Non-Christmas Holiday Decor Ideas

by | Nov 30, 2020 | All Things Home, Decorating, Holiday, Winter | 31 comments

I remember an article I read in a magazine years ago about a room that was completely transitioned from a spring/summer look to a fall/winter look by changing out some accessories and the slipcovers on the furniture.  The entire room went from feeling fresh and cheery to homey and warm without the addition of any traditional seasonal or holiday decor.  I love how the transition was relatively simple, probably done in an afternoon, but it completely transformed the room.  (Does anyone else remember that article?  I think it was in Country Home…maybe 15-20 years ago.)

I think many of us make some of these changes naturally.  The throws end up draped over the arm of the sofa instead of folded in a basket.  We might play with the accessories, swapping out things that feel like summer and spring, like flowers and seashells, and trade them for pinecones and evergreens.

One of the smartest, most budget-friendly ways to decorate for the seasons is to use the things you already have that can “speak” to the season you’re decorating for.  By doing this, you don’t have to store a bunch of bins of decor or spend money on new things each year.  You just craftily rotate and rework, so rooms look and feel different and festive.

Here are some of my favorite everyday things I use as “holiday decor” when I’m decorating for Christmas…


I love baskets year-round for holding everything from plants and magazines to art supplies and rolls of fabric.  They bring so much texture and warmth to a room and double as functional, beautiful storage.  These attributes make them perfect to use for holiday decor.  Put your tree in a basket, fill one with large pinecones, small gifts under the tree, or reflective ornaments on a bed of greens, use them as a reusable “gift box” with a big ribbon tied around it or a piece of fabric hiding the present in an open market basket.  The possibilities are endless.

basket with pinecones | holiday decor | miss mustard seed


Pedestals are handy for serving cakes and baked goods or adding height to a buffet table, but they are also great for decorating.  If you put something on a pedestal, like a homemade gingerbread house (you can find my templates and recipe HERE), an advent wreath, or a collection of small putz houses or snowmen, they immediately look more important.  It’s an easy way to literally elevate your holiday decor to feature it.

 ironstone cake stand | advent wreath | holiday decor | miss mustard seed


Fill large bowls with ornaments, nuts in their shells, greens, a large candle, a collection of sleighbells, or even balls of yarn or spools of ribbon.  Stack several graduated bowls to add height and even put them on a pedestal!  We layer our clothes during the winter months, so let’s mimic that idea by layering holiday decor.

ironstone | bowl of nuts | holiday decor | miss mustard seed

Bowls are also perfect for planting paperwhite bulbs!  (HERE is a tutorial on doing that.)

forcing paperwhite bulbs | holiday decor | miss mustard seed


Boxes can pretty obviously be used for gift boxes…just put a coat of matte paint on them and they can be reused year after year.  If you paint them in a neutral color, they can be used for birthdays, too.  But, larger boxes can be used in the same way as baskets.  Think antique shipping crates with cool typography or those painted in a really beautiful color.  Fill them with greenery or use them as a “skirt” for your tree.  You can also fill them with firewood and put them next to a fireplace.  Even a gas fireplace will look a little cozier with a pretty box of wood at the ready.

milk painted gift box | holiday decor | miss mustard seed


As I put my dining room tree in the goat wagon again this year, I was wondering if it looked a little too 1990’s country, but I think this idea is timeless.  A tree in a wagon or cart just works.  Look for a cart or wagon that will accommodate the base of your tree if you plan to use it in that manner.  If the wagon is too small or shallow, fill it with gifts and put it under the tree.  They also look sweet outside with a potted green inside or a Christmas lawn ornament.  (I’m imagining a small lighted deer, not a 10′ Santa.)

tree in a goat cart | holiday decor | miss mustard seed


These might be my favorite on the list, because small trees look so sweet in a crock or a bucket.  Just plop a real or artificial one inside and it’s a quick and easy decorating win.

tree in a crock | holiday decor | miss mustard seed

tree in a crock | holiday decor | miss mustard seed

If I’m putting a live tree in a bucket or crock, I’ll line it with a plastic bucket and secure it with rocks borrowed from our yard.  I always make it up each year depending on the particular tree shape and size, but the general idea is the same.

how to put a live tree in a bucket | holiday decor | miss mustard seed

One of my favorite Christmas decorations ever was a live blue spruce put in an antique bucket.

live blue spruce in a bucket | farmhouse holiday decor | miss mustard seed


Knits naturally speak to cooler weather, so take advantage of that.  Put out knit pillows, blankets, and stockings, but you can also display knit mittens, hats, and sweaters.

knit mittens | holiday decor | miss mustard seed

living room christmas | holiday decor | miss mustard seed


I like using yarn for winter crafts, like making yarn “snowballs”, ornaments, finger-knit garland, or gift embellishments, but yarn also looks pretty piled into a bowl or basket and put on display.  You can find my tutorial for yarn snowballs HERE.  I use them for all sorts of things…nestled into a garland, used as “tassels” on lamps, and even as cat toys.  (That kitties added that last idea.)

lamp with yarn pom-poms | holiday decor | miss mustard seed

Glass Jars

Jars are handy for so many things and holiday decor is just another thing on a long list.  Use them as homemade “snow globes” to showcase miniatures or even protect fragile glass ornaments.  Fill them with nuts or candy canes.  You can even use them as candle/votive holders sans lid.

mason jar snow globe | holiday decor | miss mustard seed

I like using large glass jars as “upside-down cloches.”  Fill them with moss, pinecones, and a string of warm LED fairy lights and it’s an easy, wintry centerpiece.

antique jar centerpiece | holiday decor | miss mustard seed


I like slipcovers, anyway, for their washability and the way they change the look of a piece of furniture with a great shape, but they can also be a way to change out the look of your room with the seasons.  I’d eventually like to make a cream slipcover for our checked sofa so that I can change out the look with the seasons and extend the life of the upholstery.

deck chair slipcover | holiday decor | miss mustard seed

Non-Christmas Ribbon

I rarely buy ribbon from the Christmas section.  I almost always hit the non-seasonal ribbons and select ones that work with the color palette of my home.  The ribbon is more versatile and it makes my holiday decor feel more cohesive.

blue checked ribbon | holiday decor | miss mustard seed

I hope this post gives you some great ideas for using what you already have to make your holiday decorating even more special and beautiful this year!

What are some non-Christmasy things you like to decorate with?



  1. Kristin and Gjertsen

    I have been following your advice to add natural items to our Christmas decorations . I used boxwood, holly with berries, and pine boughs for decoration. I already had pinecones left from the Fall, and large acorns and chestnuts. I dried oranges and apples in my oven and use them in seasonal decorations for smell and color. I filled an antique heirloom fruit bowl with fresh oranges and apples. All from our kitchen, front yard, and backyard. I plan to order more cranberries for cooking but also for drying in the oven. I will replace the greens and berries when they dry out over the course of December. Thank you for the inspiration. Colonial Williamsburg style works for us.

  2. Judeth

    Old rusty cheese graters. I use them as luminaries down my front porch steps. I have 2 old pitchforks I am using as wreaths for my front doors this year. I usually buy something that is in black, white, green & white may a touch of brown for my ribbon choices. This year I am using all my herbs from garden to make my wreaths & garlands.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, I love that idea! So clever.

  3. Elaine

    I’ve been kind of in a decorating funk this season. I just can’t seem to get motivated. This is just the inspiration I needed.

  4. Roseann

    Oh Marion everything is just so lovely. Always has been and always will be in your beautiful home. This year I’m not pulling out the Christmas decor,instead I have given my rooms a Warm Cozy French Cottage feel. I have used pine cones….cinnamon and, small rustic cow bells for filling large apothecary jars.
    and lots of candles.

  5. Brenda

    I’m using bundles of vining and sugar pinecones with a bunch of stuff I’ve collected over the years. Red berries, feathers and other things. And just today I bought a box of shiny bright vintage look ornaments. It’s my Kryptonite ( Plus they were on sale! Double score! ) I can’t help myself! So…. weak…. 😉

  6. Betty Bashaw

    I absolutely love this idea. And, I seem to be gravitating toward it more and more each year. Thank you for some wonderful ideas. 🙂

  7. Pamela Turner

    I am loving the inspiration for organic materials and using things we already have in our homes. I am gravitating towards simpler decor and while not completely minimal, definitely “less”. It may be a product of this season in my life, but the idea of bins of decor and rooms heavy with decorations makes me feel uneasy. I like using mini pine cones that land on my patio in bowls or on cake pedestals mixed with candles, fresh cut greenery with cranberries in a vase and a few potted paper whites and amaryllis. The natural greenery helps me balance the artificial tree we have been using for the past 20 years. It was a hard decision to go that route, but important to do so due to my husband’s allergies.

    Thanks for providing fresh perspective for lovely ideas that do not require obtaining more possessions!

  8. Gloria

    Beautiful!!! Where did you find your blue wrapping paper that is by the check chair and tree in a crock? They don’t seem to have much for blue Christmas,

  9. Gloria

    I would LOVE to see a close up of your main Christmas tree.

    • Marian Parsons

      I need to get it decorated first! 🙂

  10. Janet Tluchak

    I love putting our Christmas tree in my antique wooden crate box. Fits perfectly.

  11. Susan Davis

    You inspire me. Our aesthetics are very different, but I appreciate yours. That’s the beauty of art…it transcends.

  12. Mayanna

    I have an open-ended long basket with a bale which is my year-long centerpiece on my long dining room table. I have four “under the bed” storage containers with decor, one for each season. I change the basket using the collected items from these bins each season. It is never the same, but contains greenery, sprigs, pinecones, lotus pods, berries, grapes, apples, pumpkins, and preserved fall leaves which have been around for years.

    • Mary

      Please don’t ever worry about your style choices being “dated”…your decor is so inviting, cozy and filled with personality!

  13. KathieB

    We don’t really have seasons where I live. It’s either warm or hot and Christmas is hot! I really love reading about how you decorate for seasons and for a cold Christmas. One day I hope to experience that white Christmas but for now your photos suffice. Thanks for keeping the dream alive.

  14. Mel

    I’m a blue & white fan, so love your decorations…waiting a bit to start our Christmas decorations. Working hard to get excited since we won’t be having any company to stay safe. Still thankful for everything though.

  15. Sue

    I looked through your website to find where you purchased your lamps with the yarn snowballs without success. I love the snowball idea but I also love the lamps. They are exactly what I have been looking for. Can you please share the resource for the lamps/shades? Thank you so much sharing how to reuse what you already have for all of the holidays. I love your ideas and will use them.

  16. Cheri

    I’ve been using crates, crocks, buckets, and baskets since we were first married — and didn’t have any Christmas decorations! Pine cones, fresh pine boughs, pomegranates, oranges filled old containers and we strung cranberries and popcorn for garlands! Ah, the good old days! I did stray from those roots for a few years – but in the last 20 have found my way back — simpler and less.

  17. Angela

    Years ago I found an article in Better Homes & Gardens that used greenery, cranberries and floating candles in Mason jars. I’ve decorated with these over the years. This year I’m using your suggestions and going with a blue and white theme, including the live tree in an antique crock I inherited from my mom. Thank you for all the ideas!

  18. Cynthia Tennant

    Hi Marian, what kind of plant is in the basket in the picture with yarn snowball tied to the lamp? I really like it and all your ideas in this post. Thank you!

  19. Lorrie

    These are all such wonderful ideas. I love bringing nature indoors and clip holly and cedar from our garden with abandon. There was a windstorm yesterday and I plan to go for a walk in the woods to collect fallen branches of fir trees to fill things out. Thank you!

  20. Martha

    Love these ideas and relying on what we already have and can collect for free. Re seasonal slipcovers – my mother-in-law had spring/summer slipcovers and drapes for her living room. It was a wonderful way to announce the change of seasons. So fresh and pretty! She also rearranged the dining room furniture seasonally. In Fall the dining table was put in the middle of the room in front of the fireplace and kept there until after Easter dinner. Then it was moved under the window at the end of the room and the dining room became a den of sorts. The house was very old and charming – it was actually two old houses that had been moved and attached to each other sometime in the 1800s. They had a painting of the houses in their former location down the road! So funny. In the early 1800s here in CT there was a lumber shortage, so it was common to move houses and reuse the materials. I have fond memories of many happy family times in that quirky old house.
    Thanks for a great and inspiring post!

    • Karen bahr

      Love that story about your in laws house. Pictures?

  21. Cath

    I’ve been doing this for many years but especially love it at Christmas because I don’t need the extra work at the holidays. I take down anything that is decidedly Christmas, like the tree and stockings, but everything else stays until Valentine’s Day. Another easy and inexpensive idea for holiday decor is framed greeting cards. They make great backgrounds, I get a bunch from family every year, and the big craft stores regularly clearance their frames. Thrift stores are also a great place to look. It’s an easy way to add a Christmas-y touch to rooms you might not otherwise decorate like the quest rooms or bath.

  22. Jen

    Simply gorgeous! Thank you for sharing so many ideas. I have a couple of old copper boilers that I put pine and holly in. Also crocks filled with pine cones. Last year I also decorated more with what I have and kept the decorations suitable to go through the winter. On a snowy winter day it’s nice to have a cup of coffee, or tea, and enjoy the winter decorations with lights and candles.

  23. Franki Parde

    Count me in…
    I got this mottled copper planter on “Marketplace” & ready to store it & “VOILA’…a tree stand appeared in my head.” It looks perfect on the rustic “Compass Rose” in the middle of our log cabin living area! Now to find pine cones ( tipped in diamond dust) to cover a 9′ tree…..franki

  24. Kris

    Love your ideas. So many of them can then translate to “winter”.

    I have inherited 2 antique sleds. One is a completely wooden sled–I use that indoors, wrapping wired ribbon over it and tucking my Christmas cards in the ribbon. The other one is an old style sled with runners (I remember using it as a kid …. not that it worked very well … ) and I place that on my porch with a seasonal ribbon on it and my old ice skates dangling from it. I love both of them and I leave the one on my porch out for the winter.

    The other thing I do is to pull out my throws which have red colors in them and scatter them around. The color instantly says “Christmas” AND we have something cozy to wrap up in as winter comes knocking on our door.

  25. NB

    I also saw that article many moons ago in Veranda Magazine! It was a game changer for me!
    For fall/winter I use dark, warm colors in tapestries, velvets, wool’s or plaids. Heavier curtains and a
    change in slip covers, throw pillows and even art and accessories. For spring/summer….lighter fabrics in color and textures for curtains, sofa and pillows. Change out the art, accessories and florals using more white, cream and yellow accents and a few seashells in the decor.
    I do the same in my master bedroom….but I now just switch out the comforter and shams and pillows every 6 months. Same dust ruffle…same art and curtains, etc. I’m getting to old to swap out all these rooms. No one sees the bedroom anyway, right? ?. I enjoy your blog/site. Your house is lovely.

  26. Kara Robichaud

    I love the tree in the crock idea. I have an old pickling crock that I use to store potatoes in. I guess I will need to find a new temporary home for them. I love the curtain panels in the back round. Are they custom and if so, can I get information as to who makes the material?

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I made those curtains. The fabric is Canterbury Indigo by Covington.


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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