effort.

Use what you have! 

Don’t put everything away and transform your home into a winter wonderland.  Use what you have in your home as your stage.  If you have a piece of artwork that you love over a mantle or table, start there and add holiday decorations that compliment it. And don’t forget: what comes from nature works best!

Speed decorating.

No time. No problem! Wreath on the door. Poinsettias at the entry. White, candles in every window. Small tree with lots of white lights, add candy canes and wrap it in ribbon in your favorite color. Spread a few candles around the house. Wreath on the bathroom mirror. Fill a large glass with colorful glass balls. Done. Minimal and just enough. No stress.

Wallpaper the gifts.

Not literally but wallpaper in a color or theme is great for giftwrap. Presents look beautiful around the tree and the paper is easier and sturdier to work with when wrapping.

Edit your collections! 

Pick a color palette and stick with it for you holiday decorating. At Frontgate, select a theme and order ornaments, tree, greenery and wreath. Easy! Photo: Frontgate.

Don’t try to use everything that you have. Declutter your ornaments, snowmen and Santa’s.  Use sparingly and use what you love most.  Don’t hesitate to donate what you no longer use.  There is a fine line between classic holiday decorating and too much.

Table it for now! 

If your dining room table just sits there taking up space except for a couple of times a year, use it for a holiday tablescape.  Start with a pretty holiday runner and use candles of different heights and widths as your start. Fill it in with greenery, poinsettias, a few ornaments, small holiday trees or sea glass sprinkled throughout and you have a holiday tablescape. 

Small space?

No problem. If your space is small, don’t overdo it.  A small tabletop tree, a wreath and a few wrapped gifts will make any space festive! And when the holiday is over, you will not have as much to put away.

Seeing too much red? 

Feng Shui teaches us that there can be too much red or “fire” energy in our homes this time of year. It promotes burnout and who needs that over the holidays?  To prevent an imbalance, think about using more green than red.  Plants, and evergreens decorated with “cool” colors such as light blue, silver, white will tone down and balance out the red.

Trade secret: 

Designers like to use white lights and pick two colors for holiday decorating. Cool, calm and beautiful! It works. 

Reign in the Snowmen.

Don’t let your Santa (or snowman) collection scatter all over the house. Group your collections together on a beautiful tray make a much nicer presentation than having them in every room. Or arrange them on a bookcase for a “you must have hired a decorator look.”

Feather your nest! 

Change your tree by using your collectible ornaments but add colorful or white feathers for an updated, new look. They are available at any crafts store.

Add some bling! 

Jewel tones this season are the rage.  Crystals, metallics, and beaded ornaments will give your tree a little sparkle and will go with your existing ornaments or go for the glam use them for the entire tree. My favorite: hang ornaments from the chandeliers.

Voila! Your house is done. So light some candles. Hang the stockings. Watch “It’s A Wonderful Life.” And enjoy a beautiful holiday season. Stress-free.

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her column appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit