Michael Murray, Rach's go-to design guru and general manager of Rachael Ray Home, has spent decades helping people create spaces they love. He shares his tips for getting your home holiday-ready and full of good cheer.

dining room
u003cemu003e1. You don’t have to stick to the red-and-green color scheme in your holiday decor, but do stick to two colors. An easy way to start? Pull out all the neutral decorations you have (silvers, whites, golds), then pair with any secondary color that appeals to you. 2. Mix faux holiday wreaths with evergreen cuttings in varied clustered vases for a low-key but elegant mantel display. 3. The holiday table should be inviting—a place to eat slowly and talk a ton. Laidback accents like flickering votives and simple greenery make it relaxed-festive.u003c/emu003e
| Credit: Photo Courtesy Stocksy

Q: How can I decorate for multiple winter holidays—Christmas and Hanukkah—festively and cohesively?

Use my personal favorite holiday color scheme: cool blue and pale green. You get the traditional blues of Hanukkah, the classic greens of Christmas, and a pretty, playful holiday palette. If you're a little too color-shy for that, silvers and golds are your best friend. Also, find tree ornaments that speak to aspects of both holidays. Growing up, we had a neighbor we were close with who celebrated Hanukkah, so my mom used to hang gold chocolate coins on the tree, a traditional Hanukkah symbol. I've always loved that, but there are tons of other ways to mix both holidays in your decor. Do some research if you feel stuck, and get creative!

Q: We have a small kitchen but I love to cook, especially during the holidays. How can I organize my pantry and kitchen to hold all my food and cooking utensils?

One thing about a pantry: It should be nice to look at! We're past the point where it feels like you need to have 40 of everything. You only need two or three of your high-use items stockpiled. Before the holiday madness sets in, do a pantry purge. Donate anything that's not expired and toss the rest. If you still have excess stuff (more than two or three of each item), get a set of wire shelves for the garage or the basement and store things there. If your cooking center is small, don't try to make it a storage facility as well.

Then, make the space you do have work harder. I love the brand Rev-A-Shelf, which makes metal and wire organizers for almost every cabinet and drawer in your kitchen. Add a shelf in the cabinet and you just doubled its storage space! If you're on a tight budget, you can find lots of similar organizers at all the big-box stores.

Q: What’s your favorite way to decorate a home’s exterior that feels warm and festive, and not like a scene out of Christmas Vacation?

I love a small candle in every window and a wreath on the door. Putting candles in the windows is an old Danish tradition that was meant to signal to people coming from far away: "We're here. Welcome!" So that, to me, is the loveliest holiday message you can send. And with battery-powered LED candles, it's super simple and safe. As for lights, a beautiful way to do lighting without having to stand in the cold and string them all over the bushes is to lay battery-powered pre-lit garland along the measure of your plant bed. It'll look like it's in the bushes, and you'll have an elegant and festive house in minutes.

Have a home design question from Michael Murray? Email us at editor@rachaelraymag.com for a chance to be featured in a future issue! 

This article originally appeared in our Holiday 2020 issue. Get the magazine here.