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Amp Up Your Front Door Décor This Holiday

COVID-19 may prevent you from inviting people in, but wreaths and lights bring cheer

Man decorating front door

Yellow Dog Productions / Getty Images

These days it's a no-no to invite neighbors, friends and family into your home, due to coronavirus restrictions. But you can still show your holiday spirit by going all out decorating your front door.

Whether decking a hallway portal, a grand gate or ranch-house garage, holiday door décor can serve as an outward sign of cheer, and a way to forge community connections in a safe way. Greenery, lights, wrapping paper, ornaments, ribbons and just about anything else goes.

"It's that little piece of real estate that we can decorate in our own personal way,” says Niki VanEch, an interior designer and owner of VanEch Studio, a home interiors boutique in Occoquan, Virginia.

Holiday decorating for different doors

With family and friends forced to socially distance and gatherings restricted, the front door is one of the few public places to flex that creative decorating muscle.

After COVID-19 cancelled the annual fundraising luncheon for North Carolina organization Chatham Literacy, Executive Director Vicki Newell decided to run a holiday door decorating event in the community.

"We always say literacy opens the door to opportunity,” Newell says. “If you can't literally open the door, decorate your door for family and friends.”

Newell hopes people think outside the box. She's already decorated her barn doors. “It could be any door. It could be your front door, your office door, a side door, your garage door,” she says. “We're trying to get people to be creative and share that creativity with the community.”

But festive door décor isn't limited to single family homes. A highlight of the season at The Inn at Belden Village, an assisted living facility in Canton, Ohio, is the annual holiday door decorating contest for residents’ one-bedroom suites or studios, says Debbie Brindack, activities director.

Residents “can get pretty creative with their doors,” says Brindack, who recalls one resident who hung a giant stocking as big as the door. “We joked with him, ‘You're expecting us to fill that?'"

Many retirement apartments or assisted living communities provide residents with a shelf just outside the door to do even more seasonal decorating. Think about creating a winter wonderland scene with snowmen and snowflakes, a nativity scene with figurines or a Hanukkah theme featuring a menorah, dreidel and blue stars. To distinguish your display, arrange wallet-sized family photos among a snow globe collection.

6 Front Door Holiday Decor Ideas

Personalize your wreath

Instead of letting COVID-19 restrictions ruin the holidays, VanEch suggests decorators use the door as an extension of their personalities. For example, one of VanEch's clients loves birds and owls. “We put an owl in a wreath, inspired by the owl found in the Rockefeller Center tree this year,” she says. “What people see outside, speaks to the person that lives there,"

Although wreaths are a staple, VanEch said some of her clients, particularly those who are Jewish, prefer teardrop evergreens that provide greenery in a shape that differs from a wreath, which is often associated with Christmas.

Unsure of where to start with your decorating? “Before you go to the store, I think you have to stand back and look at your door and consider what's around your house,” said Josh Hildreth, a Washington, D.C., based interior designer. Natural offerings such as colorful leaves, twigs, berries or flowers could be put to use. Depending on your location, you might gather palm leaves or tumbleweed. With floral wire, anything can be formed into a wreath.

Once you gather what you have, Hildreth recommends combining that with inexpensive purchases. “I can gather fresh pine, but Trader Joe's does a much better job than I with putting together fresh wreaths,” he says. “Go to Trader Joe's and get an affordable wreath."

Hildreth likes to tuck flowers, twigs or stems into the wreath. “I love blue cedar berries that you can find in your yard or a neighbor's yard,” he says.

Larger items or ornaments can be attached to the wreath or garland with inexpensive floral wire. Avoid fresh fruit on wreaths, since it will degrade, and visit the craft store for artificial options, like lemons.

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Go for the ‘sumptuous surprise'

When hanging garland, Hildreth likes to start at the floor and drape it high above the door. At the foot of the door, he suggests placing lanterns of various sizes. This is also a good place to arrange a trio of potted pines with decorative bulbs or lights.

For apartment or condo doors, Hildreth prefers a preserved boxwood wreath. “It starts with this wonderful bright green color and then turns this beautiful sage,” he says.

Many apartment buildings, residential communities and condos have long hallways and corridors with many doors, so Hildreth suggests keeping things timeless. “There's an old saying regarding decorating: Don't put too much frosting on the cake,” said Hildreth. “If your door is one of many and people are seeing all these different looks, you want something simple."

Hildreth is a fan of what he calls the sumptuous surprise — something unexpected. Perhaps instead of the traditional nutcrackers flanking the front door, park an LED motion-activated pooch, like a holiday Labrador retriever available from retailer Frontgate. The dog barks, sings and wags its tail as people approach.

"Everyone just wants to bring some joy into their lives,” said VanEch. “They're bringing out the tree early, getting wreaths on the doors, just decorating in full force."