It's best to keep decorating simple, recommends Barbara King, a floral designer who is in nursing education at ValleyCare Health System. For about 10 years, King has been one of the decorators for the stunning trees auctioned off at the annual ValleyCare fundraiser, Christmas Tree Lane, which is this weekend at Palm Event Center in Pleasanton.
This year King was responsible for two trees, one titled "Fanciful Flight," which featured birds, and the other to recognize that this year is ValleyCare's 50th anniversary.
"That's a beautiful kind of classic tree with blacks and golds and pearls, a frosted tree," she explained.
She advises people, when decorating for the holidays, to pick a theme for the room or area.
"Do you want it to look like a snow village? The South Pole?" she asked. "Pick how you want it to look -- old-fashioned, new or more modern."
She also said to pick three colors then stick to the color theme, such as crimson red, dark forest green and white or gold.
"I try to keep the basic theme and the new things fit in," she said.
When decorating a tree, she pointed out, put something colorful toward the trunk and decorate from the inside out.
"Fill the center core of the tree. If you're going to use scarves, put it in toward the trunk, string it through the center of the tree, pull it forward in poofs," she said. "Put whatever you want toward the center first -- decorate out. Think the prettier ornaments you want to put out toward the tips."
Don't be afraid to put large things on trees as a focal piece, she said, noting that even a small tree can have a focal point.
"If you're doing a winter wonderland tree use a pair of small kids skis tied into the tree, like a 3-4-foot pair," she said. "Think outside the box."
Mittens and scarves are also effective, she added.
"I like to add some floral garlands or floral picks in the tree. That adds interest," she said.
King recalled going through a formal period in decorating her own home about 10 years ago but now her holiday decorating tends to revolve around her grandchildren, ages 6, 7, 11 and 12. They enjoy helping her place teddy bears under her tree and the Department 56 miniature houses that light up, which go under the tree and often on the mantle.
She also places a garland on her mantle, along with lights.
"If you're doing green fresh garland on the mantle and just a little greenery on the table runner and a wreath, it is uniform throughout the house," King said. "The house still shines -- it doesn't have to be elaborate."
"Think continuity," she explained, "so everything sort of relates to one another. Colors that relate always work better."
Remember to keep decorations low on the dining table, she said, because they can also serve as the centerpiece when enjoying the holiday feast.
She also suggests running garlands up and down stair rails.
"Lighted garlands on the stairway are really pretty," she said. "They can be tied with so many things -- tie them with a red bow."
No matter how beautiful our new decorations may be, the holidays are also a sentimental time.
"We all have our special things we've had over the years but we put them out anyway," she said. "I do that as well. My colors are generally crimson red, deep greens and I add pearl or silver along with that. I find that other ornaments or family things I add in tend to be OK with those colors."
Outside, she hangs a wreath and puts lights around the doors as well as on two small arbors in front of her house. But she does not feel a need to go overboard.
"Because I work at Christmas Tree Lane all October and November, I'm becoming a minimalist at home," she said with a laugh.