Oh, the holiday deluge! It’s so easy to get snowed under by the blizzard-like frenzy of the wintertime festive season. Thankfully, even joyfully, Holiday Workroom, the New York City–based upscale decorating service, is here to help. “Just don’t get overwhelmed!” says founder and creative director Erin Swift.
Of course, if you do snap like a twig weighted down by 1,000 antique blown-glass ornaments, Swift—an interior stylist, published author, and former staffer at One Kings Lane, Architectural Digest, and Elle Decor—will come to your home with a Douglas, Nordmann, Balsam, Fraser, Canaan, or Concolor fir slung over her shoulder to save the holidays. (In the spirit of “making holiday decorating less complicated and more curated,” she and her team offer all six of those tree types in five styles: Scandinavian Modern, New England Classic, Uptown Royal, Greenwood Essential, and the individually customized Inspired Oeuvre.)
But for those hearty souls who wish to decorate their own homes while singing wintry tunes and sipping mulled wine, there are some things to keep in mind.
Holiday Workroom’s six tips for festive decor
Toss the Rules in a Deep Snowbank.
“I truly think—like fashion, art, or interiors—holiday decorating is personal,” Swift says. “The only rule is there are no rules! I certainly have a specific aesthetic that strays away from blinking colorful lights or anything too OTT [over-the-top], but for some people that might just work,” she points out. “Maybe not the blinking lights, as it doesn’t really calm the soul or bring peace to an already busy holiday season.” Also, Swift insists, don’t shy away from decking out the traditionally hidden rooms in your house. “I’m loving installing decorative elements in some unexpected places, like garland over headboards and a wreath in the bathroom.”
Find the Freshest Holiday Fir.
“First and foremost, be aware of where your tree is from,” Swift advises. “The best trees for your home and the environment are local and sustainably sourced. Most trees that are in a tree lot are not as fresh as you would imagine. Many were cut weeks ago and then travel a long journey from Canada.” For the freshest holiday fir: “Get it cut from a tree farm. Or call Holiday Workroom,” Swift teases.
Which Tree Is Right for Me?
“As far as tree type, the Douglas fir is the most popular and holds its needles well but can cost more than others,” Swift explains. “Nordmann fir and Balsam fir have great needle retention and are very popular as well.” Then there’s Fraser, Canaan, or Concolor fir, among others. “They all have various qualities that one might like, but it’s super-personal. I just go with whatever tree speaks to me and best suits the client.” But how big? “As far as tree size, it really depends on the size and layout of the room. In my opinion, an ideal space is somewhere that the tree can be a focal point to the room or home. Ideally, the tree would be staged away from heat and out of high-traffic areas, and it should also be six to 12 inches lower than the ceiling.”
Follow the Festive Fundamentals, but Find Your Vision.
There are a few components that every tree needs in order to feel fully decorated. “Lights, a really good tree stand, and a tree skirt,” Swift explains. “After that, it’s all personal. To help guide our clients, we offer a variety of styles, ranging from a contemporary, clean, and bright look to a more traditional take on red, green, and gold, to a minimalist approach with a simple touch of glass ornaments. In any case, once you’ve landed on your inspiration or your vision, just dive in and find ways to tie all of the decor together with details like garland, tinsel, a bow, or decorative accents.”
Don’t Let the Don’ts Dictate Your Holiday Style.
Is tinsel OK? How about surfing Santa ornaments? “I am actually loving tinsel right now. I would say next year it’s making a comeback,” Swift insists. “And Santa ornaments can be chic. Think about it: a full tree with 1,000 Santa ornaments. That seems super avant-garde chic to me! There is a fine line between crass and chic for the holidays, but whatever your style is, just be confident and go with it! The only decorating I have ever seen that I am not into is when it’s only half done. Make a decision, and make it happen!”
How long is too long to leave the decorations up?
Because winter is a lot more bearable with a beautiful holiday tree in the TV room. “I couldn’t agree more! Leave the decorations up as long as they want to live there,” Swift says. “If you have a real tree, then heat and sunlight will affect the firmness of the branches and retention of the needles. Our trees are cut fresh and local, and we have done everything we can to ensure they will last as long as possible. But, unfortunately, like cut flowers, trees may wilt, and this is out of any human’s control. You can certainly clip the lower branches and take off ornaments to relieve some weight, which will help.” Eventually, the tree itself will tell you when it’s time to let go of the holiday season. “I had a tree on my terrace with the lights on it through February last year,” Swift says. “It was pretty magical!”