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Posted Date: 01/4/2016

2016 Holiday Trends

Dorothy Creamer, Editor-in-Chief

Every year buyers anxiously await the unveiling of themes for the upcoming holiday season. From the somewhat expected to the thrill of surprise hits, Christmas designs can come in many shapes, colors and finishes. The talent of designers goes far beyond merely one-off products, however. The creation of cohesive themes is what elevates each look and serves as inspiration to retail buyers and ultimately their customers as well.

“I think it is fair enough to say… you have to love Christmas to develop it and sell it,” says Mike Miller, creative director, Sullivans. “It is not a science but a labor of the heart. Purchases are emotional and personal. We keep this in the front of our minds when creating our holiday stories.”

With that sentiment, SCD highlights the top themes and trends – from micro to macro – that will be shaping showrooms this year. While suppliers christen themes with different names, we combed through overall offerings to find commonalities in order to share this high-level look at what will be representative of Christmas 2016. Read on for all the hottest holiday predictions…  

Santas, sleighs, elves, red & green

There is no escaping the time-honored when it comes to holiday. While traditional themes may seem to adhere to a specific formula, the magic occurs when designers add fresh twists and their own signature spins. Bethany Lowe Designs takes this into consideration with its collection called The Night Before Christmas. This theme features Santa and children on Christmas Eve and for 2016 will include the licensed work of Saturday Evening Post Society.

“The Kris Kringle collection is our version of a traditional Christmas,” reveals Sarah Ankeney, marketing department, C&F Enterprises. “It is vintage inspired and contains all of the elements of a classical Christmas. This year’s new additions accent the collection brilliantly; antique Santas and script writing really capture that feeling we all thought of as Christmas when we were children.”

Color Trends: "NEW-tral" Noel
While colors will always be a vital part of holiday schemes, neutral tones have been coming into their own to offer an elegant take on Christmas. “In addition to the traditional reds and greens we associate with Christmas, I think grays, whites, and metallics will be a popular color trend this year,” Ankeney says. “Using the neutral whites and grays allows for more color diversity when choosing accents to complement a theme. The metallics give off a shimmer reminiscent of the glistening snow and coordinate beautifully with any style. The hardest part about decorating for Christmas is trying to find a color palette that complements without being too overwhelming. I think using the whites and grays will bring balance to most themes.”

ephemera, plaid, travel items

The inspirations of old world will be seen in many collections from Christmas suppliers. These themes will include vintage items and ephemera such as old postcards, typewriters and suitcases, all of which, while not seeming overly “holiday,” will become a part of  a theme with a warm, antique feeling. For Regency, this will take shape in its Merry Gentlemen theme, while Bethany Lowe gives it her spin in the Traveling Santa Collection. “I was inspired by vintage postcards depicting Santa Claus delivering toys around the world by unusual modes of travel,” Lowe explains.
Focus on Prints: plaid
Look for plaid to be big in 2016 as designers are finding revitalized ways to utilize the classic tartan.  “Plaid is definitely the frontrunner for this year,” Valerie Federici, marketing director for Grasslands Road, explains. “The December to Remember line features a traditional buffalo plaid print throughout its product offerings. We’ve combined cozy plaid with vintage motifs to create a warm collection featuring tableware, textiles, and light-up décor.” Ingrid Liss, creative director for Demdaco, agrees, saying, “Plaid is the new ugly! It’s the answer to hipster meets lodge-inspired holiday collections.”

classic Christmas cards, light bulbs, station wagons, Christmas trees

Transitioning to past trends takes shape with an influx of vintage and classic themes. “I think it shows that we are transitioning back to past trends,” Ankeney muses. “The desire for vintage looks has only increased in popularity over the past few years. I think we’ve just evolved so much over time, especially with technology, sciences, and business, that we are kind of nostalgic about those times when it was all so much simpler.”

Grasslands Road’s Federici concurs, saying, “With so much technology in our everyday lives, there’s a growing desire for analog experiences.  As a result, we’re looking at the past for inspiration. Our collections feature traditional elements and themes revisited for more contemporary settings.”

Kurt Adler addresses this with its Retro Christmas theme, which, according to Melanie Velez, marketing manager & accounts specialist, features Santa Claus, snowmen, reindeer, candy canes, lightbulbs, and more, all in vintage Christmas card-inspired designs.

metals, woods, galvanized tin, distressed pieces, burlap

The rustic, winter retreat theme continues to evolve as suppliers look for ways to reinvent collections. Rustic Retreat is a series from Melrose International that appeals to this aesthetic. “This look speaks to the upcycling country loving folk,” explains Ken Fetgatter, AIFD, CFD. “Chipped wood, rustic metal and galvanized tin serve as the basic elements.  Retro styled block script adds to the casual collection. Colors are weathered and worn red, green and white.”

gingham, weathered wood, farm animals, kitchen wares, tin accents

Look for farmhouse and country kitchen styles to resonate with buyers in 2016. Kurt Adler is just one of the suppliers looking to add or expand upon this theme with its new Farmhouse line that will feature cozy images associated with the farm with quirky touches, such as ornaments featuring cows, pigs and chickens.

For a more elegant take on the farmhouse, Kaemingk addresses the barn theme with its Classic series meant to evoke images of “the red shining sleigh next to the barn, fully packed with presents,” describes Susanne Visser from Kaemingk.

Roman’s Hearts Come Home collection portrays the updated farmhouse kitchen with sleek lined whiteware, simple pine accents and touches of gingham. “Items will feature a weathered wood, hammered metal look that works on everything from Santa to snowman figures to tile greeting signs, ornaments to lanterns,” Marje Reed, senior director-development/licensing for Roman, describes.

Focus on Finishes: metallics
Metallic finishes remain on trend, but suppliers are looking for ways to expand on the gold and silver tableau. “We’re bringing in items with more of the copper or bronze finish, in addition to the traditional golds and silvers,” Steve Rose, marketing manager, Burton + Burton, states. “This trend towards copper still looks clean and modern, but with a more casual/relaxed feel.” Melrose International’s Fetgatter agrees that metallics are a focus, seeing “gold as the new neutral,” he says. He goes on to predict less glitter and more metallic in 2016.

Color Trend: seeing pinks
Reds will always permeate the holiday season, but pinks are making a play for dominance in various shades. Danny McDonald, president of Regency International, predicts the popularity of more color themes based with soft pinks and coral colors, plus burgundy hues as an accent with platinum and champagne.

Melrose is introducing its Tiffany Wine collection, an elegant Victorian-inspired assortment that pairs Marsala with light gold tones. “Marsala was introduced as the Pantone color for 2015,” Fetgatter recalls.  “We have found that when a color is introduced it usually takes a year before the consumer appreciates and desires it.  Marsala and burgundy will be a strong candidate for this season.”

gnomes, knits, cut-outs, red-white-gray color combinations

Invoking the feel of a snowy cabin in Sweden, Scandinavian and Nordic-
inspired themes are a natural fit for holiday. Components of this look include Nordic animals, festive garlands and wreaths, decorative tree figures and knits. C&F Enterprises introduces its Snicker Doodle collection that features a variety of products and accents that are associated with this motif. “Reds, whites, and grays are the prominent colors in this theme, but greens, metallics, and natural colors make appearances too,” Ankeney describes.

metallics, cocktails, mid-century modern pieces

High-end styles will shine in 2016 with sophisticated takes on holiday classics. Grasslands Road Festivity line invokes the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood with a contemporary palette of white, gold and black to deliver a stylish and refined take on holiday items. “We’ve expanded our use of reindeer this season by reintroducing them with a sophisticated makeover,” Federici says, describing the use of refined silhouettes to portray Santa’s sleigh team.

candy, hot cocoa, cookies, gingerbread, nutcrackers

Sweets remain a perennial part of the Christmas season and product designers are expanding on themes that indulge the senses. Grasslands Road introduces its Marshmallow World collection which includes tableware with sugary inspirations. Demdaco’s Candy Cane Kitchen series meanwhile doubles down with baking accessories that boast cheerful holiday patterns and sweet messaging.  

Color Trend: paint it black
While not overtly festive by itself necessarily, black is poised to play a major role in holiday styles. Grassands Road’s Federici credits the black and white chalkboard sensation for opening the door for all things ebony. “While we begin to move forward from this trend, we find endless possibilities for new contemporary pairings ahead,” she says. “Black creates a chic contrast when featured with metallics, and works well when applied with patterns or bold colors. It’s a forward statement that stands out among traditional holiday palettes.”
seashells, blues, greens, seahorses

From coastal themes to lakeside retreats, waterside themes will be in play for holiday 2016. “It’s been several years since blue has been a big player for holiday,” Liz Zwissler, managing director, Sage Floral Home & Garden, says. “It’s resurgence over the past few years in coastal themes has made its way to a more elegant and traditional application in interiors. It’s hard to not find the tranquil shades appealing.”  

owls, fox, deer, snow-covered branches, woods, betties, cardinals, birch trees

Holidays continue to walk through the winter woods with woodland themes persisting as a top trend. Nature-inspired collections with this snow-covered focus are rounded out with icons that have become holiday icons – such as deer, owls, fox and cardinals. Along with the pristine look of snow-covered branches and white birch trees and stripped pine. Fetgatter calls attention to Melrose’s Birch Winter Woods theme, saying, “We have found over the last few years that the use of birch adds warmth as well as texture and color to the home. This season we offer a look that’s filled with natural birch bark in a simple color palette of birch, black and gray.”

Consumers Reveal Christmas Décor Preferences
Christmas Lights, Etc. (www.christmaslightsetc.com) queried more than 2,500 consumers across the United States to find out their decorating tastes specifically based on their personal preferences. Here is how today’s shoppers would describe their holiday style.

Traditional Conservative  35.5%
My Own Style  16.6%
Whimsical/Fun  14.5%
Traditional Ornate 11.4%
Modern Simple  5.6%
American Rustic 4.2%
Not Sure 3.4%
Patriotic 3.0%
Coastal/Beach 2.2%
Southern Chic  1.8%
Modern Ornate 1.7%
Ethnic  .3%

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