You’re Just 4 Steps Away from Decorating Your Home Like a Classic Holiday Movie

published Nov 25, 2020
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Credit: Denis Donis

If you ask me, the best part of the holidays isn’t the parties (well, at least in other years), peppermint mocha goodies, or even presents. The most wonderful time of the year really begins when I get to deck my halls with boughs of holly… and garland… and twinkly lights.

In a perfect world, my home would look like the set of my favorite holiday movies. I’d live in an idyllic cabin à la “The Holiday,” my living room would be as classic as the one in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and my color scheme would be as on-point as the McCallister’s place. No matter how many decorations I buy though, I struggle to recreate that festive, perfectly imperfect cinematic holiday look in my own spaces.

This year, however, I’m determined to turn my Hollywood holiday design dreams into a reality. So I enlisted designer Tanja Hinder, principal of Marrimor Interiors, to share four fail-safe ways to transform a home into a seasonal (and stylish!) space inspired by the silver screen.

Credit: Courtesy of Command

Create some curb appeal

Celebrating the holiday season typically places a huge emphasis on spending quality time indoors, and this year, this sentiment may ring even truer. All the focus on the great indoors makes it all too easy to leave your front door or porch bare though, and for Hinder, Hollywood holiday decorations always take a 360-degree approach. The camera sees everything!

“Preparing for the holidays is similar to creating a movie set,” Hinder explains. “It’s like a journey to your home, which starts with the first impression. It’s important to set the tone with your exterior.”

Whether you want to hang a festive wreath on your front door, cover your exterior in twinkly lights like you’re Clark Griswold, or pay special attention to your mailbox with a statement bow, look at your decorations through the eyes of passersby or your favorite delivery person. If classic wintry films have taught us anything, it’s that the holiday spirit doesn’t begin and end in the living room. You can still get outside to enjoy your neighborhood’s decor from a distance, so pay the cheer forward and don’t skimp on your own exterior this year.

Credit: Kristan Lieb

Celebrate the little moments

If a Christmas tree is your home’s main attraction, that doesn’t mean the rest of your decorations should fall to the wayside. In fact, as people who don’t celebrate Christmas know, peppering your space with small, seasonal touches will give your home a cinematic charm. “Think about layering,” Hinder says. “Create a beautiful vignette considering flooring, walls, and ceiling decor.”

From lining your mantle with trinkets to adding a few miniature trees to your side table, these details will help bring the holiday spirit to every nook and cranny of your place. That said, there’s a fine line between “cheerful” and “kitschy.” If you want to ensure your holiday decor remains as stylish as the ones in you favorite films, check out our tips for assembling

Keep it cohesive

If you’re anything like me, you have an eclectic bunch of stuff, ranging from family heirlooms to cheap finds you bought when you moved into your current place. As much as you want to use all your decorations, Hinder suggests using an editor’s eye to determine the overall style for your decor and create a common thread throughout your home.

Take a second to think about the house in “Home Alone.” While the McCallister residence is fancy (but by no means cookie cutter), there are a few common themes present in every room: a palette of reds, whites, and the occasional greens; poinsettia plants; and timeless gold accents. Sure, the house is first and foremost the backdrop for Kevin’s wild hijinks. However, it’s the consistent, cohesive decor that almost becomes a silent supporting character to Kevin himself. On the whole, the Christmas decor sets the scene but doesn’t steal the show. If every room had a different color scheme or holiday theme running though it, the sets would quickly become distracting. That’s why sometimes less can be more when it comes to decorating for the holidays.

For your own space, think about the vibe you want your home to exude. Do you prefer a timeless, traditional approach or an artsy, bohemian flair? Do you want to stick with a classic color palette or experiment with bolder hues like the oranges and neon pinks you see above? Once you understand your ideal look and feel, you can choose the decorations with care. You can also watch your favorite holiday movie and use it as inspiration. How fun would a green and yellow, “Elf”-inspired color scheme be? I can practically see the Buddy-themed tree now.

Unleash your senses

It doesn’t matter if you’re watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” or “Love Actually,” there’s something about these holiday homes that feel undeniably cozy. You can always hear the Otis Redding or Bing Crosby playlist crooning in the background.

Though beloved holiday movies offer plenty of visual inspiration, it’s important to think about the total package. “Don’t forget that smells and sounds are super important when it comes getting into the Christmas vibe,” Hinder says.

Whether you want to light your favorite wintry candle or concoct your own scent from scratch, the smell of holiday spirit is a lot easier to achieve than you think. If you don’t like candles, bake your favorite cookies or bring in a fresh cut tree. How you holiday is up to you; I’m just planning on raising the stakes and incorporating these Hollywood holiday decorating tips into my game plan this year.

How are you bringing the holiday spirit to your home this year? Sound off in the comments below!