12 Ways to Decorate Your Front Door for the Holidays

Get inspired by these front porches in Guelph, Ontario that are fully dressed for the festive season.


The house-proud citizens of historic Guelph, Ont., go all the way when it comes to holiday decorating. Canadian Living travelled to the Royal City to search out fabulous outdoor decor—and to collect tips to help you stretch your budget when decking out your own front porch. Look out: From nature-inspired vignettes to fun, sparkling displays, the Christmas curb appeal on these streets may bring on spontaneous carol singing!

1. Seasonal symmetry
Tasteful and traditional are the words to describe the front entrance of David Woodcock and Christine de Boer's century home. Two cast-iron urns blend in with the brickwork, so Christine looks for texture to make the planters pop: "I like pine, variegated boxwood and incense cedar," she says. Branches sprayed silver add sparkle while apple-green accents look fresh against the sable-colour door.

2. Green tidings

Liz Hales and Mike Marcolongo's holiday decor is an ode to recycling and reusing. For 10 years, they've set out the same four cast-iron planters, filling them with seasonal greens, boughs and branches. And that eye-catcher of a wreath on their front door? "It's made from recycled tires, if you can believe it," says Liz. "We found the wreath on a day trip to Tamworth, Ont., where there are a lot of artists' studios, and fell in love. It's the one thing people always ask us about."


3. Warm welcome

Silvery-white branches beckon from a pair of dramatic modern planters and draw the eye up to a matching wreath on the front door of this cheery yellow-brick house. An abundance of fresh greens adorned with shimmering purple bows balances the scale and grandeur of the porch overhang.

4. Branching out

Twenty years ago, Mike and Leslie Hayes built this trellis from lilac trunks and grapevines to create shade at the entrance to their 1870s cottage. Come holiday time, the structure goes from practical to pretty with a wintry canopy of Douglas fir. "Our tradition is to cut the branches from the bottom of our Christmas tree and arrange them on the top of the trellis with white lights," says Leslie. An ornamental cranberry wreath puts an exclamation point on the natural motif.

5. Santa's workshop

Wayne and Jennifer Parlee love to stop traffic—foot traffic, that is—with their winter-wonderland display. "Lots of children walk past our house on the way to school, the library or the museum," says Jennifer. The two trees are the embodiment of St. Nick himself, from the heads at the tops to the metallic red boots at the bases. A pair of well-loved figure skates makes a unique focal point.

6. Merry minimalism

"My wife, Jodi, went through a purple era," says Dave Van Dam of the doors on the couple's circa 1881 limestone house. When your doors are this bold, a festive flourish is all that's needed, so the couple designed a pair of wreaths in earthy tones to complement the colour. "The combination of the dried hydrangea and magnolia leaves against the purple is elegant and unique," he says.

Camelot CC-4 paint

7. Singular sensation

Sometimes, just one well-chosen detail makes the perfect seasonal statement. Here, on the porch of this Victorian beauty, a single red-berry wreath wishes passersby a happy holiday while allowing the home's other irresistible elements to shine, such as the Corinthian column, the gold transom house number and pretty copper wind chimes.

8. Natural selection

A walk in the woods is all it takes for Megan Downey and Jordan Zukowski to create the holiday planters that flank the entrance to their 1800s-era home. "I cut all the greenery myself, depending on what we find," says Megan. This year, it's birch topped with a few ornaments to emphasize the red door. We love how the streamlined vessels play up the 20-foot-high archway but don't compete with its ornate detailing.

9. Century charm

With its stone façade and red door, this 160-year-old home already has off-the-charts holiday curb appeal, so homeowner Jen Hearn put a new spin on the expected red-and-green scheme. "The decorative silver balls and light-green shades of the wreath add a more modern look," she says. Patina also plays a part in this postcard-worthy vignette, thanks to a timeworn cast-iron urn and child's chair. 

Wreath,; Behr Cherry Tart UL 110-18 paint,

10. Festive finds

The first decor elements you notice about this stately stoop—apart from the vibrant azure door—are the unusual urns; the homeowner bought them 12 years ago at a local garden centre's going-out-of-business sale. "Our home has a lot of straight lines, so I thought the curved planters would create balance," she says. And, indeed, they do—with some assistance from two arrangements of cedar, white pine, birch and dogwood branches. The faux berry wreath is another bargain find, proving that holiday curb appeal doesn't have to be costly.

11. Bright idea

When you've already got a bright-green door, decorating is a breeze; just hang a garland and—presto—instant seasonal cheer. "With our busy schedules, we need to keep it simple," says Tim LeBlanc of the no-fuss approach he and his wife, Anne, chose for their 1960s-era home. The red stars and green door make for a classic Christmas colour palette.

Vine Green 2034-20 paint

12. Artistic licence

"I'm a painter, so I love colour and unusual things," says Aggie McCormack. Her whimsical front porch features a lime-green fabric wreath topped with magenta ornaments on a navy door. "I was drawn to this colour combo because it's energetic and fun." Bird wind chimes grace the porch year-round and happily blend right in with Aggie's holiday decor.

For more holiday decor inspiration, visit our Homemade Holiday guide.

This story was originally part of "Welcome The Holidays" in the December 2015 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!


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Meet the team

  • Will Pratt
  • Justin Sabbagh
  • Mike Wilcox

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