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Deck the Halls...Like a Pro

Local Decorators Share Trends and Techniques

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After last year’s more subdued Christmas, it seems only fitting to get extra excited about festive decorations this December. Incorporating new holiday ideas or changing up the look you always go for doesn’t mean a complete overhaul of your existing décor – or breaking the budget. We caught up with two of the topholiday-decoratingcompaniesin the area to get some tips, techniques and trends directly from the pros.

Twin sisters Erin and Rachel Luquette have operated The Happy Helpers in Lafayette, decorating for holidays and special occasions (and landscaping), for eight years, and Harley Melancon, owner of Holidays with Harley, has been in the holiday and wedding décor business since 2017, splitting her time between clients in Lafayette and New Orleans.

Let’s see what they have to say about getting an on-trend, polished look in your own home this season.

Pleasing Palettes

The designers agree that the easiest and most feasible way to update your tree and décor is to change at least one color of the materials. Here are some colors that are trending this year.

Holidays with Harley: Circulating back are blush and champagne colors with whites for an elegant palette in a modern home. I’m seeing a trend going back to emerald green paired with true gold and a deeper red velvet. An eclectic trend is slate blue mixed with softer golds or blues (in the same family) with burgundy. You’d be surprised by the pop of color using royal blue with true reds and lime green; I’m using that color scheme, along with rocking horses and nutcrackers (which have returned).

Happy Helpers: We’re still seeing the traditional red and green, but incorporated with lime green, gold or a metallic. We’ve also been using non- traditional, playful colors like baby blues, softs pinks... and lime green is coming back. Many clients still like the “Whoville” theme from The Grinch. Popular themes this year include winter wonderland with gold, silver, pewter and white, balls and sparkly leaves, flowers and white poinsettias. Personally, we like any version of white: creams, stark white, snowy white.

White on white is warm and inviting – flocked trees with white ribbon, soft pewter mesh, white picks (like poinsettias) with frosted pine cones and balls. And...we’re seeing a return of the candy cane theme.

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Happy Helpers: There is a shift away from traditional ornaments to mesh (a netted ribbon) and ribbon, along with floral picks, balls, glitter, berries, branches, leaves, feathers, etc. Picks are an attractive, economical way to fill space. Nature-inspired themes are often requested. Burlap provides a nice neutral theme. Greenery like artificial magnolia leaves is paired with a few red berry branches and then more foliage, like artificial eucalyptus, is threaded throughout. Pine cones in a frosted tree makes you feel like you’re standing in the woods. A frosted tree, a buffalo plaid ribbon, frosted berries and pine cones brings to mind a rustic snow cabin.

Holidays with Harley: I’m using 4” wide ribbon or mesh this year for an elegant finish. One of the biggest mistakes I often see is the misuse (or overuse) of mesh. The tree shouldn’t be wrapped with it, where it’s lying flat. It’s most effective in large trees to fill gaps. Cut it in two-foot sections and push it into the hole so that it puffs out a bit. Along with sprigs and picks, I’m also using more velvet, matte and shiny ornaments vs. glittery ones. Ball garland is popular this year (in red, gold and silver) replacing traditional garland. For clients wanting a botanical look, I’m using a lot of artificial frosted fern and birch branches in trees, chandeliers or tablescapes. For one of my favorite trees, I used woods and an old collection of white ornaments; I added fur ornaments (balls wrapped in light brown or white faux fur) and mixed in artificial greenery, like magnolia leaves, and sprigs of textured leaves, like ferns. I worked in matted gold north stars throughout the design. It all matched a nativity scene the client displayed.

Happy Helpers: We’re decorating a lot of flocked or frosted trees for those who want a snowy, wintery vibe. A real tree should be flocked by a nursery.

Holidays with Harley: Let your real tree stand in water for at least two days before decorating so that the branches settle where they’re supposed to. That way, decorations don’t end up shifting positions. Real trees that are flocked don’t need to settle.

Your Skirt is Showing

Holidays with Harley: The use of tree collars, containers that the tree goes into to hide the base, is catching on. I’ve used square wooden ones (from Front Gate) that open in back where the tree slides in. But I’ve also used clients’ tree skirts and doubled them with another to get an edge of one design. For example, I overlapped a velvet skirt and fur one in champagne gold colors - beautiful.

Happy Helpers: Blankets give volume and are not so circular. A white faux fur blanket can look like snow. Also decorate near the tree with Christmas pillows, green pine sticks off to the side of a fireplace, a blanket on a chair. If we wrap the base of the tree with red mesh, then we might put a big red pillow off to the side, to cover the extension strip.

Where the Stockings Hang

Holidays with Harley: Mantle decorations can be as simple as a live or artificial garland with three to five taper candlesticks on one end and one Christmas item on the other. For a masculine look, I’ve used deer antlers on one side of greenery. Another trend sees the garland barely hanging over the edge of one side and falling all the way to the floor on the other end. Add a red velvet ribbon or bow with a gold rim at the top of the longer side and let the tails hit the floor as well. The asymmetrical look is dramatic.

Happy Helpers: We like garland that drapes, as well. Real garland needs regular spritzing of water to stay fresh. Hobby Lobby has fake draping garland that is beautiful. Add a string of white lights. Place a reindeer on one end and three candlesticks on the other and you’re done.

Shut the Front Door!

Holidays with Harley: Artificial fruit like lemons, limes and oranges are back, particularly in garland around the front door. A deep rust ribbon paired with lime and mustard colors is very inviting. At businesses or in giant oak trees, I’ve been using The Holiball®, The Inflatable Ornament® first seen on Shark Tank; they have great curb appeal and are easier to store.

Happy Helpers: We’re known for our front door garlands. Working with artificial garland, we put a lot of lights for a dramatic look at night, add mesh and ribbon, picks - just like in the tree. A simpler idea, with a warm look, is putting a chair or rocker by the front door, throw a pillow and blanket (with that red buffalo plaid,) add poinsettias, a Santa, or a wreath and turn on the porch light at night.


Happy Helpers: We like to keep it low and compact. For Christmas, stacks of red flowers, 3-4” tall, or small poinsettias, small pinecones, berries and evergreens. Different heights and sizes make it interesting. Mini Christmas trees (of any material) down the center are eye-catching.

Holidays with Harley: For Christmas, it’s a mix of candles, metals and an unexpected color, like dark blue. I like to keep the decorations under 8” or, if I go above that, it’s with skinny taper candles that guests can easily see around. Try different sized gold jars filled with live flowers and fake fruit.

I’ll place artificial garland down the center and fill in with ribbons, picks, votive candles and balls. Cake plates make great risers for fake fruit or creating a small Christmas village. If I don’t use garland, I usually use a long table runner.

There you have it: tips and tricks, trends and techniques, all from the pros! Ready to take on your own holiday decorations now? If so, be sure to send us lots of photos – if not, Holiday Helpers and Holidays with Harley are just a click away!

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