Marian hangs a handmade pom-pom garland on a vintage upside-down screened door.

If you’re already starting to stress about the holidays, do away with an explosion of Christmas décor in your home and, instead, opt for a simpler and more relaxed look. Blogger Marian Parsons of Miss Mustard Seed skillfully exemplifies this concept in her former Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, home, which she filled with simple touches that infuse the home with the holiday spirit. “I don’t like to decorate for the holidays in a way that’s fussy or in your face,” says Marian. “I like to add hints of the season through fresh greenery and handmade touches.”

Marian mixed a custom shade of blue from colors in her milk paint line for this step-back hutch. Festive touches such as the wool pom-pom wreath and the small fir tree in a crock bring Christmas to the living room.

Dreaming of a Blue and White Christmas

You would think Marian, a highly admired paint enthusiast, has always possessed the skills to make her Christmas vision a reality, but like everyone else, she’s struggled with creating the right holiday look. “I’m a blue-and-white girl, and for a long time I felt like I didn’t have permission to stray from red and green for Christmas,” she says. “After several years, I started to see articles with surprising holiday palettes, and I finally felt the freedom to do something different.”

How Lovely Are Your Branches

Marian’s blue-and-white color palette remains prominent during Christmas, with natural accents used to bring a festive feel to the home’s year-round look. “I like to keep things simple and natural,” she says. “I love tucking fresh greenery into chandeliers and on top of tall pieces of furniture, as fresh greenery is always in style.”

The chippy finish of this antique cabinet adds character to family room.
Simple and pretty is how Marian describes her family room décor.

Varieties of juniper, pine, fir, spruce, eucalyptus and bay leaves make up Marian’s greenery supply. “I like to use a mix,” she says. “I find as many varieties as I can, because some are feathery, some have needles; and they can have a yellow, blue or green tint.” She prefers live greenery over faux, as it provides a more authentic look, and it’s “so much prettier up close.”

She also includes trees in a few of her rooms, to accompany the loose garlands and branches. As her ceilings are high in the family room, she gets as big a tree as she can find and decorates it with felt garlands, jingle bells and any other ornaments she chooses. In the living room, however, she has a small fir tree that is decorated in felt-star garlands and small handmade grain-sack ornaments.

Holiday baking is the kitchen’s theme during Christmas, with freshly baked cookies on the table and a “Gingerbread Baking Co.” sign by Ella Clare.

Handmade Holiday

Perhaps the sweetest parts of Marian’s home are the homemade touches that make her holiday look customized and personal. “I like pieces that are unique and that have a handmade feel to them,” she says.

This cloche contains a miniature vignette which includes a gingerbread house, an antique cast iron toy cow, fresh greenery and a bottle brush tree.

Every year, Marian makes gingerbread cookies and houses, and scatters them around the house for something that looks and smells good. Some of her houses are displayed in cloches or on cake stands, and some of her cookies are hung as garlands. Marian also loves to decorate with wool pom-poms. Some of them are hung as garlands, and others are tied around lamps or made into wreaths. “It’s a reference to snow balls,” she says.

Handmade accents add a personal touch to holiday decor.

Having a handmade touch doesn’t mean you have to make all the décor yourself. Marian enlisted the help of her friend Ann Drake from the blog On Sutton Place to bring charming touches to her home, including her stocking Advent calendar and grain-sack star ornaments. “I sent her all my grain-sack fabric scraps, and she made 24 stockings for me that I tied onto a piece of twine,” says Marian. There’s never a better time to get creative with friends than during the holidays.