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Bling-free simple Christmas decorations

simple christmas decorations boreal abode felt sheep ornament

It’s Christmas again. Every year the same decorations? Not this time. Leave the old ornament box in the attic and let’s try something different.

There’s no need to compromise on colour, texture or style. Discover how to prepare your house for the festive season with simple Christmas decorations.

Transparency notice: Amara has kindly provided some Christmas decorations for this blog post. All gifted items are marked with an asterisk (*). You can read the full ad disclaimer.

Why do we decorate the house for Christmas?

The tradition to put up special decorations around Christmas time is older than you may expect. According to Wikipedia, houses in London were decked with evergreens back in the 15th Century. They used ivy, holly, bay and anything green. Holly was particularly necessary as it also provided protection against witches — quite a bonus!

The Christmas tree probably originated as an ancient pagan tradition that worshipped evergreen trees. I find it fascinating that we still do something similar today. After all, the word druid comes from the Celtic term for oak. This is one of the reasons I have a real tree.

STYLE TIP:  Keep your potted Christmas tree happy in 3 simple steps: place it away from radiators, leave it indoors only a week and repot every year as necessary.

But what are the true colours of Christmas?

Nowadays, there’s a wide range of colours we associate with this festive season. For example, blue, white and silver symbolise winter. But the original colours are green (eternal life) and red (blood). Powerful meanings if you think about it.

A personal obsession

As a child, I took Christmas decorations seriously. From the earliest date you could put them up to the overall theme of the tree. And I say theme because every year I used to say to my Mum: “this year is all about silver”, “gold and red baubles, Mum, gold and red”. Plus the usual “let’s buy the extra-long garland just in case” and “these lights flash way too quickly”.

And from one extreme to the other. A few years ago my only decoration in December was a scented candle. Not even a posh one. Think AmbiPur instead of Diptyque. There has to be a balance point between over-the-top Christmas and that’s-just-sad Christmas. Don’t you think? That’s what I aim to do.

Bling-free simple Christmas decorations

This year I let go perfection. No huge and symmetrically perfect tree. No shiny elaborate ornaments. And no glitter. Because once you touch glitter you have to live with it forever. Instead, let’s embrace the original colours of Christmas and deck the halls with evergreens — the simple way.

Fireplace decoration with woodland botanicals and paper ornaments

simple christmas decorations boreal abode winterberries paper baublesg

As there is no artwork or mirror above the fireplace I went all asymmetrical. There are two vignettes on either side of the fireplace mantle. The main piece is a transparent vase with three winterberry (Ilex Verticillata) branches. Sculptural and low maintenance. They should last for a few weeks in water.

simple christmas decorations boreal abode paper baubles

Next to the vase, I’ve arranged four paper ornaments from Nkuku*. All designs are unique and can be stored flat. They have a handy built-in magnet to keep them open. If you look closely, you can see there’s writing on the paper. After a bit of research, it turns out they’re extracts from Measure for Measure. A play by William Shakespeare.

simple christmas decorations boreal abode cards

On the other end of the mantle, I’ve placed three awesome Christmas cards from Home By Kirsty. Forget the typical cheesy festive images. Kirsty always stocks the coolest cards, gifts and accessories. And to add contrast nothing better than a cheesy festive snow globe! This one is special though. Purchased in a shop in Bath called December 25th where every day is Christmas.

simple christmas decorations boreal abode fireplace

To tie everything up, I used soft eucalyptus branches of the Silver Dollar variety. It may not be Baby Blue (Instagram’s favourite). But the silvery green leaves contrast against the bright red berries and the snow globe. The only downside of this variety is the almost lack of scent.

Simple coffee table styling with monochrome accessories

simple christmas decorations boreal abode black tree coffee table

I wanted to keep the coffee table as plain as possible. It’s used to place drinks and books. So the last thing you want is an edge-to-edge Nativity scene. I opted for a single monochrome decoration. Supported by candles for warmth and greenery to add a pinch of much needed “eternal life”.

simple christmas decorations boreal abode 1 black tree coffee table

The focal piece is the black tree ornament from Scandinavian brand Be & Liv*. Part decoration, part placement mat. Designed by Janne Uusi-Autti “to combine two Christmas traditions: sharing treats and decorating”. As hygge as this sounds, I will not use it as a mat (at least this year). You can display it upright or flat, like Jenny from Seasons in Colour did in this flat lay.

simple christmas decorations boreal abode candle

And the candles?

As much as I like Christmas Eve by Yankee Candle, it makes my eyes water after a while. Does it happen to you too? It’s also important not to overdo it with multiple scented candles.  You just need a carefully picked one. I went for Black Pomegranate by Flower Lodge. A natural candle with a soothing scent. You can add a few tea lights for extra glow.

A little Christmas tree with colourful handmade ornaments

simple christmas decorations boreal abode tree

Your tree will never be bigger than the one in the shopping centre. Why not go small and enjoy the perks of a real miniature Christmas tree? Easy to move, inexpensive to decorate and can be placed in any corner. I bought my tree last year, and it has lived happily in the garden since. I call it Peter Pine.

simple christmas decorations boreal abode wooden owl ornament pom pom garland

There’s one inconvenience. Due to the size of the tree, the branches can’t sustain much weight. This rules out 95% of the conventional decorations. Luckily, I found a selection of colourful handmade ornaments. The multicolour pom pom garland from Cody Foster & Co* has the ideal scale and length. The small yarn pom poms are full of colour and texture and make the tree look (slightly) bigger.

simple christmas decorations boreal abode felt wool ornaments

Even though colour is great, a tiny tree needs something else to stand out. Enter Amica’s collection of wool felt ornaments. I went overboard and chose the cute mini robins*, Christmas puddings* and sheep with hats*. There are over twenty designs in the collection including corgis, cats and donkeys. So many ornaments, too little tree.

simple christmas decorations boreal abode wooden owl ornament

Staring into your soul is the hand-carved wood owl ornament from Mifuko. This Fair Trade decoration has a label with the name of the artisan who carved it — David in this case. I bought it from one of Know & Love’s pop-up shops in London. The owner, Karen Sims, has an exquisite eye for unique artisans and creators.

simple christmas decorations boreal abode scottish thistle

Finally, forget about the wonky star. This tree is topped with a heart-shaped ceramic ornament with a simple thistle motif. It’s from Jacqui Seller Ceramics in Scotland.

What’s your ideal Christmas decor style?

Multicolour or monochrome? Bold or minimal? Fake tree or a real one? The great thing about seasonal decorations is that next year you can go for something different. Let me know what you’re doing this year in the comments below.

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26 Comments

  1. Bethany
    2 weeks ago

    So understated and stylish. This year I’m playing down the glitter too, in favour of handmade and natural elements, that’s for sharing x

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thanks for your comment, Bethany! That’s the great thing about seasonal decorations. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll be covered in glitter again 😄✨

      Reply
  2. Caroline
    2 weeks ago

    Those felt animals are adorable! Peter pine is looking festively fabulous 👌🏻 I also have a mini potted tree from last year which will take pride of place by our front door (no name as yet).

    I love the way you’ve styled the mantle too, just beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of Christmas bling either, although I can’t 100% guarantee that there won’t be a little bit of glitter here or there. ✨🙊

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comment, Caroline! You should name your tree soon. It’ll make you smile every time you see it. I’m so glad you like my first go at styling. You’re comment is really encouraging 😊 Looking forward to seeing your decorated home on Instagram.

      Reply
  3. Fawn Interiors Studio
    2 weeks ago

    LOVE the simple Scandinavian vibe of this – really proving that less is indeed more sometimes. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comment, Tamsin! Glad you like the look of it 😄

      Reply
  4. Fiona
    2 weeks ago

    I love the clean and natural look of your Christmas home. My favourite is the mantelpiece with those bright red berries.

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comment, Fiona! The winterberries are my favourite too. Inexpensive and low maintenance. Just ideal.

      Reply
  5. Lins @ Boo & Maddie
    2 weeks ago

    This is so perfect Juan, the right amount of a nod to the festive season whilst still being stylish and elegant too. I’m such a lover of minimalism and don’t go in for gaudy.,..or naff…or too much. Absolutely beautiful 🙂 X

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comment, Lins! I’m so glad you like it. Having less stuff helps my brain relax (if that makes sense). It’s less of a visual overload.

      Reply
  6. JENNY KAKOUDAKIS
    2 weeks ago

    Oh i have THE bE&LIV wooden ornament which doubles as a placemat. It’s very versatile!
    Now when it comes to decorating, I don’t mind going simple and quite possibly this year I should have. I think it’s down to the mood. When I feel tired, I need things to be simple.

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comment, Jenny! Yes, I saw it on one of your Instagram posts. I’d love to go opulent one year, I just don’t have enough stuff 😅

      Reply
  7. Becky at PinksCharming
    2 weeks ago

    I love this style, it’s so simple yet festive! I agree you can’t beat a real tree, and especially live your Shakespearian paper decorations – just beautiful!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comment, Becky! I’m still amazed by those paper decorations. I wasn’t expecting a Shakespeare play written on them!

      Reply
  8. Tracy Bell
    2 weeks ago

    Dare I say it… I haven’t even put a tree up for the last few years! A simple mistletoe Garland decorated with a couple of baubles is about as much as I stretch to. I also make the most of the Ilex berries and have a vase full of those. Simple and natural is best

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comment, Tracy! I’m sure your botanical decor is spot on. You’re right, natural style is effortless.

      Reply
  9. Anne Marie
    2 weeks ago

    I love your Christmas tree Juan 😊 All the decorations are so sweet. I’ve also gone for the smaller poted Christmas tree this year because of the renovation and I’m sure I will need to use lightweight decorations like you ( the Christmas tree is still in the garden waiting patiently 😁) I always have mine as colourful as I can and this year ( thanks to a wake up call from Sophie Robinson) I will let my kids do the most of it and actually have fun 😁😁

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comment, Anne Marie! I’m glad you’re having a colour awakening. I’m a bit behind, only in early stages. I like how your style is evolving and becoming more you.

      Reply
  10. Meera
    2 weeks ago

    Ahhh Juan, your festive styling is so so lovely, I adore it. I don’t have a lot going on this year, mostly just the tree which has become the kids’ domain (they don’t even want me helping, haha! But I’ve had to for the sake of not leaving the top half naked). It is kitsch-tastic and fun – everything from glass Anthropologie baubles (positioned high up) to felt reindeers and snowmen I’ve made. I loved this line: “Because once you touch glitter you have to live with it forever.” Hahaha, so true!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comment, Meera! Your kind of tree remind me of my childhood. When my Mum had enough of buying more decor and decided to mix it all. So much fun for the children, though!

      Reply
  11. Rosanna Alicia Design
    2 weeks ago

    Great post Juan! I’m a maximalist at heart but every now and again it all get a bit too much – especially around Christmas when there’s twice as much going on! Your tree is beautiful – I love the handmade decorations. I’m going to try to make some of my own for next year. R

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comment, Rosanna! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Oh, making your own decorations would be the fantastic. So gratifying!

      Reply
  12. Natalie Holden
    1 week ago

    That fireplace is so pretty! I really like the way you have styled it with paper ornaments. So simple but very effective x

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      1 week ago

      Thank you for your comment, Natalie! So glad you like the simple styling. Sometimes less is more ☺️

      Reply
  13. Shireen Dhaliwal
    3 days ago

    The red berries on the mantelpiece with the paper ornaments are lovely! It’s such a good reminder that christmas decor doesn’t have to be glittery bling! The natural elements are such a breath of fresh air!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      3 days ago

      Thank you for your comment, Shireen! It’s all about nature indeed. That’s how everything started after all 🌲

      Reply

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