The Girls at Bella Vita had a chance to sit down with local decorator (and friend!) Becca Gaines to pick her brain about the holiday season. Between decorating her own home, helping out clients, and spending time with family she's one busy girl. If anyone had beautiful and practical decorating tips we knew it would be her!

We know you're busy and ready to get your decorating done, so without further adieu, here's Becca's take on holiday decorating!

BV- To kick things off, what's your best piece of advice for surviving the holiday season?

BG- This will probably sound all too familiar, but every year the weeks leading up to Christmas get so incredibly busy! Christmas decorating is one of my favorite things to do-- along with cooking, wrapping, and celebrating-- but every year I have to remind myself that I can’t do it all.  For my take-charge, nearly Christmas obsessed self this is especially hard advice to swallow, but I swallow it and you should too. I've learned it’s more important to remember what all of this fuss is about, and that it’s OK to set these things aside to play with my baby girl, or to  even let her help decorate.  After all, she’s only pulling my strategically placed ornaments off the tree because she’s curious!

Speaking of letting go, my biggest personal decorating sacrifice was giving up a cut evergreen tree for an artificial one. Unfortunately with my allergies I haven’t had good luck housing a cut evergreen in my living room. It wasn't easy, but by using a few designer tricks that I have picked up over the last six years we have learned to embrace it! If this is the case for you too, just do it-- let go and embrace the artificial. After all, what good are all the beautiful decorations if you can't stand to sit and admire them?!

BV- That's so true, and such great advice not only during the holidays but year round as well. You can only do what you can do!

Now that we've all set realistic expectations for the holidays (yeah, right!), give us your top ten tips and tricks for setting a holiday tone in our homes. What can we do to get the designer look on our own time?

BG- As with most any type of decorating, it's all in the details. Here's what I go by year after year:

1) Raise the Tree

Raise your tree a little higher off the ground.  This gives the branches room to sag, while the gifts actually fit under the tree.  When I fluff our artificial tree each year, I push on the lower limbs until they develop a natural-looking droop. 

2) Custom Stockings


Our stockings were custom made – by me!  Don’t look too closely at the craftsmanship, as sewing is not my forte!  I used yardage from the Bella Notte bedding line, which you’re probably familiar with if you shop at Bella Vita or Itty Bitty Bella.  Almost the entire line is machine washable, even this quilted silk velvet!  I figured that was a bonus. 

3) Get Creative With the Skirt


Does anyone else have pets who make your tree skirt into a bed?  We always find our dogs snuggled up in the presents…and they are not small dogs!  For years, I have saved my extra Bella Notte yardage to tailor into a tree skirt, but like I said, it seems life only gets busier.  I found that the easiest, not to mention great looking, tree skirt can be achieved by bunching a few yards of burlap or a flokati rug around the base of your tree.  This year, we are using a giant basket instead of the burlap skirt.  A large planter could be just as cool.  I love how tidy it is, and I don’t have to vacuum dog hair off of it. 

4) Layer the Tree


One simple thing I like to do to create an impressive tree…layer!  Whether your ornaments were carefully selected crystal and mercury glass, or Popsicle stick and construction paper homemade treasures, layering the depth of placement inward and outward among the branches creates a cozy tree.

5) Add Evergreen & Cinnamon


Christmas candy, music, and the smells of fresh evergreens and cinnamon can stimulate the senses to create a whimsical atmosphere.  I buy several bags of cinnamon scented pine cones each year to place on the branches throughout the tree.  I usually toss a few extras onto the skirt with the presents, or into the tree basket. 

6) Wrapping Paper


I can be picky when it comes to wrapping paper.  Sometimes I just stick with traditional brown paper packaging, but I like to spruce it up by attaching one of those scented pine cones, an evergreen sprig, candy cane, ornament, or paper snowflake. 

7) Add Mercury Glass

Large Jar - Cross Fixture $39

Mercury glass has made a huge comeback in the past few years, especially in Christmas ornaments.  I love to pair these more glamorous decorations with items found in nature, so don’t feel like you can’t have both!  There is something really alluring about the combination of these opposites.

8) The Tree Topper - Be Different!

Your tree topper doesn’t have to be a star or an angel.  It could be a top hat, a burlap bow, a bird nest, you name it!  A decorator friend of mine from Nashville, Bo Boaz, inspired me by the way his placement of accessories and Christmas ornaments told a story.  There was usually some meaning behind what he created.  We have always had a star on top of our tree, but Bo’s thoughtful decorating has inspired a new tree topper for our home...  I do love the traditional star, but this year, I am on the hunt for the perfect crown to top our tree.

9) Garland


Garlands and wreaths aren’t just meant for the front door!  Hang them in unexpected places.  Sometimes, I like to place a wreath over a mirror, on the front of a bookcase, at the foot of an iron bed, or inside a window.  The festive, natural texture adds softness and an instant holiday charm to any space.

10) A Special Place


Last but not least! This tip will help you out year round… I always group heirlooms and Christmas collectables in one place to show them off!  Your collection is already an expression of your personality.  By clustering these pieces together, layering and contrasting their scale, you can create very personal artwork.

There you have it, Becca's top 10 holiday tips and tricks! We definitely learned a thing or two and we hope you did too. Now, go get that house decorated!

- The Girls at Bella Vita

Shop all Bella Vita Christmas Decor

Photography by Becca Gaines

Posted by Stephanie Singley | Permalink

Now that the turkey and stuffing are back in the fridge and you house is a bit more empty, it's time to start getting serious about that Christmas gift list. Not to worry though, because we're here to help you make your list, check it twice and cross all the must-have items off in no time!

3-Day Sale 

Join us for our after-Thanksgiving sale, now through Sunday. You'll enjoy 20% off your entire purchase, including online orders (use coupon code THANKS). This special offer is good on all full-priced purchases made in-store between today, Friday the 23rd and this Sunday, November 25th. We think you'll be able to find a few treasures thanks to the new arrivals we've been waiting to introduce you to in our store.

What are you waiting for? It's time to burn off that Thanksgiving meal with a little shopping cardio. We can't wait to see you!

-The Girls at Bella Vita

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Posted by Stephanie Singley | Permalink

When Thanksgiving rolls around, a lot of preparation is required. Being a hostess for the big family feast is no easy undertaking; from linens to table centerpieces and gathering enough seating for everyone present, an incredible amount of work is required before she even begins to plan the menu. In the spirit of showing appreciation for the blessings in our lives, why not treat your Turkey Day hostess with a special treasure to thank her for all of her hard work and planning? She'll appreciate you tremendously for it, and might even save you an extra piece of pumpkin pie!

Top 5 Thanksgiving Hostess Gifts


5. Rewined Candle

Rewined Candle

Perfect for any festive holiday celebration, these hand poured candles evoke an instant sense of calm relaxation upon being lit. She'll love to put her feet up and unwind with the scent of a succulent wine after all of the dishes are done and the leftovers are put away. The decorative look of an old wine bottle holder will add an extra touch of style, too!

4. Festive Disposable Plates

Festive Paper PlatesGo practical with this set of cute and festive holiday plates. Your hostess will thank you for making clean up such a breeze all while maintaining the festive, holiday look of her tablescape.

3. Vonny Casserole or Pie Carrier

Vonny casserole carrier

If asked to bring a dessert or side, why not bring it to her in style? These cute, patterned casserole and pie carriers are perfect for toting delicious recipes to and from dinner parties or friends and family in need. She'll adore the convenience of the food that you bring inside it, and won't be able to get enough of the stylish colors that she'll get to use at the next potluck meal!

2. Barr Co. Bath Products

Barr Co. Bath Salts

After all of the dishes are done, her hands will probably be a little rough. Enter Barr Co. skin care products! With 98% natural ingredients, these lotions, soaps and body washes are the perfect quick spa treatment to revive tired skin. The aloe scent will leave her feeling renewed and fresh, no matter how crazy the festivities get!

1. Off the Wall Wood Plaque

Off the Wall Wood Cross Plaque

Nothing shows appreciation like the beauty of a hand crafted home accent piece. This rustic wall hanging features the unique design that Off the Wall has become known for, with painted wood and sweet thoughts in every item. A special sentiment adorns this plaque, inspiring and encouraging her through good days and bad. There's nothing like words of inspiration from a special friend!

Now that you've got the hostess gift covered, it's time to go get your favorite dessert in the oven. Happy Turkey Day to all!

-The Girls at Bella Vita

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Posted by Stephanie Singley | Permalink


Hi, my name is Stephanie. Like you, I love all things beautiful. The word. The life. The way it makes your soul feel warm and cozy. So curl up with the Girls at Bella Vita as we share our lives with you- our families and friends, our inspirations and ideas, our homes and nests- quite simply, our take on creating a beautiful life.
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