5 non-traditional Christmas decor ideas to try out this year

From alternative Christmas trees to unique festive ornaments, swap the classic for the contemporary with our collection of non-traditional Christmas decor ideas

Non-traditional Christmas decor ideas. Modern entryway with gold decor. White and red bedroom with christmas bedding. Blue dining room with decorated table.
(Image credit: West Elm | Pottery Barn | Birdie Fortescue)

Non-traditional Christmas decor ideas are perfect for those who are looking to make a more unique statement with festive decorations this holiday season.

As much as we love classic Christmas decor ideas, red and green color schemes, and traditional Christmas motifs are not for everyone, and by embracing modern Christmas decor ideas, you can curate a scheme that works in perfect harmony with your personality and sense of style. 

Our collection of non-traditional Christmas decor ideas can give a refreshing new spin on typical seasonal decor, and can help to make your home feel wonderfully special and unique for Christmas.

Our favorite non-traditional Christmas decor ideas

Whether you're looking to create a beautiful blend of the old and new, and unite a few fresh ideas with traditional Christmas decor, or want to create a stand-out, modern display, our non-traditional Christmas decor ideas are anything but conventional.

1. Use an alternative Christmas tree – or don't use one at all

Festive living room with fireplace dressed in foliage

(Image credit: Future | SARAH KAYE REPRESENTATION LTD | Photography by Polly Wreford, styling by Sally Denning)

To really make a break from tradition, why not swap your Christmas tree with a modern arrangement of foliage and flowers? 

Here, a dramatic display of Christmas foliage has been used for Christmas mantel decor, making for a contemporary alternative to the traditional tree. The use of greenery still creates a wonderful focal point in the space, and enhances the Christmas fireplace with eye-catching natural character. 

'Instead of using conventional, artificial decorations, use large pieces of natural foliage and flowers, such as pine branches or holly, to add touches of authentic, organic beauty to your home,' says interior designer, Artem Kropovinsky.

There are also plenty of alternative Christmas tree ideas to consider too, one of our favorites has to be decorating taller houseplants with festive ornaments and decorations.

Artem Kropovinsky headshot
Artem Kropovinsky

Founder of NYC-based interior design firm, Arsight, Artem Kropovinsky has a decade of extensive global design experience, connecting a cohesive, collaborative team of passionate professionals, who work on interior projects in the U.S. and worldwide. 

2. Embrace a more modern color scheme

Minimalist Thanksgiving decor, blue tablescape with candles, colorful tableware

(Image credit: Birdie Fortescue)

Classic Christmas colors, such as red, gold and green can of course work wonderfully for festive decorating, but for non-traditional Christmas decor ideas, embracing a more modern color scheme can create a look that feels brighter, lighter and fresh. 

From cozy neutrals, perfect for 'quiet luxury' Christmas decor, such as warming browns, beiges and creams, to more summery, uplifting schemes that embrace bright pinks, purples and blues, ideal for maximalist Christmas decor, your color scheme can make a big difference in helping your scheme feel more contemporary.

When avoiding using seasonal color palettes, interior designer Birdie Fortescue advises, 'Choose colors you love and you won’t go wrong. Avoid being led by fashion trends and don't overcomplicate things! A home filled with colors and pieces which have an emotional pull always make for the best interiors.'

Artem Kropovinsky also adds, 'For a non-traditional Christmas color scheme that is chic and different, pair rich jewel tones with luxe metallics, or for a brighter look, be bold with a combination of pastels and neon accents.'

Birdie Fortescue
Birdie Fortescue

Birdie’s creative journey started when she worked at Percy Bass, an interiors shop and design service on Walton Street, London. Birdie then went on to join Imogen Taylor’s team at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler’s old premises in Mayfair. Many buying trips later and with a decorative antiques course from the V&A Museum under her belt, Birdie decided to set up her own antiques business. Establishing the business in Norfolk, UK, in 2014, Birdie initially focused on sourcing homeware from Scandinavia, pieces that weren’t easily found in the UK, before creating her own designs. Birdie writes for Homes & Gardens about interior design.

3. Go for a simple, minimalist look

Modern dining room with minimalist christmas decor

(Image credit: West Elm)

Embracing a 'less is more' approach to seasonal decorating is perfect for those looking for more pared-back, minimalist Christmas decor ideas

From calming color schemes associated with styles such as Scandinavian Christmas decor, to channeling your decorating focus into one key area of the home, such as for your Christmas table decor or for a Christmas living room, scaling back your scheme and embracing the design principles of minimalist decor can work well for a non-traditional look – especially in more modern homes.

Interior designer Marzia Dainelli of Dainelli Studio shares her tips for creating a serene and simple Christmas tree. 'We always choose a minimalist tree, usually one made entirely of wood. For the decoration, we are very careful not to overload it to create a modern style. Use a maximum of 2 colors, preferably desaturated, and place your Christmas ornaments sequentially and neatly, giving a nice visual balance to the tree.'

Marzia Dainelli
Marzia Dainelli

Marzia Dainelli is a designer and co-founder of Milan-based design firm, Dainelli Studio. Along with Leonardo Dainelli, the pair work on interior projects for public and private spaces and have active collaborations with a range of furniture brands.

4. Decorate in unexpected places

Bedroom decorated with christmas decor, christmas bedding

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

Classic Christmas decor is often found in a living rooms, entryways and for doors and porches, but there are so many other spaces in your home that can be enriched with seasonal decorations that can help to create a non-traditional feel.

From transforming your bed into a festive focal point with joyful seasonal bedding, to enriching your kitchen with Christmas wreaths and Christmas garlands, your decoration does not have to be constrained to certain areas of the home – it can be displayed wherever you please.

5. Style your space with unique ornaments

Modern Christmas entryway with gold decorations and foliage

(Image credit: West Elm)

From snowmen to reindeer, bells to stars, there are plenty of classic Christmas motifs used for traditional festive decorations, so for a non-traditional approach, it can be a chance to get super creative with fun, novelty designs that fill you with joy. 

Designer Emily Piepenbrink from Made Merry says, 'An easy way to approach a non-traditional Christmas aesthetic is to decorate your Christmas tree with a modern sensibility. As well as using unique, novelty ornaments, you can also create a contemporary feel by focusing on one shape for your ornament selection. For example, cover your tree in a constellation of sharp stars or add wooden rings instead of spherical ornaments. The collection of one interesting shape will create a sleek, modern feel.'

Emily Piepenbrink
Emily Piepenbrink

Emily Piepenbrink is the founder of Made Merry, a shop specializing in creating and selling all things Christmas decor. As well as running her business she works with interior designers to decorate clients’ homes for Christmas, and has had her work published in multiple magazines.


How do you decorate if you don't have a Christmas tree?

Just because you don't have a Christmas tree, it doesn't mean your home can't feel festive. 

From beautiful displays of festive foliage and flowers, think cuttings of holly and the best poinsettias, to wreaths, mantel decor and beautiful collections of ornaments styled on shelves and window ledges, there are so many ways you can bring festive decoration into your home without a tree.

A Christmas tree often acts as the main focal point in a room, so wherever you're going to be spending the most time this Christmas – whether that be the living room or hosting in a kitchen or dining room, ensure there is a decoration (or a collection of decorations) that really take center stage, creating the same effect and feel as a tree.

Some of our favorite places to shop non-traditional Christmas decor include Pottery Barn (they currently have 50% off holiday decor), West Elm (there are plenty of holiday discounts) and Anthropologie (there are a collection of limited-time holiday deals).

Zara Stacey
Managing Editor

Zara is the Managing Editor at Homes & Gardens. She joined the brand in February 2022 as an Interiors Content Editor, specializing in writing content on interior color trends, decorating ideas and design inspiration. After studying English Literature at University, she worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. She enjoys nothing more than discovering new trends, brands and products, whether that be in fashion, interior design or lifestyle.