Instant Answers

I want to make my place look festive this holiday season, but I don’t want it to look too feminine. What do you suggest and what’s, well, too much?

I want to make my place look festive this holiday season, but I don’t want it to look too feminine. What do you suggest and what’s, well, too much?

Believe it or not, most of my male clients are the kings of over-do. They’re trying to re-create that childhood that their mother gave them, that 1950s or ‘60s Christmas. They want the colored lights, they want the Santa Claus, they want the whole Bing Crosby thing. But if you’re going for the festive man-cave look, you’ll want to tone it down and keep it classy. Let’s be honest, there’s only one reason why a single straight guy decorates his apartment for the holidays: to impress a woman. Otherwise, they don’t bother. It’s about creating an environment for something to happen.

Go minimal. You’ve decorated your apartment a certain way, so design your holiday decor around the look of your  home. Keep it clean, stylized, and not too fussy. When hanging garlands, you can’t go wrong with the traditional places: the fireplace mantle, around your doorframes. Clear lights go with every color palette, but you can bring in a second tone, like burgundy or gold, that  shows off a color in the room. Keep the lighting subdued and set the mood with candlelight. Candles are about seduction.

Keep it real -- or not. Live trees are about emotional responses: the smell of pine needles, memories of childhood trips to the Christmas tree farm.  If you want to keep the tree up through New Year’s Eve without losing that perfect designer look,  go for an artificial tree. Not only will it look real, it’ll be low-maintenance, so you won’t be sweeping up needles all day. Mod silver or flocked trees tend to go best with a midcentury modern décor.

Make the tree an accent. Women want their tree to be a showpiece, the center of attention. With guys, it tends to be more of a prop that goes with the room. Unless you’re a holiday-aholic, you’ll want to go with a fairly small tree that’s minimally adorned.  Go to Pottery Barn and pick up a box of simple ornaments that have a little sparkle. Put some (but not too many) on the tree and throw the rest in a bowl with a little bit of greenery.

Let it shine. Metallic colors, especially gold, give that Ralph Lauren feel when paired with hunter green, burgundy, or Christmas red. Nobody’s ever going to walk into your apartment and say, ‘Oh, red and green? You’re too girly.’

The bottom line:  Decorating for the holidays comes down to your personal taste. It’s your tree, and if your friends don’t like it, they can leave -- as long as they don’t take the presents with them.

About the Expert

Bob Pranga, Hollywood’s go-to holiday decorator, brings Christmas spirit to the homes of celebrities like Billy Bob Thornton and Heidi Klum, not to mention a handful of Bravo’s “Real Housewives”. 

Tags: Design , Style , women