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Holiday Decorating Update: What I’ve Learned Through the Zones Approach

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One of several decorated zones that wasn’t in the original plans… (though I’m particularly fond of those snowy pinecones — Nate and I made them using clear-drying glue and Epsom salts!)

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my holiday decorating plans, explaining how I was going to put up my decorations only in specific zones.

I added a note at the end of the post saying I’d update it later that weekend with photos because in my mind it was going to be that straightforward. Designate the zones, decorate the zones, done!

Well….not quite. The plan has been successful-ish, but I’ve also learned a few things that I want to share.

Holiday Decorating in Zones — What’s Working

Decorating is More Fun!

I’ll start with what’s working. This year, I thought through ahead of time how much effort I was willing to put into decorating. The result? I found decorating so much more fun and less overwhelming than in some previous years.

I confirmed I really don’t need decorations in every space in order to create an overall festive mood. For example, with our main floor’s open floor plan, I see the Christmas tree all the time when I’m in the kitchen. Which means I don’t miss holiday-themed dishtowels one iota.

I’m Getting Rid of Unused Decorations!

The zones plan has also made it easier to part with (some) decorations that no longer fit.

Case in point: we had several strings of functioning white lights that used to be for the Christmas tree. The boys prefer colorful lights and successfully convinced us to make the switch last year, so we didn’t need the white ones anymore.

Without the decorating-in-zones strategy, I’d have started brainstorming a new spot to hang them–along the railings on the front steps? Over the unused curtain rod in the dining room?

But because of my prior planning, I knew I wasn’t up for hanging more lights (clips, extension cords, remembering to turn them on/off or installing a timer…no, thank you). Instead, I listed those lights on my local Facebook Buy Nothing group and passed them on for someone else to enjoy.

Holiday Decorating in Zones – What’s NOT Working So Well

I Forgot All About the Kids’ Crafts.

When I hauled out the bins, I realized I’d forgotten about a lot of the kids’ stuff: two snow globes, including a homemade one; the snowman Evan made as part of the 12 Days of Winter projects in kindergarten (Nate is doing that same project this week now that he’s the kindergartner, so soon we’ll have a pair!); a cute photo of the boys on Santa’s lap in 2018.

I find it interesting that when making my decorating plans, I got swept up thinking about the conventionally beautiful things and overlooked the sentimental. If December isn’t the right time of year to have kid art and homemade projects on full display, I don’t know when is.

We Have More Decorations Than We Need….

Another disruption to my carefully laid plan was a bunch of items that I’ve acquired in recent years and didn’t recall until I opened the bins: some lanterns, faux miniature evergreen planters, a bunch of gnomes I display on a matching table runner made by my mom.

Whereas the white lights just sounded like a pain, I genuinely love a lot of this decor. However, judging by the fact that I had trouble figuring out where to put all of it, I know I need to pare down some more.

I told Evan and Nate that the two big gnomes are Mike and me and the three little ones are them and Bennett. They loved that. ๐Ÿ™‚

But I’ve decided that rather than being mad at myself for buying things I didn’t need, I’m going to celebrate that I now have a plan in place that will prevent future unnecessary purchases.

It doesn’t mean I never get to buy another Christmas or Hanukkah decoration again. It does mean I’m going to have a plan of exactly where that item will go and what it might replace before I do.

And I Forgot About the Art Gallery!

And last but not least, I’m not quite sure how I forgot to include the December art gallery in my original tabulation!

While it’s totally worth the effort, hanging up the drawings and deciding which ones we’ll keep from year to year–the ones below are mostly new with a couple from last year in the mix–is still work that needs to be accounted for.

So, in summary…my decorating zone count has officially doubled from seven to fourteen.


Maybe seven was a little on the stingy side, but fourteen different decorated places feels like I’ve gone overboard. Again.

But it’s okay. Some zones are super limited, like an Advent calendar that hangs in the hallway. More importantly, I’ve also learned how easy it is to acquire more stuff and more projects (=more work and more time!).

Going forward, I aim to be more intentional with my seasonal decorations, both in December as well as other times of year. I want to be discriminating in figuring out what adds joy and meaning, and what just adds more stuff.

Do you have certain strategies you use to keep your holiday decorating festive versus overwhelming? Here’s hoping your halls have been decked but not over-decked. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. I love the mantle! My kids have been upset with us for not having any outdoor decorations for years (many people un our neighborhood go all out). I haven’t been able to commit to outdoor decorations, but maybe I will add the window next year.

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