Tacky vs. Tasteful Holiday Decorating

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Produced by Chelsea Land

It’s the holiday season, and you’re driving through a neighborhood only to be blinded by a home with lights on every surface, fixtures crammed in the lawn and multiple automated or inflatable caricatures. We’ve all seen such a holiday display, something most would consider over the top or tacky.

Americans spend approximately $52 billion annually on their holiday shopping, and $6 billion of this is on holiday decorations. But home design experts caution you to spend wisely because there is a fine line between elegant, tasteful décor and the Clark Griswold exuberance of “Christmas Vacation.

Exterior
People can express themselves the most with the exterior of their home. It is what the majority of people will see, and there is plenty of space to be creative with the decorating. This creativity, however, can sometimes take a bad turn.

“I think too much of anything can become tacky,” says Anne Tuckley, the principal designer for Anne Tuckley HOME. “If you can’t even walk through your yard or you have a hard time pulling into the driveway without hitting a bulb, it’s probably a little over the top.”

Tuckley says it’s OK to decorate one part of your exterior extravagantly, but compensate by making everything else simple. “I do my own Magic Tree,” Tuckley says. “It’s the only thing we have lit up outside, and it’s completely over the top, but it’s in one space.”

Christmas Tree
With ornaments that bring back memories of childhood, a vacation or previous holiday season, the tree can be our most personalized holiday decoration.

Because a tree is so individualized, Tuckley says it’s hard to pinpoint what would make one tacky. “It’s really personal and just depends on the person,” she says. “Tinsel is always tacky to me, and so are multicolored flashing lights. I like simple white lights, but again, it’s personal taste.”

If you do plan to fill your tree with ornaments, Tuckley recommends starting with big ornaments and then filling out the tree with smaller ornaments.

“It’s all about what Christmas is to you,” she says. “Some people want it to be all about family and others see it as more of a decorating opportunity for others outside their family.”

Living Room
The focus of the living room is the tree, so it’s important to decorate the room around the tree. “Again, that’s where subtlety comes in,” Tuckley says. “Make it so there’s room to go sit down and open the presents rather than having to get around all of the decorations.”

The coffee table and mantel are the best places to decorate in your living room. “Mantels can be anything from garland to candles to your collection of snowmen and Santa Clauses,” Tuckley says. “The coffee table is also a good place to do a pretty arrangement.”

Dining Room Table
The dining room is the room in the house that is likely used least frequently, but it is where families will gather for their holiday meal.

The tackiest decoration for your table? Paper. “Don’t pull out the paper plates,” Tuckley says. “Go ahead and use your china because you’re not going to any other time of the year.”

Create a setting for your fine china with a festive but small centerpiece. “Making it so you can get to the food and not having anything in the way is important,” Tuckley says. “Also make sure things are low so you can really talk to each other, because Christmas is all about family.”

Tuckley suggests setting up your holiday decorations the day after Thanksgiving, and then taking them down the day after New Year’s Day.

It’s important to realize that what might be tacky to one person may not be to someone else. If you love something, don’t be afraid to use it if it reflects you.

“Every home needs to reflect the personality of the person living there,” Tuckley says. “Embrace the fact that you’re living there and show off who you are.”

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