Traditional Christmas decor ideas – for a classic festive display rich with nostalgic charm

From Christmas trees to wreaths and enduring festive color schemes, celebrate the timeless beauty of Christmases past with our favorite traditional Christmas decorating ideas

Traditional christmas decor ideas. Cozy christmas living room, decorated mantel with foliage and stockings. Cozy living room with colorful decorations.
(Image credit: Rowen & Wren |Kit Kemp | Sarah Kaye Representation Ltd.)

Fill your home with classic yuletide cheer and cozy character with our collection of traditional Christmas decorating ideas. 

For many, Christmas decorating ideas are centered around long-lasting Christmas traditions, with rituals such as hanging stockings, decorating a Christmas tree and crafting wreaths and garlands often making our festive displays feel all the more special.

If you're looking to evoke a sense of heartwarming nostalgia with your festive decor, then our traditional Christmas decor ideas will be sure to inspire – and don't worry, these timeless decorating ideas can be seamlessly integrated into homes of all styles.

Our favorite traditional Christmas decorating ideas 

'This year, many of us are opting for Christmas decor that is reminiscent of a time before technology, one that was filled with the simpler pleasures in life and returning to a wholesome rustic lifestyle that celebrates simplicity, tradition and nostalgia. For traditional Christmas decor, the key is to lean into warm tones, cozy textures, foraged decor, and vintage pieces,' says Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy's trend & design expert.

From decorating with Christmas foliage and flowers, to embracing classic Christmas color schemes across your ornaments and decorations, explore our favorite traditional Christmas decorating ideas to create an utterly timeless festive display.

Dayna Isom Johnson
Dayna Isom Johnson

Dayna Isom Johnson is Etsy's trend expert with over a decade of experience unearthing the latest and chicest styles. She is unwavering in her pursuit of new and unique finds and is passionate about helping shoppers find exceptional pieces that showcase their personal style.

1. Choose a beautiful Christmas tree

A large christmas tree in the corner of an eclectic, cozy living room with a lit fire

(Image credit: Sarah Kaye)

It doesn't get more timeless and traditional than embracing Christmas tree ideas over the holiday season. Often sitting at the center of our festive displays, having a Christmas tree in your home is a classic (and easy) way to make your home feel more festive.

To keep things super traditional, you cannot beat the beauty of having a real tree, such as a fir, spruce, or pine, but, of course, these are not always the most practical of options, and luckily there are many wonderful faux designs that can look just as good – Balsam Hill is one of our favorite places to shop for stylish artificial Christmas trees.

Michael Giannelli, owner of East Hampton Gardens says 'for a more traditional look this Christmas, choose a large, classic fir tree and decorate it with twinkling lights, red, green, and silver or gold beaded garlands, and painted plaid ornaments – guaranteed to create a cozy, classic look.'

Michael Giannelli
Michael Giannelli

Michael Giannelli, is the owner of East Hampton Gardens, a luxury plant and flower shop which also offers professional interior design services. Combining 30 years of experience in retail design, deep ties in the Hamptons design community, and a lifelong passion for gardening, Michael Giannelli brings his unique expertise and refined Hamptons style to East Hampton Gardens.

2. Decorate with festive flowers and foliage

Outside of house decorated with festive foliage and flowers, christmas trees and ribbon

(Image credit: East Hampton Gardens)

'Whether you choose to decorate with traditional poinsettias, sophisticated amaryllis or cheerful holly berries, the addition of fresh flowers, plants and Christmas wreaths will undeniably infuse your space with a warm and inviting atmosphere,' says Maryam Ghani, manager of Haute Florist.

'Be sure to use captivating vases and strategic spots throughout your home to create focal points with flowers and foliage. These delightful touches will breathe life and traditional natural beauty into your holiday decor.'

Many classic festive decorations look to the beauty of nature, such as wreaths for Christmas door decor and glorious Christmas garlands, creating a wonderfully rustic, seasonal feel – perfect for decoration both inside of the home and for outdoor Christmas decor ideas, too.

Whether you opt for real foliage or shop for some stylish artificial designs, these decorations can establish an inviting, indoor-outdoor feel, – we explore more rustic Christmas decor ideas in our dedicated feature.

3. Opt for classic Christmas color schemes

Red, white and green festive tablescape

(Image credit: Sarah Kaye Representation ltd. photography by Polly Wreford, styling by Sally Denning)

'One of the most traditional color combinations to use at Christmas has to be red and gold. If you want to take this classic color scheme up a notch and make it feel more luxe, layer in warm metallics such as copper or bronze. These color combinations always work well in homes of all styles,' says Shane Pliska from Branded Holiday.

As shown above for the beautiful Christmas table decor, red is, of course, a classic Christmas color. Cheery, bright, and warm, it speaks of winter berries, Rudolph’s nose, poinsettia wreaths, and robins’ red breasts. When setting a table, it’s hard to go wrong using splashes of deep red with a profusion of candles, and generous vases of flowers and foliage as a centerpiece. 

As well as red and gold, red and white, and red and green will always make for a classic Christmas color pairing.

Shane Pliska
Shane Pliska

Shane Pliska serves as president of the luxury holiday decorating firm, Branded Holiday, as well as the leading interior landscape practice, Planterra, both based in West Bloomfield, Michigan.

4. Decorate with cozy candles

Cozy christmas living room with fireplace, tree and seating

(Image credit: Rowen & Wren)

What can be more classic than the cozy, warming and alluring glow of candlelight? Of course, many of us use the best candles all year round to bring inviting scent, style and ambient lighting into our homes, but the more candles you use during holiday season, we think, the better.

Helping the dark days and cold, long nights feel more cozy and warm, candles really are a wonderfully versatile and timeless decoration to use at Christmas. From tall pillar candles set down on a mantel or dining table, to clusters of smaller candles used to adorn shelving and coffee tables, there is something super special about decorating with candles at Christmas time.

Interior designer, Manuela Hamilford adds, 'A good way to add drama whilst keeping it traditional, is to add mixed height candles to a tablescape or sideboard. I have some antique brass candlesticks I inherited from my Italian grandmother which I use every year, they are important to us as a family tradition, it feels particularly special to have something passed down. Candlelight will always provide a warm ambiance and create a sense of nostalgia.' 

Manuela Hamilford
Manuela Hamilford

Hamilford Design is led by Manuela Hamilford. Created in2000, the firm has completed projects on residences in London, townhouses in New York, and large country estates, and hotels in Moscow.

5. Style your space with vintage style ornaments

Decorated mantel with foliage and stockings

(Image credit: Shop Kit Kemp)

'Use vintage-inspired ornaments on your tree and throughout your home, such as retro tinsel that sparkles, satin tartan Christmas tree skirts and cozy stockings. Tartan ribbons woven into garlands can add a beautiful finish to a wreath, along with layers of greens, pine cones, and winterberry,' says Michael Giannelli.

We have definitely seen a rise in people using more nostalgic, vintage-inspired decorations in their homes this year, with Christmas tree ribbon ideas and paper garlands proving popular, establishing a wonderfully retro feel.

If you don't have collections of traditional ornaments built up over the years, then places such as Etsy and Ebay have a brilliant range of unique designs to shop.

6. Craft hand-made decorations

Table centerpiece with pine cones

(Image credit: Future)

It doesn't get more old school than embracing DIY Christmas decor ideas. From learning how to make a Christmas wreath, to crafting homemade tree ornaments and dried orange garlands, a touch of the unique and the handmade is a great way to make your home feel more traditional.

This Christmas table centerpiece, featuring slender candles, pine cone decorations and cuttings of foliage, establishes a wonderfully rustic and traditional feel, adding inviting natural character to the dining table. 

Whether you hang hand-made decorations from Christmases past, or start a new Christmas tradition this year by getting involved in a festive craft, a homemade holiday display will always add a cozy, classic charm to your space.


What is a classic Christmas decoration?

From snowflake and angel ornaments to reindeers, bells, and sprigs of holly, there are plenty of traditional motifs that have long been associated with the festive season that can add a classic feel to your decor, ideal for using for your Christmas ornament ideas.

As well as these tree ornaments, other timeless decorations include stockings, festive flowers, foliage, and candles.

If you're wanting to create a more eclectic seasonal scheme this year, and establish a beautiful blend of the old and new, we explore modern Christmas decorating ideas in our dedicated feature – embrace the best of both worlds.

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.