Rustic Holiday Decor Ideas from Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch

| December 21, 2010 | 2 Replies

What is it about Disneyland and Walt Disney World that inspires thousands of folks to celebrate the holiday season there? 

Quite simply, it’s the atmosphere and decor that turns sunny destinations into wintery holiday showplaces.   Nowhere can that be more truly seen, than in the homey locale of Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch and Big Thunder Barbeque.   Its rustic decor and woodsy appeal could easily be adapted for your own home holiday design, so I thought I should share the amazing work of the Disneyland elves who transform the Ranch into an amazingly cozy place to spend part of your day.   

When you enter the Ranch, the log cabin is ready to host the Claus family.  Outdoor oak barrels host small conifers and poinsettias fill the window boxes.  There is an easy garland of pine, simple ornaments, and checkered ribbon that is hung on the eaves.

The fences that border the property and tie the cabin to the “barn” in the barbeque area also reflect the same checkered theme as the eave garlands.

Here’s a shot of the fence wreaths to show you some of the better detail.  Pine cones, cinnamon sticks, metal craft stars, quilted ornaments, and jingle bells adorn the pine wreath.  Large ribbons are mounted on the back of the wreath and stretched to the lower fence.

At the end of the fence, you come to the side of the barn and more decor.  Simple walkways – like this one to the barn’s restrooms – have seasonal style with the addition of tiny, decorated trees to the existing pathway lighting barrels.  The lantern barrels are a nice inspiration, on their own, for something to light up your own backyard paths or nooks!

Out front in the barbeque area, even the tables are decorated.  These pieces could be adapted to any porch or lamp post, as well as door frames.  The thick rope that is intertwined adds a western twist and the artificial apples and pine cones add color and warmth.   The ribbon has wire in the edges, so you can turn it up on the ends and help it make curvier shapes.

Here’s a close-up of a similar, and slightly simpler, piece – for you detail-oriented folks.  I can never make a bow that looks that good.  Maybe it’s time for a visit to Michael’s…


Barn walls hosted wreaths, such as this one with a metal star in the middle.  The rope is once again used to accent and there are little sprigs of “greenery” to add colors and textures.

One fabulous idea they had was to hang quilts on either side of the stage in front of the barn.  A rope was then tied to the quilt pole to hang favorite Christmas cards with clothespins!

Tablecloths were made in holiday colors and fabrics, while still reflecting the purpose of the Ranch.  A nice way to mix it up, but still keep it holiday!

They even had a serving sideboard dressed for the occasion – with little knick-knacks and stockings.

Now let’s talk about what they did with the barn stage that they use to perform the dinner show on.   My opening photo was stage right.  This is stage left – with a full blown, present-laden tree!

This angle shows a bit more ornament and decor detail.  Love the classic cranberry and popcorn string and big, colored lightbulbs. 

 In front of the stage, antiques are turned into holiday pieces with a little sisal rope, wire-edge ribbon, berry sprigs from the floral aisle, and some bells (which could be bought in either the ornament or craft aisle).

An antique horse planter is decorated with different floral and fruit sprigs.

This old footed planter is filled to the brim with poinsettia and ivy, while presents are tucked underneath and around.  A bark-covered owl keeps it company.

Bark-covered deer shapes add a bit of pizzazz in this corner, mingling with large, felt-crafted gift sacks and pinecones that have been decorated to look like mini-Christmas trees.

Those mini pinecone trees can be found throughout the decor – like these topped with cardinals! 

A great thing to do to add style is to recycle all of those cardboard boxes that your online purchases came in, by wrapping them up in colorful fabric (for outdoor use) or wrapping paper (for indoor) and placing them all around.

 Once you get started, you’ll find newer, bigger, and more creative ways to do your holiday decor.  Maybe you’ll even get inspired  by Santa’s reindeer!

I hope you have enjoyed a visit to the rustic style of the holidays at Big Thunder Ranch.

No matter how you look at it and what styles you love, the most important thing is that we can look to our favorite places – like Disneyland and Walt Disney World  – for new ways to bring that creative holiday expression to our own celebrations!

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Category: Disneyland

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Disneyland Podcaster for the DIS Unplugged