If you haven't already started decorating your home for Christmas, you might want to read this first! Whether you want to go big and bold with your Santa's Grotto scene, or prefer something minimalist, you’ll need to know what Christmas decorations to avoid if you don't want your home looking tacky.
Don't just take our word for it. We've spoken to the design experts, and there are just some festive decorations that should be banished to the past (or trash can) — never to be seen again. What’s more, these can instantly ruin the overall aesthetic of your theme, making it look more garish than glam. So if you’re prone to getting carried away with the tinsel, garlands, giant inflatables or over-the-top lighting, take note.
Knowing exactly what Christmas décor to ditch, you can transform your home into a stylish and more inviting festive backdrop to host your gatherings. So, if you don’t want to turn your home into a cheap festive store, here’s what the experts have to say about the Christmas decorations that will make your home look tacky.
And when it's time to take those decorations down, you can turn to our handy tips on storing Christmas decorations and 7 ways to keep you Christmas lights on without blowing the budget.
1. A mish-mash of themes and colors
While you might enjoy window-shopping for trending Christmas decorations, that doesn’t mean you need to buy them all. You’ll only end up with a mish-mash of different themes and colors that will overwhelm the space. In addition, excess baubles, garlands and wall décor will just look cluttered and uncoordinated.
“Avoid excessive or overly colourful decorations,” advises designer Oliver Steer. “Opt instead for a more minimalist approach, focusing on a few well-chosen pieces. Simplicity can often convey elegance. Stick to a colour scheme that complements your existing décor and avoid clashing or overly bright colours. Traditional choices like white, silver, gold, or muted pastels can provide a sophisticated look”.
Similarly, not having a theme or a plan before decorating is one of the Christmas decorating mistakes we tend to make. “Opting for less expensive lights and ornaments can have a high impact if everything is well matched, by color and material,” agrees Sophie Hill, Marketing and Insight and Innovation at Rothley. “So make sure you’ve picked your main color and metals before you start buying.” Festive themes will help you organize the overall look and display of your decorations cohesively.
2. Novelty tree baubles or ornaments
Another tacky Christmas decoration to avoid are novelty baubles or disposable ornaments. Be it mini fast food shaped decorations, a ‘naughty’ Santa, or other cliché slogans, these have the risk of looking cheap. And while they may add some humour to your Christmas cheer, experts advise against this.
“Invest in high-quality ornaments and decorations that will last,” says Steer, “Avoid cheap and disposable items that may look tacky or fall apart easily. Steer clear of overly generic or cliché Christmas themes. Instead, opt for a unique, personal theme or concept that resonates with your style and interests”.
Similarly, excess gifts can clutter and quickly take over the space. “Save the gifts for Christmas day,” says Sharon Hyde, property expert at David Wilson Homes. “Having lots of presents under the tree can make the space feel very cluttered. Remember, until you open your gifts, they’re acting as decoration in your home. One or two gifts under the tree may look tasteful, but filling the floor with presents can look disorganised.” So if you have small children, they will simply have to wait for Santa Claus!
Buying too many presents is one of the 7 mistakes to avoid when buying holiday gifts.
3. Tinsel overkill
Shimmering tinsel is always associated with the festive season, however, wrapping your entire home with tinsel can look pretty tacky. “Tinsel can be one of the most divisive forms of festive décor, being loved and hated in seemingly equal measure,” agrees Hyde, “When it comes to decoration, less is generally more; you should always opt for quality over quantity. You want any decoration or ornaments to enhance your home, not to distract attention.”
If you do want to style your tree, you can try these alternative festive ways to decorate a Christmas tree in five fabulous ways.
4. Using colored/blinking lights
The holidays wouldn’t be the same without the glow of Christmas lights to give our homes that warm ambiance. Just be sure to pick suitable types that won’t make your home look cheap and tacky.
Experts recommend to stay away from cool whites that emit an almost blue light and will spread harsh and unflattering hues in a home setting. Plus, 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 warm and cosy feel.
“Avoid gaudy, blinking lights and opt for warm, soft, and well-distributed lighting.” agrees Steer, “Consider string lights, candles, or LED candles to create a cosy and inviting atmosphere”.
Alternatively, you could opt for some of the best smart lighting. Find out which smart lights removed the worst part about decorating for the holidays for our Senior Smart Home Editor.
5. Having the wrong sized tree
As much as you want to achieve that Hallmark movie look, an oversized Christmas tree can be an eyesore. Not only do they take up plenty of space in a room, but can often cramp (literally) the overall style — making it look tacky.
”While bigger Christmas trees may feel more festive, they can take up precious space in your home and make the room they’re in feel cramped,” says Hyde, “To avoid this, you can opt for a smaller Christmas tree which won’t take up as much space and prevent your rooms from looking small.”
So whether you have a large or compact living space, choose a Christmas tree in proportion to the size of the room — this will make all the difference. Plus, avoid these 7 Christmas tree decorating mistakes everyone makes for that pro style.
6. Giant inflatables or loud displays
Loud displays or giant inflatables in the yard may feel festive, but avoid trying to replicate your very own Winter Winterland. This will only end up looking tacky and overwhelming. What’s more, the repetitive carols or loud festive songs will soon annoy the neighbors!
“Steer clear of overly comical or whimsical decorations,” says Hyde, “Inflatables on the roof or singing snowmen in the hallway can be distracting. According to David Wilson Homes’ survey, 45% of people said that loud displays detracted from a home’s aesthetic, making it the most disliked Christmas décor trend.”
If you want to create a more elegant Christmas style, keep outdoor decorations to a minimum. Rather than dressing the entire house, you can just stick to the entryway.
Place one or two, large eye-catching pieces, a festive wreath or snow-dusted garland around the door, or even fir-tree planters and lanterns on the porch. Such décor will give the outdoors a classier, welcoming look without scaring people away with overly bright or distracting displays.
7. Overdressing the dinner table
If you’re hosting those holiday gatherings, avoid using over-the-top dining chair covers or tablecloths. From Christmas elf and reindeer designs to bright, busy patterns, these can often 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.”
Instead, opt for something simple and classic, such as these Howhic Velvet Chair Covers for Dining Room Set of 6 ($29, Amazon), that are neutral, elegant and can be used for any special occasion.
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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!