At some point in the early 2010s, traditional red, green and gold Christmas décor fell out of fashion for a more neutral palette: one made up of soft white fairy lights, light woods and beige or cream coloured ornaments.
It happened around the same time the overly curated Instagram and Pinterest aesthetics took off. The same aesthetics that saw an entire generation turn their homes into muted Scandinavian cabins or polished replicas of the ‘modern farmhouse’.
Looking back, it’s obvious these trends were devoid of any character. They don’t leave room for personal touches that fall outside of the aesthetic—miscellaneous items collected on travels, sentimental family heirlooms, or even photographs. For this reason, the internet has dubbed parents who adopt the same neutral, colourless aesthetic ‘sad, beige’ parents.
Considering Christmas, as a holiday, is imbued with sentimentality and nostalgia, it’s not surprising that people are beginning to detach from the once popular aesthetic. In fact, this year has seen a noticeable shift back to the more traditional, mismatched and even messy Christmas décor of years gone by.
On TikTok, Ave, who goes by the user @aver.deedle, declares that she will not be “participating in ‘Minimalist Beige Christmas’ this year.”
In her video, Ave shares images of a typical ‘aesthetic’ Christmas look and says, “If this is what you like, if this is what you want, good for you, do it, enjoy the hell out of it. It’s not for me. I think this is pretty, I think it’s simple, I don’t think it’s giving enough. Not for me.”
Instead she says that she’s doing “nostalgic early 2000s Christmas.”
Ave explains, “I want all the rainbow lights, I want the mismatched ornaments. I want the random wrapping paper. I want nostalgia.”
For Ave, it’s about bringing the personal touches back into Christmas decorating.
“I think it’s the cosiness that comes with decorating in a way that looks like someone lives there and it’s not a Crate & Barrel showroom,” she explains.
Ave isn’t alone in her feelings about neutral Christmas décor. Even those who once loved the aesthetic seem to be leaning away from it.
Emily (@emilyesenn) posted a similar video about the reason she decided to leave the neutral decorations in the box this year. According to Emily, the shift came when she started thinking about the decorations she would put up as a child.
“We had a box of Christmas decorations that we kept in our utility closet down in the basement …and it had all our Christmas decorations that we had from god knows when, from when my parents first got married and some were even, like, left from when my parents were kids. We had all our homemade Christmas decorations…”
Since Emily started collecting decorations of her own, she realised they wouldn’t work with her neutral Christmas aesthetic.
“When I thought about doing the aesthetic Christmas I kept seeing all over social media, I was like but if I do that, I can’t use all my Christmas ornaments that I’ve been collecting, which are totally mismatched.”
For Brit (@smearbybrit), she’s breaking up with “aesthetic Christmas” because when she looks back at those perfectly curated Christmas décor photos, she doesn’t get the same warm feeling that she does when looking at photos of her parents and grandparent’s homes at Christmas.
In the comments, people have been quick to share their agreement.
“I never understood the aesthetic Christmas décor. Yeah the coordinated décor and trees look nice, but it didn’t feel personal. I don’t see the happy” one follower commented, while another said, “Yep I had that same feeling yesterday. I went back and returned everything I bought last week and said ‘nope I’m not doing it anymore!’”
Shaye Ford, a stylist from Miss Amara, believes this shift reflects “a desire for authenticity and a return to traditions.”
“Many people long for the warmth and comfort associated with nostalgic holiday memories. Embracing traditional decorations, handmade ornaments, and vintage-inspired elements, which can create a sense of nostalgia and emotional connection to the past.”
The return to messier Christmas décor hasn’t, of course, happened in isolation. The last couple of years have seen a shift to more laid back, lo-fi Instagram aesthetics.
Photo dumps of ‘candid’ moments, messy tablescapes and nostalgic film photos have replaced the overly polished social media aesthetic we all once sought to maintain.
These social media trends can’t help but seep into our real lives. It’s hardly a coincidence that we have seen the rise of the ‘lived in’ wedding aesthetic, with mismatched bridesmaids dresses, pared back centrepieces and backyard receptions.
The warmth of Nancy Meyers films have once again become the interiors blueprint, complete with cluttered kitchen counters, handmade Christmas decorations and family photos on the fridge.
It feels like after years of drowning in online perfection we’re all searching for something a little more meaningful, where it’s less about the look of Christmas and more about the feeling.