By Sarah Russell, Photos by Jamison Mosley


The Grinch has been put on notice. We simply will not allow any of our holiday spirit to be stolen this season, not a smidgen. And that goes for his new buddy, COVID-19. 


Armed with mental agility and a good dollop of humor, the creators of all things beautiful stand ready to defy this year’s challenges. It’s OK — we will make it to the eggnog.


Know that even the professionals are having those grit-your-teeth moments. “We pivot constantly at this point, trying to figure it out,” says Chris Norwood. That comment comes backed by years of experience in creating the memorable; Norwood is the Vice President of Tipton & Hurst, Central Arkansas’ esteemed floral company. 

What might be expected on our store shelves and online? Much less in quantity, selection and quite possibly in quality — ghosts of the toilet paper scenario. Companies such as RetailMeNot and Home Depot are strongly emphasizing this one fact: shoppers need to be out now. Home decorating has seen a surge this year despite the limitations of the pandemic. Customer feedback has indicated that setting up holiday decorations is going to happen earlier. Much of it will appear in a streamlined flow from — or even before — Thanksgiving to Christmas. Definite heartburn on the horizon for the dawdlers and indecisive.


Those who made the commitment to shop early can then enjoy a gift from COVID — time. This season will not be another stressful holiday sprint, but more of a time to savor every moment. “Savoring,” by the way, is an actual psychological term. It goes like this: A major part of the excitement and joy generated by special events — birthdays, vacations and holidays — is time spent in preparation and anticipation. You’ll have time to thoughtfully create cozy-chic and revel in it too.  


On the design front, this year’s “comfort food” is a strong return to a nostalgic, traditional look. Norwood notes, “We’re seeing that lots of things that you and I grew up with have circled back … Anything that’s older, maybe more timeless.” 

Available decor from Tipton & Hurst.

Your storage boxes are staring back blankly? Here’s a secret of many designers — quality, authentic pieces can be sourced easily (and inexpensively!) at thrift and vintage shops. They’re as good as a grandmama’s attic. Go for beautiful crystal, silver and wooden containers that will gladly host greenery, lights or Christmas cookies. Most of us will have much smaller gather ings this year or, as Norwood says, “If there’s only going to be four of us, go all out — tableware, placemats.” So embrace all the fine China and crystal. If you weren’t early enough for any vintage Christmas sets, look for tableware that has colors you can incorporate in your holiday theme.


Consider giving those traditional colors a stretch. In her own home, Monica Griffin, owner of Cabot’s Curly Willow Designs, mixes red, green, teal and an amber-orange for her holiday look. Norwood anticipates doing some client trees decorated with blown glass balls in the “shades of a crayon box.” This use of vivid colors makes an effect that is “a little bit more sophisticated than a child’s tree.”  Kicking COVID to the corner, Norwood is also going for “a bubble-gum-colored tree, bright, shiny and happy.” 


Other colors to use? Griffin likes the new ornaments. “Kind of like a mercury glass, like a deeper teal.” That teal combines two color palettes — green and blue — that are showing up in fresh ways for Christmas. The traditional holiday green will be joined by its cousins, which range from a darker forest green to soft mint. One of Griffin’s custom wreaths was a whimsical lime green flocked creation. Previously seen soft turquoise, known to cozy up well with lots of colors, will be joined by other shades of blue, including navy. Navy plays well with so many colors, including white, gold, platinum, champagne, blush and red. 

Available decor from Tipton & Hurst.

Sticking with your farmhouse look instead? Those traditional green balls don’t mind regrouping. Put them with your whites, birch tones and the dark browns of pine cones to create a “winter in the woods” look. Adding platinum accents in your wilderness themes will also create a touch of rustic elegance. Your red balls are adaptable too — they’ll turn up the volume on your whites, blacks and grays. Super glam it by putting those red touches with pink and platinum.


What if your primary shades are the quieter tones — sand, beige and blush? Griffin notes, “People who like those neutrals don’t tend to like too much of a pop of color.” Instead, for those customers, she brings in color with lots of greenery, which stays subtle with soft metallic accents — rose gold, copper, platinum, champagne or blush. This year will see her adding her newest ornaments — clear glass with accents of white and gold.  

The many, colorful combinations of Christmas. (By Curly Willow Designs.)

Then there are those among us who don’t do tame. You just have to let your inner goddess of design create the utterly fabulous. We’re sure to love it. (We bet you’ve already gotten the faux fur tree skirts fluffed out.) To set a flame to the conversation, here are a few suggestions. Switch out the stockings for monogrammed masks. Make your own or order at: Let your coffee table quietly host — for a New York minute — a platter of those very timely cookies (see Well, the very least you could do is a tree with new ornaments this year. Start perusing at: And you’ve got to get the Grinch ones!


About your tree — if hauling a big tree hither and yonder is not your zen, skip it. Blame it on the virus. Social distancing is expected to limit the number of people visiting the fresh tree sellers this year. The tree sales that are already surging are the tabletop trees. The biggest sellers are again a strong nod to the traditional — the iconic ceramic Christmas tree. Ahead of the game, Griffin has her grandmother’s, lights and all. “It is,” she notes, “one of my favorite things in the house.” Maybe you’d like to get one to pass along as well.

Monica Griffin of Curly Willow Designs.

There are always those people who insist on a living tree. They usually live with a person who gets heartburn just watching all those needles hit the floor. There’s a new living tabletop tree that will let there be peace on earth; it’s made of succulents. For DIY folks, the tutorial is at Would you rather watch the hot chocolate swirl? Order at Etsy, sites such as RileysOasis, TheSavvySucculents, and SoCalSucculentsCA.


Been faking it year after year with your trees, wreaths or garlands? No problem. Most florists are happy to do a nip and tuck. Griffin says, “We’ll just take out what looks bad or sad and add something new, freshen it up.” Headbutting the budget this year? Rethink a wreath used earlier this year. With this season’s come-as-you-are color palette, even those Easter soft blues, mints and pinks can be reworked for these holidays. Halloween’s black and orange accents can be plucked and replaced with a color that will work. Remember Griffin’s use of orange with teal, red and green? And what doesn’t work with black? 

Not a DIY person? No problem — this tutorial shows how to repurpose that wreath without even gluing anything. Hallelujah! (


Many wreaths and garlands this year will make use of the standards — greenery of any sort, birch, eucalyptus, holly, pine cones. Having our way with them will include the usual too — lights, berries, ribbons, flocking, ornaments. And this Natural State kindly serves up the makings for that beloved classic — the magnolia wreath. From green to white to that soft metallic, any choice is sure to be a showstopper. Joanna Gaines has nothing on you. Don’t DIY? Know that this year your florists are making it easier for you to have what you want and still be safe. Order at their online sites, have it delivered and/or take advantage of contactless pickup. This gives you so much more time for that savoring effect which, of course, will include your gloating at having defied COVID-19 and the Grinch.

Curly Willow Mantel Design.

The Grinch hated Christmas, so much so that he decided to sabotage the holiday for the people of the nearby town of Whoville. He gleefully looted Christmas decorations, presents and trees, fully expecting to ruin Christmas for all. Instead, the next morning he was astonished to see that despite their losses, the folks of Whoville were singing merrily. After much puzzlement on his part, the Grinch finally surmised that, “Maybe Christmas … doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” 


Who knew such wisdom could come from a creature that shade of green? Happy Holidays, everyone. Now, where is that eggnog? 


READ MORE: Motley’s Christmas Tree Farm Continues Growing Memories, Even During a Pandemic