It's Christmas Eve, and the Lamkin family is stirring up a batch of reindeer food, a treat made with quick oats, powdered sugar, and edible glitter that they sprinkle on their sidewalk before bedtime. The mix ensures a stop from Santa's sleigh. After all, the reindeer can see the glitter twinkling from their route far above the house. "We are crazy for Christmas," says Jill Lamkin. "It's pure, unadulterated joy. I love everything about it—the shopping, the cooking, the wrapping, the entertaining, the music—but more than anything, the joy of kids and all the smiles."
Yet, when it comes to holiday decorating, Jill's not afraid to turn tradition on its ear. In Southern California, where the weather is always sunny and warm, a light hand just feels right. "The stockings, the trees, the treats and trimmings—all the forms of Christmas are here, but in a brighter color palette," she says. White felt stockings hang at the stairs, each tied with ribbon. Boxwood garlands and trees replace traditional pine. Mounds of green and white hydrangeas mixed with yellow berries dress up the dining table.
To give your holiday decorating a fresh take, turn up your everyday scheme a notch. Pull three colors you love from your rooms and be strict with the palette. Mix and mingle those colors throughout each room in wrapping paper, stockings, the tree skirt, and more. For the Lamkins, that means the watery blue, grass green and sunshine yellow that make the cottage happy year-round. From there, touches of silver make it sparkle, white adds modernity, and unadorned greenery is a fresh, fuss-free holiday basic.
"We're a casual family," says Jill. "Our kids are only going to be little once. Keeping things simple keeps the focus on fun."