Essential Christmas Decorations

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Looking to enjoy the holidays but just with less? Here’s the ONLY essential Christmas decorations you need to deck the halls and be holly and jolly and whatnot


Essential Christmas Decorations

I’m still in denial about Christmas.

And like a bad lil’ blogger, I haven’t decorated and we’re 2 weeks into November.

The truth is that we have some huge renovation projects that we are planning and getting lined up and I’m not even 100% sure we’re going to be in our house for Christmas while those projects are going on. Eek!

So instead, I’m taking this year to peruse the internet for how I can maybe pull off minimalist Christmas decorations this year, yet still feel holly and also jolly and all that crap.

Instead of pulling down my giant box(es) of Christmas decor this year, I’m thinking through what’s actually an essential Christmas decoration and I figured I’d share that list with you!

The Only Christmas Decorations You Actually Need

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Christmas Tree

flocked christmas tree with few gold and white ornaments

It’s hard to feel festive in any way without at least a little tree. This doesn’t mean that you need to go out and buy a $1000 mini-tree to go on top of your mantle.

You honestly don’t even need to get a real Christmas tree unless you want to. I would argue that buying a real Christmas tree comes with both the sight and smell, but it’s not necessary.

You can quickly grab yourself a faux Christmas tree (or even pick one of these from my list of favorite flocked Christmas trees) and display it in your home to make it look like there’s a little Christmas happening.

Suppose you’re in a smaller space or in a temporary space like an apartment or rental house. In that case, you could do a super cool DIY Christmas tree option like one that hangs or even one that’s on the wall instead of the floor.

(By the way, if you are in a rental or need some excellent renter-friendly Christmas decorating ideas, you need to hit up my friend Chelsea from Making Home Base. I’ve been following her for years and love her style and can’t believe what she does is renter-friendly!)

Christmas Ornaments

To be fair, I can say that you might be able to leave this one out. Sometimes, it just feels good to get a tree up and then let it “breathe” without any ornaments if you’re going super minimal.

Nekkid tree! Go for it!

closeup of flocked Christmas tree with white and black ornaments and white wrapped presents under the tree

However, if you do end up going for ornaments, try them in a monochromatic scheme like black, white, or even wood-toned so that they’re not huge and pronounced.

I do love a giant, fluffy well-decorated tree with tons of ornaments and picks in it like Chelsea from 221’s beauties, but if that’s not your style, don’t force it!

String Lights

You can’t have Christmas without lights. Whether you’re actually decorating for the holidays or not, stringing up some bright twinkly lights around your front door is an easy way to brighten up any space or bring in some extra cheer.

garland with christmas lights on king bed with red home pillow and winter artwork above the bed

I would also put forth the argument that twinkly string lights are good for more than just Christmas. They actually provide a significant amount of ambient light for any room in your house.

If you’re wondering what kind to get, I recommend the LED Christmas lights because they don’t heat up and thus won’t burn your fingers when you take them down or change out the batteries.

Ask me how I know.

Christmas Tree Skirt/Collar

I actually put this one pretty high on my list of essential Christmas decorations because a Christmas tree skirt is a great way to add interest and color to your Christmas tree without actually adding more ornaments.

flocked christmas tree with few gold and white ornaments

I’m actually a much bigger fan of the Christmas tree collar vs. a skirt to get technical here.

I do love a very cozy, fluffy skirt, but because we have kiddos who tend to like to play in and around our tree like a bunch of cats, having the collar creates a more sleek look but also has the added bonus of somewhat covering up the bottom of the tree, so kids aren’t playing in the water (if it’s real) or the plug (if it’s fake).


closeup of Pottery Barn Kids stockings on mantle with red stockings in between and Christmas tree in the background

We adore our personalized stockings from Pottery Barn Kids, but for the first time in almost 5 years, they changed the design of the ones we had for the kids, so I just took the plunge and got plain cable knit stockings and then ordered some super cute tags from Etsy that I’m excited to see when they come in!

I will say that even if you don’t have a fireplace, hanging stockings on a shelf or even a blanket ladder is a great way to add some holiday cheer.

Even if you don’t actually fill the stockings and instead just throw some greenery into them, they still add a little something without being too much. I feel they are a staple with your holiday decor.


Candles are an essential Christmas decor item for a couple of reasons – mainly, they’re cheap and can make your whole house smell like Christmas.

closeup of white candlesticks on a tray with Christmas greenery and plaid fabric

You can either make it simple with a few modern candlesticks and some gorgeous tapered candles on a tablescape, or you could go all out and stick a ton in your fireplace and make it look like a fire.

I also love the warmth candles bring to a room and how they allow you to create the perfect mood. They make it feel super cozy without taking away too much attention and can work perfectly as ambient lighting in addition to your string lights.

Bonus essential: Christmas playlist

There’s nothing like a couple of perfect Christmas tunes to get you in the right spirit. And the best part is they don’t take up space!


Don’t @ me, but my absolute favorite Christmas album is N’Sync’s. I just love it. A close second is John Legend because he’s the most talented. I also love all the Pentatonix albums since I’m a music nerd.

The important thing to remember about decorating is that it’s all in the details. You don’t have to have a lot of details to make a space feel warm and inviting and have allllll the joy.

Hopefully, you’re in the mood to decorate for Christmas now, and if not, hey, that’s totally fine too!

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