The inventor of Christmas colors was probably colorblind - no one with good vision would want to decorate with two colors opposite each other on the color wheel. Want to try orange and blue for Easter? Purple and yellow for New Years? But escaping red-and-green color condemnation is tough when holiday aisles are stuffed with fake green boughs, gleaming red plastic berries and chuckling Santas.

"When I walk through stores with the typical holiday decorations and I see something like a pine wreath with a bow on it, I don't get excited," says Joann Kandrac, co-owner of Kandrac & Kole Interior Designs, Inc. in Atlanta. "People don't decorate because it doesn't occur to them that something other than red and green can be festive. But if they were to see it, they'd know it's very festive, exiting and unique."

Black and White

Kandrac and her co-owner Kelly Kole say black and white decorations make the holidays look smart. Start with fabrics. Patterns like houndstooth, harlequin, toile, damask, zebra, check, polka dot, and fleur-de-lis work for tabletops, runners, pillows and tree skirts. Do it in layers; put cloth over a white tabletop or a black tablecloth, then garnish with white roses or white poinsettias, a large silver candelabra with black and white candles. Or use mercury glass, silvery double-walled art glass that gives a classy gleam. Then spray paint pinecones and old figurines black and white to give them an entirely new twist. Pick a third, accent color like pink to make everything pop. Black and white presents tied up with pink bows under a silver tree with black, white and an occasional pink bulb would make quite a holiday statement, Kole and Kandrac say. If you subtract some of the holiday flair, you can use what you made all year round.

Take your color theme one step further by incorporating it into parties. Black and white food adds a playful, edible touch. Oreo cookies, black and white M&Ms, chocolate pudding with CoolWhip, marshmallows and cupcakes mare great for kids, and adults can have flavorful black-and-white olives and cream cheese, or black and white sushi. "When you really start going with it you can have a ton of fun," Kole says.

Silver and White

Going glitzy is an easy way out of red and green. Silver and white have always been holiday staples, but if you follow through on every aspect of the scheme it can create an unexpectedly calm, clean look, according to Patricia McLean who owns Patricia McLean Interiors in Atlanta. She says white flowers like fluffy hydrangeas, lilies and white poinsettias can incorporate a bit of natural green without going overboard, and planting in a Waterford crystal basket makes commonplace flowers into a classy statement. When you go for the silver, don't just think bows and ribbons. McLean says sterling star and snowflake ornaments on a tree with white lights creates a stunning glow, and ornaments can be hung on ribbons from chandeliers to catch the light. "Using sterling, crystal and more elegant things creates more elevated style, more dressy for a special occasion," McLean says. "At night during a party, those things will catch the light and sparkle and shine."

Purple and White

"A deep, bluish purple is really a beautiful color, especially in velvet," says Pamela J. Enz, who owns Tangible Space in Arden Hills, Minn. Clear glass bowls filled with purple bulbs on coffee tables, clear glass candelabras over the fireplace, and clear glass votives let the light into every corner. White poinsettias in purple pots tone things down and keep it natural. For table-setting, Enz says to match the tree. Get a purple velvet tablecloth and use silver chargers underneath plain white plates.

"When people see my house decorated like this at first they're surprised, but it still looks like Christmas," Enz says. She says purple and white makes an easy transition into the New Year so you don't have to double decorate.


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