I have never been much of a holiday decorator. It seems like as soon as I have the decorations out for one holiday it’s time to take them down and do the next one. However, I have come up with a plan to make things more simple when it comes to adding a little festivity to our home throughout the year: It’s all about repurposing.
When we moved into our new home two years ago I started gathering Christmas decorations. After living in apartments and basements for about 10 years since Jason’s car accident, I had gotten rid of just about everything we owned and was starting over. I love a fresh start. So, armed with a small box of about 24 ornaments from our childhoods, I started the Christmas decorating process.
We bought a tree. Fake, I admit. I needed simple and so less watering, less pine needles, and less expense year after year was a good solution. I started with our meager ornament collection and bought other tree decor to fill the whole thing up. I love the big Styrofoam balls that you can get these days as well as the fabulous garlands. They are chunky enough that adding it all to our little ornaments it didn’t take long to make the tree look like there was something actually on it.
I don’t like a lot of clutter and I don’t like it when my holiday decorations are up months after the holiday is over. However, I also don’t like to spend all my time decorating for the next holiday. So here are some tips I have come up with that help me to manage and simplify my holiday decorating but also make a statement while you’re doing it.
Tip #1: Be a Little Generic
After I put up our first Christmas tree in 10 years, the next thing I did was buy a wreath for over the mantle and a garland of red berries to lay across the mantle top. Now here’s the trick about making a simple wreath suddenly become unique and upscale: layering. We all know that layering with regard to fashion is all the rage. With home fashion it’s no different. My Christmas wreath is actually 3 wreaths layered on top of each other and simply tied with a black ribbon. Totally unique, right? But oh so simple.
This wreath, because of it’s unique but generic look, gets to stay up all through February and Valentine’s Day – so instead of having to take down all the Christmas decorations by New Years, we get to enjoy this festive look for an extra two months. Rethink your decorations by not being so specific and get more time to enjoy them as well as more bang for your buck.
Tip #2: Create a Few Focal Points
I don’t have a lot of knick-knacks that have to be put out and taken down when it comes to holiday decorations. I just have key areas that make a big impact – the fireplace mantle, the chandelier over the table, the center of the kitchen island. By concentrating on just a few areas of interest, it looks like your whole house is decorated when only it’s just key spots. This makes decorating and undecorating simple and more affordable.
Tip #3: Think Ahead
One of my favorite tricks when it comes to holiday decorating is to try and keep things up as long as possible. I do this by reusing the same stuff in a new way for the next holiday whenever possible. For example, the wreath over my fireplace has red berries. The garland on my mantle also is red berries. Valentines is right after Christmas. So, instead of taking down those decorations, I simply remove the stockings from the mantle and keep the garland and wreath. Then I hang some random hearts where the stockings hung. Suddenly, the fireplace looks like it’s ready for Valentines Day with this nontraditional but totally beautiful twist on Christmas decorations.
Tip #4: Use Something Traditional in an Unexpected Way
Let’s talk about my fireplace area some more. It is clearly one of my focal points. After Valentines Day was over, I was ready to move on to spring. I took down the layered wreath above the mantle and the red garland with the hearts hanging from it. It took about 5 minutes total. When I was storing the Christmas tree decorations, I kept the lime green garlands from my tree near the top of the stack of boxes.
In the spirit of reusing and repurposing, I replaced the red-berried garland with a green-berried garland on the mantle – springy, right? Then I hung a wreath made of tiny yellow flowers from the mantle by hammering a nail at the back of the mantle. I added a green ribbon to my wreath and hung it in front of the fireplace. Then, I purchased a package of string covered eggs and hung one from the center of my wreath. No, the wreath did not come that way – I added the egg. Suddenly something ordinary that us usually found on the wall or on a door was interesting as it hangs from my mantle instead. Plus, I repurposed the green-berried garland from my Christmas tree.
Of course, for springtime I went back to Tip #1 and layered a wreath for the front door. The base layer is grapevine with mossy grass all over it. The top layer is cherry blossoms because they look like the apple blossoms from my grandparent’s apple orchard. Again, I just tied them together with some ribbons (three colors) and hung it on the door for a totally unique wreath created from two wreaths that already existed.
Tip#5: Bowls Are Your Friends
I love containers. I’m a sucker for interesting boxes and organizers…and especially bowls. I love bowls of all shapes and sizes and I use them for just about anything. I have little bowls filled with treats that I can snack on while I work. I have bowls that are purely decorative simply because I like their shape. I have bowls that are functional but more often than not, they are also beautiful and unique. I don’t collect many things but I probably would say that I collect bowls and use them in my decor all the time.
Consider thinking about bowls a little bit differently, though. Try stacking them in a pile before filling the top one with jelly beans. Or nest a set of concentric sized bowls inside one another and tossing some favorite photos in the top one for guests and family members to browse through. I have cute bowls that hold my vitamins and pills for each day because they are so much more fun to take when I keep them in something that makes me happy to look at.
Along with pretty, lovely, unique, and interesting bowls, tupperware is my favorite storage item inside cupboards and closets and drawers. Bowls – plastic or glass, ceramic or metal – just rock. That’s all there is to it. I’m obsessed with containers. Plus, whatever you put inside your bowls can easily become part of your decor. Fake apples in the fall. Gerber daisies in the spring. Silver ornaments in the winter. Jelly beans for Easter. Bowls are a wonderfully simple way to decorate for the holidays and seasons.
Tip #6: Keep it Simple
People always ask me how to decorate for the holidays without getting overwhelmed. Three words: Keep it Simple. Try to minimize the amount of “stuff” in exchange for using what you have more wisely. Rearrange or move something to a different spot. Hang it or place it in a bowl. Try to think about the things you have being used in more than one way at different times. The less you have to get out and pack up and the less often you have to do it, the less overwhelming it its.
This is the reason why I don’t really decorate for St. Patrick’s Day. I do Valentines right after Christmas then jump into spring after Valentines. I don’t want to decorate every month – that’s too overwhelming to me. I lump my decor into manageable time periods where I can maximize my enjoyment of it.
tip #7: It’s OK to Let Go
You don’t have to keep things forever. Every year, before you put something out, decide if you really love it or if it’s time to move on. Give it to charity and let it cheer someone else’s home for a while. You don’t have to keep things forever – besides, then it leaves room for something new and that is always fun!
Tip #8: Have a “Swapper” Decoration
I’m talking about my Holiday Frame idea that I give you all the downloads for. You make your frame once then all you have to do is swap out the new download and you have a new decoration. For my frame, I store the downloads in an envelope with all my other holiday items so that I can find them the next year. If I want, I can easily add a ribbon around the frame or hang an embellishment to give it a little umpff if I choose. If I do so, I store the embellishment with my downloads so that everything is together in one little storage container to make it easy to swap out. Both of the above photos are the same frame, same mat, same location in my home. The only difference is the downloaded image and a little embellishment to make it interesting. Easy Peasy!
I like celebrating things but I love simple even more. It IS possible to have both with just a little rethinking, repurposing and reusing. Enjoy your holiday decorating – whatever the season and whatever the holiday.
In the meantime, let’s give a shout out to our pseudo-Canadian giveaway winner who was randomly picked from all you comment-leavers. By the way, your comments just prove why Michaels stores keep asking for more Canadian stamps. There’s a lot of Canadian love out there!
My son has decided that he is Canadian – he plays ice hockey there a couple of times a year and his coaches are all Canadian. In fact, while at camp in Red Deer last summer he was challenged to sing the Canadian anthem – and could – so every one but him had to skate extra drills.
Rachel, email me your address and I will send you (or should I say, your son) this batch of stamps. Lots of hockey ones and a couple with “Our Home and Native Land” so he should be in Canuck heaven!