The Herald Bulletin

December 7, 2013

Deck the halls

Incorporate a theme and have some fun

By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin

---- — Excited residents are unboxing Christmas décor and erecting trees, hoping to create a festive atmosphere that is pleasing to the eye but doesn’t break the bank. While many local families enjoy the help of a professional to deck their halls, others cannot spare the expense this year.

Eric J. Scott, owner of EJS Designs and general manager of Gaither Family Resources, offers some tips to help as readers incorporate trendy styles into their holiday season.

Tip 1: Think big

“So many people think they can only use a small item on a Christmas tree,” said Scott, who has not only decorated many homes for the season, but also the Anderson Country Club. “But I tell them, the bigger, the better. You can even use things that are not ornaments.”

Scott uses nativity scenes, lanterns (some 12 to 18 inches tall) and figures (such as happy elves or penguins) to adorn a tree. He ties them in with wire or, if working with an artificial tree, wraps branches around each item to secure it.

“Shove them in the tree to make them part of the tree,” he added. “It creates a designer look. The eye goes to the larger pieces — and they don’t usually cost any more than the ornaments that would hang in their place.”

Tip 2: Embellish the topper

Traditionally people simply place an angel or star on the top and call it a day. Scott adds flair to this focal point of the tree.

“I incorporate a lot of different elements in the topper — which makes it more like an arrangement,” he said. “By the time I’m done, the top extends 12 to 18 inches above the actual tree and usually becomes wider too.”

Matching the tone of the rest of the tree, he may use icy picks, sticks, icicles, Santas, ribbons and/or bows.

Tip 3: Tie the bow

While he doesn’t always use ribbons in a tree, he does have a foolproof method of tying tricky bows. Make a couple of loops with the ribbon, scrunch them in the middle and wrap the tree branch around it (or use a piece of wire).

“Bows are difficult to create for a lot of people,” he said. “But these are easy and look really nice.”

If you choose to incorporate these, use one to three types of ribbon per tree.

Tip 4: Choose a theme

For families that erect more than one tree, a theme should emerge for each one. Either by color, type of ornament or style, the tree should communicate its own personality.

“Each tree is so unique and that’s what’s so fun about them,” said Scott. “Each tree tells a story — with a North Pole Woods scene, a wacky Santa scene or a religious scene. I think of a story as I decorate it and people can read the story as they look at the tree.”

Of course, each family has a stash of sentimental ornaments that were made by children over the years. This can be the staple of the tree — it only needs a little background.

“I start with a thematic look, a base to the design and keep it simple,” he said. “I make it look nice with continuity and then the family hangs all the ornaments.”

Tip 5: Properly place the tree

After all the work of dragging out ornaments and erecting the tree, many people place the tree in the wrong location for the size or layout of the room.

“People tend to push them in the corner, but you want them to be the focal point of the room,” said Scott. “I look at the room from all different angles and come into the room from all the entryways to make sure the tree is in the perfect spot.”

Tip 6: Have fun

No matter what type of tree or design style you choose, don’t forget to enjoy the process.

“I love that every tree is different,” said Scott. “I try to think of every one from a new perspective. Working with clients is so much fun. It’s an honor to be in their home and contribute to their holiday season.”

Each week, Emma Bowen Meyer features a Madison County home. If you know of a home that should be showcased, send an e-mail to