Chic Conifers and Tinsel-Topped Ornaments Make Our List of the Best Christmas Decorations
Celebrate in style.
Published Dec 28, 2021 1:15 AM
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and visions of sugarplums are dancing in your head. Suddenly your Christmas-themed daydream is interrupted by an important question:
How am I going to decorate?
The great thing about Christmas decorations is that there’s something for everyone—and they offer an opportunity to venture out from your year-round aesthetic. Do you live in a carefully curated minimalist loft but also love anything Santa themed? This is the time to go for it! Ben and Kate Towill, the team behind interior design studio Basic Projects, agree. “We have a miniature version of our dog, Daisy, as the angel that sits on the top of our tree,” they say, and bringing her out each December is something they always look forward to.
Of course, it’s never been easier to find Christmas decorations that speak to particular design styles, too—from mid-century modern–inspired to handmade farmhouse—for a twist on tradition. Tired of the same red poinsettias? There might be a sleek asymmetrical wreath with your name on it. Los Angeles–based designer Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors notes that it doesn’t have to be all red and green either. “Touches of warm metallics—such as brass beads on a stack of books, copper bells, and candlesticks—all make a strong comeback, season after season,” she says.
Here are our favorite places to shop for the best Christmas decorations, no matter what scheme you’re going with this year.
- Best edgy: CB2
- Best modern: West Elm
- Best earthy: Terrain
- Best boho: Anthropologie
- Best value: Target
- Best traditional: Crate & Barrel
- Best for kids: Meri Meri
- Best outdoor decor: Amazon
- Best handmade: Etsy
- Best minimalist: Food52
Best Edgy: CB2
Free shipping: No | Shoppable in store?: Yes | Price points: Ornaments starting at $7.95; a set of snow onyx trees for $100; a velvet tree skirt for $59
What we like:
- You won’t see trees and snowflakes like these anywhere else
- Bundles make it easy to decorate a mantel (or tree)
- Abstract pieces can stay up all winter
- Options are mostly neutral and metallic
Why we chose it: Chic, abstract Christmas decor you’ll want to leave up way beyond December 25.
One of the best things about CB2’s Christmas offerings is that they don’t scream “Christmas”—they whisper it. A set of white onyx trees could easily sit on the mantel from October to March thanks to a vibe that’s more winter chic than “Santa’s coming to town.” The company’s handblown glass ornaments are well priced, and if your ideal Christmas tree is decked in bold black and white decorations (with a little bit of gold, of course), you’ll find plenty of options here.
Best Modern: West Elm
Free shipping: On select items | Shoppable in store: Yes | Price points: Tea-light holders start at $25; sheets at $60
What we like:
- Classic Christmas standbys updated
- Winter textiles like pillows and blankets complete the Christmas look
- Customizable options
- Items can go out of stock quickly
Why we chose it: Classic Christmas pieces with a minimalist, contemporary twist.
West Elm’s Christmas offerings take beloved motifs and upgrade them into something both classic and fresh—think: a Scandinavian-sleek set of cottage tea-light holders made from natural wood and a cheerful bottlebrush Christmas tree in silvery tinsel. We also love that it has a plethora of Christmasy textiles to bring holiday spirit into other rooms; consider an adorable dog-and-Santa bath mat or cozy sheets with a ski chalet print.
Customizable options abound as well: In addition to bespoke monogrammed stockings, there’s a hand-sewn Advent calendar that can be ordered with a name stitched across the top, giving it instant heirloom status.
Best Earthy: Terrain
Free shipping: No | Shoppable in store: In a few select locations | Price points: Ornaments starting at $40; a 15-foot string of lights for $138
What we like:
- Huge selection of wreaths and garlands
- Unusual-for-Christmas colors, like deep violet and shimmery bronze
- Shoppable by collection for a cohesive look
- On the higher end of the price spectrum
Why we chose it: Fairy-tale, garden-style Christmas decor reimagined for the modern home.
If you want to bring the wonder of the natural world indoors for the holidays, Terrain is a great place to start. Its selection of wreaths and garlands is unmatched, whether you’re looking for something that looks like it’s straight out of an English country garden or a lush door hanging studded with fragrant dried fruit. Touches of whimsy continue into the ornament assortment, too, as in miniature glass seed packets to hang on the tree (a great gift for the plant lover in your life).
Terrain also does Christmas lighting right, with tiny twinkling lights on ultrathin strings of rose gold wire that can be wrapped around a doorway or wound up into a glass jar for extra holiday sparkle.
Best Boho: Anthropologie
Free shipping: Yes, on orders over $50 | Shoppable in store: Yes | Price points: $24 for a Christmas dish towel; $18 for a dessert plate
What we like:
- Frequent artist collaborations
- Large selection of holiday tableware
- Candles and diffusers in classic winter scents
- Some items not shipping until December
Why we chose it: A longtime favorite of boho-chic devotees, Anthropologie’s holiday decor is playful, colorful, and quirky.
If you can’t dig for treasure in tiny boutiques in London and Paris, Anthropologie is probably your best bet for similar pieces (all browsable from the comfort of your home). This year the retailer collaborated with French artist Nathalie Leté on everything from dessert plates to drinkware, featuring hand-painted illustrations of sugarplums and jolly Santas. Especially charming is a 12 Days of Christmas dish towel, which reimagines “nine ladies dancing” as a pair of kittens and “12 drummers drumming” as a jaunty pug.
Anthropologie also runs sales on a regular basis, so if there’s something you love, watch for one of its famously good discount codes to appear between now and the height of the holiday season.
Best Value: Target
Free shipping: Yes, on orders over $35 | Shoppable in store: Yes, though selection varies by store | Price points: $20 for a quilt-inspired stocking, a beaded Christmas tree–shaped throw pillow, or a 14-ounce candle in a reusable glass jar
What we like:
- A mix of traditional and updated styles
- Reliably affordable pieces
- Decor for every part of the house, from ornaments to tableware
- Popular items sell out fast
Why we chose it: Elevated Christmas basics that won’t break the bank.
Whether you’re looking for a classic set of red and green lights for the tree, a stocking for a last-minute guest, or even a carton of eggnog, you can count on Target to have almost everything you need to celebrate Christmas, all at wallet-friendly prices. The company is famous for its designer collaborations, and we love that lines with the likes of Justina Blakeney (the designer extraordinaire behind the Jungalow brand) are getting into the holiday spirit with patchwork-inspired stockings and candles that put a subtle twist on standard holiday fragrances—think: combinations like cedarwood and moss and raspberry and persimmon.
If you’re looking for a great deal, Target also runs weekly sales, with holiday decor for inside and outside the house regularly discounted from now through Christmas.
Best Traditional: Crate & Barrel
Free shipping: No | Shoppable in store: Yes, though selection varies by store | Price points: Nutcrackers start at $99, with ornaments in the $15–$20 range
What we like:
- Christmas classics, from faux fur stockings to hooks for hanging them on
- Mid-century- and kitsch-inspired pieces
- No free shipping
Why we chose it: Hand-carved nutcrackers, velvet tree skirts, and vintage-inspired ceramics you’ll be excited to set out for years to come.
Some holiday standbys are classics for a reason: a red velvet skirt wrapped around the base of the tree, a round gold ornament hung from the branches, a bearded nutcracker hand-carved in Germany. That’s the Crate & Barrel Christmas ethos, and it’s why stopping there is a good move for anyone who wants to invest in decor they’ll treasure for years to come. It’s also an ideal spot if you’re hosting the holiday for the first time (and, yes, just decorating for yourself counts!), since the store has a wide assortment of tree and mantel decor that makes any space feel festive with minimal effort.
Particularly charming is a miniature ceramic tree trimmed with lights—the kind of object straight out of a 1950s Christmas movie musical, guaranteed to bring holiday cheer.
Best for Kids: Meri Meri
Free shipping: No | Shoppable in store: No | Price points: $7 for a set of Christmas tree–shaped napkins; $18 for a pack of reindeer antler paper headbands
What we like:
- A great selection of Christmas party supplies
- Bright colors kids can have fun with
- Many products are single-use
Why we chose it: Delightful, colorful Christmas decor for kids of all ages.
If you’re hosting a holiday gathering this year, why limit yourself to red and green napkins and plates? For an all-ages event, Meri Meri’s products inspire us to throw tradition out the window and focus on fun. Reindeer headbands with brightly colored paper brims? Glittery gold crowns? Plates that look like Christmas trees? We say yes to all of it, especially when most of the items come in under $20.
Kids will love seeing their grown-up friends and relatives outfitted in green hats adorned with baubles, and a paper garland in a pretty array of colors will take your dining room straight back to the elementary school holiday parties of yore.
Best Outdoor Decor: Amazon
Free shipping: For Prime members | Shoppable in store: No | Price points: $17.99 for a string of 200 indoor-outdoor lights; $30 for a 10-pack of illuminated candy canes; $35 for an inflatable Christmas dachshund
What we like:
- Outdoor decor of all kinds, from basic lights to over-the-top displays
- Customers leave detailed reviews
- Fast (and often free) shipping
- Be prepared to spend some time sorting through the many options
Why we chose it: There’s something for everyone, from a string of lights to the grandest decorations.
Decorating the outside of your space—whether it’s a house in the suburbs, a cottage in the woods, or a balcony in the city—lets you spread holiday cheer to any and all passersby. (Plus turning on outdoor lights as the sun goes down is just fun.) If you’re beginning to build an outdoor Christmas decor scheme from scratch, Amazon won’t disappoint: You can start simple, with a string of white or rainbow lights to wrap around a doorframe, and work your way up to a full-scale Griswold-esque tableau (think: a 5-foot-tall blowup of your dog decked out in Christmas lights).
The options at Amazon are seemingly endless, so it helps to have a sense of what you’re looking for before you jump in. Reviews are often super-detailed, too, which can help when you’re trying to decide between similar products.
Best Handmade: Etsy
Free shipping: Depends on the seller | Shoppable in store?: No | Price points: Embroidered stockings for $34; ceramic keepsake ornament for $24
What we like:
- One-of-a-kind pieces
- Customizable options
- In many cases, you’re supporting a small-business owner or independent artist
- Shipping costs and times can vary from seller to seller
Why we chose it: Handmade goods from artisans around the world.
Handmade Christmas decor comes with a little extra magic: There’s something special about a one-of-a-kind ornament crafted just for you by a maker, not a machine. Shopping on Etsy at Christmastime is also a good way to support independent artists, many of whom use the platform to sell pieces you can’t find anywhere else. Plus many items can be personalized, with the addition of your name (or a child’s name or a friend’s name) or a favorite character or symbol, making it especially meaningful.
Embroidered stockings in almost every fabric and color combination imaginable are a go-to for many Etsy shoppers, and we also love hand-painted ornaments that mark special moments or occasions. The latter is an especially great gift option for friends and family that will remind them of your thoughtfulness for Christmases to come—a win all around.
Best Minimalist: Food52
Free shipping: Depends on the seller | Shoppable in store?: No | Price points: Wire star tree topper for $32; Food52 x Stone Hollow Farmstead Advent calendar for $275
What we like:
- Ornaments that won’t overwhelm a tree (or you)
- Table decor with a subtle Christmas feeling
- Some items not shipping until mid-November or later
Why we chose it: Elegant decor that feels festive yet restrained.
A minimalist knows you don’t need tons of sparkle or Santas everywhere to make the season merry. Sometimes a wire star atop a tree can convey a sense of Christmas magic all by itself, and a simple, sophisticated Advent calendar makes a statement, particularly if it looks like it came straight out of a Provençal apothecary.
Food52 does clean-lined Christmas right, with pieces to take your holiday table to the next level in a simple, understated way.
Our Shopping Checklist
Types of Christmas decorations
It can help to break your home up by zone and start from there: For example, something for the mantel, something for the tree, something for the kitchen, and something for outside. That way you won’t end up with more lights than you have things to wrap them around or a tree with no ornaments.
With so many options for Christmas decor, you really can find pieces that fit into your aesthetic (just ask Domino editors—they’ve done it themselves). Christmas can also be a fun time to play with styles you might not otherwise go for—think: a minimalist tree if you’ve always wanted to try out sleek styles or a whimsical set of drinking glasses if you’ve usually opted for something more classic.
Sets vs. decor collected over time
Why not both? Choose something to build over time, like a collection of ornaments, and go for a set of something that gets a little more use, such as dishes or lights.
Q: Okay, real talk: When’s the earliest I can start decorating for Christmas?
Along with the next question on our list, this might be one of the most controversial topics in the world of Christmas. While some people wait until December 1, it’s okay to start around Thanksgiving, especially if you do a little bit at a time. It can be tempting to Christmas-makeover your home in one fell swoop, but giving yourself something to look forward to (stockings up one day; ornaments the next) can be a good way to ease into the season.
Q: On the flip side, how long can I keep my Christmas decorations up?
Tradition dictates that decorations come down after the 12 days of Christmas are over—usually on January 6 or thereabouts. Leaving decorations up at least through the New Year means you’ll be able to soak in the magic as you get ready to move into the post-holiday season.
Q: What are the basic pieces I should get if I’m starting from scratch?
“In my opinion, a little goes a long way with Christmas decor,” says Lewis. “Stick with some basics to start—candlesticks, a garland, and a few vintage ornaments for the tree.” If you’ve never decorated your space for Christmas before, it helps to employ the zone idea again: one or two pieces for each part of your home. A good set of lights can be used in multiple ways, and holiday-scented candles can turn a living room into the North Pole in a snap.
The Last Word
The best Christmas decorations are the pieces you’ll look forward to using every year, whether you focus on details that complement your existing style or lean into the classic Christmas traditions of the past.
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