“I like to choose a theme and palette for presents each year. This idea is all about exotic, over-the-top elegance: peacock colors, rich patterns, and feathers instead of bows.” —Robyn Glaser, Stylist Blue, Green, and Gold Paper Pick two or three patterns and a few solids, including one that’s very bright (like the turquoise here). Other rich palette options: hot pink and orange, deep purple and red, or—for the classicist—a mix of light, dark, and metallic greens.
Neat, Graphic Ribbons Use solid and striped trim of various widths, and try something new. Go once around the middle, or trim the side of a box (double-stick tape works well). Layer a thin ribbon on top of a thicker one, or put two colors side by side. A single feather (readily available online) makes a magnificent flourish.
Trimmings for the Tree To link the presents with the rest of the decor, adorn the branches with pretty peacocks and inexpensive gold balls (or any shiny orbs that echo your selected palette).
Styled Stacks Angle and lean boxes to show off their best sides. Your brightest solid-color paper will provide maximum pop if you use it sparingly.
“When I decorate for the holidays, I think of a winter forest near my home in Copenhagen, mixing nature-inspired objects with silver for ‘frost.’ A mantel can be stiff, so I tend to go with a loose composition that feels animated and whimsical.” —Christine Rudolph, Stylist Neutral, Textured Objects Forage for matte white and pale wood items (try the ornament box, your dresser top, and cupboards) in various heights, some smooth and some “primitive” (like the trees here). Extra points for anything nature-related.
Metallic Touches If you have a silver pitcher in the house, grab it to use as an anchor. Spruce up natural details to match. Just about anything—acorns, pinecones, greenery, branches—can be rolled in silver glitter or sprayed with metallic paint.
Artful Placement Start with a tall object (like the antler here) just off center, then build out. Group some objects closely, and leave breathing room around others. Finally, wind a strand of garland throughout, “breaking” the edge of the mantel with a swag. Add a large, neutral-toned ornament to one side of the fireplace (see left) to extend the display into the room.
Find instructions for folded stars like the one here (on the antler) and those on slide 1 athighhopes.com/3dstar.html. For easiest results, use paper tape cut into 48-inch lengths (two-inch kraft paper tape, $5 a roll,dickblick.com). You can also buy premade German paper stars atetsy.com.