Holiday Home Tour: A Cozy Christmas in Austin, Texas

Is there anything more soothing than a chic, minimalist Christmas? We’re not so sure. The black, white, and cream theme paired with plenty of greenery makes Austinite Jessica Torrez‘s home look like the epitome of cozy. From the gorgeous tree to the simple, yet thoughtful touches all over the house—a candy cane at each place setting? Brilliant—to the fireplace you want to park yourself in front of all day long, it’s the perfect place for a merry little Christmas. 

Read on for more about how she pulls it all together, her favorite decor, and how traditions are changing this year.


Name: Jessica Torrez
Location: Austin, TX
Sq. Ft: 1,862


When do you start decorating for the holidays?


Normally right after Thanksgiving, but this year, we wanted the joy a little earlier, so we started the week before Thanksgiving. 



Tell us about your holiday decorating process.


We get out the old storage boxes and reminisce. Then, we decide what doesn’t go with the style we currently want. We then love getting real garland and wreaths from either Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, or if we have time [we] drive to a tree farm. I love adding real pine and garland throughout the house and stairways. This year I made the orange and clove pomanders for the first time, as well as a simmer pot to make the house smell yummy and festive. I also love to hunt at thrift stores for decor around this time of year, and I found the most amazing candlestick holders, which you see mostly on our dining table. I love giving older items a new life and mixing wood with different metals. 


How do you budget when it comes to decorating seasonally? (Things can get expensive for such a short time of the year!)


I try to find a lot at thrift stores, which is so, so affordable, or reuse items we already have. So the main cost will be the fresh greenery throughout or any new splurges. This year, the new was on sale at Hobby Lobby, so it wasn’t bad. 



Where do you shop for holiday decor?


Thrift stores, Hobby Lobby, Target, [and] Trader Joe’s.


Do you have any holiday traditions that are special to you?


On Christmas Eve, we always watch It’s a Wonderful Life and eat enchiladas. We also used to take toys and turkeys to families in need. It’s hard since the family is stuck separated, so this year my husband and I started a new tradition with the orange pomander project and the dried orange decor, which was fun. 



Do you have any tips for readers who may live in smaller apartments (and who are on a budget) who might not be able to decorate to their heart’s desire?


Minimal Scandinavian-style Christmas decor is still amazing! Sometimes less is more. And real greenery for garland and a few candlesticks can make all the difference. A small tree on a table in a corner can still be chic. 



Do you have a favorite ornament on your tree?


Probably our wooden Austin one. It supported a local artist and we love our city we have made home together. 



What’s your favorite piece of holiday decor that you own?


It changes, but at the moment I would say either the concrete and ceramic houses or my mix of thrifted candlestick holders. Also, the red and green vintage books always give me the feels each year as well. 



How are you adjusting your celebrations this year? 


We are separate, but I made a fun list to send Christmas care packages. It’s one box (about the size of a FabFitFun or Cause Box—I saved them). I put at least one item in the box of the following categories:

  1. Local small business 
  2. Thrift or antique 
  3. Handmade
  4. Something handy/useful
  5. Etsy
  6. Favorite thing of our own we think the other person may like

This helps small businesses that need it more than ever, as well as saves money compared to the normal random gifts we try to get each other. 



Jessica Torrez is The Everygirl…

Hot chocolate or hot cider? Hot chocolate. Right now I’m obsessed with putting Trader Joe’s salted caramel hot chocolate in my frother with almond milk. 

Favorite Christmas song? Three-way tie: River by Joni Mitchell, Please Come Home for Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing), and The Christmas Shoes (so sad, I know, but so much heart) 

Favorite Christmas movie? It’s a Wonderful Life (so classic, I love you George Bailey) and The Family Stone (I want to be that family). 

Favorite holiday treat? Fresh, gooey cookies. And my grandma’s recipe of Ritz crackers with peanut butter in the middle dipped in chocolate with salt on top. 

A small business you love: Either “Take Heart Shop” or “Plant Party

The best gift you’ve ever given? Anything sentimental/personal I have given over the years that has made my dad cry. He loves the personalized photo gifts we have done for him. 

What’s at the top of your Christmas list this year? I really don’t have a list. My mom is a travel nurse and just got COVID at work, unfortunately, so I wish for her to get better [soon] and maybe, if we are lucky, I will get to see her on Christmas somehow. We’ve never spent it apart and she usually makes a big deal out of Christmas, so it will be weird [not to see her].