Tips for Planning Your Holiday Decor

Use these tips for planning your holiday decor to make the season easy and stress-free. Included are ways to organize everything in advance, and the free “Home for the Holidays” printable planner. 

ornaments pillow red twine

This is not the post I was going to publish today. I’m a planner, and I rarely alter schedules, or do anything spur-of-the-moment. However, I felt like I needed to get this information out in a more timely manner than I originally intended, so here I am!

When it comes to planning your holiday decor, the most important thing to remember is that nothing is written in stone, and that changes can be made. The second most important thing to know is that starting early will make the job much easier. I do 95% of my shopping online, but I recently ventured out to my local TJMaxx and Hobby Lobby. In both places, Christmas was in full bloom! The selection was wonderful, and the stores were not crowded. I decided now was the time to get the ball rolling. 

Planning Your Holiday Decor

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So when I got home, I began to plan. Planning your holiday decor is easy if you follow these four simple steps.

Inventory Your Existing Christmas Decor

It’s important to know what you have, so no unnecessary purchases are made. Take the time to look through your existing Christmas decorations. Mine were such a mess that I was inspired to reorganize, and in the process, I weeded out items I no longer wanted. I now know what I have, and it’s all in good shape. 

Choose Your Theme or Color Scheme

I like to do this each holiday season, but it’s not actually necessary. My Christmas decor always includes red, but the other colors vary from year to year. Last year I added navy blue, and I loved it. This year I’m craving a calmer and less cluttered look, so I am using mostly neutrals, with small pops of red. Fresh and faux greenery will also be everywhere. By narrowing down the colors, it makes spreading out your decor among your rooms a simple task.

Make a List

You’ve done your inventory, and you know what color(s) you will be using, so it’s time to make a list. Now is the time to shop for ribbon, wrapping paper, and ornaments. Decide if you need a new front door wreath, or if you can reuse an existing one. Decide if you are going to put up outdoor decor, and what, if anything, you will need. I’m a sucker for Christmas accessories, so I always get something new each year. This year, I ordered these darling galvanized buildings. There are a few different houses, a church, and a barn. The plan is to use them around my tabletop trees, but like I said, plans can change!

Assemble Your Items

Designate a spot somewhere in your home where you can gather all your Christmas decor items. I had a large, plastic bin that was empty after I reorganized, so I’m using that. When shipped items arrive, I can unpackage them, and drop them in the bin. My other bins of Christmas decor are right next to it in the basement, so everything is in one spot. 

Benefits of Planning Your Holiday Decor Early

  • You will avoid the frustration of finding just the right thing, only to find out that it’s unavailable. Most sites and stores are well-stocked now, but that won’t be the case next month. True story: last year, my daughter and I were shopping the first weekend in November. She wanted a new Christmas tree, and had picked one out at Hobby Lobby. When we went to purchase it, it was sold out. So don’t wait!
  • You can take your time executing your plan. The beauty of planning ahead is that it gives you priceless peace of mind. Time is a Christmas gift you can give yourself. Avoid the stress of rushing around at the last minute, spread out the tasks, and enjoy the process.
  • You will have the freedom to decorate when you feel most comfortable. Some people like to get their decor up well before Thanksgiving, while others feel it’s important to wait until Thanksgiving is over. No matter when you decide to put your plan into action, you will be ready. 

sugared cranberries in crystal bowl

Sugared Cranberries

The Home for the Holidays Christmas Planner for 2020

Use this Christmas planner to keep everything in order. It’s been freshly updated for 2020, and it’s available in the Members Only Library to all my email subscribers. If you aren’t on my list, but would like to join, click {HERE.}

More Tips for Avoiding Holiday Stress

free printable christmas planner 2020 pin

On Sutton Place | Christmas 2020

I could not advise you on how to plan your holiday decor, if I didn’t actually do it myself. What follows are my ideas and plans for the coming holiday season.

  • The front porch: A door wreath made from fresh greenery, new pillows for the porch rockers, and a fresh doormat. I want to use small artificial evergreen trees in the planters, but I need to experiment with what I have. I also bought a vintage Flexible Flyer sled on eBay. I’m not exactly sure where it will end up, but I love it. Stay tuned!
  • The entry: simple faux greenery on the banister with lights and ivory bows.
  • The living room: new pillows for the arm chairs, small trees arranged with galvanized buildings on the dresser, greenery and pops of red on the shelves. I will also be reusing the red tartan plaid pillow covers from last year. They are sold out, but {HERE} is something very similar.
  • The dining room: a simple table runner with a centerpiece I’m working on for the November edition of 20 Minute Decorating.

I’m also planning a DIY felt ball garland tutorial, and a terra cotta pot craft. I loved the mod podge pots I made last spring, so I’m making more for Christmas. I’ll have both of these posts published in early November, so if you want to create your own, you will have plenty of time.

There will be brand new printable wall art and gift tags. I’ve had the most amazing graphics made exclusively for OSP subscribers, so you won’t find them anyplace else. Click {HERE} to subscribe so you don’t miss a thing!

christmas decor ideas pin


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Additional links: striped tree ornaments | striped ribbon | ivory ribbon | natural small tree ornaments | plaid ribbon is currently sold out online, but may be available at a Hobby Lobby store.

I hope this has inspired you to begin the process of planning your holiday decor. Because of COVID, Thanksgiving and Christmas may be very different for some of us, but we can’t let that stop us from creating a festive atmosphere in our homes. This year, more than ever, we need to celebrate what we have, and be thankful that we are here to celebrate. Until next time…

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  1. You said it well, Ann. For us, Christmas and Thanksgiving will be absolutely different, just the two of us, but with your amazing ideas AND encouragement, we can focus on the many aspects of the upcoming holidays that bring us JOY and appreciation. A few years ago I read an article that helped me (another planner) to plan for months ahead by a few simple efforts. Every year in January, I take inventory on Christmas supplies and decor: gift bags, wrapping paper, lights, napkins, etc. I write a note on the new year’s calendar in October, and include notes if I store the items in a different place or any changes, purchases, or plans I won’t remember. Also I’ve purchased red napkins or other decor or even clothing, (use them also on Valentine’s Day and patriotic events) and green napkins (also use them for St. Patricks Day). Every October I look for my notes, which might even include a list of gifts I’ve purchased from sales through the year. Thank you again. I feel so at home with your ideas and suggestions. God Bless!

  2. Wonderful suggestions. I am going to use them. Thank you for a great timely post.

  3. Since I work in retail… I’m always thinking about Christmas in late July/August when it starts rolling in and getting stored in top stock.
    Thank you for getting this post out 🌲. Like you, I am also trying to cull through and let some things go that I just don’t really use anymore
    Love your ideas!!

  4. Mary Meusburger says:

    These are all wonderful suggestions, Ann, and I use most of these ideas myself. May I add one of my own? Every year before I take down my seasonal decor, I take pictures of each room. I also take pictures of any items I find on clearance during sales after the holiday. This allows me to see, at any time, what I have and how I used it. It has saved me countless times from purchasing duplicate or similar items and gives me a jump start on how to decorate the following year. It also gives me a picture of what worked and what I would like to change.
    Thank you, as always, for all your posts. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your blog and appreciate all your efforts! You are amazing!

  5. Hi Ann!
    Every year I don’t think you can out do your decorating from last year BUT there you go again……’s all so beautiful! Love it!
    I subscribe with my email but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to download your planner.
    Can you give me some direction? Thanks SO much!
    Best , Meg

  6. Can you tell me what size and the quantity of the felt balls we will need for the garland project? I’d like to order now so I’m prepared. Thank you!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Christy! I’m not exactly sure about the quantities because I haven’t figured it all out yet. This is what I ordered: 200 balls in dusty white, 2.5 cm. | 20 dusty white felt stars, 3-4 cm. | 10 red with white dots balls, 2.5 cm. | 10 red with white swirls balls 2.5 cm. | 10 felt candy canes white with red swirl. That may be too many white balls, but I wanted to make sure I had enough!

  7. You’ve got me excited to get in gear ~ and this is early for me but you are so right, start early for a relaxed move into the season. Can’t wait for the felt garland post! Love your choices thus far.

  8. Jan Fusco says:

    I can’t wait to see your house all decorated for Christmas.
    For the trees in three sizes you have from Wayfair…do you put lights on them and if so do you put little twinkle lights or regular Christmas lights?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Jan! Yes, I put lights on them. Just regular mini white lights on a green cord. Thank you!

  9. Last year I bought a beautiful flocked tree to replace my 20 year old tree.I kept the tree neutral with a pop of red like you are planning with your tree.I also like to add one new piece of Christmas decor each year.I love your picks especially the tin houses and the garland.Thanks for sharing and enjoy decorating !!

  10. Anne Marie Gorman says:

    Despite the pandemic you are an inspiration for all of us. Be thankful that we are here to celebrate!

  11. Thank you for the updated Christmas planner. All of my belongings from my whole life are gone so I am starting over. Hopefully I will be in my own place so I will see. I don’t think I will get a tree this year. A 3 foot one is fine. I have many things I want to make which is what I enjoy the most. So it will be me, myself and I but that is ok as long as I can call my twin grandchildren to say gamma loves you so much. And in January I am going to get a puppy. I too am a planner and rarely change direction. I am excited to make decorations and gifts.