8 Outdated Holiday Decorating Trends to Skip When You Deck Your Halls This Year

There's a fine line between nostalgic and tired décor, say our experts.

Full Frame of Shot of Illuminated Christmas Decoration on Christmas Tree

When you're decorating for the holidays, there's a fine line between the iconic and the overdone—and finding that perfect balance means adding a contemporary twist to classic elements. From tree decorations to Hanukkah color palettes, find out which trends are out—and which are on the way in—according to home design and entertaining experts.

Tree Skirts in Outdated Textures

Instead of velvet, burlap, or satin tree skirts, look for a slimline tree collar in painted metal, shimmering metallics, or natural woven fibers. "I've noticed more and more collars for the Christmas tree rather than the traditional tree skirts—something I didn't expect to go out of style," says Emily Del Bello of Emily Del Bello Interiors. "I personally have a metal collar and I love it—it doesn't get as dirty as a cloth skirt and is easy to store in the off season."

Oversized Tree Decorations

Instead of the more-is-more tree aesthetic of your childhood, rely on white lights, delicate bows, and a streamlined color palette when decorating your evergreen. "Less is definitely more these days," says Del Bello. "Large colored bulbs have been going out of style for some years now—and I find oversized ornaments that overwhelm the tree to have a very outdated look."

Instead, opt for consistent, uniform décor that feels more curated and palette-forward and avoid adding in too many colors or random shapes, adds Del Bello. "Use a classic garland or ribbon and you are done," she says. "I would either leave the tree natural at the top or sub the topper for a classic bow."

Too-Bright Color and Glitter

While the holiday season always calls for a little more glitter than the rest of the year, too many metallic or reflective elements can give your tree a dated look, says Kate Lester of Kate Lester Interiors. "I love a neutral-themed tree and playing with the textures of the ornaments and decorations. Add in felt pieces or wooden ones, but keep the overall color-scheme natural and organic," she says. Include fresh greens like pine or cedar throughout the rest of your holiday decorations to bring a little of the outdoors in—and add "texture and life to your existing décor."

Obvious Color Palettes

While red, green, and gold, and silver-and-blue color palettes will never entirely go out of style, you can modernize your holiday aesthetic by choosing slightly unexpected shades. "Since I live on the coast, I always gravitate to blues and greens," says Lester. "They go great with the existing décor of my house and don't compete too much with the natural coloring of a Christmas tree."

Tone and Pattern Updates

Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock-Morsch of Hidden Gem, a home boutique based in the Hamptons, also lean toward color and pattern updates that refresh the obvious choices—while still feeling familiar. "Slightly change the hue of the colors—instead of [red], go for a plum or burgundy. Or, update a traditional plaid print to a plaid with your new color scheme," they say.

Tired Themes

A similar process works for the on-its-way-out "winter wonderland" color scheme: think silver placemats, navy-and-white tablecloths, and snowflake, reindeer, star, and tree motifs "that look like they've been sprinkled with snow and twinkle lights," they say. If you love the idea of a winter wonderland, try working in some unexpected colors, like multiple shades of blues and deep purples. "Skip fake snow elements and try wood accents, instead," they say.

Rustic Holiday Decorations

It's time to skip the "rustic vibes" of the early 2010s in favor of a more natural design plan, says Liz Curtis of Table and Teaspoon. "Mason jars and burlap's 15 minutes of fame is over," she says. "Avoid dating your holiday table by employing the distressed look of 10 years ago. If an earthy aesthetic is your cup of tea, consider neutral-hued organic materials instead of rustic."

Organic Additions

Bringing in realistic artificial foliage is one way to do so—and can help your décor last from November through the new year, says Lester. "If you like to decorate early (like me), try using a great faux garland and add branches of real greenery to it. If it starts to wither, you can remove and replace them easily," she says.

These nature-forward tricks work on your tabletops, too: Curtis suggests adding fresh green-and-red elements, like quince or apples, to an otherwise neutral set-up. "Placing mandarins or oranges on each plate at a traditional blue Hanukkah table achieves style sans kitsch," she adds.

Fussy Table Settings

The matching place settings that your mother and grandmother used still have their place, but a less straight-laced look matches the more informal vibe of modern parties. "It's time to pass on the matching table settings and instead go for various patterns or colors," say Willock and Willock-Morsch. "We love the idea of combining your traditional holiday salad plate with something more modern and clean for the dinner plate—and don't be afraid to play around with metallics, as well."


That means switching out linens with red holly, poinsettias, and cardinal patterns for modern textiles that don't necessarily scream "holiday," but speak to your desired festive aesthetic. "You can even go as simple as stripes and polka dots," say the Hidden Gem founders.


Folded place cards are also on the way out. "These feel like a last-minute addition to the table," says Curtis. Challenge yourself to come up with a more elaborate idea, like personalized menus, hand-embroidered napkins, or calligraphed leather tags.

Boring Evergreen Centerpieces

Cold-weather months may not offer the same colorful foliage as spring and summer, but you still have options that go beyond poinsettias, spruce, fir, holly, and pine. "So many fantastic florals and plants come out in the fall and winter, so change things up by adding more colors with bodnant viburnum, Christmas cactus, or ornamental cabbage," say Willock and Willock-Morsch.

Another way to add a little something extra? Use herbs like rosemary or thyme in your centerpieces—or make like Willock and Willock-Morsch and skip the large floral centerpiece entirely (they're displaying smaller bouquets throughout their tables this year).

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