Q: The holidays are coming, and I need inspiration. Most of my decorations are heirlooms from my mom and grandma, but I have my own house now and am planning a family, and I'm really tired of green and red for Christmas. Hopefully they won't be offended if I don't put out their stuff this year. What are some other good ideas?

- Kelsey
A: For some people, it just wouldn't be the holidays without red and green. With your own place, though, it's OK to create new traditions to celebrate your own family. Do you like some of the heirlooms? Can you share with your siblings or cousins?

For a fresh and modern holiday look, start with a simple white scheme and accent with just one other color. Whites are snowy, sparkly, cool, and beautiful, perfect for all the winter holidays. White and blue, white and pink, white and gold or silver, or even rose gold, are all beautiful. White with red, or white with green also are good ways to mix up the traditional colors, especially if you have a lot of red or green ornaments already.

Begin your collection with white, silver, and clear accessories. Choose a white artificial tree; it may be more expensive than a real tree but it's lower maintenance, and you can use it year after year. Flocked real trees are difficult or even impossible to recycle, so I don't recommend them. Silver trees look great in midcentury modern styles and are as versatile as white ones.

Vary shiny finishes of your accent color with matte and textures, as well as the sizes and shapes of your ornaments, for drama and interest. Colored ribbon also is a fun way to dress up the tree, mantel, or stair rail. Use different shades of the same color, such as lighter and darker blues, for a rich look.

Your lights should be mostly white with a few in your accent color. The new LED lights are beautiful and cool to the touch, and save electricity. I love the tiny bulbs for indoor use, especially on the tree.

If some of your heirlooms mostly match your chosen accent color, use those. Chances are good your mom and grandma will be proud of your creativity. And send me pictures. I'd love to see how it turns out!

Jennifer Adams is a designer, author, and TV personality. To contact her:
@JenniferAdams