Take the Humbug from the office decorations

Written by mickey goodman
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Dress up your workplace for the Christmas holidays

Take the Humbug from the office decorations
Branch out this Christmas with office decorations (Getty Premium images)

Turn your office into a winter wonderland with decor that can be carried over year to year.

— David Bromstad, artist and designer

Decorating offices for the holidays is always a conundrum. Too much can seem frenetic; too little, depressing. But doing nothing to bring the “happiest season of the year” into the workplace is a sure-fire morale killer, as well as a downer to clients. For David Bromstad, an energetic artist, designer, leaving the office bare or simply displaying Christmas cards tacked to the walls is not an option. “Turn your office into a winter wonderland with decor that can be carried over year to year,” he advised. And he doesn’t mean with red and green.

Instant impact

Take the Humbug from the office decorations
David Bromstad (Photo courtesy David Bromstad)

“To make a large reception area gorgeous, I love creating a festive space without using a traditional Christmas tree,” Bromstad said. “Head for a local nursery or florist and purchase a forest of cut birch trees and beautiful pots in solid white, gray, blue (or even black, if your office has black accents). Put each tree into the centre of the pot in quick-dry cement, hold for 10 minutes, and you have elegant, striking decor that can be used year after year.”

Because white birches are reminiscent of snow, they make a statement without ornamentation. “If you prefer to decorate them, I use inexpensive glass or plastic icicles to create sparkle and impact,” Bromstad said.

Bland office hallways offer an opportunity to carry the holiday spirit throughout the office. “Plant” a number of artificial half trees (available wherever holiday decor is sold) between each office door and snuggle snowy cotton batting around the bases.

“If you want the office doors to look festive and follow the winter colour palette, turn them into beautiful packages by selecting rolls of holiday paper and wide ribbon from a craft store. Tape or tack the paper around the entire door and crisscross the wide ribbons. Finish them off with a large bow in the centre," he suggested.

Small office solutions

“Sometimes small spaces provide opportunities for big moments,” Bromstad said. Several half trees against a wall or a few cut birches make a big statement in the reception area. So does one spectacular Christmas tree with themed ornaments. “Less is often more when space is at a premium,” he commented. “Doors wrapped up like packages don't take up space and make much more of an impact than a wreath on the door.”

Make your cubicle shine

Even though the space is extremely tight in cubicles, imagination doesn’t have to be. “I love putting a small, colourful Christmas rug on the floor and stringing a garland of tiny lights neatly along the top edges,” Bromstad said. “A few stockings attached to the walls will bring the spirit of Christmas inside.”

The art of the season

Bromstad’s signature design in every space he creates is an original oversized painting. But you don’t have to be a talented artist to create a work of art that spans the holiday season and beyond.

“Purchase a large ready-to-go canvas, paints and a roll of blue painter's tape (masking tape may leak around the edges),” he said. “Plot out a geometric design on paper that can be easily transferred to the canvas that echoes your holiday colour scheme.”

Simply press the painter’s tape in the desired geometric pattern and begin painting. “It could be just one bright square in a corner on a neutral background or a Mondrian-like geometric pattern,” Bromstad said. “Keep it simple, clean and graphic. You’ll have a work of art created by employees that will be treasured for years to come.”

Party hearty

Take the Humbug from the office decorations
(Getty Images)

An office party, regardless of scale, is a time to mingle with colleagues. To create drama, Bromstad recommends choosing a nontraditional colour palette like black, red and silver. “Then it looks like high design,” he said.

The decor for a large party should create an impact the minute employees walk in the door. Use massive decorations, like a forest of Christmas trees or white birches decorated with colours from your palette. “Purchase inexpensive black lace from a fabric store and place it on top of white linen tablecloths. Instead of tall candelabras, use tons of votive candles, either real or LEDs, and silver or mercury glass containers filled to the brim with shiny ornaments,” he suggested. “Talk about impact!” Small silk-covered Chinese boxes at each place make great party favours.

Potluck party

For a “bring-a-dish” party in a small office, decorate behind the table instead of on it, suggests Bromstad. “Use simple, elegant linens and put the food on beautiful platters surrounded by lots of votive candles," he said. "Let the wonderful combination of homemade dishes provide the table decor.” To create a bonding experience, Bromstad suggests asking employees to bring their favourite food tradition along with a card with the name of the dish and a short explanation of how the tradition came about.

Gift exchange

In hard times, exchanging gifts has been replaced by more meaningful giving. Ask the staff to make a joint contribution to a charity of the group’s choice or purchase a petrol station gift card or toys for a needy family who might not otherwise be able to celebrate Christmas.

Homemade gifts are another option. Bromstad says one of his favorite childhood memories is his grandmother’s spice tea packaged in small, decorated Mason jars. “One whiff of the spicy mixture still conjures up memories of Christmas at her house,” he said.

Although Bromstad’s forte is originality in design, he said, “When you get right down to it, there is no right or wrong way to decorate. Just do what you love.”

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