Tis the season for merriment, booze and holiday parties galore. But for many, the end of the year is also the busy season, when the workload piles up before vacation. If you want to spread some holiday cheer, but you don’t necessarily have the time or money to go full-on Martha Stewart, there are still ways to get festive.  

We asked Lisa Rickert, the CEO and Creative Director of the modern furniture retailer Ave Home, to tell us her tricks for quick and budget-friendly, yet elegant, holiday decorating. 

As the founder of Unfolded, the exclusive distributor of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint brand, she also knows her way around a D.I.Y. project.

Related: Holiday PSA: Wear your Christmas tree skirt 

Keep it natural 

Rickert likes to use a lot of greenery in her holiday displays — be it with store-bought garlands, or even branches and pine cones collected from the park. The trick is in the presentation.

First, Rickert decorates the wood pieces with gold leaf and Annie Sloan Gold Size glue. “I like to add a little glitz and glimmer,” she says. 

Once they’re glammed up a bit, she suggests displaying the branches in a vase or as part of a table centerpiece, along with ribbon. If you’re having a dinner party, gold leaf-highlighted pine cones can serve as table settings or as holders for your guests’ name cards.

You don’t have to stick to red and green 

“Anyone who appreciates a little more modern style is going to like the idea of an atypical holiday coloring,” Rickert says. She opts for gold and silver tones, which nicely accent the natural greenery and browns of holiday firs, creating more of a winter scheme, rather than “full-on Christmas,” she says. 

Another upside? A more neutral palette of metallic and natural tones won’t completely throw off the color scheme you’ve already established in your home. “A lot of times if somebody’s decorating for the holidays and they have a blue or yellow pillow, they’re going to remove those objects,” Rickert says.   

Ornaments don’t necessarily have to go on the tree

Instead, take any glass vase or container and fill it with ornaments to create a festive display case. You can layer different colored ball ornaments —“It’s about creating an illusion of color and texture,” she says — or you can also line the bottom of the container with a garland for a filler, and then place a few stand-out ornaments on top.