The "Queer Eye" star is an expert at Christmas—and we're stealing all his holiday decorating and hosting tips.
A lot of people say Christmastime is their favorite time of year—but Tan France would have most of them beat. The Queer Eye star and Next in Fashion co-host doesn't mess around when it comes to the holiday season—in fact, he has his own long-standing tradition of decorating for Christmas on Halloween, and leaving the decorations up until Valentine's Day. This tradition is more unexpected (yet simultaneously more understandable), along with the context that France is Muslim, and grew up celebrating Eid, not Christmas.
"We didn't ever have a tree; we didn't do holiday decorations," France, who grew up in South Yorkshire, England, says. "And I was always jealous. I would see all of my white friends get excited for Christmas and get Christmas presents ... and so I always thought, 'God, I really want a part of that.' I felt like I was missing out."
So now, France celebrates Christmas, among several other holidays. "It's not a religious thing," he says. "I just wanna enjoy everyone's celebrations. It doesn't matter who they are. And so now I celebrate Diwali, I celebrate Hanukkah. I celebrate because I just want an excuse to celebrate or decorate." And, as anyone could assume, he celebrates and decorates in style.
However, the fashion designer, entrepreneur, and television personality is also a father of two, so his life is increasingly busy, meaning that pulling off his holiday season extravaganza requires a lot of finesse. So, France partnered with Shipt, the same-day delivery service, for its 5 Days of Delight campaign, to share his best advice for tackling the holidays. Read all his tips that we'll definitely be using below.
Decorate as Early (and for as Long) as You Want
Naturally, France is a proponent of decorating early for the holidays. He started his tradition of decorating for Christmas in October about 11 years ago, when somebody asked him and his husband if they were going to dress up for Halloween. "I was like, you know, I don't want to, I just want to decorate a tree," he says. "I know it's too soon, but I just want to decorate a tree and then that became our new tradition of gearing up the holidays real early."
France is well-aware that not everyone is on board with this tradition. "People make a lot of fun online in the press," he says But he doesn't care.
Plus, to him it's a much better reward for all the time it takes to put up and take down a tree. "It's not just, 'Oh, this will take 10 minutes; it's a few hours commitment if you're doing it well or you actually care about it," he says.
"So, why have it up for three or four weeks when you could have that joy for months?" he continues. "And every time I enter my home and I see my tree up, I'm happy. Why not prolong happiness? I don't care that it makes other people angry. It brings me joy. I love it and it's less stressful in December."
Shop for Presents All-Year-Long
So, this one might be too late for some of us this year, but there's always next year! Coming from the man who decorates his Christmas tree on Halloween, it should be no surprise that France starts his present shopping, early—like early, early. "I'm a very prepared person and I start Christmas shopping in January for the following Christmas," he says. "And so I typically have most of my Christmas shopping done by, at the latest, Halloween."
This may seem excessive—and maybe highly unlikely for those of us who need a long time to recover after the holiday chaos—but there's a rather practical reason behind France's hyper-preparedness.
"The reason it started was 20 years ago I was broke and I just thought I can't afford that many things in December—I just couldn't," he says. When living in England, France says he would get paid monthly, so with every paycheck he would try to check a couple people off his list, saving him from having to scramble and pay for all the gifts in December.
Create a Base of Classic Holiday Decor
Holiday decor trends come and go, but classic pieces never go out of style. Some of France's favorite timeless holiday decor items include garland (for the mantel, doorway, or anywhere it can go), nutcrackers in various sizes, pretty stocking hooks with classic red stockings with white trim, and a collection of miniature Christmas trees.
While France has been known to do a completely different theme from year to year in the past, he says he tries to seek out items that will never go out of style. "This is gonna sound silly probably to most people because of the position I'm in, but I don't like to be wasteful with money," he says. "I am a frugal person because I don't want to be super-wasteful and so the things that we purchase for our tree or the house are typically things that we will eventually be able to use again."
Even if France wants to decorate in a slightly different style or color scheme the next year, he's built up a growing collection of classic decor that can work in a variety of themes. "We will just take piecemeal from each of the Christmas decorations we've had and then come up with a new one [for the next year]," he says.
Mix in Personal Touches
Once you have a base of classic, timeless decor, you can take every opportunity to personalize it in your style. "Invest in the things that are evergreen," France says. "But then add in those statement pieces that really do make it clear, 'This is my Christmas.'"
Whether your kind of Christmas is all-things pink and glittery, retro and mid-century modern, or an ode to your favorite dog-breed—find ways to incorporate your personality through novelty ornaments and accent pieces.
Decorate in Your Style—Even If Someone Else Doesn't Like It
This year, France is in his self-proclaimed "chic era" and his holiday decor is a bit more pared-back. A few years ago, however, he says, "you would have seen balls-to-the-wall [decor] at my house." Up until three years ago, France adds, "I loved a silly Christmas theme."
So, don't worry about if others may consider your holiday decorations tacky. Even the style expert himself says it's better to just go with what feels right for you, no matter what's trendy or in-vogue for the season. "I think if it makes you happy, who cares?" France says.
Outsource the Turkey or Ham
The turkey, ham, (or whatever main course you family chooses), is often the most time-consuming and stressful part of hosting a holiday meal. But France has a solution: "I always say outsource that— no one's ever gonna know." Typically everything else on the table doesn't take as long to prepare as the main protein does, so outsourcing it can save you hours of prep and cooking time. "There's a version of it somewhere that's just as good as the one that you could make," he says.
There are a few other items, he says, in which a store-bought or pre-made version is just as good (or good enough) to the homemade version. He specifically names side dishes, like green bean casserole (which uses mostly pre-made components anyways) and says, "You can get frozen rolls that just as good as the ones that you're going to make."
Don't Take the Shortcut on Everything
That said, France says you shouldn't outsource everything when hosting a holiday meal—as that will make it a less special experience for your guests. The two things that he never, ever takes the shortcut on are desserts and veggies.
"Desserts from the store just aren't as good; they're just not," he says. Even if you don't fancy yourself a baker as France does, he says it's pays off to take the time and make the desserts from scratch, rather than opting for store-bought. "That's something that I just think you can't really get away with unless you go to a fancy bakery," he says.
The same goes for the veggies. "They just never taste the same when they're frozen or pre-prepared," he says. "You want it to taste fresh and crisp and that just means putting in the work."
Plus, if you're outsourcing the main course, you'll have more time to work on the sides and desserts.
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