​Honest Abe’s interior designer, Molly Cooper of Cooper & Co., was asked for advice in decorating during a pandemic. She offered many festive and affordable ideas to help celebrate even in the most challenging of times.

Q. How do you overcome the issue of scale when decorating a great room? Decorations will seem very small in a huge room. 

A. When decorating a larger room, scale is most certainly an issue. I like to put even the smallest decoration on some type of riser to make it seem larger than it is. Even with garland, adding in some ribbon to make it seem fuller will make it appear to fill the space much better. A new trend I have seen this year is pulling the garland off to the side and make it have more of an asymmetrical look. It makes for a fuller look while still having a traditional looking garland.

Q. If people are staying home this holiday and not really bringing people into their homes for regular holiday entertaining, what are some tips for still creating a festive atmosphere without going “all out.”

A. So, the big question is “Is it worth putting it all out this year?’ If 2020 has taught us anything it is that we need as much joy as we can muster up. If you have children at home, they want to see cheer flowing throughout your home. Even if you don’t go “all out” you can still manage to put a smile on their faces by doing small crafts together – think school ornaments – but at home with the things you have around. For those of you who do not have kiddos at home and are not feeling like putting up the tree, at the very least, create a tablescape for your small family to enjoy at dinner time. Hang wreaths on the doors, place the garland on the mantle and hang the stockings, because even though this Christmas season may look different, adding a bit of Christmas cheer here and there will make this holiday a little brighter.

Q. With the need to feel even more comfort for Christmas 2020, suggest some ideas for creating a traditional decorating style that could even involve children?

A. One of my most fond memories is making chain garland with my mom with all the colors. We would sit for hours and see how long we could make it. While paper chain garland is a bit dated, it is still something children can do with a little supervision. If paper chain making is not your thing, you can order wood beads to paint and sting together, and wood beads are very trendy right now. To make it have more texture tie small pieces of ribbon onto the beads every so often and you can turn the “plain ole” beaded garland into a multi textured and colorful (you can pick any color) decoration, that you and your children can be proud of.

Q. Can you suggest three color palettes to match three different Christmas moods: retro, contemporary and whimsical?

A. Christmas has most certainly come a long way from the stings of popcorn and home-made ornaments. There are three popular Christmas moods almost anyone could recognize. If you are feeling the retro vibe then bright colors and glitter will be your friend. Reds, blues, oranges, and greens in the brightest of hues is what retro is all about. If you lean more toward a Contemporary look, simple is the name of the game, and just because the look does not call for lots of color simple can be a beautiful look. Think whites, creams and golds for somewhat of a more modern look. Contemporary is beautiful in its own way. The last of the more popular looks for Christmas is the Whimsical look. It is a modern twist on the retro look with bright colors as well. You will find hot pink and lime greens, neon in every color and more glitter than one could stand. Think colorful pompom garland, cone Christmas trees and all the bottle brush woodland you could ever want. Each look is different but beautiful.

Q. What is the best way to decorate if someone is just starting out and they are on a tight budget? What kinds of pieces will last for years?  in other words, what are some foundation pieces and some components that are inexpensive enough to just replace every year for a new look? 

A. Most would want to buy a new Christmas tree, but take my advice and don’t. Look for one second hand because your money is better spent on something else. Invest in a beautiful wreath and garland the first year, the next year buy a tree skirt and matching stockings. Do not spend a fortune on anything, but when you are able to make a purchase, make that purchase with the next 10 years in mind. Will it make it through the moves and the kids tugging? Buy things that are not necessarily on trend but things that are timeless. Each year my family and I make a point to buy an ornament. These are the ornaments that mean the most, and they go on the tree each year. Buy things with a purpose, and they will last forever…also buy good storage totes too!


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