When it comes to this year's holiday decor, skip the big box stores and get something locally crafted — and locally loved
By Cory Schachtel | November 8, 2023
Justine Melnychuk of Swish + Company knows that most people have favourite pieces of holiday decor they love bringing out each year, and she doesn’t want to throw literal shade on anyone’s cherished items — in fact, she wants to do the opposite. “I feel any decor can be improved by mixing classic ornaments with glass, metallics, coppers — and there’s always room for more twinkle lights because they make everything happy and bright!”
She adds that holiday picks come in interesting textures, shapes and colours, including silver, rose gold and sparkling green, that subtly fancy up your Christmas tree by “taking the green and adding a bit of that holiday magic.”
It’s What’s on the Outside that Counts
You can also make a festive impression before guests (or Santa) even enter the door (or through the tiny, gas-fireplace chimney). Outdoor urns with flowers, winter greens and branches announce that your household is ready for the season. And Melnychuk finds many people and businesses want custom door decor. “A fresh wreath is always beautiful and can last all winter on the front door, or in the house for that beautiful smell. You’ll be inspired by those smells and colours and then you can branch off into other pieces.”
Speaking of branching, Melnychuk recommends “bringing the outdoors in” with actual greenery, but also “lots of handmade pottery that looks like pine cones and branches.” And then there are the flowers. Poinsettias are the obvious go to, and Swish + Company will do custom poinsettia orders, but “We love the Canadian-grown amaryllis plants that last and come in white, red and peach. And we also bring in a lot of mini cypress trees or lemon cypress trees, that look like tiny little Christmas trees. We love to mix them with moss and branches, and with our Christmas balls and sparkles and picks. You can use them to create centrepieces, and they smell like wintergreen and pine, so they add a really nice fragrance to the house without having a huge tree.”
Circa Living is only five months old, but Partner/Manager Trevor Compton says the sustainable-focused design store will double in size in the new year, largely because of the well-established trend of people wanting carefully curated, “previously loved” items all year round. And he’s not talking about people his age who are nostalgic for yuletides of yesteryear — it’s younger people trying to compensate for his generation’s rampant consumerism.
“When we talk to these younger people, they say they feel my generation was very responsible for creating everything that’s so disposable and the landfills are full of our mistakes. And they don’t want to repeat that. So buying vintage allows them to keep something out of the landfill, and also allows them to have something that’s very unique.”
Have a Glass
Compton says he’s always on the hunt for vintage mercury glass ornaments, “because I think all of that stuff harkens to the past and gentler times,” as well as rolled up sheet music paper, beaded stars and snowflake ornaments. People also love vintage giftware, ceramics and glassware from the turn of the century to the ’50s. “I would be thrilled to get something like that from a friend as a gift,” Compton says, “because no one else would have it.”
Whether you go vintage or new, nature decor always makes for a nice backdrop. So Compton’s sourced birch poles with branches, live and artificial greens, and pine cones (though he concedes you could find some for free on a nice, river valley winter walk). The store has special exotic flowers, and does floral arrangements in what Compton calls hostess bowls. “So if you get invited to a nice dinner, you can just take this inexpensive little $30 ceramic dish with a beautiful arrangement in it as a way to thank your host.”
Melnychuk says people can sign up for holiday classes on wreath- and swag-making, mixology, book clubs and classes for kids, so they can make their own house decor. And every week Compton posts mini-webinars on Circa’s Instagram page for people wanting decor How Tos from home (look for in-person seminars in the new year, too). Because in the end, the best decorations are the most personal. “I’m of the belief that if it makes you feel good and happy, just go for it,” Melnychuk says. “You don’t have to follow the trends or follow what you think is in style. If you love your popcorn garland and your ornaments that your grandparents or kids made, just find beautiful ways to make them work, and the sky’s the limit.”
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