Saturday Bonus <> Christmas Decorations!!!

I talk about minimalism quite a bit here on the blog but have to admit I’m not sure where I fall on the scale in terms of Christmas decorations?

I feel like we decorate less than many other people?? But then I know others that do nothing at all by way of holiday decor.

Growing up, every surface in our house was transformed. Towels and potholders and candles and…everything…got switched out for something festive. I have very fond memories of the cheery atmosphere, but can’t imagine recreating the same level of holiday decor in my own house.

DECORATING strategy + STORAGE

It sounds a bit ridiculous to describe my “decorating strategy”, but I do think I might be unique in this regard? I decorate from mid-November (we put up the little tree in the basement just before Levi’s birthday) right up until Christmas, putting out a few things at a time.

It feels less overwhelming to break the process into smaller chunks of time and I have the chance to slowly tweak things as I go (I’ll sometimes remove decorations that I’m finding to be a nuisance; for instance, earlier this week I switched out the Christmas cookie jar I had repurposed to hold our kitchen utensils as I was finding it to be impractical).

In terms of storage, my biggest tip would be to store decorations by zone/category. I have the downstairs (artificial) tree with all the ornaments and lights in a single spot in our storage room. I have another tote that is JUST things for the upstairs (real) Christmas tree – ornaments, lights, tree skirt, star. I wrap our mantle swag in garbage bags and stuff it into the rafters of our storage room and then put all the swag decorations in a single small box, which sits on top of the swag. All our artificial wreaths (3) go in a giant bag along with the metal wreath hangers. I have one more giant tote that is a catch-all for the remaining Christmas decorations – Abby’s mini-tree, Christmas books, festive stuffed animals and all the other accumulated miscellany. I would say about 30% of this stuff doesn’t get used and it’s definitely time to eliminate some of the items that are perpetually going unused; I have 2-3 Christmas platters I never use but always feel obligated to have on hand. I see dozens of them at thrift stores this time of year, so know I could replace them easily for very little expense if the need ever arose…

Now, without further ado, here is a little holiday tour of our home. Festive minimalism, I hope!

downstairs

There isn’t much in terms of decoration downstairs.

I’ve been downstairs less this year and haven’t been able to enjoy this tree as much as usual. I do love coming down the stairs and seeing it turned on, but hopefully in the next week or so – as holiday movie-watching ramps up – I’ll really get the chance to bask in this fun little pop of Christmas cheer.
Festive pillow covers in the family room (which I really should iron). These were a few dollars and are so easy to store since they slip right off our existing cushions. I think I might try to find a string of holly berries for the floating shelf next year to bump up the festive factor of this corner a bit?
Levi’s LEGO contributions. We didn’t have the right pieces for the book-described Santa, but I still like this modified version we created together. Not pictured: two Christmas trees we created together pre-bedtime earlier this week!

upstairs

The tree and the swag are our main decorations.

Abby decorated the swag by herself this year, and I love how it turned out. I leave the lights wound in from year-to-year, but package all the trimmings up in one small box. The star in the center has battery-operated lights, but I almost never go to the trouble of turning them on.

The little houses are just cut from blocks of scrap wood (my Dad did this), painted white, and then I used a gold Sharpie paint pen to put on doors and windows (which are mostly obscured by the swag).

I love our little hutch nook, and I give it the tiniest of facelights with some star ornaments ($Store) on the pussy willow branches, some bottle brush trees, more of those homemade white houses, and one little silver present ($Store) by our $3 thrift-store lamp.

Years ago I made several minimalist nativities (my Dad cut them out and Mom helped me stain and silhouette them); I gave all the rest of the sets away as gifts. I love putting this out at Christmas.

I usually string up our Christmas cards over the patio door, but since it has been recently refinished (but still needs paint touchups and a curtain) I didn’t have a logical place for cards. I ended up sticking them into a giant bowl, but this felt…decidely unfestive.

I decided to use some preexisting holes and string them over the kitchen sink. It’s not really enough space, so I can’t separate the cards out as much as I’d like…but it will do.

I’ve been gifted/thrifted most of our holiday decor, but I couldn’t resist these spatula’s at Winners last year.

Not pictured:

  • Abby has a little Christmas tree on her dresser
  • Levi seemed uninterested in the decorating, but did accept a tiny nativity set for his desk.
  • I have a wreath up in the bathroom and a festive tin to corral the toothbrushes/toothpaste.
  • The kids both put stockings on their doors
  • I have a wreath and stocking on our French door between the dining room/kitchen
  • A very cute Christmas nightlight.
  • Christmas magnets and some Christmas artwork we’ve done together on the fridge.

MY FAVOURITE DECORATION

My parents received this Avon Under the Mistletoe Christmas Potpourri wax figurine for their first Christmas as a married couple (50 years ago this August!). It has broken in a few places but what’s important to me is the scent.

It smells like Christmas. Every single year I would sit and smell all the Christmas decorations as they came out of the giant tattered box and everything – right down to the box itself – smelled of this “Christmas Potpourri.” I almost cried the year my Dad got rid of that tattered cardboard box, but I shouldn’t have worried. A year in the new box and all the decorations, and the new box, smelled exactly like Christmas.


They say scent is the most potent trigger for memories and this is definitely the most distinctive scent from my childhood Christmases – maybe the most distinctive scent of my entire childhood? When John and I got married my Mom asked if I wanted to have the figurine. Yes, please!

It is my most treasured Christmas decoration and every item – from ornaments to stockings – are permeated with this scent!

Last year I found a duplicate at a local thrift store and bought it as a back-up…just in case. It smells the same as my inherited original, and I was glad to invest $3.99. This way, if one of my kids forms the same sentimental attachment, I can part ways with one figurine and still have one for myself!

outside

Nothing. Does staging and sawdust count? We don’t even have working lights on the front of the house this year. I’ll ride the renovation excuse until I can’t…This just happened!

Halloween 2021
Mid-reno
Christmas 2021 (the step got leveled a few hours ago…but I was too lazy to re-take the picture!)

Our neighbourhood isn’t known for going over-the-top with Christmas decorations (I feel like pressure to go all-out with exterior decorations spreads; if one person has an elaborate display everyone else feels the need to follow suit – or not).

Reposting this because…it just makes me laugh every time!

Next year I would love to have a bigger (real) wreath, some jugs filled with greenery and berries and a white spotlight on the whole thing? Maybe some lights wrapped around our front tree? We’ll see. For this year, having a completed exterior feels like more than enough (and our Christmas tree is very visible from the street as well; I love peering through windows and spotting interior trees, so we’ve careful to place our tree in a position for passersby to see it).


That’s a wrap. Fairly minimal but a friend (maybe she was just being kind?) told me she thought our house was very festive. I can’t/am not trying to compete with people who have elaborately themed trees or cover every surface with garlands and switch sheets, shower curtains – though how very fun and festive, and tea towels.

But when the lights are off and the tree comes on, it really does feel magical…

What about you? Any sentimental ornaments or decorations? Do you tend toward the minimal side or do you go all-in on the Christmas decor?

19 thoughts on “Saturday Bonus <> Christmas Decorations!!!”

  1. I think your house looks tastefully elegant without being “overdone.” It also looks very cozy and welcoming 😉 I have gotten more minimalist in recent years. With a dog and given the empty-nester status of our household, it just seems more practical. We’re leaving right after Christmas and heading south for the month of January, so most of the decs will be coming down much earlier than usual. It didn’t make sense to have any excess stuff to deal with in such a short time frame. That said, I’m a hugely sentimental gal so I have a lot of “vintage” items that I have to display every year 😉

    1. A month down south sounds…lovely! Should make it a bit warmer for all those winter runs 🙂
      I think the vintage items are the best – festive and meaningful.

    1. The Avon figurine is definitely vintage! I’d never think twice if I was seeing it for the first time now, but because of the deep ties to my childhood Christmases, it makes me so, so happy!

  2. I think your house looks quite lovely and festive! I keep things pretty minimal – there’s a tree, outside lights, LED candles in the upstairs windows, sleigh bells on the doors (my husband hates the noise – but I love it!), and a wreath. We don’t have seasonal cookware, rugs, or anything like that, but I admire people who are organized to swap all that kind of stuff out!

    1. My Mom has done the sleigh bell thing; it’s very festive, but my father is NOT A FAN.
      I don’t have seasonal rugs or basically any other decor aside from little pumpkin covers for a string of mini lights on our mantle (literally my only Halloween decoration). I set out a few hearts at Valentine’s Day, but have no Easter, St. Patricks, or even general winter/spring/summer/fall decor. My towels and dishes stay the same all year round.
      Like you mention, I do always think it looks lovely when people switch it out, but I can’t be bothered to invest, store, and swap out all those items!

  3. Well, I appreciate the shout-out (yes! I’m the nut who decorates her bathroom for Christmas!) but I agree with Kim that your house looks tastefully elegant. I love seeing everyone’s decorations, so this was a fun post.
    Your favorite decoration reminds me of my wax nativity scene, which came from my parents’ house. But mine doesn’t have the scent, unfortunately! I agree, scent is so important- it really brings back vivid memories. Kind of crazy that you found a duplicate at a thrift store!

    1. It’s not nutty at all – I LOVE it. So festive! And while my Mom never switched out shower curtains, it was that sort of level in our house growing up!
      I could NOT believe I found a duplicate; it was shocking. I almost didn’t buy it at first – because I don’t love storing any more than I have to and because it wasn’t the “original” I grew up with, but since the scent is the main reason I love it…I picked it up and I am so, so glad I did. That said, the kids don’t yet seem attached to it in the way I was growing up. Fair enough!

    2. LOL! We have Christmas hand towels in the bathrooms too…..I actually used to have a whole Christmas “set” for the main bath, with a soap dish, toothbrush holder, etc. but I finally decided I maybe didn’t need to go quite all out in there…haha. (It was a hand me down set, from my mom). I come from a mom who is, in the nicest way possible, a pretty big OVER-decorator. She feels things aren’t “complete” if every nook and cranny isn’t decorated. Sometimes I will find her sneaking additional little decorations in at MY house!! Lol!! I’ll be like, wait a minute….where did that little snowman guy come from? And my mom will say, Oh, I saw that on sale at Kohl’s so I just grabbed it for you and brough it. (HA! It’s cute, but I have a very specific tolerance. I like a lot of decorations, but there is a fine line for me between “lots of decorations” and “tacky/ gaudy”! It can be complicated to navigate sometimes.)

      Elisabeth-your house looks beautiful! It’s definitely a more minimalistic style, which seems to perfectly match the decor in your house. We have lots of darker grey accents in our new kitchen (the tile is grey, our couches are dark grey in living room, etc.), so our decor is all more the red/white/silver color scheme. (which I do love very much). I love how your mantle garland looks! That’s my favorite part I think.

      I’ll have to steal this post and do a little “tour” of my house! I have several decorations that I really love and would be fun to document.

      1. I love your Christmas village. My Mom has a small set and would always cover the top of the piano with plastic and then a Christmas runner and top it with fresh greenery and then the village. I think that was one of my favourite decorations each Christmas.

        I also loved the fact that we had to move our piano to make room for the Christmas tree. Something about the configuration of the living room changing each holiday season made me giddy (we have to do this in our house too, and the kids don’t mention it, but I wonder if they take note of it like I did; I don’t remember vocalizing that I found the furniture move thrilling, but I really did).

        I’d love to see a tour of your decorations. From all the snippets I’ve seen, things look very, very lovely!

  4. Your house looks very festive! Your nativity set that you made is probably my favorite thing! I love the simplicity of it – it’s so beautiful and classic! Very cool that you made that yourself with the help of your parents!

    We definitely fall on the minimalist side for sure, but maybe our decoration collection will grow over the years? We have a tree, a wooden garland thing that I hang on the light fixture in our dining room, stockings, and a little nativity set that I bought at a Christmas market in Germany. It’s a one-piece thing which is nice! Outdoors, I bought planters this year from a friend’s daughter’s skating fundraiser. I used to buy a planter of greenery and then my mom would help me decorate it the last couple of years, but it’s just beyond my capabilities and we aren’t seeing them around this time of year. I went to a wreath-making party and made a wreath for our door so I love seeing that. I would like to put lights or garland up outdoors someday but this is not the year. My husband isn’t into decorating so it’s something I’ll take on some day when I don’t have little kids!

    Also, thank you for the kind and sympathetic comment on my post about Will’s allergic reaction. He ended up starting steroids and had his first dose last night so his sleep was not good last night, and Paul’s was extra bad, I think because he got over-stimulated at the light show we went to last night? I got about 4 hours of sleep so am feeling like a zombie, and I’m getting another cold… So I am feeling pretty meh about Christmas right now but hopefully I’ll find my Christmas spirit. I just need a solid night of sleep!! I knew that giving Will his first dose of steroids at bedtime was probably not going to make for a good night of sleep, but I wanted to get him started so we can get back to better health and no fevers! He didn’t have a fever during the night so they are working but dang we had a rough night.

    1. We definitely think alike in terms of minimalism! I’m happy to accumulate more things over time (and also to get rid of some things!), but I definitely don’t feel the urge to buy more just to have more. I want it to “spark joy” as Marie Kondo would say, or have some sentimental attachment.

      I’m so, so sorry about Will. What a rough few weeks/months you’ve all had. I can definitely see why Christmas feels less than festive; absolutely everything is so much harder with sleep deprivation and you’ve had all the stress of going to appointments, trying to console upset kiddos, and then the wear-and-tear of the dark/cold winter season. I think sometimes we just need to give ourselves a bit of grace in terms of feeling obligated to feel happy/joyful. This is all hard and yes Christmas is truly wonderful, but Hallmark movies have given us this false sense of what it means to enjoy the season and I think there is an added pressure now to #doallthethings and #feelallthefeelings. Christmas is all about love and motherhood and selflessness – and you’re embodying all of those qualities in your patient, and tireless care for your family. It’s hard and not the glamourous, airbrushed look of a Hallmark Christmas, but it definitely captures the essence of the Christmas spirit!

      I’m hoping the steroids do their job quickly and effectively and that he doesn’t have too much sleep/belly disruption because of them!! Hang in there.

  5. I absolutely love your style. I lean towards minimalist/simple decorations myself (I don’t like all the flashy/kitschy stuff and try to keep mostly neutral colors. And I’ve been very fond of these bottle brush trees (for some reason). I really love your decorations. Not too much and not too little. I also love displaying the Christmas cards (they usually go on our closet door in the living room. We got yours a few days ago, too. Thank you so much, for your sweet note as well! So happy we have ‘met’ this year.)

  6. I love all of your decorations! It is all very tasteful and elegant. I also love the way you slowly decorate throughout the month. I tend to very slowly decorate my apartment, only doing a few things at a time because doing it all at once is too overwhelming for me! Every year, I try to add a few more things to my decorations (this year, it was a wreath, an outside sign, and outdoor lights). Maybe one day I’ll become that crazy person with a decorated bathroom (the dreeeam, haha).

    1. I’ve seen lots of things that caught my eye in terms of new decorations…but I just can’t imagine storing much more!!
      And glad to hear someone else does the slow and steady decorating.

  7. I love the look of your house – I strive for that but with limited space (especially for storage) there is more out and visible than I would like.
    The pieces of wood that you painted are lovely! They are so simple but add so much. And, I like that you have the little tree in the basement, even if you don’t see it as frequently.
    I am not a decorator, as I indicated in another comment, but do appreciate seeing decorations like yours, something I’d aspire to in another life, perhaps. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I love the little tree too – though definitely didn’t appreciate it as much this year. When we moved into the house I tucked it into a corner by the TV, but my husband wasn’t a big fan (it did jut out into the way if you were sitting in a specific spot on the couch), so the last few years I goes over into the toy corner…but it means when I’m cuddled on the couch watching a Christmas movie I don’t get to see the tree. Maybe I can convince him for a different placement next year?!

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