Pops of holiday red, like these Roman shades from the Hunter Douglas Gallery at DUC Interiors in Norwalk, coordinate beautifully with the natural elements and decorations embellishing this dining room table and chairs.

Thanksgiving weekend is the most popular time for decorating your home for Christmas. Neighborhoods become alive with white outdoor lights that illuminate houses, yards, trees, and figures that become realistic once darkness falls.

A rope wreath from The Dock Shop in Darien sets a nautical holiday tone with its netting, seashells, starfish, and even a mermaid.

Jane Mazzocchi, decorator for the Hunter Douglas Gallery at DUC Interiors in Norwalk, recommends looking around your home or office to find everyday items like metal plates/platters, vases/planters, candle holders or even your favorite china/stoneware. “Now simply add some fresh greenery, ornaments or lights … and voila! … instant holiday ambience,” she says.

Don’t want to spend oodles on fancy pillows? Turn your existing ones into little packages by tying them up with holiday ribbon, or pick your favorite color and create a holiday theme around that color. “You don’t have to use red and green to evoke the holiday spirit,” Mazzocchi says.  

Also, think organic. “Greenery and pinecones are always good but what about flowers, like paper whites or amaryllis?” says Mazzocchi. “Don’t forget the fruit. You can cover grapes in sugar, oranges in cloves or go naked.”

These handmade velvet pumpkins in a variety of colors and featuring natural stems, available from Palmer’s Darien, would add a taste of the holidays to virtually any space.

Before starting to decorate the inside of your home, remove any unnecessary items in the main rooms. Walk through these areas with a laundry basket and fill it with anything that can be stored away in a closet or basement. Joe Caiati and his daughters, Lauren Lufkin and Jennifer Groves, are partners at Housewarmings in Old Greenwich. Collectively, they offer the following holiday decorating suggestions:

*When you temporarily declutter, you make room for seasonal joy. Refresh rooms seasonal flowers, throw pillows, candles, and diffusers. They will brighten up a room to make it holiday festive.

*For an instant update, add a piece of furniture, such as a chair or sofa (Housewarmings can arrange for immediate delivery of furniture samples from its showroom).

*When decorating for the holidays, focus on the main areas, but try to put a touch of holiday in every room.

Let there be lights!
Nothing says Christmas more than sparkling lights, so consider hanging string lights to liven up a banister or fireplace mantel, or putting them in glass lanterns, which can be placed in various spots around the home or even on the dinner table. Clusters of unscented candles work nicely, too. Everything the light touches will add a warm feeling. Simmering cloves and cinnamon in a pot of water on your stove for a few hours will fill your home with the scents of the holidays.

“One of the most important aspects to creating a beautiful holiday decorating scheme is to utilize fresh and natural materials,” says Jeremy Lambert, designer at Ring’s End in Darien.  “The use of fresh greens not only evokes the beauty of nature but also provides a wonderful scent throughout your space.”

A festively dressed dining room sets the stage for a memorable holiday gathering.

Lambert suggests interweaving pinecones and cranberry strings into garlands along with some beautiful mercury glass bulbs to create harmonious and elegant decorations. He also recommends filling clear glass decorative apothecary jars with fresh oranges, pomegranates or unshelled mixed nuts to add another layer of interest to your space.

Holiday-themed decor is available in many area shops, including Palmer’s of Darien, which carries items such as the Hot Skwash line of handmade velvet pumpkins with all-natural stems. “Our customers love these luxurious and elegant velvet pumpkins for decorating from fall through Christmas,” explains Renee Nieto, gift shop buyer for Palmer’s. “With a range of colors to choose from, they make a surprisingly sophisticated display in an entryway, on the fireplace mantle, or decorating the holiday dining table.”

In good company
“Getting your home ready for the holidays often means getting ready to entertain,” says Sandra Long, owner of Laura’s Draperies, Bedspreads & More in Norwalk. “One of the main objectives of entertaining is to make your guests feel comfortable and welcome. Make your home toasty warm with new energy efficient shades which will also save you money on heating costs for the winter. To make your dining room more intimate for evening meals, eliminate the black-out look at your windows by installing new draperies or sheers.”

During the holidays, family and friends can gather, and spend quality time in a festive setting.

If you want to do something more elaborate, such as reupholstering furniture, or adding a window treatment or a wall covering, consider a visit to Good Goods in Darien. “We carry designer books from all the designer houses, such as Samuel & Sons, Kravet, Fabricut, Duralee, and Houles, and have bolts of fabrics, ready-made pillows, and accessories,” says Kathy Long, owner. “Our staff can assist you with your specific needs in sprucing up your home, from the smallest decorating project to decorating the entire house.”

A shore thing
If living near the ocean inspires you to include nautical elements in your holiday decor, a visit to The Dock Shop, with locations in Darien and Westport, might be in order: “We have a comprehensive selection of beautifully crafted, made in America items that will not only add nautical beauty to your home but will also make wonderful gifts,” says Michael LaScala, owner.  “Nautical themed tableware, decorations, and furnishings will bring a bit of the beach to your holiday home.”

Silver lining: Red is not the only holiday color — consider incorporating silver accents into your holiday decor.

While many people don’t know what to do with the holiday cards they receive, there are many creative ways to display them, transforming them into holiday decorations. If you are hanging a classic garland over doors, along the mantle or up a stairway, consider tucking some cards among them; or hang a wide sparkly ribbon on a doorway, top it with a bow, and attach a few cards with paper clips, or string a clothesline from the edge of one window sill to another and hang the cards over it. This makes it easy to rotate the cards, plus it gives you something new to look at each day.

Having your home holiday-ready gives you time to enjoy everything that makes this season special to you.