Reclaiming the Joy and Magic of Holiday Decorating

A simple way to “deck the halls” without anxiety or stress

By Daniel J. Moore

I have renewed appreciation for all mothers. Looking back I remember Mom shooing me out of the living room, and at times generally sounding impatient. Her actions often confused me as this was supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” My perception (at the time) was that she was robbing me of participating in one of the most fun and exciting events I could have imagined – the ritual of annual holiday decorating.

The irony is that now I’m in my 40s and all I think of when I think of decorating for the holidays is undecorating afterwards. There have been years when I was still removing greens in March. I’m not proud. Over the years I have definitely learned to be better at prioritizing. I distinctly remember one year (as the hours ticked by and the eminent holiday party approached) exclaiming, “NO MORE RIBBON!” Sometimes the best way to relieve some of the pressure is just to edit; to simplify.

When I received the opportunity to write this article all these thoughts went through my head. How do I express the joy of the holiday season and the excitement of decorating for it when at times it causes me so much anxiety and stress? I felt it would be noteworthy for me to describe a way of decorating that would allow you to get from October 1, all the way to New Year’s – three months guilt free with your home decorated for the right occasion. Here’s how…

Start with color. What does fall (including Halloween and Thanksgiving) and winter (including Christmas and New Year’s) have in common? Seasonal colors. I thought gold and bronze provided distinct accents instead of the typical brown, orange, yellow and red of fall. Plus gold was definitely an applicable color all the way through to Christmas and New Year’s. So first we hung dried Magnolia leaf wreaths with accents of gold, and placed bronze antler candelabras on the mantel… it was hunting season afterall. We then layered the garland, arrangements of silvered and gilded leaves and twigs, and accented with strategically placed woven vine balls, carved wooden pumpkins, antlers, and decorative pillows. The key fall element used to really anchor in the season was turkey feathers. Those feathers were tucked into the garland on the mantel and into various arrangements around the room, and most importantly they are easy to remove. Fall decor completed. Check.

Prepare for Christmas. Thanksgiving is now over and you’re tired of fighting a turkey hangover. You don’t have to start from scratch – move decor into the Christmas holiday festivities almost effortlessly. We merely removed all of the turkey feathers from Thanksgiving, and anything that was fall focused, and swapped out the pillows and added a complimentary tablecloth. Then we replaced the woven balls on the mantle with actual glass balls – in metallic colors. To complement the metallics we added ribbons to the wreaths, again utilizing hues of golds and bronzes. We found a gorgeous, almost iridescent, taffeta ribbon that shimmered with orange, ruby red and bronze which really elevated the esthetic and added an element of sophistication. We also incorporated plenty of evergreens in our decor; we tucked them in around lamp bases and in between additional items such as the hand-carved wooden Christmas trees and glittered reindeer. Christmas decor completed. Check.

Turn Christmas into New Year’s decor. (Not pictured) The transition into New Year’s was simple –  we removed any overtly Christmas oriented items – the Christmas trees, reindeer, evergreens – and added a few additional metallic balls, and some candles. The point again is you don’t have to undo your decor completely; transition from Christmas into New Year’s just as we transitioned from fall into winter.

I have to admit when we implemented this decorating method, I actually found myself with a smile on my face, my shoulders dropped away from my ears, and I breathed a little easier… and maybe, just maybe, I reacquainted myself with the holiday spirit and excitement that had begun to fade so many years ago. Thanks Mom for always making Christmas such a magical time of year and for doing such a good job of hiding just how stressful it can be.

Wishing you all the joy and excitement (of a five-year-old) this holiday season.

About the Author:

Daniel J. Moore moved his design business (established in 2007) from New York in 2011 and is co-owner of 8393 West Main in Marshall, VA, which houses Daniel J Moore – Domestic Aspirations, and two co-owned businesses: The Drawing Room – Events and The Rooms Up There – Uncommon Accommodations. If you would like more information please visit the website ( or send an email to

All photos were taken in the room called the Commons located at The Rooms Up There and were photographed by Tara Jelenic Photography.


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