My Three Essentials for Holiday Decorating


Whether you want to fill your home top to bottom with holiday cheer or add a few festive touches here are there, my advice is the same: Start with a fabulous base. Amazing greenery and show-stealing ribbon are the essential bedrocks of a sensational holiday treatment.

I was working with a customer this week who was starting fresh with her holiday décor. After taking in all the Christmas pageantry at Nell Hill’s, she asked me where to start to get the most from her budget. Simple! I advised her to invest in garland, picks and ribbon, then add all the rest, like ornaments, in the future. You can decorate with these three alone and your home will look beautiful.



For years, I was a greenery snob. You would never, ever catch me using faux fir in my holiday décor. Back then, the fakes looked, well, fake. I started to lose my love for real pine boughs about the time they started to destroy my wood furniture, one sap drip at a time. And all those dry needles all over the floor – ugh! Now the faux greenery we carry at Nell Hill’s looks so real you have to touch it to tell – you can’t believe your eyes. Check out this inspiration mantel from Nell Hill’s, pictured above. Garland makes the scene.

This is our most popular garland at Nell Hill’s. It’s 6-feet long and costs just $29.90. Every year, we sell out of it because it is so beautiful, basic and affordable. The pinecones and multiple hues of green make it look just like the real thing.

You can use garland all over your home. One of my favorites is looping it up a banister. This photo, from my book O Christmas Tree, shows how I used ropes of garland to dress up the banister at my home in Atchison.

Of course, garland is ideal for your mantel. Here’s a shot of one of our inspiration mantels at Nell Hill’s this year. Often, we add to our basic pine garland by twisting in accent garland, like one covered in berries or featuring a contrasting leaf, like magnolia. The effect is stunning.

You can snake some garland down the center of your dining table, like we did in this photo from O Christmas Tree. Cut a 6-foot garland in half and use it to decorate your buffet, or thread it through the arms of your dining room chandelier. How do you keep all these strands of garland in place? Cinch them up with zip ties. We go through thousands of zip ties every year at Nell Hill’s. You can find them at any hardware store. Get the biggest size you can, then trim the unused edges.



Picks come in all shapes and sizes, and feature all types of faux greens, berries, flowers and nuts. They have a finished end, with the other end left unfinished so you can tuck them into a vase, behind a piece of art, into a Christmas tree or any other spot you can imagine.

In this photo, we used wild looking evergreen picks to create a bouquet of winter branches. The key to making picks or garland look lifelike is to fluff them out, spreading the branches or needles or berries so they take on the form or patterns they would follow in nature.

Here’s a sweet little pick we’re using a lot this year in our holiday and winter displays. We use artificial trees at Nell Hill’s, and picks are our go-to tool to make the trees full and lush. We tuck them in here and there, filling in bare places, and giving the overall tree more dimension and interest.

This basket at Nell Hill’s is stuffed full of a few of our favorite picks this year. For a fast and lovely statement on your kitchen island, entry table or coffee table, place a few picks on a tray, add a few tree ornaments and a holiday figurine, like Santa. Done!



I love ribbon. Absolutely and completely. I can’t imagine my home dressed for the holidays without using spools and spools. Ribbon adds so much texture and softness. We have so many different types of holiday ribbon this year, from traditional (a spool of our black watch plaid ribbon is going home with me this year!) to whimsical to glamorous.

At Nell Hill’s, we loop ribbon into our Christmas trees, use it to hang wreaths and tuck it into mantels. On this inspiration mantel, we paired a lovely plaid ribbon with this sparkling gold ribbon.

Here’s a very different inspiration mantel at Nell Hill’s. The luxurious gold ribbon, cascading softly from the greens, takes the look to a new level. To create an interesting swag on each corner of your fireplace mantel, you can cut a piece of garland in half to use on each side. Dress it up with ribbon, picks and ornaments, and you have a beautiful holiday treatment.