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Divine Designs

12/02/2014 08:51AM ● Published by Aimee Cormier

Gallery: Holiday Decorating 2014 [12 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Lisa Hanchey • Submitted Photos

The holiday season is in full swing, but don’t panic – it’s not too late to add a festive touch to your trees, tables, doors, mantles, staircases, bedrooms and beyond. 

For inspiration, we checked with some of Acadiana’s best holiday designers that were featured at the recent Festival Of Trees Gala, now under the auspices of Hearts of Hope, a non-profit organization aiding victims of sexual abuse and assault. Here are the latest trends, tips and tricks they shared concerning decorating for the holidays. They also made recommendations for easy design projects and revealed their favorite “go to” pieces. 

Trends In Holiday Decorating

What do you see as the hottest trend in holiday decorating?  

Ted Viator, Viator and Associates, The Gardenaire

This year’s trend is glitzy; combining glitz with nature and a lot of colors that pop. For some designers, it’s all about the bling. But others prefer to “Keep Christ in Christmas.” 

Cameron Foreman, Store Manager/Consultant, Joey’s of Lafayette

The hottest trends in holiday decorating are using many fillers, like florals, ribbons, beaded garland and Swarovski crystal embellishments. 

Michael Doumit, Off Premise Catering Consultant and Mardi Gras Coordinator, City Club at River Ranch 

Because I visit so many lovely homes during the holiday season, I am so happy to see more religious-inspired decorations. I so believe in “Keeping the Christ in Christmas,” and to me, this is the best trend. 

Vicki McMahon, Registered Interior Designer

Trends by their very nature are temporary and disposable. I urge my clients to avoid trends and to make their holiday décor meaningful and relevant. The goal of Christmas decorating is to create a holiday environment that brings peace and renewal to the client and to their family; not to allow some temporary trend. 

My goal is to create a setting that is memorable, warm, happy and inviting – the décor equivalent of a Currier & Ives scene.  I try to create a beautiful setting for great Christmas memories. 


Easy Design Projects

What is an easy design project for someone who is a novice, or someone who is short on time?

Ted Viator

Place blooming plants like poinsettias or a bunch of cut greens in clay pots, and
tie bundles of greens with pretty ribbon. 

Cameron Foreman

Premade wreaths, garland and pre-lit trees are easy-to-do designs. 

Michael Doumit

For the exterior of your home, use a Christmas wreath on the most used entrance. If you are creative, purchase a plain wreath and add your favorite Christmas items whether it is ornaments, pretty waxed fruit or silk poinsettia. If you haven’t the time just purchase a decorated wreath. For inside the home if you are short on time then place a fresh poinsettia on your dining table and mantle and surround the plants with greenery and tiny ornaments.

Vicki McMahon

A very easy and cost effective décor tip is to bring in natural elements from outside, like greenery from Leland cypress tress, magnolia leaves, holly berries, nuts, pinecones and Spanish moss. 

When buying or collecting Christmas décor items, always try to focus on larger rather than smaller items because large items can really make a statement that small items cannot. For example, fresh greenery such as large wreaths or garland across your front entry will make much more of a design statement than a Christmas village or a small item on a table. Bigger pieces make for better placement and bigger impact. 

If you are short on time or money, don’t focus on trying to create a beautiful Christmas tree. Instead focus on creating a beautiful entrance. Whether it is just wreaths and garland, or something more, entrances can be just as impactful as a Christmas tree. You can say the same for fireplace mantles, coffee tables and dining room tables. They can all be just as impactful as a tree from a design standpoint, but it can be done in a lot less time and by spending a lot less money. 

Another very smart and cost effective design plan is to incorporate your personal and family story into your Christmas décor. If a family has young children, and if their kids have done any type of Christmas artwork such as a nativity drawing or a Santa Claus picture, I suggest that they save those items and use them in their Christmas décor by framing them or incorporating them into an ornament.  I also suggest collecting ornaments and Christmas décor items that mean something to you or that celebrate some chapter in your life.  

I love when a Christmas tree tells a story about the family living in the home.  You can find ornaments to celebrate marriage, births, travels, pets, college alma mater, blessings, or people that are dear to you.  Ornaments that incorporate photographs are a great way to accomplish that.  I like the idea of having ornaments that commemorate the various seasons a family has experienced through the years. Also, ornaments celebrating the birth of Jesus help keep the focus of the holidays on what is important.

A Few Of Their Favorite Things

What’s your favorite room, thing, etc. to decorate?  

Ted Viator

The kitchen or keeping room, because it can be cozy. Also, the dining room table – it can be elegant or very fun.

Cameron Foreman

My favorite rooms and things to decorate are chandeliers, mantles and table displays. I love using existing pieces in the home like urns and pottery for trees. Tabletop trees save space and are just as beautiful as large floor models. I believe every room needs a little holiday magic.

Michael Doumit

My Christmas tree is my favorite of all favorites to decorate. I have two sets of decorations for my tree. The first set is my old fashioned tree where I use all of my favorite ornaments that I have had forever. The ornaments are a collection of hodgepodge decorations, from beautiful porcelain balls and angels to glittering stars and snowflakes. 

The second décor I love is my tiny ornament tree where I have hundreds of assorted petite prisms, stars and snowflakes along with many religious ornaments. I place them on the entire tree starting with the very smallest at the top of the tree and graduate in size to the bottom. I place my tree in my living room where I can enjoy gazing at it the whole season.

Vicki McMahon

I have a number of favorite things when it comes to Christmas decorations. Among my favorites are nativity scenes, mantles, dinning rooms, wreaths and outdoor decorations. 

Nativity sets would be at the top of my list. Lots of people focus on Christmas trees, but I think nativity scenes really bring the focus of Christmas back to what it should really be about, so I try to make that a key element of the overall decorations when possible. 

Mantles not only are usually the center focal point of the room, but they also conjure up pleasant memories.  As children, we all have the image in our mind of Santa coming down the chimney.  It is also where children hang their stockings for Santa to fill them.  As parents, we frequently have memories of our children opening up their Christmas presents in front of the mantle.  

The mantle is basically the focal point of Christmas from a design point of view.  I love to decorate mantles.  My favorite Christmas décor idea is to put a nativity scene on the mantle over the fireplace.  This more or less ties the central focal point of the Christmas season with the visual focal point of the room.  Most people decorate the mantle with garland, but I like using the Nativity scene because it is kind of unexpected, yet in a good way.

I love to set a beautiful table.  I love to use garland, magnolia leaves, and berries to accent the table.  But, I try to keep all décor at a low level and not oversize the decorations.  The idea is not to impede conversation or interaction between those sitting at the table for the meal.  The décor and setting of a dining room table should serve the goal of fellowship and connection.  

I love wreaths!  The circular design of wreaths symbolizes eternity and God, which kind of makes them special and the perfect Christmas décor addition.  They are also welcoming and beautiful.  You can put them anywhere: at your entrance, on top of a mantle, on top of a door, in a foyer, over a window or on the wall above a bed.  In the past, I definitely had a strong preference for live wreaths, but now, they are making some artificial wreaths that look just as good as the live wreaths, so I can go with either.  The artificial wreaths can be used season after season, but the live wreaths still give out that wonderful scent.  There is nothing like the smell of a live tree or wreath to create that Christmas feeling.  Also, if you are looking for a way to make your front door stunning, a large live wreath can create an amazing impact.

Outdoor decorations are also a favorite of mine.  I really like lots of white lights, especially on outdoor trees.  I love using magnolia leaves and boxwood wreaths, boxwoods draped with white lights and red holly berries. I have a definite preference for the natural elements as opposed to glitzy and glittery.

“Go To” Pieces

What is your “go to” piece, idea, design element etc. when you decorate?

Ted Viator

 I enjoy using natural elements such as tree branches, magnolia; berries.

Cameron Foreman

My “go to” idea is to start out with a theme and color scheme. Traditional or contemporary is a personal choice, depending on your home color and design.

Michael Doumit

Angels, angels, angels! I use them everywhere, from the top of my tree to anywhere in my house.

Vicki McMahon

I don’t really have a “go to” design element that I regularly use. It depends on the client’s house and what items they already have that we can use, and it depends on their tastes and preferences.  I try to think of every house as a fresh canvas on which to create, so I really don’t like to rely on doing the same thing.

But for Christmas, I have to confess to using magnolia leaves as my “go to” décor item.  I think they are absolutely beautiful.  They make everything more attractive and more natural. They can be put on a table.  They can be put in a vase.  They can be put on a mantle.  They can be put in a corner of a powder room. They can be used outside.  You can make a wreath out of them.


Secret Tips And Tricks

What’s a “secret trick” you use that you don’t mind sharing with others?

Ted Viator

Look in your yard (or your neighbors’) for things to cut . . . this is very inexpensive. Other things include magnolia foliage and seedpods, tallow tree (chicken tree), white berries, butterfly vine seedpods (green ones that dry in natural tones), gold rain tree seedpods (they dry very well), pyracantha berries and holly foliage and berries. You can also use terra cotta pots or French Anduze pots to put your Christmas tree or greenery in. For extra foliage, purchase left over Christmas tree greens from Christmas tree sale lots. 

Cameron Foreman

My secret tips and tricks are many. But two of the most important to me is lighting and elevations. Elevating with decorative boxes and decorative books you may already have are so important and appealing to the eye. Elevations and lighting gives depth and dimension to any holiday decor. Elevate trees on risers or tables to extend the height of your trees. Florals are also a great way to make a beautiful tree topper and will add height to your trees. This makes your presentation spectacular. Lamps are also a tremendous way to light up your holiday décor. 

Michael Doumit

I use fresh orchid plants inside my house to enhance my holiday decorations. The combination of the fresh flowers and Christmas decorations blend beautifully.

Vicki McMahon

From a design standpoint, the secret to Christmas decorations, and really any kind of decorations, is layering. If you put one thing on a table or mantle piece, it kind of looks flat.  But it you put something under it or over it, it adds to it and builds upon it.  For instance, if you are setting a table with some beautiful china or holiday plate, don’t just rely on the china to make an impression.  Use a charger or tray underneath it to set it off.  Use a table runner to provide contrast.  Place pecans and other nuts on top of the runner, along with magnolia leaves or Spanish moss.  Using multiple elements creates layering that is much more interesting.  Layering is a very important concept when decorating.

From a personal perspective, my “secret trick” is to get as much done décor wise as you can before the Christmas season gets into full swing.  Once the season really gets underway, it brings a lot of busyness and the calendar can fill up.  You really don’t want to be throwing in the task of decorating your home on top of everything else once all the craziness of the season begins.  You want to have competed all of that and have it all done by the time the season arrives.  At my house, I try to have everything up and done the day after Thanksgiving so that I can really enjoy the Christmas setting for the entire holidays.  This allows you to make the most of your holiday time with your family.

My other tip to create a memorable Christmas setting is smell and sound.  The smell of the Christmas greenery or the smell of a pot of gumbo cooking on a cold day always fills me with the Christmas spirit.  The smell of a Christmas tree is one of the most evocative smells I can think of.  It always conjures up childhood memories of Christmas for me.  

Also, Christmas would not be Christmas at my house without music.  From the day after Thanksgiving to New Years Day, we are 100% Christmas music at my house.  Whether it is classical, Sinatra, Vince Gill, Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack or currently popular artists, we listen to nothing but Christmas music for the entire season.

Editor’s note: Do you plan to use one (or some) of these decorating tips? If so, send a photo to Your photo may be featured in the “Readers’ Respond” section of the January issue! 

Life+Leisure, Home+Garden Holiday Decorating Michael Doumit Ted Viator Cameron Foreman Vicki McMahon
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