Channeling the Yuletide spirit used to be as simple as tinsel and a tree. But when it comes to decorating for the holidays, that just doesn't cut it anymore.
While red and green continue to dominate the holiday landscape, with pine cones and conifers remaining front runners, alternatives are gaining ground. Some trends are funky, some are fun, others go black and some go bold.
The Wall Street Journal recently noted that even the hallowed Christmas tree is slimming down as narrow trees are favored by decorators this year, along with theme designs.
"I think people are definitely using more color," says Bill Chisnell, owner of Bill Chisnell Productions. His company decorates private homes for the holidays as well as big event spaces. He sees the move away from red, green and gold to brighter colors.
"We just did a home where we used hot pink in a garland and added in boxwood and turquoise and silver balls. It's a fun, retro holiday look."
Mr. Chisnell sees people getting more bold with their decorations.
"I think people who have always been traditional are letting a little flair in, like using chartreuse instead of Christmas green or a cherry red versus burgundy."
He has also noticed a move away from all live swags, wreaths and trees. "With a good fake garland, we add in cedar, eucalyptus and magnolia, which gives the impression of live but doesn't shed."
When it comes to the tree, most people still like live, but according to Mr. Chisnell those who entertain a lot like artificial trees "because they don't make a mess."
Designer Carolyne Roehm, whose latest book "Flowers" is out in time for holiday gift givers, has a new take on the season.
"I love tradition and all that comes with the holiday season, but sometimes thinking outside the box is in order," she wrote on her Facebook page.
While researching pink trees she came across some black ones and a new look was born. Ms Roehm posted pictures of her black-and-white-themed Christmas decorations accented with deep red. It's a stunning, sophisticated look that might have Old St. Nick rethinking that red suit. Perhaps a black Tom Ford number trimmed in red?
The proprietors of Hens and Chicks, Tom Cabral and Nathan McCarthy, are seeing a blending of the old and new.
"As far as trends go, we are loving the combination of ultra modern and clean elements mixed with bountiful, woodsy, natural touches," notes Mr. McCarthy.
He sees it as a way to modernize a traditional space. "Think Calvin Klein meets Ralph Lauren."
"Lush and classic, with a twist," is how Allison McGeary of Allison McGeary Florists describes the trend. "Clients love juxtaposing traditional elements of evergreens, magnolia and winterberry with modern-twist updates such as colored burlap ribbon, sola wood flowers -- so eco-chic -- Swarovski crystal strands and clear crystal ornaments."
Another color making its way into the Christmas palette is copper.
"It has been an incredible color addition this year, not gold, not silver ... a gorgeous update to the classic," Ms. McGeary says.
Despite all the hype, it's still fresh evergreens that people gravitate to, she adds. "There is nothing more elegant, fragrant and classically beautiful than fresh evergreens decorating the home."
Harold's Flower Shop, Downtown, does a lovely white and green arrangement incorporating snapdragons, roses, chrysanthemums and lilies along with fragrant fresh cedar and pine. Both Boxwood and Toadflax, two elegant floral and gift shops, cater to clients who prefer heritage over hip when it comes to holiday decorating.
Boxwood offers floral displays, wreaths, garlands and home decorating services. Owner Jim Miller notes that magnolia leaves, a favorite in the South for garlands and wreaths, have become equally popular in the North.
"They are beautiful and hardy and the leaf's cinnamon back just makes it right for the season," he says. "It's different from constantly using pine."
He's noticed increased use of red, pink and even orange florals in seasonal arrangements. "It's fresh, but we work with what the client has as well. Oftentimes people want to incorporate heirloom ornaments or just sentimental pieces."
The window display at Boxwood changes during the season; currently, winter white flowers dominate but Christmas reds will have their share of the spotlight.
Toadflax on Walnut Street is a local bastion of good taste and time-honored style. "Christmas at Toadflax is about classic, quality and tradition." says Tom Bedger, co-owner of the shop with Jeff Pierce. He sums up his feelings with this Oscar Wilde quote:
"Fashion is a form of ugliness that is so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."