5 common holiday decor mistakes to avoid this year, according to interior designers (and what to do instead)

The faux pas that could be bringing the look of your holiday decor down

Christmas tree in rustic dining room with colorful scheme
(Image credit: Future)

'Tis the season for holiday decor. Getting your home prepped and ready for the festivities is a joy and really, as will any home decor, there's no right or wrong way to go about it. That being said, if you want your Christmas decor to look beautiful and reflect your personal style and traditions, there are loose rules to be abided. Meaning there are also mistakes to be made. 

We asked designers what common Christmas decor mistakes we should all be avoiding this year. From going OOT with new decorations to not sticking to a cohesive theme, here are the holiday decor faux pas best to avoid if you want to create a chic and timeless display.

5 Christmas decorating mistakes 

As previously mentioned, Christmas decor is personal and how you approach it year on year is down to you. So long as you love it really that's all that matters. However, there are some common holiday decor mistakes that are really easy to avoid and will help ensure your decor this year looks as fabulous as ever. 

1. Following decor trends you don't really love

Large dining room with tall christmas tree and christmas dining table

(Image credit: Jon Day Photography / Designers Guild / Trenoweth House)

The easiest mistake to make when it comes to Christmas decor is to be too influenced by Christmas trends. Just like with interior design trends, you want to be inspired by these styles but don't let them overcome the looks you really love and that have meaning to you no matter how kitsch they may be. Luckily nostalgia is a designer-approved trend this year anyways.

'In any given year, my biggest piece of advice is not to feel pressured to do any decorating you don't love!' says designer Kathy Kuo. 'The holiday season can be stressful and the decor aspect is supposed to be fun - if a so-called 'Christmas decor trend' is adding to your stress, just say no! If you love simple white twinkle lights in the windows and a few vases of greenery instead of a humongous tree, go for it!'

kathy kuo home
Kathy Kuo

Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry. 

2. Going over the top with new decor

Vase of festive flowers and foliage on round table

(Image credit: Jon Day Photography)

'While the Christmas season lures us into a world of shimmering lights and vibrant hues, it's easy to fall into the trap of overdoing it. Even though I’m a lover of color and pattern, overly thematic decorations can oftentimes feel cliché and tacky, taking away from the charm of the festive season.' explains designer Kati Curtis.

'Going over the top with colorful lights can also lead to visual clutter rather than creating a warm, inviting aesthetic that compliments your existing décor. Buying everything new and matching can look contrived or sterile and doesn’t honor the meaning and traditions of the holiday.'

'Instead, consider taking a trip down memory lane this Christmas. Bring out your grandmother's china and napkins that have been carefully stored away in the attic. Mix ornaments from your relatives, or things you’ve collected over time or DIY Christmas decorations. Not only does this approach help to honor the past and keep the memories alive, it is also a sustainable choice, utilizing what we already have instead of purchasing new items. This can evoke a sense of nostalgia and create a warm and homey atmosphere that truly embodies the spirit of Christmas.'

Kati Curtis
Kati Curtis

Kati Curtis is the founder of Kati Curtis Design, an design firm based in New York City specializing in classic design with a global influence. Kati founded the studio in 2005 after 12 years of working with international architecture and engineering firms. 

3. Deviating from a tried and tested theme

Festive mantelpiece with stocking, mirror and greenery

(Image credit: Nkuku)

The most effective and beautiful Christmas decor is cohesiveness and continuity. Even if you go all out with maximalist holiday decor, there should still be something that ties it all together like a color scheme or a reoccurring pattern. 

'A significant Christmas decorating mistake is deviating from a theme or failing to follow a cohesive decorating plan. Without a guiding theme or plan, decorations might clash or lack a unified vision, resulting in a hodgepodge of styles that just looks messy.' explains designer Jennifer Davis.

'Sticking to a specific theme or design scheme helps tie everything together, ensuring a polished and inviting holiday setting that resonates with a consistent style and charm throughout the space.'

4. Not blending faux and real folliage

Entryway decorated for Christmas

(Image credit: Jon Day)

While there are now so many incredibly realistic faux Christmas garlands, wreaths, and greenery, you can really elevate them by adding in real foliage or dried fruits. This will make and faux greenery look fuller and more convincing. You could ditch the fake evergreen all together and have a go a making your own garland.

Designer Bethany Adams believes it's going real with your evergreen that ensures the most effective Christmas decor; 'The wrong faux greenery can be a major faux pas. Instead, reach for dried, real evergreen boughs for your mantle or wreaths. The look is far more luxe, and just as reusable.'

5. Creating too much visual clutter

Rustic dining room decor

(Image credit: Future)

The whole point in Christmas decor is for it to add something beautiful and visual and creative to your home. But bringing in all this extra decor and Christmas lighting and a full-sized Christmas tree can risk looking cluttered, so to avoid this just ensure you have focal points within your rooms. Nothing should be competing. 

So for example in a room where you have the tree, keep the rest of the decor minimal - candles on the mantle, lights at the window but no large pieces of decor that will distract from the main event, and ensure to include some negative space. 

'When diving into Christmas decorating, it's essential to consider the aspect of proportion, especially concerning height. Neglecting to do this can lead to an unbalanced display where items of varying heights compete for attention. A smart approach involves creating visual interest by varying the heights of decorations while maintaining a sense of cohesion and harmony.' advises Jennifer Davis.

Avoiding these holiday decor mistakes, while also still following your own traditions and style, will ensure your Christmas decor feels both chic and characterful. Just remember to go with your tried and tested formulas, have something cohesive flowing through the scheme, and don't go over the top with bringing a load of new decor into your home and really crowding your room. And of course, have fun with it, potentially the biggest mistake you can make is getting so carried away with aesthetics that the once-a-year activity of decorating your home for the holidays becomes a stress, rather than a joy.

Head of Interiors

I am the Head of Interiors at Homes & Gardens. I started off in the world of journalism in fashion and luxury travel and then landed my first interiors role at Real Homes and have been in the world of interior design ever since. Prior to my role at H&G I was the digital editor at Livingetc, from which I took a sabbatical to travel in my self-converted van (not as glamorous as decorating a home, but very satisfying). A year later, and with lots of technical DIY lessons learned I am back to writing and editing, sometimes even from the comfort of my home on wheels.