Interior designer Angela Finney-Hoffman goes way outside the box with her cozy modern scheme (on the left). Here's how you can, too.

1. Use holiday lights in an unexpected way—even if you don't own a big stag like the one shown here.

"Vintage-style bulbs are more interesting than the modern-day tiny kind and look great strung around a painting or a mirror, too.”

2. Go crazy with candles—and don't get hung up on Christmas colors.

“Buy lots of candles in different sizes and colors (almost any palette can look festive, but several shades of a single hue adds sophistication) and cut tapers to desired heights. I attached these to plywood with caulk, and hid the base with greenery.”

3. Get creative with greenery. 

“Boughs draped asymmetrically lend a kick. In this design by Foxglove Studios, seeded eucalyptus and artichokes fill out an evergreen garland, but you could use all sorts of things.”

Not prepared to totally confuse Santa with earth tones? Perhaps a more traditional look (with an updated vibe) is right for you. Take inspiration from Devin Kirk's holiday decor.

1. Simply lean a wreath on your mantel.

“For a relaxed modern look, lean a wreath (and artwork) instead of hanging it—fewer holes in the wall, and it’s easier to switch things up from season to season!”

2. Add vintage touches to create an old-timey vibe.

“Vintage touches are a must—whether they’re family heirlooms or things you picked up at a flea market. My vintage Shiny Brite ornaments can get kind of lost on a tree, so I like to display them on their own for more impact.”

3. Mix in metallics for a neutral-yet-festive punch.

“I don’t stray too far from neutrals in my place, but at holiday time I amp up the metallics. I added brass pieces to the mantel, which makes it festive but still understated.“

4. Make your own paper garlands with brown paper or newsprint.

“I like the surprise of an oversize brown paper chain, a spin on what children make. I genuinely believe if you have fun decorating for Christmas, it will turn out better. Invite friends and make it a party!”