Easy Ways to Spruce Up Your Home for the Holidays

holiday candles

image: Getty

You know the famous A Tale of Two Cities quote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”? It about sums up the holiday season in our book. Sure, family time is great and it’s nice to take the opportunity to reflect back while looking ahead to the forthcoming new year, but the holiday season also comes with an incredible amount of stress. From the credit card debt associated with holiday gift giving to fretting over what friends and family will think about our homes when hosting a soiree — there are plenty of things weighing on our minds. Not everything has to be an uphill battle, however, which is why we turned to Alexandra Hayden of Octave Studio Design + Planning to get some easy decorating tips to spruce up for the holidays.

Bring Some Scent

Many candle companies make gorgeous holiday candles; find one that has some evergreen undertones with dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg. Evergreens, pine, frankincense and myrrh are all scents that have incredible healing properties and can help with clarity and centering, which is very helpful as we make our way through holiday madness. Avoid candles that are overly sweet as they tend to become nauseating over time and offer no real benefits to your well-being.


Make a decorative bowl using pine cones, walnuts or pomegranates — or mix all three! Then buy a little nutcracker to stand next to it. If you’re a sugar lover, display a bowl of red and green jellybeans or blue and white ones. A crystal bowl with crystallized ginger is also always nice and smells fantastic. A small bed of holly branches covering an entry table is another easy option.

Change Up Your Florals

I love an unusual cut flower bouquet at the holiday table. Mix the unexpected like holly branches with some hot pink New Zealand peonies or place evergreen branches in a tall vase along with some long-stemmed Holland tulips. Irreverent mixes are a fun way to infuse your home with life.

Swap Out Your Neutrals

Change out your neutral throw blanket for some holiday ones — rich greens or reds, perhaps a plaid; colors that you crave in the winter — they can see you through the cold weather and are easy to switch up once spring hits.

Find the Unexpected Menorah

I’ve seen some beautiful menorahs that are really sculptural accessories to keep and display year-round.

Add a Rug

Add a rug to your living space if you don’t have one or, if you do, get one with a snugglier feel (e.g., one you can lie down on comfortably). The holidays and the cold weather tend to bring us indoors, so it’s important to create more intimate spaces to share with friends.

Get Kitsch

Get kitsch with your cocktail napkins — “Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle” was the winner last year for me.

Download or Create a Great Playlist

Make it eclectic; adventure into some indie bands, jazz, swing, classical…things you haven’t heard before!