First off, if you’re reading this and you haven’t pulled all your hair out: You’ve won already.
Entertaining and decorating your home for the holidays has all the reward and appeal of digging a hole and filling it back up again. It seems like a futile exercise, hanging all that garland, buying all those poinsettias, bringing out all those fancy holiday dishes only to put them back on the shelves again for 11 more months. Thank goodness this only happens once a year, otherwise all those dishes, festive straws, rimmed stemware, gravy boats, serving trays, vegetable platters with engraved trees, and unwieldy stockings—these things have to be fire hazards—would have been true wastes of money.
Holiday decorations seem to feed the machine. Why spend so much time and effort on something that you’ll never want to see again? Can’t there be other fittings and furniture that can get some mileage outside of the Christmas season? Surely there have to be more uses than just once-a-year for these napkins.
Thankfully, with a little planning ahead of time and a good mind for decor, there can be plenty of festive holiday creations that can outlast the season. The key here is planning ahead, and buying small pieces that can be used year-round. Of course, there’s nothing more annoying than a green and red table centerpiece in July, so we’re not suggesting that you simply leave the Christmas stuff up all year, but rather think about what you can use in your home and can reuse for 12 months, instead of 12 days.
1. Think silver.
Silver is the one neutral holiday color that makes the most sense. It’s classy, elegant, and most importantly, not nauseating in July. We’re not suggesting that you buy all silver platters and bowls for company all year—who are we, the Rockefellers?—but the right piece can accent a table in May the same way it can in December. One or two silver centerpieces like a vase or candle lantern can be classy throughout the year without looking out of place for the holiday season.
2. Red isn’t a bad idea either.
Depending on your dining room’s current decor, accents with red can bring to life tables or furniture nearly better than anything else. Dark wood tables or furniture pops when red is judiciously applied. Christmas red is somewhat akin to firetruck red (read: it’s jarring) so a more subdued red can keep things classy for most of the year. Red napkins, or even napkin rings, can add a burst of color that can pull double duty around Valentine’s Day—or even triple duty around fall when the colors begin to change. Remember that it’s best to use red in select places, rather than all over the place. Otherwise you run the risk of searing your guests’ retinas every time you host a party.
3. Clear vases or candle holders.
Glass is the unsung hero of versatile decoration. Taken alone, it is understated and can be beautiful on its own. When adorned with flowers or filled with other objects—say ornaments—glass is the perfect decorating chameleon. We like the idea of filling a glass vase or big glass bowl with all kinds of seasonal ornaments, then emptying it out and using it all over again for something that’s more appropriate for the season. Green for spring, pastels for summer and earth colors for the fall can all take your table from season to season, without heavy lifting.
4. Right lights
Yes, holiday lights look like nothing else. And yes, green and red lights around the house in June could read that the decor is old instead of bold. But with replaceable bulbs and strategic placement, those lights could liven up an outdoor patio or serve as a great accent placed in the right vase. Enterprising decorators can find uses for soft, accent lights anywhere meaning those strands don’t have to get shoved in another box, tangling for another year. Pro tip: White lights are more versatile than colored lights, and icicle lights really have no use outside of the holidays.
5. What about wreaths?
Here’s the big risk-reward in our list. Wreath-making isn’t for the faint of heart—although the process is relatively easy, it’s awfully easy to make a holiday disaster out of a wreath or two. The wrong colors can turn any front door into a unintended holiday Jackson Pollock, and that’s not in a good way. But with a little practice the same holiday wreath can be deployed many times throughout the year as a wintery welcome, bright spring adornment or classic fall decoration. Colors here are important, and by that we mean fewer is better. The same holiday gold trim can give way to October earthy tones, which can give way to Valentine’s red. The same wreath can be transformed by just a few accent colors here and there, but beware: It’s best to practice a time or two before unveiling your latest creation.