Design Tips & Tricks for the Holiday Season

From the warmth of the Thanksgiving table surrounded by family & friends to children surrounded by bits of wrapping paper next to a brightly lit tree on Christmas morning, the last 2 months of the year are some of the most joyous for us.  Here are a few helpful hints from our Interior Designer & Lighting Systems Designer to help make your decorations last throughout the winter season & over the years!

  • If you select a neutral theme, it can easily apply not just to a specific holiday, but to the whole season.
  • Focus on a SNOW theme, such as ice skates, igloos, snowflakes, snowmen, icicles, & snowballs.
  • Use NATURE to guide you through the whole season.  Think: holly, pine cones, white pumpkins, icicles, pine trees, amaryllis, & poinsettias.
  • Delicious TREATS, such as: popcorn, wrapped candy, candy canes, marshmallows, gingerbread, & sugar cookies.
  • Do you love ANIMALS?  Take some of these winter-weather animals & incorporate them into your decor to guide a winter-weather theme: polar bears, penguines, turtle doves, quail, reindeer (caribou), & moose.

Make Memories & Traditions

Start in the Fall!

Go on a walk in the late fall to admire all the colorful leaves.  While you're at it, why not collect some decorations?  Each person can carry his or her own basket and a pair of scissors or garden snippers.  Afterward, not only do you get to admire your treasures, but you also get to be reminded of your family experience all season long!

It Smells Like The Holidays!

Your sense of smell alone can create a warm cozy atmosphere.  Baked goods with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice can almost immediately transform your home into a holiday wonderland.  After baking a batch of cookies or other treats you might consider leaving the oven door open to warm up the house a bit & also to allow the delicious smell to permeate your home's rooms.  Of course, if you're not the baker or find yourself running short on time, burning a few scented candles can also fool anyone into thinking you've been hard at work in the kitchen!  Live pine trees, wreaths, and garlands can also give your home that seasonal evergreen aroma.

With the Kids:

Use supplies that you have at home to make your own decorations.  Children really love this, and if you don't save them for later years' decorations, you might place them in a scrapbook and save the memory for years to come.  This also allows you to incorporate crafts that your child may make in school.

If you already have the basics, you can start a new tradition with your family by adding one ornament or decoration per family member each year.  Let your children find one new item to add to the family's decorations each year and you'll create new memories to share each year while decorating for the holidays!

Stay Eco-Friendly: 

Buying new gift wrap every year can be a waste of paper.  If you wrap gift box lids and bases separately, you'll be able to reuse these boxes for several years.  To get a new look each year, you can buy different ribbons to tie around the gift boxes.

Purchase a live Christmas tree with the root ball still in tact and you'll be able to plant it in your yard to add to the landscaping.  Each year, you'll be able to have fresh garlands & pine to decorate your home with.

Holiday Lighting

We all have a picture in our minds of the perfect holiday setting & it typically looks something like this:  a roaring fire, candles in the window, a house lit up from bottom to top, with snow gently blanketing the ground.  Lighting up the interior & exterior of one's home can be fun & exciting, and needn't be dangerous, frustrating, or expensive.  Here are some tips from Gramophone's own, full-time Lighting Systems Designer.

Safety First

  • Before putting up any lights, take a minute to inspect the plugs & strings.  You're looking for any frayed, exposed, or corroded copper wires.  If you do come across any wires that are questionable, don't use them; they could be harmful to you and/or others.
  • You'll also want to make sure your house can handle the load of lights that you want to use.  All lighting packages have wattage & load information listed.  If you're not sure, you'll want to call an electrician, so that you don't cause damage.
  • After your inspection is complete, and before you start wrapping your house in lights, plug in your strings of lights.  Take it from me: There is nothing worse than discovering only half of the string is working AFTER you've finished stringing the lights around your house.  Sometimes it only takes a single dead bulb to take the fun out of the holidays!
  • Make sure the strings of lights you plan to use to decorate outside are rated for outdoor use, as strings rated for indoor use don't have the same coatings that protect from moisture and other effects of the outdoors.

Reusing, Repairing, & Recycling Strings of Lights

  • There's a great tool called the Light Keeper PRO 01201 to help repair a string of lights or a pre-lit tree.  By using this tool, you can take the guesswork out of troubleshooting a bad string of lights.  If you want to reuse last year's strings of lights without the frustration of swapping out each light until you find "the one", get yourself the Light Keeper PRO
  • If you do choose to get rid of last year's strings & buy new ones, please recycle!  Your unwanted strings have copper wiring and shouldn't be thrown in the trash.  Instead, you can take them to a recycling center or bring them to Gramophone, where we'll make sure to have them recycled.

Types of Light Bulbs for String Lights Can Help You Save Energy

  • LED (light emitting diode) may be the way to go.  You'll spend a bit more up front, but save in longevity & power consumption.  LED lights can last up to 20,000 hours & use between 75% - 90% less energy than the traditional incandescent string lights.
  • If you should want to switch to LED bulbs there are a few things you should know: 
    • Some LEDs may not be as bright as your incandescent bulbs, but since they have an especially low power consumption, you'll be able to use more strings (just remember to make sure you pay attention to the load on your house's circuit so you don't overload it!)
    • If you're looking for that "warm" glow that incandescent bulbs have, you'll want to look for LED bulbs that have a color temperature between 2,700-3,000 degrees Kelvin.  Sometimes LED bulbs can have a "cooler" glow that tends to have a blue tint, so don't be too surprised if you plug in that string of LED bulbs and they don't have the yellowish tint you're used to!
  • Using LEDs in window candles is also a good idea, as they produce very little heat, which means they're safer than their incandescent counterpart, which can scorch window coverings or rugs if the bulb happens to fall.

More Energy Saving Tips

  • Using automatic timers for your holiday lights can help you save energy by only having your lights on during prime times.
  • Here at Gramophone, we employ the use of lighting systems that have built in astronomic calendar that is used to monitor sunrise & sunset every day.  Through simple programming, we can set up your lighting to come on at sunset and turn off at anytime you wish or sunrise.  As costs of energy escalate, holiday decorations (especially exterior ones) need not be left on while the sun is still up. Timers and light sensor devices can help you manage the night to night operations of your holiday lighting.
  • Using energy monitoring tools, like a Powerhouse Dynamics e-monitor or BlueBOLT® system, you'll be able to fully grasp where most of your energy costs come from & make adjustments as necessary.  We can show you how these systems work, and how to use them from your iPad or smartphone.

Share your holiday decoration photos with us on our Facebook page! 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Gramophone!