Brian Patrick Flynn, a Los Angeles-based interior designer and executive producer of HGTV.com's "Holiday House," says he reinvented the look and feel of Christmas in his own house.
Here he and two other design experts -- Jon Call of Mr. Call Designs and Betsy Burnham of Burnham Design -- offer suggestions on shaking up holiday decorating.
On the night before Christmas Eve, Call's family makes new stockings by sewing together large pieces of felt using a simple blanket stitch.
"We top off each one with our name and the year," he said. "Making these stockings gives us all something to do the night before Christmas Eve, and we share memories and laughter along the way."
A Christmas tree doesn't have to stay parked in one place. Flynn recommends putting a small tree on wheels (maybe in a vintage metal wagon or an old metal washtub with casters on the bottom) so you can change its location when you're entertaining to create space or to bring extra holiday style to a different room.
Another option choosing an understated color palette.
"This year I created a tone-on-tone tree using all shades of light gray," Flynn said. "To do this right, it's all about having a balance of texture, finish, shape, scale and proportion."
Try a white tree if you'll be using light colors and neutrals, or a green tree with decorations in earth tones.
To shake up your tree's decorations, Call suggests going with a theme.
"Last year for a client, I indulged in masses of vintage mercury-glass ornaments of all sizes and shapes. Silver was literally dripping off the tree," he said.
"This year we are creating a completely edible tree, including childhood favorites such as homemade popcorn balls, small sacks of chocolates tied with a ribbon and hung from the branches, and pungent gingerbread."
If you have minimal space, cluster a bunch of white poinsettias. They set a holiday tone and look "almost like snowfall."
Or create your own "tree" out of branches: "In my kitchen, I love to fill a large galvanized pot with armfuls of branches full of red berries," Call said. "As the season progresses, I simply clip incoming cards to the arrangement so that everyone can enjoy. Everyone loves to come and check out my 'family tree.'"
All about the mantel
For homes with a flat-panel TV mounted above the mantel, he has a high-tech idea: Burn images to DVD that coordinate with the accessories you lay out on your mantel, then let the DVD run during holiday entertaining.
For one project, Flynn displayed colorful pop art images (including a reindeer by artist Jonathan Fenske) on the TV, and then put colorful items like candy in apothecary jars and brightly colored ornaments on the mantel.
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