Scandinavian Christmas decoration is about creating an elegant and refined festive interior. An elegant look, simple and far from the typical red, green and gold kitsch style of this time of year. Put away your plastic, your colorful decoration, and this time opt for something refined and Scandi-chic for Christmas.
‘Christmas is full of tradition and togetherness, family time and contemplation, and while we believe these are the most important elements, there’s something really special about marking time when decorating. the house with unique ornaments passed down through the generations. says Emma Jo Ejskjær Sørensen of Norm Architects.
“In Scandinavia, we take great pride in creating homes that exude modest simplicity in a sincere dedication to craftsmanship and an ambition to work with high-quality materials. Christmas time is no different – it’s is a way of being mindful when creating the outlines of our daily lives.
Read on for our favorite Christmas decoration ideas to inject some Scandi flair into your party schedule this year.
Scandinavian Christmas decoration ideas – what are the mainstays of the look?
When it comes to Scandinavian design, colors are muted, decor is kept to a minimum, and there are references to nature and the great outdoors throughout the home. This can take the form of parquet, paneling or plywood furniture and lightly stained wood. “It’s clean, simple and functional,” says Maija Rasila, interior designer at Finnish design shop (opens in a new tab). It is almost never based solely on aesthetic issues, rather function guides the design process. The notion of Hygge plays an important role and is known to encourage feelings of comfort, togetherness and contentment.
So how do the Nordic countries take these principles and apply them to Christmas when this time of year is so devoted to over-the-top decoration, garlands and baubles adorning every inch of the home? For a Scandinavian Christmas, these interior design mainstays of soft colors, minimal decor, and nature still apply, but in a festive way. Think muted decorations, no plastic in sight, foliage taken indoors to give the house a winter makeover and outdoor christmas decoration on windowsills and doors to get you in and out of the cold. It’s a tough art to master, but we’ll tackle how to achieve that Scandi style with the help of designers who know the traditions of the land inside out.
1. Go for real foliage
A Scandinavian Christmas is all about embracing nature in your home. Consider natural materials like wood and get out into the great outdoors to hunt for pine cones, interesting twigs, bits of bark and colorful berries. Get creative and cleverly arrange garden foliage by decorate your dining room tablein vases or on a mantelpiece for a unique decoration Christmas living room decoration idea.
“I love creating small, stylish display cases with evergreen branches or dried plants and twigs that can be scattered around the house,” says Kashi Shikunova of Yam Studios (opens in a new tab), a firm specializing in minimalist and Scandinavian interior design. “I love having cotton branches that create a soft, comforting feel.”
These displays can be a nice addition to the Christmas tree. “Also, if people don’t have much space for a Christmas tree, these displays can be a good addition,” Kashi says.
2. Decorate with pieces that show craftsmanship
Scandinavian Christmas is synonymous with tradition and craftsmanship. “Most people will have old decorations sometimes passed down from generation to generation which come out in December, bringing a sense of history and tradition,” says Nina Hertig of Sigmar London. “These pieces will often be glass or wood and will vary depending on where you are in Scandinavia.” To celebrate Christmas crafts, toys and decoration are made from natural materials such as wood or paper. Imagine little wooden elves or pretty houses that children can play with. Handwoven or knitted embellishments are also common and give that tactile element to the decor. When it comes to where to buy christmas decorations like these, look at the local Christmas markets.
“Christmas is a matter of tradition in Scandinavian countries,” says Danish designer Cat Dal of Interiors of the dal cat (opens in a new tab), a studio rooted in the spirit of Scandinavian design. ‘Just like my grandmother gave my mother, now my mother gives us a Georg Jensen tree decoration every year. They are gold plated and a beautiful thought of being passed down from family to family and creating new magic in a home. We hang ours from the windows or from a branch hanging over the dining table.
3. Opt for a calm and understated color palette
Your color scheme is also important when planning a Scandinavian-inspired Christmas and should show up early in your Christmas checklist. “Like the rest of the year, it’s good to stay calm and quiet in order to bring out the Scandinavian vibe,” says YAM’s Kashi. When decorating, think white, layers of neutrals, grays and black, keeping it simple. Where you might get a glimmer of color is in the handcrafted toys that are passed down from generation to generation in traditional Scandinavian Christmas culture.
“We use a soothing color palette inspired by nature,” says Kristina Dam, Director of Design and Brand at Broste Copenhagen (opens in a new tab). “If there’s color involved, we like the darker, muted red.”
4. Host a feast for all the senses
Some of the decor creates an immersive festive experience, so subtly introduce the Christmas theme by exploring the senses. Try spice scented candles and burn incense to make the experience special. “The orange and cinnamon give off a lovely scent,” says Cat. Use candles and incense around the Christmas fireplace will add a cozy and inviting ambience, bringing that feeling of hygge in the House.
5. Decorate your windowsill
A big part of a Scandinavian Christmas is luring visitors inside from the cold with beautiful Christmas window decoration ideas. “It’s the darkest time of the year and it’s all about intimate spaces and comfortable light,” says Nina from Sigmar. “It’s about bringing in parts of nature because it’s nicer to be indoors than outdoors at this time of year,”
Tie a garland of ribbons to your window or hang baubles. Don’t forget to light large candles, which can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. Outside, frame your window and decorate your door with a wreath and fairy lights.
6. Light the room with candlelight
Lighting also plays a huge role in Scandinavian design, and getting the right atmosphere for Christmas time is extremely important. Turn off overhead lights or dim the light to a low level, layer your lighting, and stick with the softer light of lamps, lanterns, and string lights. Candlelight is also hugely important in a Scandinavian Christmas, so dig up the candelabra and mix and match your candle display, from tealights to tall spindly candlesticks.
“The winter months are cold and dark in Scandinavia, which is why we use light as decoration – there is nothing more cozy than the flickering of a candle and its play of shadows on the walls” , explains Emma Jo. “Even though shadows can seem mysterious and intimidating, they can also provide a sense of security and comfort when they embrace us in the most reassuring way on a cold winter day, making us want to retreat there with great pleasure.
If you can, also take your lighting outside for a beautiful outdoor Christmas decoration. ‘Scandinavian Christmas is always about light. Back then, candles were even on lanterns in the trees,” says Cat. Why not recreate the look by hanging lanterns from a tree in the garden, welcoming visitors from the cold.
7. Hang a paper mobile
Christmas is a time for ingenuity, so master the art of oragami and use blank white paper to create tasteful decorations. Hanging mobiles are another popular way to decorate the home in Scandi culture, using natural materials to handcraft your own paper snowflake or wall hangings. “I have an angel paper hanging mobile that I love, the way it dances in the wind, the gold shimmers in the light, it’s so simple yet atmospheric and magical,” says Cat.
8. Don’t forget the advent calendar
An advent calendar is a particularly Scandinavian tradition and a beautiful addition to your festive home. Advent calendars are an integral part of Scandinavian culture because the day of Advent is when the festivities begin.
“Four Sundays before Christmas marks the first day of Advent, and a candle is lit to start the countdown. On December 13, we celebrate Lucia, a 400-year-old custom that commemorates the martyr Lucia of Syracuse,” explains Kristina Phillips of Kristina Phillips Interior Design.
“When the fourth Advent candle is lit, Christmas Eve has finally arrived. Unlike the United States, Swedes open gifts on Christmas Eve, after Santa Claus has dropped off his package and continues his way around of the world.
Instead of giant chocolate advent candles or beauty packets, use your adventure calendar as an alternative method of decorating, hang individual paper envelopes with dates or opt for a felt advent calendar to bring that texture. Advent candles are also popular on the continent.
How to Create a Scandinavian-Inspired Christmas Centerpiece
When it comes to dining the same day, a Scandinavian Christmas centerpiece could look like a beautiful Advent wreath in the center of the table. Elevate a candle in the middle of your rectangular or oval table and choose a candle with a wider circumference to create contrast next to tapered tealights or candlesticks. Get some garden foliage, like holly and ivy, and wrap it around your center candle. The result will be simple and elegant.