The Most Important Step in Holiday Decorating
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Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving with loved ones!
This morning I started taking down all our fall decorations in preparation for a Christmas and Hanukkah decorating extravaganza later this weekend. I was a little sad to dismantle our thankfulness wall, but saved some of my favorite entries, ones that feel particular to November 2021, like “Bennett on a nap schedule!” (me) and “Art Hub for Kids” (Nate – he’s obsessed; we go through a looooooooot of paper these days).
Now we’re planning when we’ll go pick out a tree and break out the red and green bins. I’m excited to turn on the holiday music and watch the boys get ridiculously giddy as we start all our December traditions. But before we get to any of that, I’m focusing on what I’ve figured out is the most important step in holiday decorating–defining zones.
By zones, I mean specific areas of our house. Not semi-specific areas like “living room,” but very specific ones like “the tray on the coffee table.”
Let me back up a minute. Until last year, the approach I took to Christmas decorating was, shall we say, haphazard. Christmas dishtowels? Sure! Another red candle? Sounds great! One more little gnome? They’re adorable, I’ll get two!
While this method resulted in lots of holiday decorations I genuinely enjoy, I never knew quite when to say “enough.” The way we celebrate Christmas in our culture basically says, “Enough? You can never have too much Christmas! Now go on, buy another reindeer figurine already!” Except that when you have to pack up your normal decorations to make room for all the Christmas decor, and you have to figure out where to put those last couple gnomes even after already juggling stuff around on the bookshelf, and you have to accept that the special dishtowels just stay out year round now because getting them laundered in time to go back into the bins never happened last year, it’s clear that there can definitely be too much Christmas. Somewhere over the years my decorating definitely crossed the line from festive to frenzied.
But last December I was forced to think about how much I wanted to take on. We were nine months into the pandemic and three months into Evan attending first grade online (in case you’re wondering, first graders do not excel at self-directed learning). I also happened to be six months pregnant. In summary, I felt very depleted, and that was before I got started with any holiday prep whatsoever. I realized that while I still wanted a magical, festive feeling in our house, it had to be on a manageable scale or I would collapse like an over-gumdropped gingerbread house.
That’s how the decorating zones idea came about. I’ve found that having discrete spots to focus my efforts makes decorating way more fun and way less overwhelming. This year, I’ve defined my zones as the front steps/door, the corner of the living room where we put up our tree, the coffee table, the mantle, the dining room table, and the side of the cupboard where we hang Christmas cards. And with the joy of seeing broken Mr. Bones and his ghoul friend whenever I came home still a fresh memory, I’m going to add one more zone this year by attempting to string up some lights in our front window.
I just counted them up and that’s six zones. Depending on your own decorating m.o., that might sound like a lot or like not much at all. For me, I love knowing we’ll have plenty of festive spirit flowing from the outside of the house and in the living room and dining room, but that our entryway, kitchen, hallway, bathrooms, bedrooms, and basement will not contain so much as a single Santa figure.
This year, I encourage you to decide how much decorating is not just doable, but joyfully doable. If you’re someone who LOVES putting up a big light display and adding a Christmas tree to every floor of your house, by no means let me stand in your way! But if either the decorating or undecorating (because remember, that’s part of it, too, come January!) has left you feeling overwhelmed in recent years, consider this your formal permission to scale back and focus.
I’ll update this post with photos of our decked-out
house zones later this weekend. Happy Decorating!