Putting up the tree and dusting off the decorations can be a messy affair. Arguments about who has to go up to the attic for the Christmas boxes, flying into a festive rage while untangling the fairy lights — it happens to the best of us.

So how do you avoid getting Grinch vibes before the season has really begun?

Tipperary-based interior designer and owner of Chic Dwelling Décor and Design, Máire Hennessy O’Connor, has the answers to keep your seasonal stress under wraps.

With the help of her husband Denis, a dairy farmer, and her four daughters — Sadie (12), Mary-Jane (10), Julie (9) and Clare (6) — she says the key is to “put up the Christmas decorations as a family affair.”

Here, Máire shares her interior advice on creating your own winter wonderland.

The dreaded pre-clean

Before even thinking about bringing your decorations down, it is important to declutter and clean your home.

“Instead of a spring clean, call this one a pre-Christmas clean,” says Máire. “It’s time to declutter your drawers and shelves that are filled with papers, letters and other items left sitting around all year.

“It may seem like a dreaded activity, especially in our busy lives, but it is amazing how quickly things accumulate, so dust down those cobwebs, clean out your cupboards, and get ready for a more comfortable space.

“You can also arrange a trip to the local charity shop or recycling centre — these small tasks will make you feel great before you even start to decorate your home.”

Planning it out

Máire urges people to have a look at the decorations they have already and then donate or throw away any broken or unwanted items.

“Once you have decided which decorations to use, plan out where you want things to go and be open to switching things up from last year.

“Sometimes less is more when it comes to decorating and you don’t need décor in every corner of the house.

“Plan it out well so that your living space and hallway are nicely decorated without looking too crowded or too sparse.”

From left to right, Sadie (12), Clare (6), Mary Jane(10), Julie (9).

Working with your home’s natural style

Máire says that working with your home’s natural style is usually a good idea if you are looking to make or purchase new decorations and while “it is sometimes nice to follow decorating trends,” it’s better to get pieces that last.

“I live in a farm cottage that has been renovated and extended so I naturally lean towards more traditional decorations, colours and earthy tones,” Máire says.

“Every year, there are new Christmas trends for decorating. This year, the Scandi style has become popular, which follows quite a minimalistic design without sacrificing beauty.”

Bringing the outside in arrangement.

Bringing the outside in

Máire says that everyone should have a go at making their own decorative pieces this year.

“A lot of what we buy in the shop is synthetic, plastic material and you would be surprised at the amount of household items we already have to decorate with.

“I love to go outside around this time of year to see what nature has to offer.

“I usually take a glass bowl, put a candle in the centre and pick up some twigs, holly and berries and make a nice arrangement.”

A selection of Máire’s homemade decorations.

Finding your scent

Máire also explains how incorporating a Christmas scent can create a warm ambience and a feeling of luxury in your home.

“I get my candles from an Irish brand called Sómas, I use a candle called Black Fig and Vetiver during the year and, at Christmas, I use Orange and Clove or Burren Pine.

“You can also place fresh cinnamon sticks or even pick up some eucalyptus from your local florist.”

Bringing the outside inside with this

festive tablescape.

Finishing touches

Finishing touches are everything to elevate your home this season.

“Some finishing touches I make in my own home are switching my cushion covers to festive ones and swapping out pictures in my house to family Christmas photos,” says Máire.

Máire's wreath.

Getting into the spirit

Everyone should enjoy the process of decorating their home, even if the whole family isn’t on board.

“Sometimes Christmas decorating can be difficult, especially when different people want different things or people don’t want to help,” laughs Máire.

“My husband is a dairy farmer and he dries off the cows in December, so I often have him running around the house giving us a hand.

“I promise the girls Christmas pyjamas, hot chocolates with marshmallows and festive music, and mulled wine for myself and my husband. I often say a home is where memories are made, so at the end of the day decorate however makes you happy,” Máire says, smiling.

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