Setting the Scene for the Holidays!

by University District

The season of glitter, glow and giving is around the corner! We are more than a little curious about the styles, colours and ways we can best bring modern magic and a fresh mood to our holiday decor.

Who better to turn to for answers than local Calgary-based design aficionado Alykhan Velji.


You’ve likely seen him on national TV and in magazines touting “it” looks for everything from simple and impactful pillows and throws choices to full-blown, entire-home design and decorating projects.

In fact, University District has turned to him for a delightful Discovery Centre holiday makeover with a showcase of tablescapes that you can tour over the holidays!

“Think a little differently about your holiday table scape this year. With us being allowed to have smaller get togethers this year for the holidays, why not amp up your table scapes and be the star of your next dinner party!” says Aly.

  • Rustic Chic
    A nod to the rustic with warm wood tones, black and white buffalo check, and holiday greens. Elevated with hits of black and of course a little sparkle.
  • Timeless Elegance
    Soft winter whites with natural elements like marble make this look universal. Adding elegance with gold tones and a natural element with dried florals keeps it modern.
  • Graphic Statement
    Play up the colour component and create a gorgeous graphic statement with graphic shapes and hues of pinks. A throwback to the 80s, this look will be sure to create an impact.


While chatting, we were inspired to reconsider what home holiday decor could look like for our 2021 celebrations, as we gather around the dinner table for memorable feasts, the TV for the latest holiday movies or the tree to see what surprises loved ones have parcelled up for us as we watch their delight when opening our gifts of love and appreciation!

Q. Alykhan, might our go-to European nutcrackers and velveteen ribbons and bows on the hearth be starting to feel a little less joyful? Do you think it’s time to turn some heads in a fresh direction this holiday season with new splashes of colour, texture and tone?

A. Absolutely! That said, this continues to be a nostalgic time of  year for everyone. With that, we often unpack storage boxes of treasured favourites — from that cheeky little elf on the shelf to mischievous Norwegian gnomes or even childhood stockings and music boxes. We would never want to suggest there is a great reason to toss traditions. However, we love to keep decor current, fresh and exciting and evolving.

I find that holiday decor should be a mix of old and new. So throwing in those pieces you have had over the years or using decorations your kids have made adds such a personal and warm touch to holiday decor.

Let’s focus on freshness this year! It’s time for some renewed energy to spark a little extra seasonal sensory happiness this year.

Q.  We agree! It’s time to embrace change.  So, what are the 2021 “it” colours for holiday style in your expert opinion?

A. Well, we are moving away from those deep, rich holiday colours and moving towards a more subtle palette.

I call earth tones the definitive “it” colours for the holiday style this year. Think soft greens, creams, mid-tone woods, and lots of natural materials. The key for 2021 is to keep it natural and soft. You can of course still accent with brass and silver tones to play up the festive look.  And I also adore incorporating hits of black in my holiday decor.

I find that this will really help to ground the whole natural look and add some sophistication to an earthy palette.



So how best to bring nature indoors do you suggest?

A. Fresh holiday greens are also always on trend and I love to have these all over the house. They don’t necessarily have to be in the traditional form of a real tree. 

You can use Christmas greens and berries in vases throughout your home.

I also love wreaths accented with magnolia leaves and eucalyptus, this will leave your house looking and smelling delightful. Boughs of holiday greens in and around your home is also an affordable way of adding that organic holiday touch to any space.

Q. What other easy and affordable ideas do you have to incorporate holiday decor into your home?

A. I love to change up my holiday decor simply by using accessories.  Keep every-year decorations a little more neutral. This way you can accent with the on-trend holiday scheme by using smaller touches. This ensures that you are keeping it affordable and still chic. 

Q. What surprising twists do you have up your sleeve to delight homeowners and their visitors during this special winter reprieve?

A. I love the use of whimsical decor and accessories. This year, it is all about natural materials like marbles, onyx, rattan and light wood tones. Using luxe finishes and mixing those natural materials really creates something unexpected. It is all about textures and working with these throughout your home to create a consistent look.

Q. Where do you like to source decor goodies in NW YYC for your projects?

A. I love to hit up Homesense in Market Mall. I think it is a great one stop shop for the best holiday decor and accessories all while keeping it wallet friendly. You don’t want to break the bank when decorating.

Did you know that NW YYC is home to beehives? Read our blog post about honey in the neighbourhood, craft ideas and natural must-haves from every U/D kitchen cupboard over the holidays!

Q. Are there examples of locally made items people may want to consider?

A. Hitting up markets across Calgary is a great way of seeing what others are making for holiday decor. I also love going on Etsy and seeing what local makers are on there and ordering those one-of-a-kind objects or gifts for the holidays.

TIP: Be sure to come by the Discovery Centre November 19 to December 19 to see Alykhan Velji’s expert designs on display!


University District We thank Alykhan and wish all our U/D retailers and residents a happy festive season! See you at Northwestival and hope you will share your favourite decor tips, recipes, shopping ideas and more with us online by tagging us in social media posts. It’s one more way, we can celebrate the season and togetherness! Engage with University District on Facebook, @udistrictyyc_ on Instagram or Twitter.

Join the Discussion

Comments are moderated before being posted. Your email address is required but will not be published.

Join our email list for more information and our newsletter.
I'm interested in learning more about:
Popular Keywords
Sneak Peek: A First Look at the New CHARCUT Restaurant at Alt Hotel University District
Unveiling Magna: Elevating Urban Living in University District with Jayman BUILT
Save the Date: U/D’s Free Winter Pop-Ups are Back
See All Blog Posts
2018 milestones, 2023, A year in review, active, Activity, Age-friendly community, Aging in place, Alberta, Alberta Children's Hospital, All ages, ALT Hotel, Alt Hotels, amenities, Ana Cummings, Analog Coffee, apartment rental, Aria, Artisan Pizza, Artist, August, August by Avi Urban, Avi Urban, Bakeries, baking tips, Balcony, Balcony Decor, BBQ, beard grooming, Bike routes, BILD Awards, Blaze Pizza, Bliss & Co. Cupcakes and Desserts, Block Party, blockbuster movie night, Bookstores, Bragg Creek, Breakfast, Brenda Stafford Foundation, Brenda Strafford Foundation, Brookfield Residential, Brunch, Bubble Tea, Bucket List, Budget, Budget conscious, Buiders, Building Industry and Land Development, Calgary, Calgary Activities, Calgary Art, Calgary bakeries, Calgary business, Calgary community, Calgary Drinks, Calgary events, Calgary Fitness, Calgary Hearing, Calgary LRT, Calgary Parks, Calgary Real Estate, Calgary restaurants, Calgary staycation, Calgary tourism, Calgary Trails, Calgary Transit, Calgary Women, Calypso's Green Taverna, Cambridge Manor, Canada, Canada Day, Canmore, Capella, Cartwright lighting & furniture, Celebration, centerpieces, Central Commons, Charcut, charity, cineplex, Classes, Cochrane, comfort food, Community, community festival, Community Living, condo life, condos, connections, contest, cookie baking, cookie recipes, cookies, cooking, cooking together, Copper Branch, Creative, Cuisine et Chateau, Curious Hair, Curious Salon, Date Ideas, Date night, Decor, Decor Shops, Decor Tips, Denim & Smith, Dental, dental care, design styles, Dining, Discovery Centre, DIY, DIY Skincare, Do-It-Yourself, dog park, Dogs, Downsize, downsizing, downsizing tips, Easter, Eco decor, eLearning, Entertainment, environment, Esquire by Truman, Euphoria Cafe, events, exercise, Explore, Fall, Fall Decor, fall design, family, family-run wineries, FAQ, Father's Day, Financial, fitness, fitness as we age, food, food waste, Freshii, Functional Fitness, Garden Maintenance, gardening, gift guide, giving back, golf, Green Calgary, Grey Cup, Group Germain Hotels, guide, Guide to Northwest Calgary, gym, hair grooming, Health, Healthy Eating, Healthy Foods, Hearing loss, Helen Youn, Higher Ground, Hillhurst Flea Market, hobbies, holiday, holiday activities, Holiday Budget, holiday memories, Holiday movies, holiday parties, holiday season, holiday traditions, holiday wines, home, Home Automation, home decor, Home Maintenance, home office, Home organization, Home Technology, homemade pizza, Homeowners, honey, hosting the holidays, housing, I Can for Kids, IBI Group, Ice Cream, Ice Cream Shops, Ice Rink, inclusive, Interior Design, Interior Design for your pets, Interior Design Tips, interior lighting, International Womens Day, Isolation, J.Webb Market Wines, James Robertson, Jayman BUILT, Kananaskis, Kananaskis Nordic Spa, keep kids entertained at home, kids learning, KonMari, Level Playing Field, Life at Maple, lighting, local, local business, local good, Love on Main Street, love your pet, Lunch, made in Calgary, Magna, making pizza, Making Pizza Pie, Maple, Maple by Truman, Marie Kondo, Market Wines, McKinley Burkart, meal prep, meals, mens grooming, mental health, mindful spaces, Monogram Coffee, Mother's Day Brunch, Movies at home, moving, multi-generational, National Ice Cream Month, Nature, New at UD, New homes, New Projects, New Resident, Night Market, Noble, North Calgary, North Hill Mall, North Pond, Northwest Bookstores, Northwest Calgary, Northwest Calgary Brunch, Northwest Commons Park, Northwest neighbour, Northwestival, nutrition tips, NW Calgary, OEB Breakfast Co., Office, Olympic Oval, online learning, oolong tea house, Orangetheory, Orangetheory Fitness, orangetheoryfitness, Organization, outdoors, Park n' Play Design, Parks, Partners, party hosting tips, Patio Decor, pet care, pet love, Pet Planet, Pets, Photography, pizza dough, pizza toppings, plant, plant care, play space, Playcore National Demonstration Site, playground, Press'd, Press'd Sandwich Shop, Programs, puppy love, Questions and Answers, rafting, Reading, real estate, recipes, redecorating, rent to own, rentals, restaurant, Retail, Retail Main Street, retailers, Rightsize, Rohit, Romance, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Rosé, Sandwich, Save-On-Foods, Scotiabank, screen time, seasonal maintenance, Secrets, senior health, Senior living, Seniors, sensory gadgets, shop local, single-level residences, Skating, Smaller space living, Smart Home, Smoothie bowl recipe, social media contest, Spark Joy, sparkling wine, Sports, Spring, Staples, Staycation, Summer Activities, Summer Bucket List, Summer Cocktails, Summer Drinks, Summer Food, summer getaways, Summer Mocktails, sustainability, sustainable design, table setting, tablescape, Tailgate Party, Tailgating, Thanksgiving, The IVY, The Space Reclaimers, things to do, tips, tourism calgary, townhome, townhome living, townhouse living, Trails in Northwest Calgary, travel, travel alberta, TREC Dental, Truman, Truman Homes, U/D, UCalgary, UD Life, UDLife, University District, University District Dental, University of Calgary, Urban Balcony, urban dog park, Urban Garden, Urban Patio Decor, Valentines Day, Vegan Cuisine, Vegan Food, Vendors, vermicomposting, Village Ice Cream, Volunteer, Volunteerism, Walking, West Campus Development Trust, Wilco Contractors, Wine, wine experience, Winefest, Winsport Zipline, winter, winter activities, winter festival, Winter Fitness, winter fun, winter memories, winter pet care, winter pet care tips, winter traditions, winter warm up, Winter workout, women grooming, Women Leaders, workouts, Yard, year in review, YYC Cycle, YYC Events, YYC Hot Chocolate Fest

Discover NW Calgary's most interesting places, people and things

Visit Our Channel

Looking for something to do in NW Calgary?

Check Out Our Event Calendar

The University District blog is a resource for Calgarians who want to live, work, play, visit or buy in the northwest. We will provide you with information, stories, news and a closer look at the things that matter so you can live a more inspired, active and connected life in NW Calgary at University District… Life works here.