Design Recipes: How to reuse, repurpose holiday decor

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service

After the holidays have come and gone, besides simply boxing up those holiday decorations and storing them until next season, consider repurposing them. While it’s true that many holiday decorations are quite holiday-specific, there are a number of decorative items that can not only deck your halls during the holiday season, but year-round.

Buying tips

When looking to buy decorations for the holidays, try to select items that are more solid as opposed to overly embellished with holiday themes or patterns. Also, metallic finishes such as gold and silver are great choices in addition to white, as these neutrals will blend with other colors and types of decor.

Repurposing guide

When it comes to items used to decorate your home this holiday season — perhaps those used every year, those with sentimental value or new items brought into the home just for the season — there are some creative ways in which these same decorative items can be repurposed within your home.

Here my top 10 ideas on ways to repurpose your holiday decor:

1. Frame it! From framing your leftover pieces of wrapping paper to decorative holiday cards, framing is an easy way to create instant art and repurpose these colorful items.

2. Glass tree ornaments placed into a large glass or wooden bowl. Place colored glass ornaments of various colors into a single bowl or ornaments of the same color. A bowl filled with glass ornaments will look gorgeous as a year-round coffee table centerpiece.

3. Wooden figurines. Instead of purchasing plastic holiday pieces, well-made wooden figurines are a more solid investment. After the holidays, wooden figurines can be used to display in a children’s room.

4. Stocking stuffers. Stockings are traditionally placed along a mantle and used for small gift items. These same stockings can be used during the year for small everyday items as well such as jewelry, ties, belts or socks.

5. Wreaths. Those fragrant door wreaths can easily be used to surround a large hurricane lantern or candle and placed on a console or dining table.

6. Wool blankets or heavy scarves instead of holiday table runners. Instead of a traditional holiday table runner, consider using a long scarf or small child’s size blanket as a runner. Afterwards, you will have a decorative item for the home or your closet.

7. Let there be light. Looking for a use for all those strings of holiday lights? From summer dinners, dining al fresco, at home cocktail parties to highlighting architectural elements indoors and out, holiday lights can add a creative and festive touch.

8. Think plaid. Plaid is a common pattern during the holiday season that is quite versatile. Plaid is one of those timeless patterns that can be used throughout your home year-round. Looking for ways to use plaid? Why not use a plaid table runner or place mats during the holidays, then repurpose them all year?

9. Create your own tree skirt. One of the easiest DIY holiday projects to make is a tree skirt. Consider using old pieces of quilt or even large piece of burlap to make a simple, loose tree skirt. These same tree skirts can then be reused to surround indoor planters.

10. Think green! Green is one of those colors that can truly be used year-round. While during the holidays, deep greens can be rich and winter-like, in the spring and summer, lighter shades of green can be viewed as crisp and clean. Purchasing green colored pieces during the holiday will allow you the versatility to reuse these decorations beyond the holidays.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at