How to: Create a pretty holiday porch
1 How to clean up your porch
Cleaning your porch will make planning and decorating that much easier. Dirty glass surfaces won’t allow decorations and lights to really shine, so clean windows and glass doors inside and out. Shovel or sweep the porch and stairs, and give the railing a brush off and wipe down.
2 How to gather supplies
House the items you’ll need to securely attach your porch trimmings in a small box or basket so you’re not running in and out of the house. Scissors, garden pruners and snippers, florist wire or twist ties, and fishing wire or sewing thread are the basics you need.
3 How to decide on a colour scheme.
One of the secrets of a pretty front porch is a cohesive colour theme. Keep things sophisticated if you’re going with the trad Yuletide colours of red, green and white by using only two of those hues in your lighting and trimming choices. Or take some cues from the Style at Home gift wrap story “All Dressed Up” (December 2009) and opt for hot new holiday colour combos such as lime and pink, fuschia and turquoise, or red and soft blue.
4 How to decorate a Christmas wreath
For a luxe holiday porch look, add festive red berries to a store-made fresh wreath. Intersperse it with sprigs of holly or branches of ilex berries, both inexpensive and readily available this time of year. Trim ilex branches and poke into the wreath’s wire frame. For shorter holly sprigs, use twist ties or florist wire to secure it in the back.
5 How to make a bough
For a less formal look, consider a bough instead of a wreath. Cedar branches, with their strong fragrance and soft greenery, are popping up in all the decor magazines this winter. Buy at least three healthy looking branches and tie stems together using florist wire (a twist tie will do in a pinch). Use a few feet of thick satin ribbon that coordinates with your outdoor lights (if you’re using them) and tie a fat bow over the florist wire.
6 How to hang a bough or wreath
Much like a painting, a wreath or bough should hang approximately at eye level. Rule of thumb: Hang it so the centre sits one-third of the way down the door. One pretty solution for suspending it if you don’t own a wreath hanger is to string it on a length of ribbon and push a flat tack into ribbon at the top of the door.
7 How to decorate a holiday urn
A black cast-iron urn brimming with evergreens, branches of berries and ornaments is the ultimate front porch decoration. The key here is abundance and height. Drape lots of cedar branches to make a bottom layer inside the urn, fill with boxwood branches, skewer pine cones into it with florist wire and add tall berry branches in the middle for height. Generally, the tall branches should be at least the length of the urn itself for a balanced look. For colour, nestle Christmas tree ball ornaments or fruit such as pomegranates and oranges into the greenery.
8 How to decorate planters for the holidays
I have black zinc planters on my porch that do nothing but collect snow in the winter. This season, I’ll press them into use by laying boxwood branches in them and dotting with lots of Ikea’s sparkling silver Kotte ornaments.
9 How to wrap garland on a porch banister
Swag the garland around the topmost rail of the banister, allowing swaths of it to hang evenly, and tie it into place using florist wire, fishing line, or even sewing thread.
10 How to dress up faux garland
“To save time and money, this neat little shortcut turns inexpensive artificial garlands into something grand,” says P. Allen Smith in Living in the Garden Home. "Buy several long strands [of faux garland] and cover them with clusters of bundled live evergreen stems. Then wire on accents of pinecones, seed heads, and berried branches to give them more color and interest."
11 How to hang Christmas lights
Go for LED lights that match your colour scheme – they come in every hot shade these days – and hang them using a ladder-free gutter clip kit by St. Nick’s Choice.
12 How to let the kids do some of the decorating
Keep the look more posh than preschool by flanking the door with two small potted Christmas trees and let the kids trim them. Homemade white paper snowflakes taped on the window go are a charming addition to any front porch and a reminder not to take things too seriously. It’s Christmas time!
13 How to make sure everything is in an optimal spot
When you’re in the midst of decorating, it’s easy to get so caught up in the details that you can’t tell if your project looks quite right. Get some perspective by snapping a digital picture. It will help you see if your urn needs more height or if the wreath is too low, for instance.
14 How to keep evergreens fresh
Keep outdoor cut evergreens fresh by spritzing them with room temperature water as often as you can, at least once a week.