Deck the Halls!

Photo courtesy of Nina Cohen

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Decking the halls doesn’t have to be a scene out of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  With these tips – and maybe a little help! – from the pros, you can make your own house holiday-ready all while saving time and money.

For interior decorator and Mint Hill resident Cindy Rochon, there’s a simple and inexpensive way to make your home look like it’s straight out of a Winter Wonderland.  “Lights, lights and more lights!” says Rochon. “But lights don’t have to be everywhere!” she assures. “A simple lighted wreath on the outside door and battery-operated candles in the windows make for beautiful curb appeal.  If possible, always put a Christmas tree in the window! it not only is beautiful all lit up from the inside but again, adding to curb appeal to see the tree all lit up on the exterior as well.”

Placing your Christmas tree in front of a window makes for indoor impact and curb appeal. Photo courtesy of Nina Cohen.

Ornaments are another relatively inexpensive decoration, and they don’t just belong on the tree!  “A bowl of shiny red ball ornaments in the center of the table framed with some pine is a simple, inexpensive way to add a little holiday charm to the table,” says Rochon.  With a good eye, you may be able to salvage those pine sprigs from your own yard or score them for free.  “Next time you’re driving home and pass a Christmas tree farm or stand, stop and ask if you can have some of the trimmings from the trees they have sold,” says Gift Workshop owner Kat DePrater.  “Most will gladly let you take some for free! Using it in existing wreaths, vases, and centerpieces around the house provides a fragrant holiday scent at no cost to you.”  

Another great way to add color and festivity to a room is switching up some of your “regular” decor for items that are holiday-themed. “Christmas pillows and throw blankets are great ways to add festive touches,” says Mint Hill local and Christmas decorator Nina Cohen.  “Pillows can be budget-friendly and add a splash of color and the holidays to a room,” adds DePrater, who also frames mementos like her son’s Christmas list or photographs of her and her son baking Christmas cookies in holiday-themed frames.

Catalogs and window displays from high end stores can serve as great inspiration, but there’s no need to pay to dollar for decorations.  “Take that same look, and check other stores such as Homegoods and Target,” advises Rochon. The “Dollar Spot” at Target, for example, has many adorable decorations for as low as $3.  “Use lots of ribbon and larger ornaments on trees to save a few dollars,” adds Cohen.  “Always shop for items when they are on sale, no need to pay full price.”

While budget decorations from big box stores can make a big visual impact, small personal mementos go a long way toward making your home feel cozy for the holidays.  “Create collections of items that are important to you and your family over the years,” advises DePrater of the Gift Workshop. “My son and I exchange ornaments every year, and we display them all on our tree.  The homemade ones are always my personal favorite. Over the years we have collected so many we almost need another tree! Having all the unique ornaments also tells a story when friends and family come to visit over the holidays.”  For DePrater, the ornaments aren’t just something to put on a tree but a fun way to remember the year they’ve shared together and look back at fun memories from years prior.

If you’re not convinced you can turn your home into a “Winter Wonderland” on your own, call in the professionals.  “It can be overwhelming to know what and where to buy,” says Rochon. “You can go to the store and spend $150, bring home a bunch of adorable things, but if you don’t know how and where to place them in the home, it’s not going to create the look you are wanting. I love to accessorize for people,” she continues.  “Whether it’s setting up bookshelves, or dining room table, it’s all very exciting to me! I can shop for clients, stage the items for clients, or simply help gather ideas!” Learn more about White Tulip Interiors at

If you already have decorations but struggle with the time or know-how to put them up, Cohen can help you.  “ I love Christmas and love to decorate even more!” she says. “I have done this for the past few years as a side gig for many and I would love to help more! I have a four-hour minimum, and it is $25 an hour. I get a lot done in four hours, so most of the time the jobs are about $100 to $125 and you are done!”  Call or text Nina Cohen at 908-910-1753.

Nina Cohen uses your decorations to get your home holiday-ready in an afternoon. Photo courtesy of Nina Cohen.

If you’re looking to DIY some Christmas cheer but aren’t sure where to start, check out the Gift Workshop.  “I created The Gift Workshop to be a brick and mortar version of pinning your favorite ideas,” says DePrater.  “Our workshops provide the materials and instruction for creating candles, farmhouse style signs for homes or special events, wreaths, serving platters, custom bottle openers, door hangers, lazy susans, picture frames, serving platters, candles and much more!”  The Gift Workshop can help you DIT your own home decor or gifts for friends and neighbors. The Gift Workshop is located at 8329 Fairview Road.

If you’re struggling with the time or equipment to hang outdoor lights, consider contacting an arborist like Piedmont Tree Experts.  Serving clients in Mint Hill and Matthews for thirty years, Piedmont Tree Experts can help you install and remove lights from your trees.  “We use tree climbing techniques that do not injure the trees throughout the climb,” says Bob Lubbers. “We use a bucket truck on a production loft as well.”  Reach Piedmont Tree Experts at 704-563-5817.

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: