simple spruce-ups in the suburbs :: bustin out the christmas goods

SO, we were a little overdue for a new simple spruce-up in the suburbs. It seemed only fitting that we did it on Christmas decorating, since I’m sure that’s what many of you will be doing over the next few days, if not already…

I don’t even pretend to know the first thing about decorating for Christmas. Over the years, it’s been something I’ve totally struggled with, for a couple of reasons. To begin with, I think I was putting too much pressure on myself…so I wanted to share a few little tricks I have up my sleeve for such occasions. If I were to write a letter to my newlywed self nine years ago, this is a little list I would tuck away for safe keeping…

I think a lot of these can apply to every day, and not just Christmas. But for starters to myself: Stop trying to be someone else, and Chill. It’s just decorating. With that little starter phrase in mind, I think the rest is kind of easy.

{Here’s my mantel for this season. I decided to mix it up this year, and if you want to read more on it, or do your own advent garland, click here. } (if you’re interested in making a star garland, click here.)

But for starters, mix it up this year. I think we all tend to become stuck in ruts with our decor, no matter what the season. I think It’s always great to go through with a fresh eye, and mix it up a little. Don’t get me wrong…hold on to those traditions that you hold dear. But don’t feel obligated to always put the same table arrangement out, until the berries start to fall off, because you spent money on it, or the same wreath on the door just because your Great Aunt Second Cousin Half Grandmother Twice Removed, Tessa handed it down to you ten years ago, and even though it has scary evil elven heads on it, you feel obligated because your mom commented on how kind it was of her, so up goes the scary wreath. Keep the wreath tucked away for when obscure relative Tessa drops by every five years, (there is something to be said for politically correct apeasal in passive aggressive family diplomacy) but in the meantime, do what YOU want, and let go of the guilt.

That being said, don’t spend big bucks on christmas decor.

I mean, if you have it, then by all means, be my guest to blow some moolah. That’s awesome. I just think that no matter what our own personal economic status, I will always be making my own, and finding ways to “beat the man.” It’s how I’m wired. I just don’t want you to forget that there are other options out there. It will only be up for one month out of the year. So I said all that to say, don’t feel pressured to spend a lot, especially if you don’t have it, when there are a ton of great, simple options out there. With the internet full of clever DIY projects at our fingertips, the possibilities are endless. Even if you don’t have a lot of time on our hands, creating can be cathartic. And when being realistic with our expectations, it can be very rewarding.

Every single time, the creative route for me is one bazillion times better than the one money can buy.

Don’t be afraid to touch up your old decor. Even if it’s a small spruce-up.

I think these good ole hobby lobby trees were looking a bit crusty and wiry. So, I took a quick dry brush of paint to them, and let them lighten my table this year. It really gives them a subtle, but new look. Remember, when it comes to fabrics and paint, there’s truly nothing they (and you) can’t do. The same goes for the stocking holders below. For one dollar a piece, I have a completely different look than the overproduced store options. My point? Don’t doubt yourself. You can do it.

Really. Quit second guessing yourself. Take a vow with me now. Do what makes you feel good. Do what makes you happy. This includes…

Fighting your current color scheme in your home at Christmas time.

I’m saying this because I always did it. And I think a lot of people find this to be a problem. I wanted red. But I was always miffed on how to incorporate my aquas and other beachy pastels with my christmassy reds. I found, gradually, that it’s easy to incorporate those colors from your full time scheme into your christmas color one. Don’t be afraid to experiment around your house for that overall look. Use hints of the two opposing colors mixed in together, with merging colors in between.

As you’ll (hopefully) see in the photos below, I merged reds with the full time colors by incorporating a deep purple, and orange. And over the years, after much frustration on my part, and over analytical scheming in the Hobby Lobby ornament department…AND my tree one year looking quite patriotic (oops)…I found my color scheme.

this includes using smatterings of color throughout your home for your decor. Whether it’s hanging ornaments from a chandelier, a moss gift on the table, or using fishing floats in aqua with deeper hues of ornaments…using it in other places in your home for christmas other than just the tree, will help them flow more seamlessly. Combining elements of nature in your decor is always a unifying factor in color and texture, along with the added bonus of hints of surprising combinations along the way.

That being said, remember the subtle. I kind of think less is more.

But, if more makes you happy…DO it.

Let your children express themselves in decorating for the holidays. 

My kids have their own trees in their own rooms at christmas. This gives them ownership. They are more than welcome to help me with the main tree, and I look forward to the day when they’re actually interested in that, promising to myself not to be a complete control freak about an angel hanging too close to a snowflake in close proximity to santa. But this year all they wanted to do, was decorate their own.

And they had an absolute blast doing it. Which brings me to…

Embrace the hokey. I absolutely love the hokey.

It’s what memories are made of, and hokey is beautiful, especially when made by your babies. Unfortunately, alot of my hokey this year was stolen by my children who wanted their own decorations on their own trees. They didn’t understand why I wanted them for our family tree. I guess a bonus to this would be that if you don’t like hokey, that problem kind of solves itself. It’s like a happy compromise. I, in the meantime, am currently gradually stealing those little thumbprint reindeer ornaments back…smuggling them one at a time…back to the big tree. Which brings me to…

As far as the tree goes? There’s always the big debate on natural vs. manufactured.

My current vote? Natural. All that prelit nonsense always leads to wailing and gnashing of teeth each year for us, with the whole my-right-side-won’t-light-up debacle. And who can fight the scent of a natural tree? Or the thrill of choosing one as a fam? Not this gal.

Unify your tree with a ribbon, and a predetermined color of ornament balls. If you have a predetermined, underlying color, then the hokey along with the fun designer, pretty ornaments you love, can coexist harmoniously, and naturally fall into place.

Most importantly, let it ALL reflect your family’s passion and personality. That’s what’s really important, anyway, isn’t it?

And the rest, kind of falls oh so naturally into place.

Happy decorating!

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