By Kim Dudgeon and Ben Lee, 

The Milam House,

For 14 years, we’ve been decorating the Milam House for the holidays. It’s a labor of love that begins every January with planning and purchasing the decorating themes we choose for our customers. As the year rolls on and the seasons change, we know by the first of November, a mound of boxes will arrive so we can begin our Christmas decorating for our annual open house during the Candlelight Tradition. Even for us, it can be a little stressful, trying to outdo ourselves each year. But, we are always rewarded if we stick to the basics and work with these concepts in mind.

Stay in the home’s color scheme: Traditional red and green look wonderful during the holidays, but other colors can be just as festive. Use shades of colors that complement the home, and opt for metallics and glitter to give it that extra sparkle. Add ornaments, ribbon, and holiday accessories to enhance your home’s décor. The idea is to create a natural flow from room to room, which makes the process easier and less expensive.

Layer greenery for texture: Front doors, mantels, and trees are the focal points of your decorating. Layer them with greenery, incorporating branches, pine cones and berry clusters. Try intertwining different types of garland to create texture and interest before adding ribbon and ornaments. After the holidays, the ribbon and ornaments can be removed and the greenery can remain through the remainder of winter.

Add flowers and plants: Centerpieces of evergreen clippings, seasonal fresh flowers, branches, berries and other natural materials not only make a statement but transition the outdoors to the inside. For an added bonus, consider flowering plants like the variegated amaryllis, Christmas cactus, paperwhites and orchids. Poinsettias work best in areas where you can bunch them together in mounds for a show of color or stagger them on a decorated staircase.

Soften the lighting. Forget the overhead lights this time of year. It’s all about the magic, and lamps, candlelight and string lights are the way to go. Start with the tree and nestle the lights by working the strands in and out so that there is depth, allowing the ornaments to shine from all directions. Add string lights or candles to garland on mantels. Use glass containers of ornaments and mini battery-operated lights on tables throughout the house. It’s important to strategically place light throughout the room to add warmth and a beautiful glow.

And last, and most importantly…

Personalize the holiday: Incorporate new decorations with ones you’ve treasured for years. Many times they remind us of people, places or occasions. Consider adding photos and memorabilia of lost loved ones and other items that represent hobbies and interests. Take a walk with family and forage for branches, pine cones and nature’s other gifts to make ornaments and garland. It’s important to surround ourselves with thoughtful, meaningful pieces to create an environment that is both personal and inviting. Let your home tell your story.