Expert tips for adding yuletide cheer to your home’s entrance.
by Erik J. Martin
In December, many homeowners focus on decking the halls, trimming the tree and hanging stockings by the chimney with care. But not enough emphasis is put on the pathway and portal to all this indoor holiday cheer, some experts say.
The solution? From the first day of Christmas onward, focus on making a great first impression via your front porch, door and entryway – with no partridge in a pear tree required.
“The front area is one of the most high-traffic, highly visible areas of your home. It’s where you really have a chance to impress,” says Glenn Bridges, manager of Christmas Décor in Northport, Ala. “Plus, if you’re a person who enjoys spreading Christmas spirit, it can really make an impact in welcoming people to your home during the holiday season.”
Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the Herndon, Va.-headquartered National Association of Landscape Professionals, agrees. “A beautifully decorated entryway will make a lasting first impression for your holiday guests and should not be overlooked as part of your holiday decorating,” Henriksen says.
Regardless of the climate or region, festively festooning your home’s front should be front-and-center priority in December.
“In an attempt to bring a white Christmas to sunny southern California, we drape our front porch and bushes with snow-colored garland and hang icicle lights from the gutter and windowpanes,” says Megan Zavala, Burbank, Calif., a homeowner who spends at least $100 every holiday season to decorate her home’s portal. “Our guests love it – they say they feel as if they’re going to a party at the North Pole.”
At minimum, devote attention to your door by hanging a wreath, sign or other holiday décor there. “Make sure the colors you choose complement the door and the other colors of your home. Look for a wreath or swag that is not too small or big for the door,” says Kristen Gasior, chief marketing officer for Balsam Hill, the Redwood City, Calif.-based makers of artificial Christmas trees, who says quality wreaths vary in price from $70 to over $200.
To amp up the Yuletide spirit further, spread the garland along with the good cheer.
“I’m a big fan of sweeping garland on banisters and railings and over arches and doors, especially garland with pinecones, sprigs of holly or ribbons woven in. If you’re looking for the real thing, choose fresh cedar bough garland where you buy real Christmas trees,” says Bridges, noting that the bona fide stuff costs $50 and up for enough material to drape around a door.
For maximum effect that resonates from a distance, electric adornments in the form of string, net, icicle, dewdrop and projector lights can add illumination and warmth to your porch, door and surrounding real estate. “Whether you’re going for a multi-colored Griswold family Christmas vacation look or something more subdued and classic, it’s better to invest in higher-quality LED lights that are more energy efficient and durable,” Bridges says. “Try to use lighting clips, which make installation easy and are designed to work without damaging your home’s trim. And remember not to create runs more than three strings long or to plug in strings of mismatched strength rated for different amps, which can be unsafe and short-circuit your whole display.”
Plan to spend anywhere from $50 to over $300 for effective holiday lights you hang yourself. Also, “plan out what you’d like your holiday lights display to look like before you hop on a ladder,” which can save time and prevent accidents, Bridges says.
For festive front door framing, consider adding a small decorative pre-cut evergreen tree, like a Frasier fir or Norwegian spruce in a planter, to each side of your door, “which sets the mood for your holiday festivities,” says Henriksen, noting that a pair can cost upwards of $100.
Additionally, “play up your hibernating window boxes and planters with extra flair by filling them with greenery like amaranthus, magnolia leaves, juniper, cedar, boxwood and holly and by incorporating ribbon and bright-red accents around them,” suggests Henriksen, who estimates this project to cost upwards of $50. “You can even borrow from elements of your own landscaping greenery.”
If you’re on a tight budget, consider a simple bit of DIY decorating. “It’s easy to save money on decorations by making them yourself and by stocking up on supplies throughout the year,” Zavala says. “Buy inexpensive red ribbon at a craft store and tie it into bows around your railings, posts, wreathes and lampposts.”
Think outside the box, and outside the ice skating rink, too. “Consider reviving an old pair of skates by making them the basis of an outdoor planter or hanging them from your home’s light post. Custom décor can provide warmth and offer visitors a glimpse into your hobbies and interests,” Henriksen says.
Be careful not to overdo these merry matters, however. “Avoid adding too many elements to your front entry, which should be warm and inviting and not cluttered or claustrophobic,” Gasior advises.