Utah Style and Design

Holiday Style for the Minimalist

December 5, 2016

Minimalism is all about high impact and low stress.

To me, minimalist philosophy may just be the best lifestyle. Call it quick, budget-friendly or even lazy, chaotic lives beg for simplicity any chance they can get it. 

Who has time and money for mind-blowing, circuit-killing, energy-sucking holiday decorating? I don’t spend more than two hour decorating my tree. I don’t start before Thanksgiving (because please, give turkey day the glory is deserves). And I don’t stress out about it.

I save it for the first weekend in December and if I can’t get it done in that weekend—with all our holiday functions, shopping and kids’ sporting events (not to mention work, laundry, grocery shopping and working out)—it doesn’t get done. Nope, I move on.


So, what’s a savvy decorator to do? Here’s my stress-free decorating task list:

Step 1: Fresh Wreath

Don’t buy one from the grocery store. There I said it. Buy fresh-cut wreaths like ones from Craft & Twine, La Fleur, Native or Decoration Inc that boast unusual cuts. In fact, pheasant feathers and privet berries create interest in the wreath I purchased this year from Craft & Twine. Add a dupioni ribbon or silk ribbon around the bottom and have it drape to the bottom of your door.

Step 2: Garland

Lazy…er, minimalist decorators like me beg for high-and-low design. I’ll spend money on a fresh custom wreath (see above), but for a dramatic garland hung over a front entrance, a 15-foot fresh cedar garland from Costco is all it takes.

What about the mantle? In my new house, I actually don’t have a mantle. However, in previous homes (yea, we move too much), I wouldn’t use a fresh garland. Why? Because it dies and who likes crispy pine shrapnel all over their living room? For a winning look, adorn the fireplace with an artificial garland and ornaments to coordinate with the tree. If you’re dying for freshness, by all means, insert sprigs of holly, cedar or pine and replace them with fresh ones as the dry up.

Step 3: A theme

Over time, my holiday color palette has evolved from flamboyant purples and Grinch-y greens to golds, silvers and white. See, I’m sooooo minimal (insert snobby tone here). But guess what? It’s classy and non-cluttered and I love it.

Step 4: What about the kids?

Throw stones all you want, but I save my kids’ handmade ornaments for their own tree (outside their rooms). Mind you, “my” tree is still filled with shiny ornaments dedicated to them, but the “kids” tree—a spindly, thin artificial pre-lit six-footer that I bought eons ago for $30—hosts their creations. They have carte blanche to do what they want with it and I put all the holiday kids books—including Elf on the Shelf, The Night Before Christmas, Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve and Snowmen on Christmas—alongside it.

Step 5: Decorating THE tree

Want more ohs and ahs over your tree? Here’s a quick list of dos and donts for tree decorating. 

Embrace the light placement. Repeat after me: I will not string lights only on the outside of the tree. Of all my holiday decorating, the tree lights take the longest. Try to enjoy this process with a cocktail, you’ll need it. To get the designer look, string those lights around every branch top to bottom. It isn’t easy, but totally worth it.

Grab your gardening gloves. If you want to avoid sappy, sensitive finger pads and dirty nail beds, gardening gloves are your best friend.

Take an in-and-out approach to hanging the ornaments. Like the lights, don’t just hang them on the perimeter of the tree. Stagger those puppies—heavier ones on the inside and lighter ones on the outside. Utilize as much surface area of your tree as possible.

Ditch the tree skirt. Unless you have a family heirloom, my solution is…ready for it? A piece of fabric. A: It’s unique. B. It’s easy. C. It’s inexpensive. End of story.

Use non-ornaments. Tulle, stars, birch logs, fancy sprays, woodsy balls add interest. Hell, I’ve seen teddy bears, books, and beach ball-sized orbs in—in, not on—actually stuck inside the tree. So much more interest than your average tree.

Need more help? These local designers and shops know how-to make simplicity spark.

Nora Peterson (interior design by Kristin Rocke Design, Glass House)



Apt 202


Craft & Twine


Studio McGee


Jennifer Stagg


Design Loves Detail


Gatehouse No. 1 by Rebekah Westover


Val Rasmussen
Val Rasmussen is Assistant Editor at Utah Style & Design and Editor at Utah Bride & Groom magazine. She can be reached at val@utahbrideandgroom.com or you can follow her on Instagram @valeriefras.



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