3 Essentials for a Modern Christmas

December 26, 2019

“For me, a tall slender tree epitomizes modern design. This year, my tree was silver.”

— Michele Pelafas

Essential #1 - Celebrate the tree!

If space allows, put the tree in an unexpected area of the room vs. in a corner

Set up your tree next to a cozy chair and accentuate it with a luscious throw and accent pillow.  For the space surrounding the tree, I like to mix holiday decor with non-traditional elements such as an orchid or coffee table books of art and fashion to bring a modern quality to the design.

This year my color scheme was white, silver and taupe.  I invested in matte ornaments vs. shiny so that the silver of the tree and lights would stand out.  I also decided to forgo any filler or sprays because I adorned the tree with plenty of ornaments but if you are short on ornaments, you might want to consider adding filler and Wayfair has a nice variety of sprays online. 

Another way to add volume to the tree is with over-sized ornaments.  I mix shatterproof balls (great resource here) with a variety of collectable glass ornaments including Waterford and Collections by Neiman Marcus, here.  I place the over-sized ornaments in a zigzag pattern to create balance and harmony.  I also nestle them into the tree so that they do not stick out.  I then fill in the rest of the tree with medium sized ornaments.  I place smaller ornaments in the middle of the tree to create depth.

Of course, the tree topper is the crowning glory!  I like to bring larger ornaments right up to the top of the tree and then top it with a statement star.

Essential #2 - Create a Theme!

A memorable tablescape can be the hit of the party

My Reindeer theme included colors and finishes of grey oak, tonal charcoal, matte gold and pale silver with a little bit of sparkle, of course! Just add seasonal fruit and a bottle of champagne and you are good to go!

“TIP! Invest in statement holiday salad plates to set the tone and bring the design together.”

— Michele Pelafas


Preparation is the name of the game: mind, body and soul. But have fun!

A modern Christmas to me is “less” about the presents and very much about taking time to visit with family and friends and to take care of yourself.  The pressures this time of year can be insurmountable and then there is the food, drinks and limited time for personal.  I make it a habit to meditate once a day, if even for 10 minutes which helps clear my mind and maintain focus on what matters.

I try not to beat up on myself for having that piece of pumpkin pie or the extra glass of champagne.  It is in the celebration that we indulge, enjoying the moment.  I am sure to get back up on the elliptical or go for a walk the next day, taking in the fresh air to soothe the soul and tone the body.

When entertaining, I am learning that less is more but I still go well out of my way to make sure that the home is comfortable, the fireplace is lit and that there is plenty of food and drink.  I start with appetizers and a signature drink.  This year was the “White Christmas Margarita” and everybody absolutely loved it!  Sharing the recipe here, that I followed to a tee.

Margarita for Christmas?  Now that’s a modern essential for sure and might be a new tradition.  😉

Wishing you a beautiful holiday season and a happy healthy new year!