As a working mother with a busy schedule and full household, Lauren Clement is an expert at making the most of her time and energy. Her secret? Keep it simple, and create impactful moments that make a strong visual impression with the least amount of stress. We asked her to share her best ideas for making any space stylishly – but practically – festive. “Christmas comes and goes quickly,” she says. “Make it magical!”
Here, her top 10 tips for family-friendly holiday decorating:
1. Start early!
Clement always starts decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving. “We love doing a Christmas countdown,” she explains of her need to start before December 1st. “That’s tough to do if the house doesn’t look and feel like Christmas. It also helps motivate me to check off my holiday to-do list sooner.”
2. Pick a theme.
Clement recommends starting with a color story to set the tone. She sticks to pops of red and metallic throughout her house, but acknowledges “You can have different color stories in different rooms as long as they work together.” Try to keep the elements within each room cohesive. Mixing too many styles or going overboard on any element can overwhelm a room. “It is possible to have too much of a good thing!”
3. Involve the kids.
As a decorator, Clements won’t hand over complete creative control to her children. But she does believe in having them participate. “My daughters’ favorite activity is decorating the tree. Every ornament that comes out of the box evokes a memory and a story. It’s pure family time.” How to share the joy without compromising the trimming? “Give them specific options about where things can go. Let them organize and sort the decorations. And let them pick the music. That way you’re not up all night re-arranging the ornaments!”
4. But keep the animals out.
Clements makes sure to keep all ornaments, décor and low-hanging branches out of immediate reach of babies and pets. “Several years ago our cat got into the Christmas tree. Not only did we lose many ornaments, but she also took the whole tree down! Now I use wooden tree boxes to raise and protect,” she explains.
5. Go big.
Clements recommends getting a bigger wreath and tree than you think necessary. “Most people could stand to go 20% bigger,” she advises. The same is true for other décor. “When it comes to Christmas, bigger is usually better. If you have the room to go up or out with your mantel décor or table centerpiece, use it! Just be sure to stay in proportion.”
6. Consider two trees.
In many rooms, one large fat tree doesn’t work. Whether it’s too bulky or throws the room off-balance, the traditional wide-bottomed conical isn’t always the best choice. For those spaces, Clement recommends two skinny trees. “I love the symmetry of a matching pair and you can see all the ornaments better.”
7. Be unconventional.
Look beyond your mantel when considering where to place your decorations. Clement takes advantage of unexpected surfaces like end tables, bookshelves, and barstools to accentuate the mood. She’s also a fan of incorporating personal elements that mix well with more traditional holiday elements. “I love using cotton. I’m a farm girl at heart and this simple, natural touch makes me happy when combined with evergreen sprigs and red berry sticks.”
8. Maximize one idea.
One of Clement’s go-to decorating elements is ornaments. “There’s such variety of shape, texture, color, and style that it’s easy to use them in different ways in every space. You can use the same pieces from year to year in totally new ways. Plus they’re low-cost, easily attained and easily stored.” Her go-to styling moves? Filling vases and hurricanes on your tables or bathroom counters, piled on a tiered server on your island or buffet, and hung from an opening with evergreen in lieu of mistletoe.
9. Add a signature scent.
Clement knows that even the most arresting spaces look better when they smell good. “I burn Park Hill candles all season long. Their Christmas Tree scent is to die for.”
10. Break the rules.
Part of the fun of holiday decorating is its brevity. So have some fun – “sing, laugh and try something outside of your comfort zone,” she advises. Just no tinsel, ok?