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keep it simple

Each year, Americans festoon their homes and businesses with holiday decorations of varying sizes, shapes and colors. But for some people, all that festive fluff is overwhelming.

“I dream of a serene Christmas,” said Janet Himes, a local homeowner’s association board member. “I prefer the monotone, pale pastel looks from the ’50s or ’60s that look so elegant to me. Each year people comment on how sparse my decor looks, but they also stay and say how peaceful it feels.”

The trend of using pastels in your holiday decor palette has become increasingly popular in recent years, said Kimberly Joi McDonald, owner and CEO of Designing Joi.

“Especially the color aqua blue, light teal blue or Tiffany blue,” the award-winning designer said. “This is a sophisticated take on winter wonderland with a frosty effect.”

Light blue suggests peace, serenity and infinity, according to colormatters.com. A recent House Beautiful Color Report found that of the more than 4,000 Americans it surveyed, 29 percent responded to blue as a favorite shade, while 21 percent enjoyed green; red was tied with purple at a mere 8 percent.

“Pastels are popular because they can provide an innovative alternative color scheme (more so) than traditional holiday color schemes of red and green,” said McDonald, adding that pairing pastels with metallic finishes such as silver, gold, brass and bronze creates unique and sophisticated color stories.

“Fill (jars with) pastel and glass ornaments and pine cones, or in apothecary jars, platters for dimension,” she said. “Display gorgeous wrapped packages in pastel-colored paper with simple ribbons in the same hue of the pastel. (Or) incorporate pastel pillows, ribbons or throws that can be interchangeable.”

Be conservative in the amount of decorations you place in each room to successfully achieve tranquility.

“Less is best when creating a serene atmosphere,” McDonald said.

While still enjoying nostalgic and personal treasures, strategic editing ensures that you do not overpower or overshadow the design itself with excessive accessories or clutter.

“The eye must have relief of open space to enjoy the ambience and joy of the space,” McDonald said. “This is particularly important as we manage the stress of the holidays by re-energizing our social spirits in a calm sanctuary of our festive homes.”

Decorating for Christmas doesn’t mean you have to add more elements to your present-day decor, said Kate Russell, a local home organizer and declutter expert. To transition from every day to a holiday setting in your home, she suggests that you put away commonplace accessories such as magazines and stacks of bills and papers.

“Give your home a good clean out this time of year so you can have a calm holiday season and not rush into the new year,” said Russell, a recent transplant from Indiana.

And keep it simple.

“Studies have shown people feel overwhelmed when they are surrounded by loads of stuff,” Russell said. “A minimal approach to decorating leaves space for your heart and mind to rest while you enjoy the people around you, or just stare at the lights on the Christmas tree.”

She recommends displaying ornaments that complement the existing color scheme.

“Or, if that is just not possible, use lots of greenery with white flowers or other calming color,” she said. “Go out to the mountains or to the (Clark County) Wetlands and pick up some branches and put those in some vases and you have a perfectly easy, clean holiday decoration in a container that can transition back to normal use for the new year.”

Try to use items in cool colors that you may already have on hand.

“If you get a lot of Christmas or Hanukkah cards, put them in a simple circle or connect them with a long ribbon with some transparent tape and you have a wreath or a banner that can be a keepsake for next year,” Russell said.

The dollar stores around town are a windfall for frugal home decorators.

“Buy a group of all silver or white picture frames and add photos of friends and family from the past holidays you’ve had together,” she said. “You can also have a party and offer them as favors for guests to take home. You clean up in a big way.”

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