Wondering what Christmas decorations are needed? Find out the best essential holiday decor to allow you to mix and match for years and years.

the best essential holiday decor: wreaths, tree skirts, ornaments, and more

Have you heard of the term “capsule wardrobe”? Well today I want to extend that idea to Christmas decorations. Think of it as the best staple holiday decor: the perfect basics that let you mix, match, layer, and reimagine year after year.

Many of these items are super popular and sell out by the end of October every year, but I’ll do my best to keep high-quality options available here. Whichever exact Christmas tree, candlestick, or garland you purchase (or already own!), I hope this list gives you some ideas about how you can best put it to use.

Essential Holiday Decorations

Before I share my top 10 favorite Christmas decorations, I want to give a little more explanation on this idea of “capsule decor.” Last year I shared my top 5 elegant and simple decorating ideas, so be sure to check that out for more inspiration.

In essence, having high quality basics, like garlands and wreaths and candlesticks and trees, allow you to rearrange and change it up from year to year if you want to. If you prefer to keep it the same, that’s great, too! Either way, keeping it basic definitely helps with storage.

essential holiday decor items: brass bells and velvet ribbon on holiday mantel

If you want to change it up simply and affordably, try adding a different colored ribbon. Or move the garland from your mantel to your stairs and add some ornaments. Or hang the wreath above your sofa one year and above your dining table the next. You don’t have to buy all new decorations each year just because you’d like a little change of scenery.

Additionally, much of my holiday decor is usable year round (or at least throughout the fall and winter season). My favorite gold candlesticks, for example, live on my mantel all year… But they look extra beautiful when styled for the holidays.

Top 10 Essential Christmas Decorations

Now without further ado, here are my top 10 must-have “basics” for holiday decorating. I also love holiday DIY projects, but these are the basic essential holiday decor that I like to purchase plus some simple ideas of how to use these Christmas decorations in different ways.

I’m not going to include Christmas trees here, but if you’d like to see some of my favorites, including other greenery like branches and swags, check out this post.

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure.

1. Wreaths

My favorite festive option is to put a wreath on it! Put them on the front door, back door, windows, cabinets, and more. I use 3M hooks most of the time, so there’s not any damage afterwards. Basic evergreen wreaths can be decorated festively if you want, or they can be left natural to work throughout the fall and winter seasons.

the best holiday decor basics: faux evergreen wreaths

No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3 | No. 4 | No. 5 | No. 6 | No. 7 | No. 8
No. 9 | No. 10 | No. 11 | No. 12 | No. 13 | No. 14 | No. 15 | No. 16

2. Garland

Good garland might be my favorite staple decor for the holidays. Perfect for stair railings, doorways, mantels, and more. You can add ornaments, pinecones, and string lights to the greenery. Or you can leave it natural and simple.

best essential holiday decor: garland

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No. 9 | No. 10 | No. 11 | No. 12 | No. 13 | No. 14 | No. 15 | No. 16

3. Tree skirts and collars

I love a good, basic tree skirt or collar that works as a backdrop for whatever decorating direction I choose. Actually, I like to put my trees in large woven baskets, but they have to be pretty huge to hold most tree stands. All are good options!

best essential holiday decor: tree skirts and collars

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No. 9 | No. 10 | No. 11 | No. 12 | No. 13 | No. 14 | No. 15 | No. 16

4. Ornaments

Whether you are into reindeer, nutcrackers, santa, tinsel, or your child’s last art project, having some beautiful basic Christmas ornaments to fill in the gaps can be the perfect way to fill up a tree. These are my favorite “background” ornaments.

best essential holiday decor: ornaments

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No. 9 | No. 10 | No. 11 | No. 12 | No. 13 | No. 14 | No. 15 | No. 16

5. Tree toppers

My kids favorite tree topper is a gold glittery star with a chipped corner that we found at Target almost ten years ago. It’s clearly about the nostalgia for them! But really, a beautiful classic tree topper that can change with your style is a great staple to have ready year after year.

essential holiday decor: best Christmas tree toppers

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No. 9 | No. 10 | No. 11 | No. 12 | No. 13 | No. 14 | No. 15 | No. 16

6. Bells

I have decided that bells are some of my favorite accents. They go just about anywhere. Hang or drape them on the mantel, in a wreath, across a table, or on a tree!

best essential holiday decor: gold bells

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7. Ribbon

Speaking of versatile accents, ribbon might be my favorite. You can add accents to greenery, tie a bow on your wreath, create DIY Christmas ornaments, or even wrap the gifts under the tree to match your color scheme. Ribbon can be changed out year to year if you want, giving your decor a whole new look at a very affordable price!

best essential holiday decor: velvet ribbon, satin ribbon, and more

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No. 9 | No. 10 | No. 11 | No. 12 | No. 13 | No. 14 | No. 15 | No. 16

8. Stockings

Whether or not you have a mantel, stockings are a classic holiday treat. You can hang them on a banister, from a shelf, or on the wall if you don’t have a fireplace. Check out these beautiful options!

best essential holiday decor: Christmas stockings

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9. Candles and Candlesticks

Nothing quite gets me into the spirit of the season like Christmas lights… except for candles. There is something so soothing about sitting around on those dark winter nights by the sparkle and flicker of candlelight. You can use them on your tabletop as a centerpiece, as an accent above your fireplace, in your windows, or even on your staircase.

best essential holiday decor: candles

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No. 9 | No. 10 | No. 11 | No. 12 | No. 13 | No. 14 | No. 15 | No. 16

10. Collectibles

Christmas is a time for family and guests, for nostalgia and memories… Growing up, my grandmother gave us beautiful silver bells each year, and my parents still have that collection. They display them every year, and I’m flooded with sweet memories! So I’ve gathered a few fun collectibles that could act as a focal point in your holiday home, including some adorable advent calendars.

best essential holiday decor: collectibles like advent calendars and holiday villages

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No. 9 | No. 10 | No. 11 | No. 12 | No. 13 | No. 14 | No. 15 | No. 16

I hope you found this collection of essential holiday decor helpful! And much more than that, I hope your Christmas is filled with hope and joy.

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