I love the holidays but what I DON’T love is to spend lots of time putting up decorations that will not be there more than a month. That’s why I try to keep my decorating to a minimum. As far as I’m concerned, an hour or two is all it should take. More than that and I will become impatient.
I know there are many of you who would love to spend the afternoon creating cute tabletop displays or seasonal swags for the fireplace mantle. I admire and appreciate your efforts when I am invited over for tea and snacks. I, however, am built differently. It’s the practical engineering side of me peeking out between the holiday good cheer.
Of course I like my home to look festive during the holidays but I have a definite limit on how much time I want to spend putting it up. My goal is to spend about an hour decorating the home. So what’s my plan? Here’s the basics:
Buy Decorations All Year
One of the happy memories of my years as a teen and single woman was going to the post-Christmas sales with my mother every years. Even my father was in on the act. Not long after opening all our presents, Mother and I would grab the sale papers and huddle together at the dining table. As we would plan our attack, Dad would retreat with a slice of pie to a safe spot in front of the TV. We were post-Christmas sale ninjas, able to hit several stores in a mere two hours, purchasing at rock-bottom prices for next year.
That’s not the only time I would buy holiday decorations. Whenever I was in a thrift shop or at a garage sale, I’d keep my eyes out for holiday bargains. One of our favorite things is a set of four ceramic letters (with holes on the top for candles) that spell N-O-E-L. It’s part of our Christmas tradition that at least once while they’re on display my husband will sneak into the living room and rearrange them to say L-E-O-N. Anyone who knows him will understand this odd behavior.
Have a Storage Bin for Each Season
For each season – spring, summer, fall, holiday – I have a large plastic storage bin. Ideally the bin is in an appropriate color (pink for spring, blue for summer) so that I don’t have too much trouble finding it in the dark recesses of the garage. Slowly over the years I have accumulated fun, easy to install decorations. The items stored in the bin stay dust-free, rarely break, and are on hand when the urge to decorate hits.
My Decorating Blitzkrieg
Then comes the day (or really the hour) when I am prepared to decorate. The appropriate bin comes in from the garage and I start flinging things around.
Well, it’s not quite that wild and crazy. First I change tablecloths, pillows, and table runners to something appropriate. Then I deploy swags and garlands in relatively safe places – over the fireplace, framing a doorway, wound around wire shelving. Lastly I put out the do-dads like that ceramic N-O-E-L my husband enjoys. Elapsed time: 60-90 minutes.
The Moral of the Story Is…
It doesn’t take much to be a little festive for the holidays. This is especially true this year when we have been hit with one thing after another, turning our lives upside down. It’s time like these that items like those N-O-E-L ceramics become a touchstone of home and comfort.
Sure, you can create all sorts of decorations that would make Martha Steward proud but is that really necessary? If I were you, I’d spend more time enjoying the company of family and friends – even if that is via Zoom. That will give you holiday memories long after the do-dads have been packed away for another year.