Large open-plan Christmas hallway with tree, and wide staircase

12 Christmas hallway looks you’ll want to keep for New Year

Contrary to what the carol tells you, there’s more to Christmas hallway decorating than decking the place with boughs of holly. This particular yuletide makeover can be a bit of a minefield, especially if your hall is narrow or small. In fact, prickly greenery is best avoided – your guests won’t thank you for catching their coats on it, that’s for sure.

So what makes the perfect Christmas hallway? We’ve spoken to our favourite experts for their festive hallway tips for a scheme that shines all through Christmas and beyond. From space-savvy decorations to little extras that will make arriving visitors smile, these merry ideas are made for entryways.

1. Start with a cosy spot to sit

Your hallway will set the tone for the rest of your home at this time of year. It’s important to consider its impact on all your senses, from how it looks to how it feels to how it smells. You won’t want to feel overwhelmed or visually assaulted by too much stuff. So who better to quiz about creating an elegant festive entrance than the queen of understated style, The White Company founder Chrissie Rucker?

“We often have a houseful at Christmas, so I love to make the hallway extra special and welcoming,” Rucker tells us.

“It’s such a special time of year to have all the family and friends together. On Christmas Eve, before they all arrive, I hang a wreath on the front door, wind battery-lit fairy lights into it and place candles in lanterns either side of the door. I light the fire in the hallway as well as lots of candles in our special ‘Winter’ scent – you just can’t beat cinnamon, clove and orange at Christmas time.” 

Rucker has a neat trick of dressing banisters in a mix of greenery from the garden and faux garlands. The former will smell amazing and give you that realistic look, while the latter will make your displays robust enough to survive the entire Christmas period.

“Again, I wind in fairy lights and then add a few pine cones or tree decorations,” she adds.

Christmas hallway with black staircase and bench covered in blankets
Guests will appreciate a hallway bench dressed with cosy blankets, where they can take off their shoes before settling in. And it comes in handy for pulling on boots ready for a Christmas Day walk. Image credit, The White Company.

2. Serve up a drinks station

Pop-up bars are nothing new, but have you considered having one in your hallway? All you need is a narrow console table or cabinet – you could even repurpose a shoe cabinet for the job, swapping out your boots for bottles of fizz. Pop a few glasses on top, add some foliage, et voilà, Christmas cocktails are served.

You don’t have to be a master mixologist, either. If conjuring up a cosmopolitan or a snowball on the spot isn’t your thing, you could make mulled wine or hot chocolate in a slow cooker and have it warming on the sideboard, ready for when people arrive.

Cabinets with cocktail sets on top and Christmas foliage
Both Dunelm (left) and Marks & Spencer (right) have everything you need to create a pop-up hallway bar.

3. Large hallway? Take advantage with a tree

Not every hall will be big enough to accommodate a tree, and it’s not a good idea to shoehorn one in or you’ll soon have a pile of knocked needles and broken baubles to contend with. But if you do have the room, we say go for it. According to John Lewis’s Festive Traditions Tracker 2023, a third of UK households now buy a ‘show tree’ for the hallway or home office.

Choose a space-saving Christmas tree as it will be easier to accommodate – the likes of Habitat and George at Asda have a good line in tall, slimline faux spruces. A pile of presents underneath will add charm, but can be a trip hazard, so exercise caution.

Neutral hallway with Christmas tree and presents
Coordinate a real hallway tree with hanging foliage, such as mistletoe. Image credit, Garden Trading.

4. Stick to one colour

Let’s be honest, Christmas decorations can be garish. And it’s all too easy to slip from tasteful into tacky. If the thought of going OTT is your personal nightmare before Christmas, there is an easy solution – stick to a blanket of all white.

In this beautifully curated sideboard scene, dried cotton branches and frosted foliage are mixed with simple ceramics for a look that’s simple yet still seasonal.

Console table with collection of white Christmas-themed ceramics
If you’re worried that your Christmas decor may look garish, an all-white palette may be the answer. Image credit, Homesense.

5. Wrap banisters in foliage

Victoria Fletcher, senior buyer at Garden Trading, is a big fan of dressing the hallway for Christmas.

“A few things spring to mind which will help create that feel-good factor,” she says.

“One of the most traditional additions, and an easy way to bring instant festive cheer, is using a leafy garland peppered with little lightweight baubles that spirals up the banister of your staircase. For additional sparkle, drape fairy lights alongside the foliage to illuminate the way and welcome loved ones into the home.”

Monochrome hallway dressed in foliage for Christmas
The tradition of dressing a home with evergreen foliage at Christmas goes back centuries. Image credit, Garden Trading.

And if you don’t have modern festive favourites like eucalyptus, bay or mistletoe on tap, don’t lose heart.

“Wander round your garden, see what looks good, and take some cuttings,” says Pamela Smith, gardens and parklands consultant at The National Trust.

“It doesn’t have to be a plant you automatically associate with Christmas. Once you’ve added some ribbon and fairy lights, almost anything looks Christmassy.”

6. Infuse fragrance with houseplants

This could also be a good opportunity to introduce some houseplants or bulbs.

“My favourite festive houseplant has to be Narcissi ‘Paperwhites’,’ says horticulturist Sarah Raven

“It’s a beautifully fragrant and nostalgic daffodil, that looks beautiful in a hallway over the festive period and well into the new year. I tend to decorate my narcissi with branches of silver birch or hazel at the base, and as a final touch, I’ll hang silver and clear glass baubles on the twigs.”

Poinsettias are another obvious choice – our poinsettia care tips will help you keep them alive through to January and beyond.

Poinsettia and paperwhite flower displays
Poinsettias and Paperwhites are two popular flower choices at Christmas. Image credits, Stars for Europe and Sarah Raven.

7. Add a natural centrepiece

One of the most budget-friendly, beautiful ways to decorate your hallway for Christmas is to forage for winter foliage. Place it in a vase – we love the contemporary angular arrangement by Neptune, below. Or take advantage of a high ceiling and hang it overhead. Of course, mistletoe is ideal for the latter approach.

“A console table is the perfect spot for a vase filled with twigs and holly branches and maybe a few dried hydrangeas and baubles,” says Simon Temprell, Interior Design lead at Neptune.

“Alternatively, you can fill glass jars and vases with antique baubles, submerge them under water and place floating candles on top.  If you are tight on space you could decorate the ceiling lantern, if you have one, or suspend branches that can be decorated with dangling stars, tealight holders and pinecones.” 

Two hallways with mistletoe centrepieces, one in a vase, one hanging.
Sometimes, less is more when it comes to hallway Christmas decorating. In these rooms styled by Neptune, foraged foliage takes centre stage.

8. Santa, stop here!

Kids of all ages will love this playful hallway look. It’s a great approach if you don’t have a chimney, and are worried that Father Christmas might not know where to drop off his presents.

To turn your hallway into a Santa stop, first you’ll need some signage. The post box doubles as both a place for visitors to drop off Christmas cards and a place to send letters to the big bearded one. A sleigh can be handy for collecting gifts, or filling with presents that you might otherwise forget to take with you as you come and go from the house.

Oh, and the stairs can replace the hearth as somewhere to leave a mince pie, a carrot for Rudolph and a glass of milk (or shot of brandy) on Christmas Eve.

Neutral hallway with red post box and mini sleigh
Children will love this Santa friendly theme by Homesense.

9. Put on a light show

Christmas coincides with midwinter, where the days are the shortest, so bringing light into your home – and your hall – becomes even more important.

There are lots of ways to have fun with your festive lighting, as these ideas from Lights4fun prove. For a warm glow, choose yellow-toned fairy lights and LEDs, which are easier on the eye that cool white bulbs.

These wire-framed stars are easy to hang and feel contemporary, while the LED candles have a more traditional vibe. If you think they may get in the way on the stairs, use them to dress a console table, on shelves and in floor-standing lanterns. Double the effect by placing them in front of a mirror.

Two staircases with star lights and LED candles.
Candles make any hallway look festive but can be a fire hazard. Take away the danger with LED alternatives like these from Lights4fun.

10. Be bold with baubles

You may not have much floor space to work with, but most hallways and stairwells will benefit from a high ceiling. Use it to your advantage by hanging garlands from above that you can admire as you travel up and down the stairs.

Be safe though.

“Choosing the appropriate ladder is a crucial step in ensuring your holiday decorating venture is both efficient and safe,” says Clare Lenaghan-Balmer, marketing manager of Henchman Ladders.

Lenaghan-Balmer recommends using a tripod ladder with legs that can be adjusted as you decorate up or across a staircase.

“A built-in platform will also allow you to work hands-free and focus solely on filling your space with festive decorations,” she adds.

Have a surplus of baubles? Grab some ribbon and get the whole family involved in making simple garlands. Coordinate with your walls, or really make the space pop with a rainbow colour scheme.

Navy Christmas hallway with bauble garlands and a real tree.
Hang garlands of baubles that can be enjoyed as you descend the stairs – but make sure they don’t get in the way of the taller members of your household. Image credit, Dobbies Garden Centres.

11. No stairs? no problem

If your hallway lacks features – for example, you live in a flat – don’t despair. There are still ways to make the tightest corridor look Christmassy with some DIY Christmas decorations. We love this sustainable advent calendar project by Hobbycraft.

Use a combination of tiny paper bags and squares of material tied with string to hold little treats – either for your little ones, visitors or yourself. You could even include treasure hunt clues to find gifts that are too big to fit inside.

Advent wall hanging against white brickwork
A pretty homemade advent calendar like this one by Hobbycraft will bring festive cheer to the smallest of hallways.

Neptune’s Temprell has another tip if you live on one level: “If you don’t have any stairs you can still swag some evergreens beneath the ceiling coving or along a dado-rail. Add dried hydrangea flowers and gypsophila to the garland for a full, extravagant look and supplement with a few sparkly baubles and some wired ribbon.” 

12. Reimagine your coat hooks

A common feature of even the humblest hallway, coat hooks can be repurposed at Christmas. Just make sure you’ve got an alternative place to hang your jackets!

You could line up stockings in a row, or mix in wreaths and fairy lights without having to put extra hooks and pins in the walls.

Boot room with willow green built in furniture and Christmas tree
This beautiful boot room by Sharps has been dressed traditionally for Christmas.