'Twas the night before Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Thanksgiving), and all through the house ... not a single decoration was hung, not even that one from Rouses.
Sound familiar? The holidays often are a blur of cooking, entertaining, shopping and attending parties. Especially in New Orleans, where the holidays don't end until after Mardi Gras, hosts and hostesses scramble to create a festive ambience in their own homes. With tips and expert help from designers, however, it's possible to navigate holiday decor without becoming overwhelmed.
When it comes to trimming the tree, Sally Carriere of Perino's Home & Garden Center has some tips.
"There's a lot of great quick fixes, but I do think lights are important," Carriere says. "You can stick colored balloons in the tree, bows, apples, candy canes, even bunches of baby's breath. [I use] whatever I can find in bulk. You can do lots of things with trees that don't involve intricate glass ornaments and such."
Enlist the pros
Local businesses can help. Razzle Dazzle offers design services and in-home decoration installation. The store's staff chooses from its inventory of adornments for Christmas, Hanukkah, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day and more, and delivers and decorates for clients. Faux trees, garlands, wreaths and window treatments all can be customized.
Consider it Done in NOLA is a lifestyle services company that offers everything from decorating help to running errands. Co-owners Ashley Nolan and Mary Beth Touzet buy holiday embellishments from local stores or decorate with existing ornaments, help clients plan holiday soirees and go to the post office to mail the invitations.
"We're both moms, we both work, and we understand what it means when a client calls and says, 'Help!'" Nolan says. "We are here to help you de-stress and actually enjoy the holidays and life in general."
Nolan urges her clients to reuse as many decorations from year to year as possible. It creates tradition, and the cost of a bin for storing decorations is cheaper than replacing them all annually.
Make decor do double-duty
Transitional decorations that can be repurposed for the next holiday are especially efficient. K. Hayes, designer and manager of RD Home, suggests using pieces that can be swapped out easily. For example, a green wreath with blue ribbon for Hanukkah can be trimmed with purple and gold for Mardi Gras. A matching door hanger ties the look together. To add instant flair to exteriors, choose planters with seasonal greenery like poinsettias, or line pathways and steps with miniature evergreens.
"The easiest thing is just to add little accents — a table piece, an easy garland over the mantel, finials around the house — little tabletop things that make the house look more inviting," Hayes says. "Tabletop trees can be redecorated for Mardi Gras or for St. Patrick's Day by swapping out color, and throw pillows with seasonal details make a room more festive."
Add candles and flowers for transition
"Arrangements in fall colors — orange, off-white, burnt umber, a few sprigs of eucalyptus — those work well for fall and can transition into Christmas with a little touch of burgundy or red-orange," Hayes says. "Candles can really make a difference on a console table. Gold candleholders can carry you through pretty much all of the seasons. Green also can be transitioned into many major holidays."
Look to nature for inspiration
"With decorations, the simpler the better," Nolan says. "Fresh fruit like oranges and lemons, [or] small pumpkins bring nature into your holiday decorating. Big green leaves can be inserted into natural arrangements to add [texture], or you can head to the park and grab some moss out of the trees. You don't need to spend a lot of money — nature provides so much."
Harold's Plants and Perino's Home & Garden Center make getting greenery easy. Harold's Plants offers plant rentals for special events. Starting in late November, both stores offer holiday tree delivery.