The city is brimming with lights and you’re sipping cocoa from a red cup — ‘tis the season for scarves, extra layers, parties, and plenty of holiday cheer! And the best thing about celebrating the holidays as an adult is having the opportunity to start your own traditions, starting with the décor. Don’t let the small city apartment stop you from enjoying the best time of the year — bring some of the winter festivities indoors, and deck your own halls with boughs of holly. We rounded up the best tips from design experts to get your tiny apartment holiday ready.
1. Holiday Tree Fake Out
Can’t squeeze your traditional pine tree between your futon, coffee table and TV stand? Don’t fret — you have plenty of options to substitute for your holiday tree. Bronwen Smith of New York City floral and event design company, B Floral, offers a creative solution to cheer up your space.
“Instead of adding extra items to your décor, replace the existing ones with seasonal variations,” she suggests. “For example, holiday dish towels, bathroom towels, and pillowcases are a great way to add joyful style to your home without taking up additional space.”
Missing that fresh tree smell? We feel ya. Luckily, David Schneider, an expert on healthy and sustainable decorating from Schneider Kennedy Design, has a hack for that (and it’s free!).
“We go to Christmas tree lots and pick up trimmings and branches or leaves that are cut off the trees,” he says. “We tie them together with rafia and hang them, so they don’t take up floor space. You can do it with very little labor, and it looks and smells awesome.”
Try adding LED lights, ribbon or ornaments to the clippings to spruce them up even more.
2. A Natural Touch
If you find yourself missing the beauty of Mother Nature in the middle of your urban jungle existence, you’ll love this holiday decorating idea. Not only is it practically free, but it’ll give you an nostalgic flashback to elementary school art class.
“Get pinecones from a park near you, and apply Elmer’s Glue to the ends, then sprinkle on glitter,” says Schneider.
“You can string them with fishing line or put them in baskets around the room. You’re recycling something, it’s fragrant and it costs nothing.”
Smells like winter? Check. A little sparkle? Check.
3. Holiday Hosting
If all your friends are heading over with apps and yummy desserts for a low-key celebration, you need to give the place a little cheer. For the holiday host or hostess, this is your time to shine!
“When decorating a small space or a small table-scape, stay in a monochromatic theme,” suggests Smith.
“Sticking with the same color palette will make the space seem larger and more expansive. I love pairing whites and champagnes with hints of silver. This exudes a classic holiday look without using too many contrasting colors.”
Pull some of the stuff you already have laying around — think vases, candle holders — and add wintery additions. And even better? Decorating with neutral colors means you can use your decor well into winter, not just for the holidays.
4. Season of Light
Something about twinkling lights and gathering around a fireplace ignites the holiday spirit in everyone — even those roommates not celebrating Christmas. But if you’re concerned about having an outrageous electricity bill or just want to be more eco-friendly, Schneider recommends a safe and reusable option.
“Battery-operated menorahs with LED lights use very little energy and are safe. You can take it out if the box and use it every year.”
Since this is a piece you’ll use for a long time, it’s worth splurging to buy one you love. Bonus: no wax cleanup!
And no matter what holiday you’re celebrating, candles give the essence of a special celebration. Schneider offers another environmentally friendly option if you’re a candle fiend.
“Try beeswax candles; there’s no artificial scent. If you’re going to buy a scented candle, be sure it’s an all-natural wax that way the smell being released isn’t unhealthy.”
Etsy is a great resource to scour for your perfect holiday candle, or you can check out your nearby farmer’s or holiday market for a local find.
5. Holiday Florals
For a super easy last-minute option, grab a bouquet of seasonal flowers to add as a centerpiece to your holiday table. Effortless and beautiful, they’re ideal for the holiday decorator who hates a big cleanup. Not sure if you have a green thumb? Smith offers her expert tips for even the elementary gardeners.
“The moment you cut your stems to create your arrangement, place them immediately into warm water. As with all florals, don’t forget to change out the water every few days! Never place your flowers or plants next to heating units. This will cause them to wilt and die more quickly.”