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    The Know-All Guide to Traditional Christmas Decorating:
    What Goes Up and When

    Kick-off the holiday season with our traditional Christmas decorating tips for an unforgettable yuletide celebration.

    What's Inside

    Balsam Fir Wreath

    Being organized is essential to creating a beautiful home for Christmas. No matter how grand or simple your holiday vision is, it's best to focus on the most basic pieces, such as your wreaths, lights, and ornaments.

    Our complete guide to traditional Christmas decorating will provide you with useful information on what items to buy and when to buy them to get the most out of your holiday decorating budget. Make your seasonal decorating a breeze by following our simple Christmas countdown.

    What Holiday Decorating Items to Buy and When

    Christmas Wreaths and Garlands

    Wreaths and garlands are usually at their lowest prices right after Christmas. If you need a new wreath or garland before the Christmas season, then browse through or inquire with online Christmas shops from July to October when new stock usually arrives. Alternatively, good deals can be found during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

    Buying early ensures you won't miss out on a particular item you've been eyeing. It also gives you plenty of time to return an item if it's unsuitable, or to ask for a replacement if it's faulty.

    Christmas Ornaments

    Smaller ornaments, such as baubles and tree toppers, are often marked down significantly after Christmas as well. Discounts are given a day or two after the New Year when retail stores are getting ready to remove seasonal items from their shelves.

    Christmas Lights

    The best period to purchase Christmas lights is within a couple of months after the holidays when shops go on clearance sales. However, shoppers should not hesitate to pay full price for quality Christmas lights. There is a good chance that stocks of that particular set of lights will run out if you wait too long for the prices to go down.

    12 Months Before Christmas

    • January is usually the best time to restock on Christmas decorating items for the following holiday season. Retail stores will do their best to clear seasonal items to avoid getting taxed during the next tax season.

    • Start taking down and storing decorations for use again next Christmas. Make sure to store ornaments and lights properly to prevent them from breaking.

    • Make an inventory list of existing ornaments and décor for easy and convenient decorating the following year. Be sure to include any new items you recently purchased, or any items you plan on purchasing during the post-holiday sales.

    3 Months Before Christmas

    • Start considering a decorative theme. Check out blogs, websites, magazines, and catalogues for inspiration and to get an idea of new products arriving for the holidays.

    • Once a theme is selected, list down the items and materials needed and set a working budget. To avoid expensive and stressful last-minute shopping, develop a reasonable timeline or calendar for gathering the materials over the next few months. Remember: early shoppers score the best deals!

    • Test Christmas lights to make sure they are in good working order. Many factors can cause bulbs to fail even if they are properly stored, so it's always best to check well in advance of your decorating schedule. Order bulbs at this point to replace any broken ones, or start shopping for an entire replacement kit.

    • Check for damaged Christmas ornaments. If an ornament has a small chip or a broken off part, try to make minor repairs with an all-purpose glue.

    • Start keeping an eye out for special deals online or at shopping centers. Sign up to receive email alerts from your favorite retailer.

    1-2 Months Before Christmas

    • Consider hanging outdoor Christmas lights from early to mid-November while the weather is still generally comfortable. Classic clear Christmas lights can add a touch of elegance that also complements Thanksgiving décor.

    • Inspect wreaths and garlands and replace any broken lights. Clean a dusty wreath or garland by wiping away the dust particles with a moist cloth, but take care not to dislodge any wires or damage any bulbs.

    • Think about a backup decorating plan. If a certain theme proves to be too difficult or inconvenient to carry out, consider a simpler or completely different theme to fall back on.

    1 Month Before Christmas

    • Clean the house before adding decorations. It is difficult and tiring to have to clean and decorate at the same time. Tidying up a day or two before hanging up ornaments and décor makes decorating easier and more enjoyable.

    • Use the Thanksgiving weekend as an opportunity to start setting up the Christmas tree and making your home look festive. Ask family and friends to help out. Start with the biggest or most laborious tasks first, and leave the smaller, easier jobs for last.

    • Encourage the family to get into the Christmas spirit by letting them make homemade Christmas ornaments. Check out DIY websites that show how to create simple yet beautiful ornaments with safe and inexpensive materials.

    2 Weeks Before Christmas

    • Start wrapping presents and setting them under the tree. Waiting until the last minute to wrap presents can be stressful, more so if your supply of suitable wrapping paper happens to run out. Get creative and use gift wrapping material that matches your decorative theme for the year. If there are indoor pets or small children around the house, wait a day or two before Christmas to lay out the gifts.

    • Plan your holiday tablescape and the seating arrangement of guests to your Christmas party two weeks before the celebration. Determine the kind of china, glass, and flatware you will use based on your menu, and your choice of table accents, such as candles, flowers, and linens, based on your holiday design aesthetic. Now is the best time to purchase new items.

    Coming up with an overall style for your party weeks ahead will help minimize your stress during the preparation and also ensure a more relaxing atmosphere during the festivities.

    3-5 Days Before Christmas

    Start working on your holiday table settings. Creating an elegant tablescape takes time, so it helps to prepare the centerpiece and place settings a few days in advance.


    • Whether it's store-bought or homemade, a beautiful centerpiece, such as a winter harvest or an elegant floral arrangement, helps anchor the look of your tablescape.


    • Use stainless steel or polished silver pieces. Wash them thoroughly with soap and water before using them.


    • Fine china should be washed by hand because they get chipped inside the dishwasher. Never use hot water. A sudden change in temperature can cause china to crack. Let the dishes dry on a rack and pat them with a towel.

    Seat Plan

    • Finalize the seating arrangement for guests and print out place cards that match your theme.

    1 Day Before Christmas

    With all your holiday decorations and settings complete, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the Christmas festivities with family and friends!

    It's never too early to start thinking about decorating your home for the holidays. Use our timeline to manage all your decorating tasks and get the best deals on items you will need to complete your vision of the holidays. With a little thought and preparation, you can avoid the Christmas rush and truly enjoy the time spent with family and friends who make the holiday season so special and memorable.