Tips for Decorating with a Holiday Vignette

1 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Decorating for Your Christmas Party

Like a Hollywood set designer, you can create a holiday scene, or vignette, to dress up your home. Create your holiday vignette anywhere: in an entry hall or sitting area; on your front porch; on the lawn, or the sidewalk. Your holiday vignettes don’t have to be larger than life nor bigger than your budget.

Making vignettes is easy if you keep these things in mind:

  • Have a backdrop such as a wall, a house, or a landscape from which to build depth. Arrange items to draw the viewer into your scene. Most likely, your vignette will have a tablescape of some sort except when you decorate outside for certain holidays.

  • Let the vignette tell a story. For example, a front porch with two rocking chairs on each side of a small table with a large glass pitcher of lemonade and two glasses says, “Relax and take comfort here.” Add an American flag waving in the breeze hung from the column and red, white, and blue bunting draped on the porch rail, and you have a picture of what America is like on the Fourth of July. And isn’t it comforting?

Your vignettes at holidays like Yom Kippur should make you feel reflective and subdued. They should be entrenched in tradition. At holidays like Halloween, your vignettes should take on the scariest and spookiest feel. That’s the beauty of holiday decorating with vignettes. You can achieve all these “feelings” simply by changing out the décor.

As you style your vignette, grab a large empty picture frame and hold it up to view your “set.” When you’ve styled what you think is a perfect vignette, grab a camera and look through the viewfinder. What do you see? Cameras have a way of taking out all dimension, flattening the look. If you still like what you see, congratulations.

Here’s an instant formula for making holiday vignettes:

  • Focal point: Is your eye automatically drawn to something you’ve decided to single out?

  • Tablescape: Make sure that you have at least one tablescape in your vignette if you’re arranging interiors. Exterior tablescape vignettes are fine, too, but for some holidays, you may not need one.

  • Vertical element: A Christmas tree, hanging wreath, banner, tall item on tablescape, or other item to draw the eye up is always necessary.

  • Cluster of holiday items: Instead of scattering a few items to cover a large area, group them close together to engage continuity.

  • Continuity to surroundings: Does your vignette flow well from one room to the next? Does it match the room’s feel? Does it make you have a particular “feeling” when you look at it? Stand back and evaluate.

  • Camera or photo frame test: Remember to check your work by looking through a camera or eyeing your vignette design through an empty photo frame. Edit your vignette as necessary.

  • Lighting: If you need to, use up lights, candles, or lamps to light up interior vignettes to draw attention to them; use spotlights, floodlights, luminarias, or porch lights to accent exterior vignettes. If you decorate with items that provide illumination themselves, you don’t need to go to additional lighting measures.

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The Essentials of Decorating for Your Christmas Party

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