Winnie Au

How One Lifestyle Blogger Gets Her Home Holiday-Ready

White lights glowing softly, the smell of pine and cinnamon in the air, the comfort of a fuzzy throw blanket — anyone can attest that the holidays are as much of a feeling as they are a series of dates on the calendar.

But when you're striving for those warm and fuzzies (and aren't we all?), turning over your space into a holiday wonderland can feel daunting, expensive, and like a ton of work.

Here's a pro tip for conquering the chaos: start small. Choose a trusted retailer like JCPenney to shop curated holiday pieces that make your home feel like the best version of itself. Once you do that, the rest of the process becomes easy and authentic.

To learn more about creating a festive home without sacrificing your zen, Bustle chatted with lifestyle blogger Meg Hall, the creative voice behind For The Long Hall. Late this fall as she was setting up for the holiday season, Meg opened up her Connecticut home to show how she combines beloved family traditions with her New England aesthetic, plus share the items she keeps coming back to year after year. Read on to get her expert advice on getting your home holiday-ready without the headache.

Winnie Au
Winnie Au

When it comes to giving your home a holiday makeover, Meg stresses that for her family, less is more. Instead of chasing that magazine-quality perfect holiday setup, Meg strives to fill her house with a sense of warmth that feels familiar, a vibe that she finds surprisingly easy to achieve.

"We gravitate toward simple white lights, warm throw blankets, and soft pillows in whites and creams," Meg tells Bustle. "When you’re able to add new things to your everyday decor, it helps your home actually feel homey during the holidays, and not like you’ve just 'flipped' it for the season."

And if you're running low on time or money this year, Meg suggests leaning into low light and candles, both of which she credits for creating a warm, glowing ambiance while requiring the least possible amount of work.

Winnie Au
Winnie Au

"One of the reasons that we’re so simplistic in our added decor is that our family pieces and traditions are the most important to us," Meg shares. "When they're not as obstructed by clutter, they really get a chance to shine."

One of her family's most treasured holiday possessions is a collection of ornaments gifted by her in-laws that represent all of their major moments as a young family, like the couple's wedding, the purchase of their first home, and the arrival of their daughter.

And according to Meg, decorating is just as much about the process as it is about the final product. Trimming the family's two Christmas trees (one with white lights, and one with colored lights) has become an activity that their entire extended family does together year after year.

"I moved all over the country growing up, so having my daughter grow up with these deep-rooted family decorating traditions is so special to me."

Winnie Au
Winnie Au

In Meg's experience, the first step to getting kids involved in holiday decorating traditions is letting go of the idea of perfection. Once you revise your expectations of how everything should look, you can relax and enjoy making memories that you'll carry with you all year long.

"Last year we incorporated our daughter in holiday baking and decorating the tree," Meg recalls. "And even though the ornaments didn't stay on the tree very long and the kitchen was a disaster, they're still some of our most special family memories."

One of their favorite DIY decorating traditions is making clove-stuffed oranges to add a sweet surprise to their holiday table decor. This year, Meg was blown away by how focused her daughter was on the activity: "I think we underestimate little kids sometimes. They really just get excited about the things that their parents are excited about, which in our family is decorating for the holidays."

And when the whole family feels excited and involved, that's when the holidays truly begin.

Shop the decor!

This post is sponsored by JCPenney.

Photographer: Winnie Au; Art Director: Molly Kugelmann; Prop Stylist: Kaitlyn Du Ross Walker; HMU Artist: Aria Ferraro; Wardrobe Stylist: Allison Koehler; Producer: Danica Butkovich; Editor: Suzanne McKenzie