Though Alexa Bennett usually describes her home’s everyday interior design as minimalist, she turns into a self-proclaimed maximalist when the Christmas season starts and transforms her Connecticut home into a festive wonderland filled with vintage holiday decor. But where exactly does she find the bespoke pieces featured in her abode? The mom-of-two loves frequenting local estate sales to pick up Christmas items from the ’50s and ’60s including whimsical St. Nick art, retro advent calendars, and blow mold Santas — how cool is that?!
Keep reading to take a tour of Alexa’s cozy New England house (wait until you see the gorgeous dining room!), find out which of her holiday trimmings are her favorite, and learn the practical way she maps out her Christmas decorating process year after year.
Name: Alexa Bennett
Location: Ridgefield, CT
Home’s Square Footage: 1,300
Children: Thatcher Gray, 2.5, and Cora Rose, 12 weeks
When do you typically start decorating for the holidays?
Generally, I can’t help but start decorating the second week of November. Once Halloween is over, it’s officially Christmas in my book.
How would you say your holiday decor differs from your home’s everyday decor?
Our house is pretty small, so I try to keep my everyday decor pretty minimal, but for Christmas, I’m a bit of a maximalist. My mom used to go all out for the holidays growing up, and I love passing on that magical experience to my kids.
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Where do you typically shop for holiday decor?
I always keep my eyes peeled for local estate sales. My holiday style is a bit retro, and you can find some treasures from the ’50s and ’60s at local sales! Hobby Lobby, HomeGoods, and Target are always staples for me too.
Do you typically buy new holiday decor or use the same year after year?
I always like to get something new even if it’s a small ornament. But I reuse the vast majority of my decor every year.
Where do you spend versus save with your holiday decor?
I have a Christmas village collection that I will spend on every few years, but for the most part, my decor is very budget-friendly. You can make a tree look like it’s out of a department store for under $50 with a roll of deco mesh, some ribbon, and a box of shatterproof ornaments.
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How do you keep your holiday home decor kid-friendly?
Most of the ornaments on our tree are shatterproof, and all of the heirloom ornaments go at the top of the tree out of reach for little hands. My kids are still pretty small, so most of our decor is still out of reach.
Do you ever make DIY holiday decorations? If so, what?
The first year we were married, we couldn’t afford much, and I picked up some glass jars from Ikea and filled them with tiny bottlebrush trees and little snowflakes. They are on display every year and are still one of my favorite decorations! Last year, I also hand-stitched everyone’s name on their stocking for a handmade touch.
Where do you find holiday decor inspiration?
I love finding images of old Christmas cards and advertisements from the late ’50s. I love the bright colors, tinsel hanging on trees, and sweet illustrations of little ones peeking out of their windows hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa’s sleigh.
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What is your favorite piece of holiday decor in your home?
Tell us about your holiday decorating process.
I do my best to create a balance between a whimsical and more traditional style (my husband’s favorite). Our house is small, so I don’t put everything I have out every year. I start thinking about it pretty early and will even sketch things out to help me figure out where everything should go. When I have a plan, I’m much less tempted to buy every little thing I see when I’m out buying diapers at Target.
You used to live in New York City — how has your holiday decor changed since you presumably now have more space living in New England?
I love having a fireplace now to decorate! And now with more space, I’m able to display more meaningful decorative items like my nativity scene and Christmas village. We love hanging lights on the roof and decorating our front porch as well. It looks so magical when it snows.
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Your home in New England was built in 1958! Tell us about how you’ve uncovered your home’s potential as you’ve settled in.
Last year, we discovered a leak in our fridge that had created big problems in our kitchen. We decided to gut our entire living and dining room to create an open concept that made the space much more efficient. We’ve also added a ton of built-in storage, and one of my favorite projects was painting our exterior white — there’s nothing more charming than a little white house.
Do you and your family have any decorating traditions?
Our kids are still very young, so they weren’t too interested in helping decorate our main living spaces this year. My son has a little tree in his room which he absolutely loves and an advent calendar hanging on the wall. Each night, he gets to add more fluff to Santa’s beard.
What holiday traditions have you started for your family? How are the holidays different now that you have kids?
Beginning December 1, our kids open one Christmas book from under the tree. It’s something we look forward to every evening! We’ve also been navigating the world of food allergies with my oldest son, and after a couple of years of searching, I now have a few cookie recipes we can bake. I’m definitely looking forward to the tradition of baking for Santa together this year!
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What does Christmas morning look like in your home?
For the last couple of years, we’ve hosted my entire family. Christmas morning extends well into the afternoon and involves so much coffee, food, and my brother’s famous Bloody Mary’s.
What are your favorite holiday events?
Our town is truly like living inside a Norman Rockwell painting — they’ve even filmed a few Hallmark Christmas movies here. Every year, there is a holiday stroll down Main Street complete with horse-drawn carriages, strolling carolers, ice sculpting, and singing toy soldiers. We always love attending our church’s candlelight Christmas Eve service too.
What is your favorite thing about the holiday season?
Just getting to experience the joy and magic of the season. There’s nothing like watching your little one get excited to meet Santa or getting together with family and friends.
Alexa Bennett is The Everymom…
Favorite Christmas movie? The Santa Clause
Favorite Christmas song? “Oh Christmas Tree” by Tony Bennett
Hot cocoa or eggnog? Eggnog latte!
What’s on your holiday wishlist? Now that I’m headed into my 30s, my Christmas list mostly consists of good quality skincare. But I’d also love to take a floral arranging class!
When do you start listening to Christmas music? By November 1 we are “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
Go-to holiday drink at Starbucks? Gingerbread latte with almond milk
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? When I was 10 years old, my siblings and I came downstairs on Christmas morning to a full-sized trampoline in the living room with all the packages on top! It was epic to say the least. To this day, I still wonder how Santa set it up without waking us.
Oddest thing on one of your kid’s wishlist this year? My 2-year-old son keeps asking for rings. My husband proudly wears his Aggie ring from Texas A&M every day, so we think that may be what he means.
Biggest holiday mom fail? Every year, I attempt to bake my family’s favorite holiday breakfast — this Swedish tea ring my husband’s grandmother always makes. Every year, it goes in the trash. Seven years, and I haven’t cracked the code yet.