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You may celebrate Christmas, you may not. You may simply enjoy the idea of giving your home a holiday facelift, so everybody feels like they’re on leave when they step inside. There are oodles of cost-effective ideas for those who are prepared to roll up their sleeves, and the retail world is laden with gorgeous decor items for those who prefer to wield a credit card.

Where to start?

Stacey Cowden is black + WRIGHT interiors. She suggests starting with a concept. It could be “nature” or “natural” or “island life”, then gathering materials around that, and selecting pleasing or appropriate colours. If you’re a visual person, source images of what you’d like – Pinterest is wonderful.

Stacey usually begins her story with materials like dried plants, sticks and flowers, then chooses a colour scheme. “It could be blue, black & white, naturals… and don’t be afraid of bling – gold, silver, and rose gold will give your home that sparkle.”

She advises not to scatter bits and pieces throughout the house, to cluster rather than clutter. It has far greater impact that way. “Create stories. Look at each space – your entrance, front door area, fireplace, staircase – and bunch things up to create a story, instead of spreading it thin all over the house.”

Decor and placement

Whether it’s Christmas or festive decor, there’s so much that’s cost effective. So, if it’s “natural” you want, source your plant material. “Go on a family expedition and find branches, grasses, cones, acorns, berries and a range of greens, big and small. Eucalyptus lasts a few days without water; for other greens, tie a little plastic bag of water on the end with an elastic band to help keep it greener for longer. Drape the greenery on and hanging down a mantelpiece, lie it along your table as a centre piece – or as a table centre piece when entertaining – and add a snippet or two to your gift wrappings.”

For those who want to create a “tree”, use alternative materials to form the tree – lanky branches, tall bleached sticks, long stems with oversized leaves – put them in a basket or an old-fashioned metal bucket. If you’re going natural, and have an existing indoor tree or two, put them in baskets on bricks, and add some dried flowers (white looks pretty) instead of tinsel or lights.

Hanging holiday decor

For a blank wall or section of a wall, hang a holiday “curtain”. Cut out little squares, circles or shapes like trees or umbrellas from coloured card, punch out two little holes – one top and one bottom of the shape – and thread string through a line of them. Hang down these decorative strings from the ceiling to the floor or ledge, about a couple of centimetres apart.

Stacey loves bells. “They’re fabulous decor, whether they’re metal or any other material. Dip them, spray them, paint them, all the same colour, or half and half. Use natural rope or string, leather or ribbons to change it up and display them in different ways.” She suggests sticking to one kind of string. “This helps keep it tidy, and uniform. Add a string to each one, hang them in clusters, or drape them along a string inside or outside the windows.


It’s not possible to have too many. Cluster them, put elaborate candelabra or glass candle holders in among your greenery on a table, let them swing in lanterns at night, and let them reflect off old glassware. Be bold, and use black – which looks superb with dark greenery – or use white with wheaten coloured grasses, or shades of blues to celebrate the coast.

Dolly up your entrance

Wreaths are timeless, beautiful and elegant. To make your own, use a simple hoop (hoola or crochet) and string, then, up to you – wrap paper, fabric, greenery, tinsel, fairy lights, bells… and hang away! They’re so welcoming on a front door. You can also use them as wall decor – fit on the wall a long thin branch or cable as a “wire” to hold them, then hang off that five or six small wreaths of different sizes with fresh or dried leaves and berries.


Spray paint, gold leaf and even normal acrylic paint with a clear laquor spray; it works wonders on old tired holiday decor items. Reuse, recyle, repurpose. If you’re using an old basket, spray the lower half black or white; leaves, branches and berries can be sprayed silver, gold, or even black and white. There’s not much which can’t be given a holiday lift with a coat of paint.

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