Amanda shared how she’s decorated her house for the holidays in last week’s post, and today it’s my turn! I’ve been trying to amp up our holiday decor this season, and really lean into crafts and DIYs. Since we’re spending so much time at home this year, I was really excited to go big and create an experience that brings us a lot of joy.
Greg and I have only been married for a few years, so we’re still building up our collection of Christmas decorations. I’ve had a hard time finding decor at the stores (or really online, since we aren’t going into stores much) that feels right to me. I think when you’re a kid, every piece of holiday decor in your house feels sentimental because it’s a part of your childhood. As an adult, it’s hard to find decorations that have that same level of meaning. As a result, I’ve been trying to make a lot of our decor additions this year. More on that in a bit, though. Let’s get started with our main tree, which is in our living room.
We buy real trees and garlands. I’m really allergic to dust and mold, so I actually have a harder time with large decorations that get stored and collect dust over time than I do with real trees. Because most of our greenery is real (except for our wreaths), we couldn’t decorate before Thanksgiving. We leave our decor up until Epiphany (January 6), which celebrates the arrival of the wise men to visit Jesus and marks the end of the Christmas season in the church calendar. Our greens are always a little crispy by Epiphany, so we have to wait until after Thanksgiving to put them up. Pro tip: we get our big tree at Costco. For the size and quality of the trees they have, their prices are great.
Our main tree is decorated with a combination of sentimental ornaments, faux white poinsettias, and some shatterproof ornaments from Target. I’m slowly phasing out the shatterproof ornaments as we get more sentimental ones, but they’re nice filler and are left over from my first Christmas in my own apartment. Every year we add a few new ornaments. We like to find ones that commemorate the year if we can. For example, when we got married we went to Copenhagen for our honeymoon, so we got this mermaid ornament to remind us of visiting the Little Mermaid statue:
This year we got this “Our First Pandemic” ornament from Etsy. We partially thought it was funny (if you don’t laugh you cry, right?) but it’s also weirdly meaningful for me. We still haven’t been married that long, so making it through so much time at home together and still enjoying hanging out with each other means a lot to me. It makes me want to give Greg a high five or something. We’ve also really focused on cementing our values as a family during this time.
Our other ornament addition this year was a ceramic rainbow from an artist named Christine Tenenholtz. I stumbled upon her work on Instagram, and it’s so beautiful and joyful. It also reminds me of the good things that have come out of this year despite the challenges of the pandemic, like getting to build up Paint the House Pink, starting Lit Sh*t, and spending lots of time with our fur babies.
Across from the Christmas tree in the living room is our fireplace, where we’ve decorated the mantle with stockings from World Market, stocking holders from Target, a small ceramic village I got on clearance at Target last year, and trimmings from the Christmas tree:
The last piece of holiday decor in our living room is my letterboard, which I update seasonally:
In the kitchen, which is attached to the living room in one long room, I have a llama garland I found at Michael’s a few years ago (similar glitter-free options here, here and here), and a wreath I made a while back with a gingham ribbon and faux berries I got at Michael’s:
Across the kitchen I hung a silver snowflake ornament on the wall. My mom decorated our stairs growing up with garlands around the railings that she hung with snowflakes. This is from her collection. The poinsettias on our Christmas tree are also a nod to how she decorated the garlands. I love that it reminds me of her every day:
In our dining room, I draped garlands over the curtain rods. We have three Meyer lemon trees in our backyard that are full of lemons right now, so I’m considering drying some lemon slices and hanging them from the garlands. I can’t decide if I’ll like them better the way they are, though. What do you think?
On our dining room table, I have two zinc houses from the Concordville collection at Terrain. I have a thing for Christmas villages. I think it’s because my mom has a porcelain Christmas village that was so magical to me growing up. My goal is to add one piece to this collection every year or two and build it over time. The house is from a few years ago, but here is the church I added this year:
The last big piece of holiday decor is my big project this year. It’s a second tree in our dining room. I have a grand vision for this tree, and I’m expecting to work on it and build on it over the course of several years. I really want everything on this tree to eventually be homemade (except for the lights-I’m not an electrician!) My end goal is for this tree to function as an advent calendar. This year, and probably next year, I’m making upcycled cardboard houses (find the tutorial here). These are the main structure of the advent calendar. Eventually they will be numbered. They’re open on the back so I can put things inside of them. The vision is to make an ornament that will go in each house, and then the calendar part will be pulling an ornament out and putting it on the tree each day. That’s a lot of DIY for one year, though, so it’s a work in progress. I also made the pom pom garlands (here is the pom pom maker set I used). I’m crocheting a tree skirt, but it’s not done yet. I lost two serious crafting days last week to a Costco-induced wrist injury. Ergonomics are no joke, friends!
I would prefer to use white lights instead of multicolored ones for the advent tree, and multicolored lights on the living room tree, but this year we used what made sense based on the number of working strands of lights we already had. We’re slowly making the transition to LED lights, but I’m doing it kicking and screaming because I have STRONG opinions about color temperature and light brightness. That’s a story for another day. One thing that is tremendously helpful, though, is we use smart plugs for our Christmas tree lights. It’s nice to be able to just say “Alexa, turn on the Christmas tree” rather than messing with a plug behind the tree. It also means we don’t have a loose end of a cord the cat might decide is a fun toy.
That reminds me-planning holiday decor around a mischievous cat should be a game show. About a week after our decorations go up, the ornaments and things have migrated from the parts of the tree the fur babies can reach to higher up. Nothing can dangle. Nothing lightweight enough to be knocked around can go on a shelf the cat can get to. Access points to the mantle have to be blocked or rendered uninteresting. It’s a whole strategy. We lose a few of the faux poinsettias each year. Real poinsettias are out because they are toxic to animals. We had a Narwhal casualty this year. Celia, our cat, bats things down, and then Remy, our dog, chews them:
One last thought-I’m trying to be really cognizant of the amount of plastic and artificial materials I’m buying, and I’m especially avoiding glitter. Some of our holiday decor from past years has glitter on it, but I don’t want to bring anything new into the house with glitter because it’s not great for the environment. If you love glitter, though, there are some eco-friendly options out there! Package Free Shop sells compostable glitter so you can get the same effect, but without the microplastics.
How are you decorating your house this season? What traditions do you celebrate? We’d love to hear from you, either in the comments below or on social media. You can also sign up for our email newsletter to get updates about new posts.
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