Over the last 17 years, we’ve decorated a whole bunch of houses for the holidays and it means that we have favorite methods and items when it comes to decking the halls. And why is finding the best Christmas tree lights so hard?! The point is, we’ve tried a ton of holiday decor, and this post is your one-stop shop for photos, ideas, info, and links to our favorite things – from the faux Christmas trees that we like best to our go-to outdoor lights (if you ask John’s special eyes, there is definitely a correct temperature).
In this post we’ll cover all of our favorite:
- Artificial Christmas Trees
- Outdoor Faux Evergreen Trees
- Real Holiday Greenery
- Christmas Lights & Light Timers
- Tabletop Holiday Decor
- Other Holiday Decor Items
Wherever possible, we’ve linked to the actual items we’ve purchased. But since holiday decor often goes out of stock or is seasonal, we’ve done our best to link similar items whenever the original one isn’t available.
Our Favorite Artificial Christmas Trees
In our current smaller home, we love this tree because it’s not too wide or tall or overwhelming, and it’s 6.5 foot height and narrower base easily tucks into various corners and nooks. Here’s the 6.5′ prelit Christmas tree that’s extremely similar to what we use and love for our current house (and very well-rated). We put ours into this wicker storage ottoman. If that’s not available, this woven tree collar is another way to add texture.
This is our exact same 6.5′ Christmas tree in another spot in our house – it really does slip into almost any nook or corner thanks to being narrower at the base. The spot below makes it perfectly framed by our glass front door from the street, and we can enjoy it from the downstairs hangout area, the kitchen, and even the door to our bedroom.
This is the 7.5′ artificial Christmas tree we used for MANY years in our previous larger home. Even after the pre-lit light strands burnt out after a few years, we rewrapped it with our own lights because we loved how full and real it looked. This might forever go down as the most real-looking tree we have ever owned. People would literally touch it because once it was decorated and lit it looked so convincingly real.
This is a whole foot taller and a few feet wider than the narrower tree we shared above. It’s great for a more grand space where you have room for a wider, larger tree. Also, we’re huge fans of draping a few faux sheepskin rugs around the base for a cozy feeling.
This is the 6.5ft “Charlie Brown” tree we used in our pink beach house for a charming little tree that was nice and compact to store. Like the first tree we shared, it’s not too wide at the base, so it can slip into most spaces, and the spaced-out branches really showcase your ornaments or a pretty little garland. Here’s a similar tree if that’s out of stock (or you’re looking to save $100). And once again we added a faux sheepskin rug at the base to crank up the cozy-factor.
Here’s a similar 3ft tabletop tree like the one we used in our bonus room with a faux sheepskin rug around the bottom. We loved filling that one with sweet little felt ornaments and of course, bacon ornaments (as one does). This is a really great tree for a more casual family room or bonus room, or even a kids room if they’d love one for their own room.
And lastly, this is the Christmas tree storage bag we used for storing our larger tree in our last home’s attic. So handy! Held up so well, and the handles are so much easier than trying to bring tree-in-a-box up and down the attic stairs.
These are the exact smaller faux evergreen trees that we used at the duplex and the beach house year round – they’re great for the holidays and also look so real for everyday life. No need to add lights – but they’re definitely cute if you add those like we did to the larger faux trees above (here are our favorite LED Chistmas lights).
Our Favorite Real Holiday Greenery
Sometimes there’s just nothing like the real thing – so here are three places that we have enjoyed adding real greenery over the holidays. In Richmond every winter I did a wreath-making event with friends & family and the giant magnolia wreaths that I made every year lasted a good month or two. Here’s a similar fresh wreath that’s sent right to your door.
We also love the fresh garlands that Trader Joe’s sells (I think Costco has them too). Just a few nails on the top corners of the window trim are enough to hold a long stretch of it over the kitchen sink or a large living room window. You can also have ones like this live garland delivered.
We’ve also enjoyed various real tabletop trees, both in previous houses and this one. The photo below is a little one that we bought locally here (you can also get similar live tabletop trees delivered).
Our Favorite Christmas Lights & Light Timers
When in doubt… add string lights! And when lazy, add timers for no-effort holiday glow.
The only kind of string lights we use both indoors and outdoors are WARM WHITE. Any other white won’t give you that cozy glow. LEDs have been slow to catch up to traditional bulbs, but we’ve finally been making the transition to these warm white LED Christmas lights and they’re GREAT. In fact, when some of the string lights in our tree were out this year, we cut them off and added these lights instead. They’ll last a lot longer, have some awesome twinkle settings, and also come in a multicolor version if you prefer that for your tree. And they’re indoor/outdoor, so they really do it all.
We’ve also used battery-operated LED fairy lights as a super affordable way to add holiday glow to mantles, garlands, and even vases (like the pretty glowing one you see below – it takes just a second and looks so festive!). They also make solar-powered fairy lights for outdoor use that come on automatically at sundown.
For inside lights, we use these compact smart plugs to turn our trees on & off without having to bend over and squeeze behind the tree to find the plug. They respond to voice controls (“Alexa, turn off the Christmas tree”) and we can also add them to our existing Alexa routines so they go off with the rest of our lights each night.
Also, in case the idea of installing a smart plug sounds intimidating, we made a video of the whole process! It’s easy and you can do it right from your phone:
Note: You can also watch this video on YouTube
We also use this simple outdoor timer for easy set-and-forget control of our holiday lights. It has two outlets, multiple settings, and even comes with a remote if you want to override their programmed on and off times. We also own this smart outdoor timer for our year-round patio lights, so it’s a great option if you want even more on-demand control of them.
Our Favorite Tabletop Holiday Decor
Some of my favorite things to come out of our holiday storage closet every year are the tabletop touches. I don’t think I’ve ever met a feather tree (or a bottle brush tree, or a mercury glass tree) that I didn’t instantly love.
We own a PLETHORA of feather trees like the one on the top level of the photo above. And I love mixing those with bottlebrush trees and light-up mercury glass trees. More recently we’ve added small wooden pink trees like these to the mix too.
I also love a dough bowl full of shiny ornaments – you can make it easy with inexpensive shatterproof ornaments or get fancy with beautiful glass ornaments like these. It’s so simple (we literally store it this way, with these ornaments in it) to pull out and place on a console table, media cabinet, or in the middle of the kitchen table.
We purchased this beautiful Menorah to celebrate my dad’s side of the family each holiday season. I grew up in a house with a tree and a Menorah for my entire childhood and love the tradition of lighting the candles with the kids.
Another sweet and easy way to add some holiday charm to any kitchen is a cute little decorative plate with something that feels holiday-themed just leaning against the wall, on a shelf, or above the stove. Car with a tree on it? Sign me up. Here are some similar vintage plates and these gingerbread plates would be adorable too!
Never underestimate the power of a bowl of ornaments and clippings from an evergreen tree outside (free decor, baby). I also love to use things you have year-round, like adding a holiday message to a letterboard like this.
The most recent addition to our tabletop brigade of things that make me so happy are these iridescent trees from the dollar spot at Target (not available online or I’d link them). I own 14 of them, and… no regrets! Here are some similar iridescent trees from Amazon or you can find the actual Target ones on eBay!
Other Favorite Holiday Decor Items
Sometimes things defy categories, so here are a few miscellaneous holiday items we love that didn’t fit into the sections above. This wreath that we got at Target is really realistic looking! We had ours for many years (it still lives on at the beach house!) and it looks great and didn’t fade. They don’t sell the exact one anymore, but this faux spruce wreath looks super realistic and this holiday wreath with oranges is very cute.
I’m definitely a fan of stockings that look cozy enough to take a nap in (if you were in a Honey-I-Shrunk-The-Kids situation). So here are two options that have a similar look: 1) these adorable knitted stockings with tassels & bits of metallic gleam, 2) these white cable knit stockings. Oh and I added those elephant chains to each of them myself (mine are about 10 years old but these elephants are so similar!).
And last but definitely not least, perhaps my favorite mom-pun of all time: BOOTS WITH THE FIR! All it takes is some rubber rain boots + some faux branches (or real branches from a nearby pine tree!). Such a charming porch addition to literally any front stoop or porch.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put on my apple-bottom jeans and laugh for the next 10-12 minutes at my own joke.
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