Holiday Home Tour 2016

To listen to an audio version of this post, click here.

OK, first of all I am using the phrase “holiday home tour” very, very loosely. I am considering this year as a planning period for my Christmas decorations, so, in this post I am exploring some of my thoughts on the topic with a few pictures sprinkled in to give an idea of where I am now and why I’m not thrilled. In my next post I’ll be looking at some specific decor items I’m considering for next Christmas. I don’t love a lot of what I have right now, but I am excited to be figuring out why and where to go from here!


Growing up, I assumed that everyone else’s Christmas tree looked similar to ours. I knew some people preferred live trees or colored lights, but I thought everyone decorated their trees with a similar disregard for style/decor “rules”. Our ornaments were always the same every year with a few additions each Christmas. Our tree had lots of different colors and types of ornaments – things like brass rocking horses, delicate crystal hearts, lots of glass balls in a bunch of colors all right next to clothespin reindeer, porcelain cats, stuffed monkeys with Santa hats and my big red Winnie-the-Pooh bell. It was clearly a mixture of our family’s interests/hobbies and most ornaments held a memory or at least made someone smile. Growing up, I loved my tree and thought it was perfect… until I saw my mother-in-law’s.


Any time I look at Christmas trees in a magazine they are always instantly, crowd-pleasingly, gorgeous with a specific color palette, tons of ornaments, garland and picks, a matching tree topper and a skirt topped with beautifully wrapped presents. The whole image gives an overall feeling of the “perfect Christmas morning” with an adorable little family in matching PJs happily opening presents, smiling and drinking hot cocoa by a roaring fire, while it gently snows outside the windows… that, was my mother-in-law’s tree. Every year, I couldn’t help but compare it to my family’s tree and ours always seemed a little lame – though I did love that it was distinctly ours. I decided that when I had my own tree, I would try to recreate that feeling that my mother-in-law had, but still make it uniquely my own and my family’s.


The reason I’ve only mentioned Christmas trees and no other holiday decorations is because I didn’t grow up with a lot of them (simply because my mom doesn’t like a bunch of stuff everywhere). Our Christmas decorations that weren’t on the tree consisted of maybe 6 red candles and some potpourri in the living room, a snow globe (that played “You better watch out” that I listened to while falling asleep every night), a wreath on the front door and a handful of items I don’t remember. Again, I thought everyone did this – focused their decorations on the tree – until I saw my mother-in-law’s house. At her house, many regular items (soap dispensers, pillows, towels, and even art) are switched out for Christmas. Her decorations aren’t just in the living room either, she has stuff in the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and just about everywhere else.


When I got married, I had already had 8 Christmas’ with my husband and in my mind, by removing him from that very Christmas-y home, I was taking a big piece of Christmas from him (that thought didn’t cross his mind by the way). Therefore, I was determined to decorate our first home together as much as possible for Christmas so he wouldn’t miss anything. When the time came to actually do that, I had only been married for about 3 months. Although I wanted that super Christmas-y feeling for him, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I made do with some of our childhood ornaments, goodwill finds and lots of colored glass balls from the dollar store. Just about every surface of our 1-bedroom apartment was covered with paper snowflakes, chippy porcelain houses, a felt snowman countdown, red and brown plaid placemats, a Christmas owl cookie jar, penguin hand towels, paint swatch Christmas trees, holiday themed pillows and more and more and more (looking back at pictures is actively stressful, lol). There’s was so much stuff and none of it went together or with my regular decorations… but, thankfully, for that year I was oblivious and happy.


The next Christmas, I had moved into my first house six months prior and I had been focused on updating it that entire time. Many things in my home were original to the ’94 house, but I could see where the previous owners had halfheartedly attempted to personalize bits and pieces. For example, we had over 7 different types of doorknobs and almost as many different types of switch plates. After focusing my attention so much on personalizing my home and trying to make it feel cohesive, light, bright, and new, I really wanted to do the same with my Christmas decorations.

So, for the past 4 years I have slowly been weeding out the things I don’t actually like but had purchased for the sake of “saving Christmas.” I have realized that I love my original family Christmas tree for all the memories and nostalgia, but I also love my mother-in-law’s way of decorating for the season, so I have to find a way to marry (ha ha) those two ideas together.


Over the past few years, I have learned that having Christmas decorations is inevitably going to stress me out because it feels like visual clutter (I don’t like a lot of stuff), but I can make it a little less busy looking by choosing holiday items that are cohesive with the colors in the rest of my home. In addition, I now know, that not only do I not need to make every surface Christmas-y to make it feel festive, I don’t like it when I do. I want fewer decorations, but I want to really love the ones I have. It’s a little tricky to keep it simple while still making it look finished (aka not dinky) so I’ll have to figure that out – not my strong suit. In my next post I’ll be looking at some Christmas decorations that I’ve pinned for next year!



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