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Struggling with Decorating for Christmas

December 2, 2014

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  I'm terrible at decorating for Christmas.  I get really underwhelmed when I open my Christmas bins and pull out enough decor to celebrate in a 10x10 foot box.  And then I look around my beautiful home and think, oh.  This is it?

It's overwhelming to look at pictures of beautifully decorated homes and think about how am I going to make our home look magical.  I have a whole file saved on Pinterest of attainable inspiration pictures yet I can't figure out how to recreate any of them.  I realize that a good collection of anything takes years to acquire and every other month of the year I'm okay with that.  But somehow the first week of December always leaves me feeling like I don't have enough.  I'm not doing enough.  It's really only been the past two years that this disappointment has hit me pretty hard.  Before that it wasn't my sole responsibility to create "a Christmas House" for my children. 

I've talked a big game of heading to Hobby Lobby or Homegoods with a $100 bill and just buying up whatever I find pretty but each time I end up feeling like that money should go to presents instead.  Then there is the post Christmas clearance section option but my reality is that I'm too busy paying full price for Thomas the Train napkins at Party City for a certain boy who's Birthday falls just 9 days after Christmas instead.

But honestly, it's not really a money thing. I could go buy some pretty tinsel or holiday lights if I want to do so.  It's more of a question of where to start.  How do you make a big impact with a few things?  Do you just go into one store and get enough things to make one display area or do you spread it out with a little touch here and there?  There is no right or wrong answer, I'm just curious.


I've thought about starting a little Christmas house collection that can go on the buffet in our dining room.  The kids are fascinated by the lights.  When I was a kid that was my favorite part of Christmas too.  I adored the little tiny Christmas villages.  Imagining what all the little Christmas families were doing inside their tiny stores and churches and village houses.  Of course I worry at their age that they'll break them.  They've already broken exactly six items so far so my collection of Christmas is truly dwindling.

I would love to hear more about how and why you decorate your homes for Christmas.  Do you focus on just one area or do you spread it out throughout your home?  Faux tree or real?  Fill me in!

I think my favorite holiday decorations are simple greenery and chalkboard prints of Christmas music written in beautiful calligraphy.  That is really my style.   I need to just go order about 15 boxwood wreaths and a pile of pretty red ribbon.  I love that simple and pretty effect all that greenery has on a room without being overly sparkly or asking to be broken.  That actually is my plan.  I'll keep you posted!  I'm going to let you help me stay accountable for doing something more than a pretty tree this year!

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41 comments:

  1. I used to put out so much *junk* - just random holiday-themed pieces that I purchased or were gifted through the years. Last year I was disgusted with how cluttered my house looked through December. I vowed to pare down and get rid of the junk. Only keep the things with sentiment or that truly "decorate" the space. But I struggle with it because my kids love the "junk". They love to touch and play with things, and I don't want to have just a "pretty" home that they are not allowed to touch. It's their holiday, too. So, I'm procrastinating on bringing up the box of "junk" - hoping that in a spare few moments I can weed through and decide what makes the cut, and what doesn't, before they see the box and remember what's in there! (Because once they see something, it'll have to stay!)

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    1. that's me too. I have zero interest in over the top. But my kids seem to love little things at every corner. I grew up in an over the top magic christmas house so I'm struggling with that need to change my aesthetic this time of year too.

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  2. Oh and my girlfriend instilled the paperwhites, amaryllis, and Christmas cactus in me last year which make for the most beautiful, simple Christmas decor throughout a home!

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  3. I moved to faux tree about 10 years ago because the needle cleanup got really old. I can totally understand the decorating thing. I have enough ornaments for three trees but the other decor that I have just bores me so I do the tree and another vignette in the front hall and that's it. I just never see enough decor that I like in one place to pull together a look.

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  4. We've been in our home for exactly seven years and I just now feel like I have accumulated all my "Christmas decorations". I do the downstairs with just little touches of gold and white, and then I let the kids do there thing upstairs. Well really they just have trees in their rooms, but Carson gets to put all the "fun" ornaments on his ;) That way it's a win win for the both of us ;)

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    1. I love your house at Christmas. And Carson and his little perfectly placed tree is my fave ;)

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  5. I feel ya! I was going to try to do something a little different this year and realized when I opened my Christmas box it was all red and I was hoping to do mostly whites and neutrals... I swore I had more whites!

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  7. I have an entire crawl space stuffed with Christmas decorations but this year I probably put out 30% of it because primary color in all those decorations is red. It took until last year for me to realize that red as a color makes me overly anxious. This year I have a lot of garland, white lights, paper whites dolled up with green,cream & blue ribbon. I just took my homes everyday color scheme and applied it to Christmas. I found by repeating the same elements thought the house (greenery, paper whites, cream satin ribbon) I can create a very festive feel that is also calming. I have 3 kiddos who adore Christmas (what kid doesn't). The family room tree (we do 2) features all their ornaments plus they each have a tree in their bedrooms. If I had to boil it down to my top 5 Christmas decorations (minus a Christmas tree) I would say faux garland for staircases, mantels, doorways; white lights for the garland; paper white or white poinsettia flowers; fresh trader joe wreathes; nativity set & advent house. Oh and lastly, we decorate inside before Thanksgiving only because it allows me to tackle the process over the coarse of a week. We use to wait until December and the stress of getting it up right away wasn't a good away to start off the Holiday season.

    Xo
    Amelia

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  8. I do a traditional Christmas tree with all the ornaments that I've collected over the years, but my favorite part of Christmas decorating is the dining room mantle. It's a winter theme: silver candlesticks with tall tapers, a few silver ornaments, and twisted through the candlesticks are white feather boas which sounds SO TACKY but the feathers are really light and drape beautifully. And because it's a winter theme more than a Christmas theme, it stays up through February! What are your thoughts on fake boxwood wreaths, particularly for exteriors? I've been thinking about pulling the trigger on these... http://www.amazon.com/Boxwood-Wreath-Tone-Green-Pack/dp/B0084QFP6G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417530842&sr=8-1&keywords=boxwood+wreath+pack+of+six

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  9. I have also felt this Christmas decorating pressure in my own life - especially in the 8 years I spent as a stay at home mom. I think your kids will find the season magical regardless of the decor, but if you're looking for a simple approach, you could consider just using natural materials. We would sometimes go out and collect pinecones on a walk, get pomegranates at the grocery store, and a few sparkly ornaments. Then we would fill up big bowls or vases with them all over the house. I would always trim my evergreen shrubs (or even the trees on a nature walk!) and use them in as many places as I could. That way, as you're aquiring a collection of beautiful Christmas decor pieces, you home still feels festive.

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  10. Faux tree softened with Paperwhites, amaryllis and greenery collected from outside. And I add some faux berries and real twigs to the tree for a more natural look. And shiny glass ornaments in a vase with just some greens around is simple and festive. I add a touch of green to the main bathroom - just a small vase with a few cut paperwhite stems and leaves makes a big impact. In the family room I, we don't have a tree, but I add real garland around the window with white lights and some pretty ribbon. And a pot of paperwhites. I leave the some of the greenery, paperwhites and amaryllis up through the dreary month of January. And sometimes keep the tree up too for two extra weeks!

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  11. I've struggled with this, also, and what seems to be working for me now is just buying a few pieces at a time from different stores and building up a collection over time. I usually don't decorate my entire house- just the entry, living areas and dining room. Fresh greens and chalkboard prints are my style, too, and they're easy to incorporate. Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? They sell fresh boxwood wreaths for $5 (that was last year, I'm hoping it hasn't changed), and they're beautiful. I also just picked up some free Christmas tree clippings from Home Depot yesterday and plan to scatter those throughout the house. They smell great and remind me of the fresh trees my parents used when I was a kid.

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  12. I've been sort of struggling with this idea, too. A lot of Christmas decorating seems too fussy and just not "me." We'll see what I end up with this year!

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  13. I focus on a few areas first and don't worry about filing up the entire space all at once. Collect things you love!! Start with mantle, hall table and tree! Slowly go from there...

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  14. You might want to consider some real pine rope/garland. You can usually find 30 feet of rope for not too much money where they sell real trees and use it throughout the house. I love it around doorways and it definitely adds a "Christmas house feel" for very little effort

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  15. Boxwoods are so pretty and timeless. I love it. I'm into garland, burlap and reds this year, as well as chalkboard signs. And we have three birthdays in December and January, so yes, I would def. rather spend on those special days too.

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  16. First, do whatever feels right for your taste, budget and family. I beleive the photo above is beautiful. Second stop reading all the blogs with others tossing thousands of dollars every year on new decorations. Your family wi be happy with whatever you put together for them and remember when they get older the special space you created for them. Your children don't care! Lastly, what does your spouse think of a real tree or a fake tree? When my husband and I got married it was nice to bring some of his family traditions in to our home and I have to say that my kids enjoy the traditions that HE and I have created for OUR family.

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    1. yes, I LOVE our tree! We bought the fake tree together for our first apartment so it's sentimental in that it's been our tree every year but one that we've been together! Also, our son has really bad asthma and allergy issues so real just isn't in the cards for us these days. I feel so bad for my kids missing out on the big tree lot though. That was one of my favorite nights growing up!

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  17. I feel your pain. We moved from a 900 square foot apartment to a 4000 square foot house. What was overflowing in our little apartment wouldn't even fill a room in our house this year! (First world problems, right?!) Luckily, my mom and mother-in-law both cleaned out their Christmas bins this year and passed a lot along to me. The rest I got on sale at HomeGoods, Tuesday Morning, Big Lots, etc. And if you're just not feeling it? Don't worry! Your kids will remember the memories y'all make and the things you do together, not the decorations.

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    1. I know! I feel like such an asshat for even complaining. Sooooooo much time to shop for over the top Christmas decorations I'm not even sure I want.....I sound like an asshole. But it's true. The memories and the tree make it magic!

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  18. YES!!!! I just wrote a post for tomorrow about the same thing. Everything I pulled out feels so underwhelming this year. I don't know if it's that I'm trying to make old things work in a new place or if it's just that I'm so impressed with everything else I'm seeing people do this year that's making me second guess myself. Whatever it is, it stinks! I know our kids will love it no matter what, but I want to feel that excitement when I look at it too.

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    1. I hear ya ma'am! I think that's my problem too!

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  19. I have struggled with this too (I am a stay at home Mom with two boys under 5), and I've finally settled on something that feels comfortable, and is also festive. Our home has a coastal theme and is full of blues, grays, and shades of cream. For years I pulled out red Christmas and colorful decorations for all over the house, and one year I just snapped, and took it all out of the house in mid-December. For me, red is just too much. It's such a beautiful color, but I felt like it was screaming at me from every corner. I don't like clutter, or having stuff really, so I now decorate with all natural elements that I don't have to store, organize, and think about the rest of the year. Boxwoods, eucalyptus, cotton, and paperwhites are my base now. The kids have a more colorful tree upstairs and an advent calendar, plus bells on the door handles, and lights and garlands outside...

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    1. that sounds like a lot of fun! My mom does the bells too. Love the sound, maybe I need to add a few of those to my greenery and call it done :)

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  20. I think that part of the issue we all feel is that we read some blogs that show lots of beautiful decorations and then we begin comparing ourselves to that. I agree with everyone else that our children don't care if you have the most lavish, over the top decorations. It's about the memories you create with what you have. This year I have adopted the philosophy that I would buy one new item that I really love instead of lots of little things. This way I will have a collection over time that I will cherish. To fill things in I used lots paperwhites in containers I had--very inexpensive and nice impact!

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    1. such good advice! I actually love the really simple greenery look and that's pretty much what my pinterest board is full of. I'm such a simpleton with design the rest of the year that it's no surprise my christmas is as well :)

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  21. I just changed my colors this year and I haven't spent too much at all! I love getting simple hurricanes {dollar store, walmart} and filling with an assortment of sizes of ornament balls in my colors. I also bought a 9ft green garland from Walmart this year, folded it in half, decorated it with some small bead garland and ornaments from Target, and voila - a nice looking mantel garland. You don't have to spend big. :-)
    -Morgan
    California To Carolina
    The Gym Bunny

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    1. oh my gosh, I have an entire bin full of shades of blue ornaments from when I did all silver and blue coastal themed. Ornaments are a plenty around here. it's the other that is so very very lacking! I also scored big at Hobby Lobby yesterday *not sure if you have one near you* but their wreaths are $5. I bought eight so that's helped a lot!

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  22. Go with your gut - keep it simple! Your children will remember your traditions and the way they FELT, they won't remember the doo-dads and frankly, the crap! Can you tell I am a bit annoyed by what blogs have done to Christmas???? It's too much - I sort of like my house the way it's decorated ALL of the year and the extra at Christmas leaves me anxious and cluttered. How about next year we do a 'Christmas-light House Tour' blog hop????? For all of us under-achievers who prefer the subtle and natural vs. 'change the whole house'……Are you in?
    xo~Jill

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    1. YES!!!!! I honestly don't bedrudge anyone who goes over the top one bit. I can be too over the top in other areas for some people's taste. We all have different styles and talents and I swear I'm not knocking their pretty flowing homes or spirit! But, it is intimidating to see that and then look over at my wreath with a burlap bow (which I happen to love) and feel like maybe I'm missing something. So Christmas-light House Tour it is. You are team captain :) xo

      And I agree, I LOVE your home year round. Pretty sure I first found you via insta while stalking pretty snippets of your family room ;)

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  23. Julia, I struggled with the Christmas decorating my entire adult life and I am finally happy with my home this year. Call me crazy but we have a large tree in the family room, small ones in the dining and front living rooms and in the children's rooms small trees on their dressers. My house felt nearly done with the trees so I just added decorative lighted garland from Costco on the mantel, a large cream poinsettia in the family room and paper whites in the dining room along with a boxwood wreath hung on the hutch. I also have a pottery barn lantern that I change out with the seasons. Now it has a battery operated candle with a candle ring around it. Just keep things natural and simple and limit your time on Pinterest!

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    1. that sounds so beautiful and also good advice! Although, my pineterest Christmas file is solely boxwood wreaths and lit christmas trees. I'm really drawn to that simple look I guess :)

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  24. I don't think my first post made it for some reason ha ha! I've accumulated several collections over the years and those are my go to-mercury glass, glittery Santas, Nutcrackers, and several family vintage decorations from my grandparents. It's what makes me happy! I don't transform the entire house, just the main level and then the kids have a small fake tree with ornaments I get them each year in their playroom. We do a real tree in our family room and lots of paperwhites, amaryllis, and rosemary trees!

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    1. girl you crack me up. Annnnnnnd, you already HAVE a magic house ;)

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  25. My mom always goes ALL out for Christmas. As the years went by she added more and more and more every year. By the time my sisters and I were old enough to help a lot it had become kind of a hassle - so many boxes! And she put a lot of her stuff away to make room for her collections. I don't know if she inspired it or not, but I am kind of a Christmas minimalist :) We have a tree, which is real and lit with as many lights as I can fit on it, a table with the nativity, and some real greenery. If we had a fireplace that would be my second focus, other than the tree. We live in a little cottage so admitedly, it doesn't take much. This year I put tree clippings into big vases and hung some tiny ornaments from them and put them in a few places. Easy and free, and I don't have to store it 11 months out of the year. This is getting long, but instead of overwhelming the house with stuff I try to focus on experiences: having cinnamon rolls for breakfast, listening to Christmas music, reading Christmas books (we get most of them at the library), having hot chocolate for a snack, letting them help me make goodies for friends or wrap presents for the family (they are almost 4 and 1.5 so I really have to pysch myself up for this, haha). Anyway, you are doing a great job, momma! You don't "have" to do any more than you already are! Loving on them is enough!

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  26. My father in law had a rather large village that he passed on to us. At first I loathed it and the clutter that it brings, but it has started to grow on me. You can find the pieces on Ebay for SUPER cheap.

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  27. Real tree, ornaments gathered over time so not really decorator-y, fresh greens from our yard and little bits of Christmas peeking out of the bookcase (can send a photo later, off to work). Your house is always lovely!

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  28. Just found your blog tonight and I absolutely love your style. Could you please share with me where you got the kids striped monogrammed pj's? Thanks!!

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