Christmas Countdown to
Nancy Abercrombie enjoys shopping and planning for Christmas year-round, but the physical process of readying her Atlanta-area home actually starts after Halloween. “I try to be completely finished the week before Thanksgiving; that way, I have quite a few weeks to enjoy the decorations before they all come down,” she explains. This veteran decorator offers several tried-and-true ideas to help you create your own holiday magic.
Shop till you drop. Throughout the year, keep your eye out for items that might fit a certain theme or that spark your imagination. “No matter what the time of year or wherever we go, I am always thinking about decorating ideas and looking for things I can use,” Nancy says.
Start early. Nancy begins planning in the summer and starts making some of her centerpieces, wreaths and garlands while others are still lounging poolside. She stores her more than 300 boxes of decorations in a Williamsburg-style structure Dan built next to their home.
Find meaning. Choose items that have some meaning to you. “In one of my kitchen vignettes, you will see a plaid metal lunch box like the one I always carried to school. In it are a vintage Santa and Mrs. Claus that belonged to a family member,” Nancy notes.
Stick to a theme. Nancy puts up a total of 29 trees inside and outside the house. Most of the trees feature a theme, which allows her to seek out specific ornaments and trims and experiment with a variety of styles. For example, a dining room tree sparkles with childhood ornaments, and the master bedroom tree is spangled with country baskets.
Work the room. Create vignettes that reflect a room’s purpose or the style of the everyday decor. For her kitchen, Nancy made a holiday vignette out of a rolling pin and two old cake pans filled with some cookie cutters and small holiday and baking-themed items.
Get lit. Add candles in the windows and strings of fairy lights to every tree and garland you can. “Lighting has always been a huge factor for me,” Nancy enthuses. “The ambience adds so much to any room.”
Far left: Bottle-brush trees and a vintage Mr. and Mrs. Claus are tucked into a tartan lunch tote that recalls past school days. Left: A tiered stand made from cake pans and a rolling pin is the perfect container for wee gingerbread fellows, cookie cutters and other baking-related fare. Above: Rustic ornaments combine with stars and tiny houses on one of the five trees found throughout the kitchen.