Column: Festive Decorating Tips from the Experts at McArdle’s


By James McArdle
Business Contributor

Setting the Table

One of the easiest ways to bring some festive cheer to your family and friends is by setting a beautiful holiday table.

While the classic large centerpiece flanked by elegant tapers will never go out of style, we are seeing a lot of creativity in setting the table. Tablescapes are a way to decorate the entire table, instead of just the center. We’re seeing a lot of smart hostesses swapping one large centerpiece for multiple arrangements placed down the center of the dining table. Use decorative accents like mini-pumpkins, pinecones, berries, magnolia leaves, fir branches and other seasonal embellishments to create a cohesive look.

Collections of candle light in varied styles is still relevant—combine pillars, tapers and votive candles for dramatic effect. Expanding the décor to individual place settings really enhances the entire design. For instance, include a sprig of herbs on a napkin treatment, or use a magnolia leaf as a place card. The smaller table floral arrangements can be sent home with the dinner guests as delightful way to remember the evening and keep the Christmas or New Year’s Eve spirit alive.

Decorating your Home

This year the trend is BOLD! Welcome family and friends with a dramatic display outside your house. Consider flanking the front door with tall birch poles or branches embellished with seasonal evergreens, grapevine, berries and cones. 

Fresh garland adds an elegant appeal with a delightful seasonal scent. This canvas allows you to remain natural in style or keep building by adding adornments for a more classic look. Layering in various ribbons in multiple fabrics, patterns and styles is helpful in creating a designer look.  Be sure to add a wreath to your front door. In addition to the classic look, McArdle’s Florist and Garden Center can create a custom wreath for you.

If you have planters on your walkway, or steps at your front door, fill them with the scents and textures of the season—from evergreens and berries to birch branches and pine cones. Maches are an easy way to update as they are lightweight and designed to sit inside your existing pot. We can also custom design and plant your container at our store, or our At Home team can come to you.

Decorating the Tree

Just as tablescapes are edging out traditional single centerpieces, so multiple trees are replacing the solitary tree. We love seeing families purchase a tree for the living room, and also smaller “kids trees” for bedrooms or playrooms, and tabletop trees that adorn kitchens, playroom, hallways and more.

Decorating the trees is more fun than ever. Our designers are seeing mixed metallic ornamentation everywhere, and these make a stunning impact on a tree. Gold, champagne, bronze and silver are mixed and mingled and sprinkled with glitter with a very dramatic effect.

The preppy and “rustic lodge” look is also popular, featuring reds, golds and browns paired with natural textures like fur and felt. Speaking of natural textures, “Natural Christmas” is also very popular this year. Nature-lovers are delighted with the emphasis on birds, nests, branches and lovely florals in decorated trees. We suggest adding ornaments of celadon, copper and rose-gold as an accent.

Red and white is popular again this year. Nordic graphic elements are paired with silver and gray, and are especially pretty on flocked trees. Again, with the trend toward multiple trees, there is no need to choose one theme. 

We are also seeing a new interest in terrariums for the holiday season. Glass dome ornaments filled with tiny animals (reindeer!), houses, feathers and plants are very popular. Succulents, either in the terrarium ornaments or on their own, are a delightful new statement in decorating this season. Larger terrariums can be placed throughout the home, and given a seasonal flair with berries, evergreens, ribbons and glitter. 

Remember, the tree itself is the foundation for the decorations, so choose wisely.  McArdle’s carries Fraser fir trees, known for their gorgeous color, upturned full branches, excellent needle retention and pleasant fragrance. And, because a tree is only as stable as its stand, don’t skimp on this. McArdle’s makes it easy—we’ll deliver the tree to your home, make a fresh cut onsite, install the stand, carry the tree into your house and set it just where you want it.

Remember, decorating is about creating a festive and welcoming ambience, and should reflect your personal style and taste. From the simple wreath to an elaborate holiday makeover, choose things you love, and enjoy the process. Or let the McArdle’s At Home team create a holiday haven for you and simply relax and luxuriate in your holiday home.

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