When it comes to the winter holiday season, cozying in asks of us to be inside our homes far more than we would be during the warmer months which is why our homes need to become a sanctuary inside which we love spending time.
Over the years my approach to how I decorate for Christmas, the New Year and the wintery weather has evolved, and this year I am excited to share with you 12 ways I have simplify, and at the same time curated decor that surrounds me and those who spend time in my home with warmth, comfort and an abundance of joy.
1.Save money and help the forest and go hunting for your holiday tree in the National or State Forest lands (check your permit for rules regarding where and what type of tree you can cut down).
Here in the Pacific Northwest, keeping the forest healthy can be a community effort, and cutting your tree during the holiday season (for only $5/permit) is a simple way to do so. Learn more here.
2. Elevate the tree
As someone who loves a tree all alight to illuminate the home during the short days of December, I also realize how many decorations are needed to decorate a large tree. And admittedly, getting down on my hands and knees to water the tree has never been easy as you try not disturb the decorations or pour water on the tree skirt.
Having the opportunity with my house having vaulted ceilings, I opted for a 5 1/2 foot tree and placed it on my pub table. All of my reasons listed above were resolved and I still had a tree that was quite grand as well as far easier to cut and bring back to the car.
You may remember I have explored with a variety of sizes for trees over the years (2018, 2016 (a very short and small tree), 2015, 2014, 2013, ), but this height seems to just be perfect – for the amount of ornaments and lights I have as well as my
3. Make natural ornaments
Simple is best when it looks as though it belongs, naturally so, when it comes to tree decorating. Adding hand-crafted decor items such as a string of popcorn, dried oranges or pinecones topped with a simple ribbon and jute string, the pinecones picked up on your own property (such as the case for me with a sole tree in my yard), or during a walk out in the woods, adds depth and dimensions without excess.
Last weekend, inspired by the many different ideas my mother as donned on her own tree, I gathered up a basket of pinecones, set them by the fire for a morning to dry and then using a hot glue gun, attached jute string to the top of the cone, let it dry and then made a bow out of ribbon and hot glued the bow to the top of the pinecone. In fewer than 30 minutes I had a new set of decorations.
4. Hang decorations which hold memories of love, celebration and your journey
As you may have noticed from my previous trees over the years, I primarily hung glittery ribbon and shiny stars and delicate balls; however, each year I had personalized ornaments from my childhood and handmade ornaments from my maternal grandmother. Sometimes it takes us time to understand or know how to decorate in such a way that truly fits with who we are. I don’t begrudge how I decorate during those year. I had fun exploring and trying new ideas that caught my eye, and perhaps in the future my preferences will change again. However, this year and for the foreseeable future, I want my tree to feel good (priority #1) and then look good (priority #2).
So this year I have hung the handmade pinecone ornaments that symbolize the home I have the opportunity to call my own, ornaments that were handmade by my grandmother, ornaments from my childhood given to me each year by my parents and given to me by my grandparents, as well as now one new ornament from the life journey given to myself each year. This year, it is the copper teapot (brought to my attention by TSLL reader Molly, thank you so very much!). A tree that is certainly signature and makes me smile each time I see it throughout the day.
5. Selectively or elect to not have a tree topper
Similar to my journey in decorating shared above, often my tree topper would be a generic star that I picked up at the local craft store to match the other generic details that adorned the tree. However, after much thought, this year I elected to not have a tree topper, donate my old ones and instead, on the highest branch place a papillon ornament which speaks to the name I have given my home symbolizing something meaningful to me and the journey I am on.
Again, your choice to top or not top, and if so, with what, will be unique to you, so that each time you look up, you too smile and are either inspired, comforted about the life you have lived, have the opportunity to live and hope to live moving forward.
6. Utilize small copper or metal baking dishes as candle holders.
I recently was inspired by a fellow recipient of Sharon Santoni’s My Stylish French Box when I saw she used her canelé molds (received in the first Dans Ma Cuisine themed box – the next one will be her next box! Reserve yours now before they sell out – if it is anything like the previous one, you will not be disappointed). As I do not make canelés very often (okay, I have yet to make them for myself – but it’s on my list to try!), I wanted to use the molds somehow as they are simply beautiful.
However, admittedly, copper canelé molds are not cheap, so another alternative is to use brioche molds. Often silver in color, they are unique in their tulip edge design and provide lovely light reflection.
Then simply stock up on tea lights (purchase 50 for $7), buying in bulk and purchasing candles in tin rounds so the wax doesn’t melt into the molds.
Brioche molds (four different sizes)
7. Use the trimmed boughs from the tree as decor placed about the home
8. Choose green, your preferred shade of green, as your accent color instead of red.
Granted, each of us will have a preferred color we want to adorn our homes with to signify and celebrate the winter holiday season, and the choice of green, a soft sage green is mine. However, it did not used to be, which demonstrates that our tastes certainly do change.
Part of the reason I prefer, and have unconsciously preferred sage or the under-side-of-an-olive-leaf green (as Patricia Wells described) is because it spans beyond Christmas and into the new year, and as I grow older I especially enjoy the final two weeks of the year and the first week of the new year, and I want my home decor to look fresh rather than bright. Now if red had been my year-round decor color, perhaps it would be too much for my aesthetic taste, but I typically use muted neutral hues, so the red is a bit intense for me, and so the green was chosen for my ornaments’ ribbon and other ribbons used with decor about the home. Choosing green or one primarily color does not mean we cannot welcome others into our plan, but it certainly helps with coordinating and unifying the decor ideas (as well as shopping each year should we wish to add or replace anything).
9. Make your own unique garland
Mix faux and fresh, twist multiple garlands into one large garland, add small white garland lights and replace the fresh boughs when they have dried with new ones. As well, add dried herbs you have kept from your garden to add delicious scent and John’s Wort or Eucalyptus to add a unique and different texture.
10. Hygge it up
Candles, candles and more candles. A home illuminated with candles, and not because of a power outage, is a beautiful, welcoming and calming place to be. Don’t be afraid to keep one or two electric table lamps on as well if all candles may be too overwhelming, but having enjoyed an evening over the weekend in which the afternoon began to drift into evening and daylight disappeared, the tea candles were lit as well as the tree, and the house just felt as though it was one big hug (oh, and Charlie Brown’s Christmas soundtrack was also playing, which made it all the more lovely :)).
~An Episode to Listen To: Hygge Phenomenon and Living Simply Luxuriously, episode #148
11. Save money and use the same white outdoor bulb lights used during the summer season while dining al fresco in the late evenings.
12. Reduce, reorganize and donate holiday decor for simpler decorating next year
I shared in the most recent TSLL Weekly Newsletter, letter from the editor, that last weekend I took the time to go through all of my winter holiday decor. The result was one fewer boxes of stuff, donating perfectly fine decor that I no longer used or wanted to the local donation center and freeing up storage space, as well as clearly labeling what I have so I know where to find it next year. What a liberating feeling, especially since I became more clear about how I wanted to decorate my home and what no longer was part of my decor aesthetic.
Decorating simply will differ depending upon how you have decorated in previous years and what brings you comfort, as well as joy. As we become ever more thoughtful about how and why we decorate the way we do, the winter holiday season will become infused even more deeply with appreciation and deep, true contentment as we celebrate and gather with those we love. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and best wishes for the upcoming new year tout le monde.
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