Design 101: Holiday Prep

Once again, October has arrived! For many of us that means our thoughts turn to decorating for the holidays. This year it feels particularly appropriate to celebrate with classic favorites, but fear not; we’ve made sure to include several more contemporary options as well.

What item works for every holiday through the rest of the year? 
Candles. Whether you want to go with a traditional honeycomb beeswax, hand dipped tapers, or the extra safe flameless candles, there are dozens of ways to display them. Table top, in the windows, on wrought iron candelabras. Best of all, candles are non-perishable and take up very little space if you need to store them.
Pro Tip: If you do select a flameless candle, look for a unit that operates via remote or has a timer function. Ours stay lit for 5 hours then cycle off for the next 19.

Candles are nice, but what other lighting ideas should I consider?
While there is only so much space that can be dedicated to candles, string or rope lights can frame doors, windows, travel along the ceiling, or just about anywhere you’d like. Don’t forget that in addition to string lights and rope lights you can get net lights, strip lights, icicles, globes, spheres, and numerous other novelty shapes and styles.
Pro Tip: LED lights use much less power and give off significantly less heat than traditional bulbs. Not only does this save money, but they are much less likely to cause a fire hazard. 

Moving beyond candles and lights, wreaths are a well loved staple of holiday decor.
Often placed on doors and above mantles, we suggest traditional magnolia, boxwood, or cedar varieties. The choice of natural or artificial is deeply debated among our clientele, but we suggest looking into those that have been preserved in order to keep the peace. We like to think of it as both parties getting what they want.
Pro Tip:  Looking for a less traditional wreath option? Try looking at wreaths composed of either feathers or herbs. One of our vendors sells a killer Rosemary wreath, and who can resist one made of quail feathers for Thanksgiving?

Candles, check. Lights, check. Wreaths, check. Now onto garlands! 
You can festoon a mantle, you can adorn your cornice boards, but don’t neglect your banisters. And don’t worry about matching your wreath. It’s not necessary, and could be exceptionally difficult if your wreaths are studded with pomelos. We suggest looking into Dunhill Fir. Natural or artificial as suits your family.
Pro Tip: While you can certainly find many options for pre-lit, artificial garlands, do consider a natural garland. Wrapping a rope light is not difficult at all and may even yield a nicer final result. 

Lastly, nothing says holidays like a table full of our favorite foods. 
Our last suggestion is only indirectly for you. While you are out shopping for yourself, why not  pick up something extra for those who are not as fortunate this year. Food banks like the Haymarket Food Pantry and the Fauquier Food Bank play a vital role in helping our friends and neighbors to provide for their families.
Pro Tip:  Food banks are often inundated with generosity near the end of the year, perhaps this year we should get an early start on helping those in need.

Yaron Linett
About Yaron Linett 29 Articles
Yaron Linett is the principal designer of Formal Traditional, a full-service design firm located in Warrenton. To submit your interior design questions, drop him a note at or visit

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