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Texas’ Holiday Decorating Queen Gives You Her Best Tips and Tricks — Mary Anne Smiley Helps Make Christmas Beautiful

Bringing Out the Joy With Personal Touches

BY // 11.24.20

Mary Anne Smiley runs a high end interior design business in Dallas. Her eponymous Mary Anne Smiley Interiors gives design inspiration and direction to many each year. But just when most of us are ready to kick our feet up and relax for the holidays, Christmas decorating kicks Mary Anne into another gear.

Now, Smiley is sharing some of her best holiday decorating tips and tricks.

Pull Out the Personal Mementos

Your home is an expression of you and your family. It shouldn’t look generic, so add all the little touches that make it personal ― Christmas photos from years past, children’s artworks and heirlooms. Handmade ornaments and decorations will make it feel like a true home for the holidays.

“When we define time, it is really measured in years and decades, of collecting and organizing — and storing,” Smiley says. “Children’s art deserves to be displayed each year. Every family has these priceless works of art, and we encourage utilizing those pieces like a gallery piece.”

Likewise, handmade ornaments are cherished because of who made them. They might not be the most expensive decoration, but these are some of the most valuable to recognize each year. After all, they bring back memories of what truly makes Christmas so special.

One of the many sparkling trees filled with cherished ornaments.

“Whether buying new or redesigning for a new theme, heirloom ornaments should always be incorporated,” Smiley says. “The histories behind each one is a story worth celebrating. So many of these ornaments were on our original Christmas tree when my grown daughter was a child. She still adores getting these out for the tree each year.”

Another tradition in the Smiley home are the handmade felt ornaments.

“My daughter, Melissa Miller, has been hand-sewing and designing felt ornaments for quite some time,” she says. “What started out to be a fun project in grade school, has become a heart-filled hobby. She has designed and made hundreds for friends and family, as well as for her own tree.”

These special ornaments are displayed on their very own Christmas tree. It is filled with ornaments that represent travels, adventures, faith, and friends ― making the tree completely unique and one-of-a-kind.

The travel themed tree.

Display Your Collections Prominently

When decorating with collections, more is definitely more. Smiley fills countertops, side tables and shelves to the point where they’re overflowing. But each collection always keeps with the theme. For Smiley, collecting snow globes, nativity scenes and ornaments, which decorate their own special trees throughout the home, has become a constant theme at Christmas.

“In regard to collections, our Carlini Christmas Tree is possibly my favorite. Each ornament recounts a history of family and friends,” Smiley says. “In this technology age, where most items can be replaced online, these have been collected from loving and growing relationships that simply cannot be replicated.

“Each one has a specific story. And some of them are more than 60 years old. Trees filled with decor such as these are a great legacy and a treasure.”

Other trees that contain their own themed displays, are the children’s tree, the dog tree and the travel tree. Yes, Smiley believes in multiple trees.

She decorates with plenty of color and shine.

Smiley’s nativity collection gets prominence of place.

“There’s no other collection that embodies the real reason for celebrating the season, than nativity scenes,” Smiley says.  “As with my travels and collecting, I have also gotten so many nativities from family ― inheriting their love for Jesus and his birth. We love seeing how each country we visit interprets the nativity story ― the story that never grows old.”

Even in Texas, there’s snow. Even if it’s not the real thing. So Smiley’s decoration brings a bit of the flurries home, via amazing glass orbs of artwork.

“Just when we think there are no more snow globes to be found that are not already part of the collection. . . one more appears,” she says. “Again, so fun to see how each region interprets these scenes.”

Smiley’s snow globe collection fills the table.

Haul Out The Good China ― Make it Special

Mary Anne Smiley relishes the chance to invite friends and family into her home, once every space from the bathrooms to the kitchen (even the laundry), has gotten its full Christmas facelift.

“The real heart and intent for our home during the holidays is to host and serve friends and family,” she says. “For us there is no greater honor and joy. It takes careful consideration in order to allow traffic and flow when entertaining.”

As any good hostess knows, more time is spent in preparing than actually producing the event. You need to be intentional about making that time just as enjoyable as the end product.

“During the holiday season, no time should be wasted in being bogged down,” Smiley says.

Entertaining pieces like this punch bowl make a statement.

In preparing for holiday brunches, lunches and dinners, as well as cookie-baking and ornament-making events, it’s the little details that really shine through in design. She layers her Christmas serving pieces with her dishes and stemware. No detail is too small.

“Getting to display your pillows, ornaments and collections is such a great way to honor the holidays as well as the people that share that love for Christmas, too,” Smiley says. “I scatter tiny Christmas trees throughout every space. Most of them are covered in jewels and precious metals. All of them are intricately designed and built by European artisans.”

The living room décor bright and cheery.

Her home is never the same from year to year, she tweaks it so the story evolves over time. “We definitely repeat traditions that worked well, and smoothly,” Smiley says. “We also edit from what we learned each year.”

“Hosting events in our home is very intentional and honored. We are privileged to get to celebrate with our people, and love sharing the joy and peace that the Christmas holiday brings.”

To learn more about Mary Anne Smiley’s decorating prowess and to get her to help you create your own wonderland, check out her full website.

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