Decking the Halls

Today’s guest is Jessica Nixon of Jessica Nixon Interior Design, the company she founded in 1994. Jessica is a registered American Society of Interior Designers member and has earned the National Council for Interior Design Qualification certification. In addition to her tenure as president of Austin’s ASID, she has held past positions with the association including Programs Chairman and Design Excellence Chairman. Visit her website at

To create a beautiful sophisticated Christmas tree here are some helpful hints:

1. There is no better way to exude elegance than the use of white lights.

2. To make the white light even more angelic try purchasing some white tulle (wedding netting). Cut into 1 yard pieces, scrunch together, and fill in any empty spaces between the tips of the branch and the trunk with the tulle. This not only helps the tree look fuller but gives an extra twinkle. It also looks great if you wrap the base of the tree with the tulle. Tulle comes in many different colors another sophisticated color to use would be silver or gold.

3. Many pre-made tree skirts barely cover the tree stand. One method to make it look fuller is to purchase two to three yards of a beautiful fabric from the fabric store. Just wrap around the base of the tree, fold under any exposed rough edges, and puff and scrunch until it gives the soft, billowy look. This is a custom, no-sew tree skirt for less.

4. As for tree topper, what I think always look beautiful is a glass finial. If budget is an issue, you can do a bow on top of the tree. For the bow, I always say “bigger is better.” If you cannot make bows, you can go down to your local crafts store or florist shop, and they can make them for you out of the ribbon you chose for a small fee. Also, I recommend having streams of the same ribbon that cascade down the tree. All you have to do is cut the ribbon that will be showing at an angle to have clean finished edge.

5. If you want a sophisticated look and you have children, my suggestion is to have a separate tree for the kids to put their collection of ornaments on in the family room or even play room. That way you do not have to Mickey Mouse on your formal tree. My friend has a mini tree in each of her boys’ room, and they have fun picking their favorite ornaments to go on their own mini tree.

6. If you can not get around having only one tree, make it over the top! One way to achieve this is to use a fun, hip-colored garland. Another way is to choose a tree skirt that has a lot of color. You could also try the same no-sew method tree skirt here again, but make the color something that is bright and festive. A patchwork skirt or even a patchwork quilt could be a very unique tree skirt. And lastly, do everything multi-colored. Instead of using one color of ornaments, use red, purple, blue, and green and definitely go with multi-colored lights. By using all these elements together you can create a tree that is whimsical and fun for everyone.

To follow up our last article we are now going to be discussing centerpieces, wreaths, and swags – not just for Christmas, but also for Thanksgiving.

1. People tend to go overboard with buying table decorations. Follow the old saying “less is more.”

2. Try using natural decorations to create a warm and inviting harvest table. Incorporate pumpkins and gourds down the middle of the table on a natural colored runner and scatter fall colors leaves in between. You can also cut the top off and hollow the pumpkins and gourds out and create a candle holder. To create a unique floral arrangement, get a larger-sized pumpkin and insert a vase or container with fresh flowers in it.

3. To dress your table for an elegant Christmas dinner you can gather various height candle stick holders and place ball ornaments on each to create a pedestal to display the ornament. If you are using holiday china, choose a color from the pattern and use that color for the balls.

4. For a natural holiday centerpiece, get a large glass bowl style vase and fill it with water and cranberries – enough to cover the stems and add fresh flowers.

5. Another table centerpiece for Christmas that will work on into the New Year uses huge pillar candles all in one color. Add magnolia leaves or iridescent fake snow around the candles and voila! You have your table decoration! By using one color or candles or balls it keeps from detracting from the food being that will be served or china that is on display.

6. In our first article, we talked about scrunching fabric around the base of the tree for a custom tree skirt. In the same way, fabric can be used as a table runner for any of these centerpiece ideas. Just turn under any unsightly edges.

7. If at all possible, use fresh or natural wreaths materials. This requires less dressing up and then you can place in compost at the end of the season. For an autumn themed wreath, use a natural material such as grapevine or wheat and simply add a pretty bow to it. This look is elegant and not over done. If you want to dress it up just a tad more, you could also add pheasant feathers on each side of the bow to make the wreath a little more three dimensional.

8. For the Christmas wreath, use a fresh pine wreath to which you can add magnolia leaves. You can spray paint the leaves gold to add some pop.

9. If you feel that a faux wreath is better suited for your needs my suggestion is to add sprays of different species of pine to give a little more character to the wreath. Also make sure that the size of wreath is in proportion with the size of area you are placing it. (If you have a large front door you wouldn’t want a 9 inch wreath.)

10. There are many places you can use swags or garlands. The most obvious places are on the mantel or stairs to adorn on your stair rail; however, you can also use them draped around your front door or inside your house, atop each window in the family room or kitchen. In any situation if you are using fresh or fake you can dress the swags by adding bows at the place of attachment.

11. Hang glass colored balls on the garland that coordinate with the area of your home, or use all gold or all silver balls to coordinate in almost any setting.

12. Finally, if you are using the garland on the exterior of your home, try to coordinate with the hardware and accessories that are near it. For instance, if it hangs near a brass door knob, use gold ornaments.

By: Jessica Nixon

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