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It’s likely that 2020 is not the year that leaves your holiday social calendar bursting at the seams. But, even with safety precautions and social distancing, it’s still possible to take part in the joys of the season. The halls will still be decked—even if mainly for you, because decorating your home for the holidays still has the green light. 

From wreath making to tablescapes to holiday decorations, this year you have carte blanche to do what you like. In fact, that’s one of the guiding principles that Patrick Chadwick, the chief horticulturalist at Encore Boston Harbor, abides by. 

At Encore (and at home), Chadwick follows a few key philosophies when it comes to laying out a holiday design plan. First and foremost, he recommends asking “who is the audience?” You might find you have multiple answers to this question—and that’s ok! In a typical year, you might be decorating for an elaborate holiday party or a Christmas day feast, but this year, your small guest count may alter your décor decisions. 

In Chadwick’s mind, holiday decorating is a two-part process. The first part is when you execute the actual decorating and the second part is the weeks that follow that you spend enjoying what you have created. If you are someone who loves the twinkle of tree lights by the fire, make it a priority to create that scene for yourself. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of decking the halls, Chadwick says don’t be. “You need not reinvent the wheel every Christmas, or every season. Evaluate what you have that can work, think about what transitional pieces work for fall and winter and how you can make tweaks to them for each season,” he says. 

When it comes to your own holiday table, again audience comes into play. Will your guests (some or all) be joining virtually? Will you be seating people at a table or at a kitchen island? Will the meal be served during daytime or evening hours? All of these factors can help you determine how to decorate. Candles add a lot of simple elegance and elevate a table. If you are arranging a floral centerpiece but no one is going to see the back side of it, put all of the good stuff towards the front of the arrangement! 

When it comes to the exterior of your home, do you live on a busy street? Will lots of passersby see your front door wreath? Will it primarily be viewed in daytime hours or at night? Thinking about your décor in this way might help you decide whether to add outdoor holiday lights or a spotlight. On the other hand, if you don’t live on a heavily trafficked street (or even if you do) maybe your wreath is just for you. In this case, think about what you want to see on your front door and “do something that will put a smile on your face each time you see it,” recommends Chadwick. 

At Encore, holiday décor is no small undertaking and Chadwick and his team design with guests in mind. Inside, Christmas trees and floral installations are positioned and decorated with consideration for where people might stand to take photos and how décor will translate on social media. 

Outside, Encore is dressed to impress and once again the guest experience of arriving on site and taking in the holiday scene is a priority. The sheer number of florals on site is staggering and Chadwick sources many of them locally. In addition to flowers, he recommends using other elements including flameless candles, string lights, magnolia leaves, and evergreens, which are all great ways to welcome the spirit of the season into your home.