Deborah Harrison, Inside Out Design

Bright ideas this holiday season

December offers a banquet for the senses and many chances to lose ourselves in the deliciousness of all the sights and sounds of the season.

Stop dreading the repetitive Christmas music. Embrace it and create your own playlist. Treasure every moment as if you were eight years old, beginning the holidays with excitement, gratitude and thanks.

Christmas is not just a time of year. It is a state of mind. It is a delightful feeling within cherishing fond memories, filling your hearts with goodwill, home, help and hope. This is the time when you can create the warm and inviting dreamy holiday vignettes you’ve seen in magazines, layering faux fur blankets, tapestries and velvet pillows that all speak Christmas.

Before you get caught up in the big-box-store frenzy, find the meaning of Christmas in the pleasures of home. Don’t stress yourself out about getting in the spirit. Decorate each room in your home with a vision – with simple glass balls, lots of love and, yes, some precision.

Begin by getting organized. Make a Santa list. Do the things first that you run out of time to do later.

Declutter before you decorate – give that as a gift to yourself.

Go through your boxes full of tinsel and holly, selecting the pieces that make you feel happy and jolly. Leave the others in the box.

Add to your newly decluttered spaces rather than have to cram in to those already filled places.

Imagine decorating, baking, or shopping as a sweet opportunity to enjoy the loveliness of the holidays. It’s OK to do the “either-or” thing instead of everything. Either decorate a gingerbread house or make cookies. Never try to do it all – that’s the sure ticket to sabotaging a truly wonderful time of the year.

A stunning Christmas tree or two might be all the decorating you need to do. Start with a palette that matches your rooms. For something different, add velvet poinsettia blooms. Place them evenly on the branches and choose only the decorations that enhances – those that tie in with your color and theme. You want your tree to look happily full, not buried in a lifetime commitment of having to use every ornament ever collected or gifted.

Children should also have their own tree for trimming, especially for the collection of ornaments with meaning; I like to add balls of the same colour, to tie their tree in with the main one – their mother’s. Remember a kids’ tree still needs to have a curator.

Christmas seems to give us permission to take refuge from the stresses and increasingly complicated demands of life, immersing ourselves in loveliness and seasonal holiday bliss. Lights, jewels, stars, candles, trumpets and angels are imagery for the imagination that fit into any belief.

What I know to be true is the beauty of Christmas lurks everywhere. Look for the pleasures beyond perfection, enjoying the moments not just the ornaments. Christmas evokes a feeling of peace and goodwill, sweetness and more – maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.

Deborah Harrison is a designer with Inside out Design. Send your thoughts, questions and inspirations to