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Inside a Family Friendly Christmas House

Inside a Family Friendly Christmas House

Jenna's toddler looks up at her lit, snow crusted Christmas tree in their family friendly Christmas house.
Written by Emily Irby
Photography by Nick Mcginn
Styling by Jenna Ratliff

When you have little ones in your farmhouse, home décor becomes a question of what can weather their goodnatured play. Blogger Jenna Ratliff of At Home with Jenna has no shortage of creative design ideas when it comes to decorating her Tennessee home for the holidays. But there is one question that she always has to keep in mind before settling on a design: Is this kid friendly? Find out how she creates a family friendly Christmas house every year.

She uses her toddler, Neyland, as inspiration for her whimsical holiday décor. Now, with another little boy on the way, she’s become a pro at thinking ahead and taking care of safety concerns. “I wanted to do simple,” she says, and the results are stunning.

Jenna doesn’t use a tree skirt because her shimmering presents dress up the tree even better than a skirt would. She color coordinates her wrapping paper and ribbon to the rest of the living room’s design, so the presents add to it instead of clashing with it.
You can still add splashes of sparkle while keeping a rustic farmhouse feel in your decor.

Simple Fixes

Jenna has adapted to the new additions to her family by modifying her Christmas staples instead of completely removing them from the equation. She skips the breakable ornaments on her trees and opts for glowing lights and flocking as the only trimmings. After all, the 12-foot tree is a showstopper in itself and doesn’t need any additions to complete its look.

Jenna's Christmas tree with many red, white and gold presents beneath it in their family friendly Christmas house.
Jenna keeps her Christmas tree simple, which allows the myriad presents to be the star of the show.

She avoids using garland as well. “I don’t want [my son] to wrap it around himself or the dog,” she says. Any electrical cords are hidden behind the tree so her son won’t be tempted to play with them. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a good rule to follow to discourage toddlers from playing with your décor.

Jenna and her two dogs opening the door to their family friendly Christmas house.
It’s always unknown whether the Ratliffs will get snow in Tennessee on Christmas. So Jenna takes matters into her own hands and brings the look of a white Christmas to her front door with frosted wreaths and pine trees.
A bench with blankets and pillows beneath the garland-warped banister of their family friendly Christmas house.
Jenna’s banister is the one place she uses a real garland. Alongside the stockings hanging from the staircase, it makes the entryway look cozy and ready to welcome guests into their family friendly Christmas house.

Changing with the Season

With a year-round neutral color palette, all it takes are a few pops of red, green and plaid to turn Jenna’s farmhouse into a festive retreat when winter rolls around. She ties red ribbons around the jars in her kitchen and adds a few strategically placed red ornaments. Suddenly, her simple white dishware has undergone a holiday transformation.

A "DINE" sign rests above the rustic, off-white dining room cabinet.
A reindeer tree topper and plaid stockings hanging from the hutch are the perfect country Christmas touches in the dining room.

“Each holiday, I just try to add whichever color I’m using,” Jenna says. She wraps string lights around a fake cactus left over from a fiesta-themed birthday party earlier in the year and switches out the summer flowers in her vases for pine branches.

Jenna's family friendly Christmas house has a decorated, dark brown dining room table with a mixture of bench and chair seating.
Jenna doesn’t like décor that’s too fussy on her dining room table, but that doesn’t stop her from adding a little extra farmhouse decor for the holidays. She uses a eucalyptus garland and shiny gold chargers as strategically minimal festive elements.

Jenna keeps fussy, glamorous pieces to a minimum. Instead, she plays up the farmhouse Christmas look with plaid pillows, burlap and plenty of “greenery” elements. She sticks with artificial to eliminate mess and hassle, like miniature Christmas trees and wreaths.

Gold flower place mats beneath a small stack of gold and white dinner plates with a back and white plaid napkin.

Another benefit of artificial greenery? The real stuff would be too tempting for her son. “He would try to eat it,” she says. When it comes to decorating her holiday table, Jenna knows how to do a lot with a little. She puts out chic-looking plastic plates and candlesticks from Goodwill that she spruced up with a fresh coat of black spray paint.

See Also
Woman looking up at trees

The primarily white and off-white kitchen with barstool seating in Jenna's family friendly Christmas house.
Because Jenna’s kitchen is so bright and fresh, any small details she adds during the holidays really pop. She adds a few simple wreaths and bright ornaments so her kitchen doesn’t go ignored during the holidays.
A workspace desk and a chair with a heavy cream knitted blanket and red and blue grain-sack inspired pillow.
Christmas can (and should) still be comfortable. Some of the best decorations are throws and pillows, like Jenna’s retro-inspired Reindeer Feed pillowcase.

Jolly Holiday

Jenna’s design process isn’t all about child-proofing. In fact, for all the items she eliminates, she also adds, to make sure her son is having a magical Christmas. “We put a tree in his room,” she says. “It’s something fun for him to see.” He loves the soft glow of the lights, and Jenna takes off the glass ornaments when she’s not snapping cute pictures of him in front of it.

Jenna and her toddler smile in front of her collection of Rae Dunn pottery and red ornaments inside the white kitchen cabinets of her family friendly Christmas house.
Jenna adds the breakable ornaments she skipped putting on the tree way up high and out of Neyland’s reach. They make her Rae Dunn collection sparkle.

His favorite of the holiday additions, though, is the “Letters to Santa” mailbox that Jenna explains was originally meant to go outside the front door. But Neyland had too much fun running back and forth dropping papers in the slot, so it had to move indoors to allow for more Santa Claus correspondence time. Little touches like this make Christmas magical for all members of the family.

The master bedroom includes artificial greenery, dark wood furniture and gold accents in the pillows, table lamp and globe.
The main areas in her home, like her living room and entryway, have most of the Christmas décor. The earthy and simple touches in Jenna’s master bedroom provide a nice respite from pieces that require maintenance.
The master bedroom of their family friendly Christmas house has modern, minimalist wall decor like artificial plants and yarn hangings.
A simple yet noteworthy color scheme with small bits of glamour sprinkled throughout.
A small strip of wall is decorated with a white and red "believe" sign below the banister in their family friendly Christmas house.
Knitted blankets and lots of pillows are perfect for a family friendly Christmas house.
Empty vintage window frames turned into half chalkboard, half burlap covered wall calendars.
Jenna’s DIY calendar, which she made out of thrifted windowpanes, is her family’s favorite way to keep track of events.

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