7 Christmas decorating mistakes to avoid, according to experts

House covered with Christmas lighting
House covered with Christmas lighting (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Decorating the home for Christmas is always the magical part of the holiday season. Unless you’re a Scrooge, who doesn’t love the twinkle and glow of fairy lights, or the enjoyment of dressing the Christmas tree? But while we may want to create our very own Santa’s Grotto, there are common Christmas decorating mistakes to avoid.

If you’re prone to getting carried away with giant or mismatched ornaments, or over-the-top lighting, you could well be making a holiday decor faux pas. By stamping out the mistakes, you’ll have a pretty impressive, stylish Christmas backdrop to host your festive gatherings. So whether you’re just starting to decorate or want to revamp your existing display, here’s what the experts have to say on the decorating mistakes to steer clear of. And when it's time to take those decorations down, you can turn to our additional tips on storing Christmas decorations.

1. Forgetting to clean first

Christmas cleaning

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Before you start unpacking the Christmas decorations, it’s important to have a clean (and clear) space. After all, you don’t want to set your beautiful decorations on dusty surfaces or surrounded by clutter. Give your home a good clean, ensuring you wipe down the surfaces, and vacuum floors. In addition, declutter your space before adding in your Christmas decorations, as you don’t want an overstuffed mess. It’s better to have a clean slate for your decorations to shine and look presentable.  

 2. Ignoring your existing interior style 

Free Zoom background Christmas

Christmas decorations in living room (Image credit: Hallmark Channel)

Another decorating mistake is not working with your home’s natural style.  “One common mistake made when decorating for Christmas is ignoring the room’s existing decor,” suggests Niloufar Lamakan, founder of Nila Design. “It’s best to pick a style and colors that compliment the current design, rather than choosing a variety of decorations that may look fabulous in the shop but will clash once introduced into your home.” So take a good look at your interior style, and decorate in a way that will work well with the colors or design, rather than against it. 

3. Over-decorating your home 

House covered with Christmas lighting

House covered with Christmas lighting (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another common mistake is to cover every inch of the home, and go overboard with decorations or lighting. But while you want to incorporate your favorite styles, this often ends up looking overwhelming. If you want to make a big impact, experts advise to focus on just two or three focal points, such as the mantel or the entryway. 

Also, consider the size of your Christmas tree. "It’s important to look out for the size of the tree, as getting a very big and full tree will make a small space feel even tinier, advises Chris Bonnett, the founder of Gardening Express. "Plus, you need to avoid locating a real tree near a radiator or heater to avoid dehydration and a shortened lifespan."

In addition, over-the-top dining chair covers can look cheap or tacky. “When it comes to styling dining chairs, I personally love to keep things clean, relaxed, and simple," suggests Sam Baldry, Head of Design at Swoon. "Let your delicious delicacies take center stage, and allow your guests to sit back and relax in a uber comfortable chair that will keep them eager at the table for hours of entertainment to come.” 

Similarly, oversized baubles or decorations that take over the space can look cluttered or messy. Less is more, so stick to a suitable amount. 

4. Having no theme (or plan!) 

A decorated pink Christmas tree

A decorated pink Christmas tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, not having a theme or a plan before decorating is another mistake we tend to make. As a result, homes will often look like an overwhelming mish-mash of various styles or bright colors. Themes will help you organize the overall look and display of your decorations elegantly.

“Having blue and silver or gold and red as the main thread works wonders for an elegant look, and mixing all color and over-decorating can make it look messy and chaotic,” suggests Sophie Hill, Marketing and Insight and Innovation at Rothley. “Opting for less expensive lights and ornaments can have a high impact if everything is well matched, by color and material so make sure you’ve picked your main color and metals before you start buying.” This way, your decorations will look more cohesive, stylish and visually pleasing. 

5. Not getting the right lighting 

LED Christmas lights

LED Christmas lights (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the annual fairy lights, but another common mistake is picking the wrong lighting to suit our home. “Getting the lighting right is crucial to achieving a welcoming Christmas atmosphere,” advises Lamakan. “Stay away from cool whites that emit an almost blue light and will spread harsh and unflattering hues in a home setting. Always check the light’s color temperature on the packaging, and choose a warm white light (2700K) which is the nearest color to natural light and will create a cosy feel.” 

If you want to achieve brighter Christmas tree lights, check out this TikTok Christmas tree lighting hack that is a game-changer. 

6. Not making it personal 

Homemade tree decorations

Homemade tree decorations (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Most of the popular Christmas decorations are mass-produced and sold, so you’re likely to find these in many households. If you want to really stand out and look unique, why not make your own decorations? In addition, you can place sentimental items around such as old, framed photographs or mementos that are personal to you or the family. Adding a personal touch to your Christmas tree or decorations can make a huge impact.  

If you decide to make your own decorations, you might also be interested in how to make the best holiday cards and you can use some of the same materials. 

7. Not considering safety issues 

Man installing christmas lights on roof

Man installing Christmas lights on roof (Image credit: Shutterstock)

While it’s easy to get caught up in the festive cheer, we often overlook the safety issues when putting up Christmas decorations. Whether you’re hanging up lights outside of the home or indoors, always ensure all electrical cords are out of reach and away from places where children might play. If you enjoy the soft glow of candles, always place them at a safe distance from people, and away from anything flammable. Better still, invest in flameless LED candles such as these Flickering Flameless Candles ($21, Amazon), which look just as good as the real thing. You want to minimize any potential accidents for the holidays. 

Did you know you can learn how to grow a Christmas tree and keep it for next year? And if you have pets, here's how to keep cats out of the Christmas tree.  
If you're after alternative Christmas tree ideas, check out these 5 festive ways to decorate a Christmas tree.

Next: Looking for something to watch this Christmas? Check out the 10 best Hallmark Christmas movies.   

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!