Tricks of the Trade

Seven Ways to Get Into the Holiday Spirit, According to Designer Nick Olsen

29 October, 2019

Each year it happens without fail: the holidays creep up and suddenly, it feels like there’s no time to prepare. Lucky for us, designer Nick Olsen is a whiz when it comes to dreaming up ingenius, high-octane schemes that look festive and effortless all at once. Here, he shares his wisdom with some clever, stress-free tips for sprucing up the home for the holidays.

  • Don’t feel pressured to decorate the whole house or apartment. A simple magnolia wreath with a solid red bow on your door is often all you need to get into the spirit.

  • If you don’t have a big collection of sentimental holiday ornaments, steal a tip from the best window dressers and take one or two decorating elements to the hilt. A hundred big, sparkly snowflakes look a whole lot better than 10 dinky ones. Top the tree with a matte velvet bow, et voila.

  • Put your friends to work. I have a friend who gives guests a task for every party she hosts (carving pumpkins, telling stories on a certain topic, etc.). It actually cuts down on social awkwardness! I’d gladly string popcorn or hang ornaments if the wine keeps flowing, and it always does.

  • Holiday tables should twinkle. Buy lots of inexpensive (and re-usable) mercury glass votive candle holders, a couple taller hurricanes and turn off all the overhead lighting. You can eat under klieg lights for the rest of the year.

  • Speaking of re-usable, take a page from my frugal Germanic ancestors and pack up those fragile ornaments and re-spool the lights every year! We don’t need more landfills full of tinsel.

  • Don’t forget to please all the senses: Buy a quality scented candle with notes of evergreen, firewood or spices. This is not the place to cheap out or your home will smell like the mall in December!

  • Don’t underestimate the personal and decorative impact of a beautifully wrapped present. Tight corners and ribbon edges cut on the bias, please and thanks!