Learning Holiday Decorating from Scratch Begins with Patience

practice makes perfect with interior design this holiday season

By Jonny Lupsha, News Writer

When it comes to holiday decorating, avoid the “kitchen sink” approach, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper has published five tips on avoiding disastrous décor this holiday season, focusing on not overdoing it all. Despite the hard year 2020 has been, maybe less is more.

Young man putting up christmas lights on roof
This holiday season while spending so much time at home, plan out what decorations would truly make your home festive and fun. Photo By mooremedia / Shutterstock

The Wall Street Journal has reported on holiday decorating for the year and what is recommended. “In this historically strange holiday season, we’re counting on tinsel’s historically documented ability to inspire cheer,” the article said. It also cited an artist who is “over the over-the-top approach” and suggested that holiday decorating should accent your normal interior design rather than compete with it or dominate over it.

“Reckless festooning is just one of the common Yuletide décor gaffes that make design pros cringe,” the article said.

Many new home decorators fear making mistakes, but there are many things to consider to alleviate those concerns.

A One-Time Thing?

If you’re a newcomer to the decorating scene, before diving in to decorate your home for the holidays, it can be worth asking yourself if this will likely be a one-time ordeal or the beginning of a new tradition. This difference can help determine how much of your time, money and effort you devote to learning this new skill.

“Before going any further, it is important no matter what path you pursue to set a goal and commit to a length of time that you are pursuing this goal,” said Professor Carrie Patterson, Professor of Art at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “If your goal is more open-ended, you should set smaller goals while also being aware of a long-term goal.

“It is great to see artwork in the actual place where it is created; you can learn all sorts of things about making by visiting the studios of other artists.”

In terms of holiday decoration, it may not be wise to knock on strangers’ doors and ask if you can come in and see their garland hanging skills, but online research and friends with experience can go a long way.

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Professor Patterson also said to keep in mind that your first attempt at a visual project doesn’t make it set in stone.

“Rarely is the first attempt at anything a success,” she said. “Success in making art hinges on the ability of the maker to see versions of their idea in multiple forms. The faster you move through ideas and really crank up the productivity, the more successful you will be in working it out.”

In this, she said, drafts are key. Whether you sketch ideas of how your home will look or try five different places to put the same decoration, it’s good to exhaust options and spark your creative side.

“Time can be helpful here,” Professor Patterson said. “Allow yourself to get some distance from your creation—give it an hour or a day or a week before you come back to it. Look at it at different times of the day; look at it in different media. Many artists take photographs of their works in progress to see the works in a new way.”

By deciding early on if your holiday decorating is just for 2020—like if you’re taking this year off from an annual visit to family—or if you’d like to do it every year, you can pick how much to invest in it this year. Then, not staying too attached to your first attempt can help you change the things that look different in practice than they did in your head. Being flexible and realistic with your goals will help alleviate stress during the decorating process.

This article was proofread and copyedited by Angela Shoemaker, Proofreader and Copy Editor for The Great Courses Daily.

Professor Carrie Patterson contributed to this article. Professor Patterson is a Professor of Art at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She earned her BFA in Studio Art from James Madison University and her MFA in Painting from the University of Pennsylvania.

About Jonny Lupsha, News Writer 680 Articles
Jonny is a freelance writer and novelist who lives in Sterling, Virginia. He has written for The Great Courses since 2017 and enjoys studying the courses as much as writing about them. Contact Jonny at lupshaj@teachco.com