Celebrating a wonderful holiday season with a tropical holiday decor twist
As the days begin to feel shorter and the weather cools, we’re reminded to take pause from our busy lives and home renovations.
Winter is here, and it’s time to celebrate the season by making our homes a cozy sanctuary for the months ahead.
In this article, we explore holiday decor and crafts with a refined tropical twist. We’ll also share some tips for adding seasonal flair to displayed collections, as well as a new line of vintage-inspired gift wrap with “aloha” in mind.
I’m also excited to share with you my collaboration with My Favorite Neighbor, a wine producer and collective based in Paso Robles, California. Together, we’ve created a wine and hors d’oeuvre pairing that’s ripe with flavor and vibrant color for delightful holiday entertaining. (And, when you’re ready to get into the holiday spirit, queue up my curated holiday playlist that’s anything but typical.)
From my home to yours, let the palm trees (and pine trees) sway as you’re whisked away to a wonderful season of fantasy and fun.
Refined Island Style for a Tropical Holiday Decor Scheme
I like to keep holiday decorating fresh and innovative each year by introducing a new theme or creating a few additions.
This year, the motif is “refined island style” through the use of lush palm fronds, air plants, monstera leaves, natural fibers, wood and stone ornaments, and colorful glass fishing floats. Whether you intend to create a tropical feel or take a different route, try applying these tips to your holiday tree decorating:
Develop a color plan. Select one or two colors as your primary scheme. Use these colors as accents surrounded by natural greens and neutrals.
Craft a series of picks. Decorating a tree with holiday picks is a fast and easy way to make your tree feel fuller and more design-forward. Gather a few branches of greenery, florals and decorative stems. Wire them together and insert them throughout the tree as if they are growing from the trunk.
Create motion. If you’re working with an artificial tree, shape the branches into a slightly upward position. As you add holiday picks, bend and shape them to match the sweep of the tree branches, with more extreme upward motion toward the top of the tree. Nestling lights, ornaments and garland deeper into the tree adds visual interest and movement too.
Think in layers. As you begin to decorate, think about the order in which items will go onto the tree. I like to start with the tree-topper and then work from top to bottom by adding additional accent lights, floral picks, garland and finally, ornaments. Working in this sequence can help keep your tree decorating undisturbed as you add to the design.
Use a variety of ornament sizes. Try incorporating a few oversized ornaments into your tree design for a full and nested look. Attach wire to these decorations and securely fasten them to branches. Space them intermittently throughout the tree, top to bottom. Fill areas between the largest ornaments with small to medium pieces.
Keep it imaginative. The holidays are a time of magic and wonder, so why not depart from the traditional with a few bold enhancements to your tree? Instead of a star, angel or bow, go bold with something unconventional that creates a statement. For this island-style tree, I’m using a vintage pufferfish lamp for festivity that’s sure to spark conversation.
Making your own ornaments can be an enjoyable way to include family and friends in holiday decorating. Try working with a few basic tools to create this minimalist “moai,” a symbol of peace and protection:
- Modeling compound, such as air-dry clay or Model Magic (white)
- Craft knife
- Stone-texture spray paint (gray)
Shape the clay into a rectangle of approximately 1.5x6x5 inches. Pinch the clay about 1.5 inches from the top of the rectangle to create a raised brow. Shape a new piece of clay into a triangle about 2 inches long and gently press it into the rectangle just beneath the brow. Use a craft knife to cut a horizontal line partially through the clay about 2 inches from the bottom of the rectangle. Gently pinch and shape above and below the line to create a mouth.
Lightly press any hard edges into smoother transitions. Use a pencil and the craft knife to create indentations, scratches and imperfections in the figure. Pierce a hole with the pencil at the top quarter inch of the rectangle.
Allow the clay to dry fully, according to the instructions. Spray-paint the back and sides of the figure and allow it to dry. Spray the front and sides of the figure and allow it to dry again.
Cut the twine to a 6-inch length and tie it into a loop. Insert the loop through the pierced hole, with the knot at back of figure. Trim any excess twine. Display the moai on a tree branch or attach it to a vibrant, island-themed gift.
Cohesive Collections with a Tropical Holiday Decor Theme
For those of us who collect vintage items, displaying them is half the fun.
My own “miscellany” varies from bottles and vases to mugs and figures. Throughout the year, they’re displayed in different areas around the house. However, for this season, I’m bringing a few unlikely “friends” together for a holiday gathering.
Try these tips to create a display area that feels connected to the surrounding holiday décor:
Group by color. Using one or two colors from your tree scheme, gather items from around your home to display on a cabinet, shelf or surface. Regardless of the subject, color can be the common bond that ties the display and the room together.
Incorporate variety. Gather a diverse range of sizes, shapes and subjects into the display for visual interest and a curated look.
Enhance with light. A warm, dim light creates a cozy winter mood that focuses on your collection, making it feel intentional to the space. Install a cabinet light, or incorporate a small spot lamp to invoke a seasonal atmosphere.
Add holiday flair. Create a connection between your tree and your display by incorporating a few sprigs of greenery and color. Place evergreen stems in a vessel, or lay larger branches on a surface. A handful of ornaments in a clear glass container will easily complement seasonal décor. The key is to add just a few touches of holiday elegance so that the focus remains on the collection of items and how they relate to the tree color scheme.
Pairings in Paradise
Treat your guests to a scintillating holiday party with exclusive wines from My Favorite Neighbor, along with this vibrant, flavorful appetizer—tropical shrimp ceviche.
The 2020 MFN Blanc is the star of the show in this pairing, because it’s served chilled in the glass and is also incorporated into the delicious ceviche marinade.
Explore the rich aromas and flavors of stone fruit and brioche in this 100 percent chardonnay, which is paired with hints of fresh mango, lime, crisp, sweet onion and jalapeño in the ceviche. Your tastebuds are about to embark on a delightful tropical escape. Cheers!
Aloha AttireThe tropical holiday decor wouldn’t be complete without beautifully wrapped gifts.
This year, we’ve drawn inspiration from vintage “aloha wear” of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Bold colors, shapes and patterns blend with fabric-look prints for a gift that’s fitting for any occasion.
Try pairing these unique designs with a simple burlap ribbon or tightly wound strands of colorful raffia.
For those tough-to-wrap items (such as wine), we have gift bags too! See the full line of custom designed products at https://shop.commuter.industries.
Tip: Attach a tropical leaf wired with seasonal greenery or berries for a lush holiday look.
Tropical Shrimp Ceviche
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Time: 40 minutes preparation (plus overnight chilling)
- 1 lb. cooked shrimp (thawed, tail removed and cut into ½-inch dice)
- 1½ cups lime juice (one dozen limes)
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp. MFN Blanc Chardonnay
- 2 Tbsp. cilantro
- 1 tsp. Alaea sea salt
- 1 mango (cut into ½-inch dice)
- 1 jalapeño (cut into ½-inch dice)
- ½ red bell pepper (cut into ½-inch dice)
- ½ sweet vidalia onion
- ¼ fresh pineapple (cored and cut into ½-inch dice)
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- Baguette or taro chips for serving
- 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise (optional)
Place the shrimp, lime juice and garlic in a large bowl with a lid. Make sure the shrimp is covered in lime juice for proper marinating. Refrigerate overnight.
Stir together the chardonnay, cilantro and salt in a separate large bowl. Drain the shrimp and reserve ¼ cup of lime juice. Gently fold together the shrimp and lime juice with the chardonnay mixture. Season with salt. Add the mango, jalapeño, bell pepper, onion, pineapple and sesame seeds to the mixture. Stir together to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Cover and return to the refrigerator for one hour or more.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Cut a baguette into ¼-inch-thick slices. Lightly spread both sides of the bread with mayonnaise. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 10 minutes on each side or until lightly golden. Remove the baguette from the oven and let it cool completely. Set aside.
Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of the mixture onto prepared toasts. Lightly dash with sesame oil and serve on a platter. (For a less-formal approach, try serving ceviche in a bowl with taro chips for scooping.)
Tip: For a vegetarian option, substitute the shrimp with peeled, diced cucumber. For those with a distaste for cilantro, replace it with flat-leaf Italian parsley.
For more tropical holiday decor ideas, see ornaments at the bottom of this shopping guide. For more of Robert Maurer’s holiday hosting and decor ideas, check out Festive & Mod Hosting Ideas. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!