This weekend launched the most popular time to decorate for Christmas, and a quick drive around our area will confirm that. Trees are decorated, storefronts are filled with red packages tied with gold bows, and the spirit of Christmas is in the air.
Even my friends of different faiths embrace this holiday, as it brings with it the universal ideals of peace, hope, and love. There’s just something about Christmas that makes us feel comfort and joy, and this year, it seems, people are rushing into it headfirst. As we near the end of arguably the most painful and trying year most of us have experienced, the faster we can usher in a little joy, the better.
So be sure to keep this a positive time by making your traditions as stress-free as possible. As you put up your decorations, follow these tips to maximize your enjoyment and minimize your stress.
- Use what you already have. Rather than searching for places to store your décor and replacing it with Christmas trinkets, keep what you have and work with it. That tray in the middle of your coffee table? Fill it with pinecones, candles, and colorful balls. The log holder beside your fireplace can be updated by tying a colorful Christmas ribbon around the bundle of logs. Look at what you have, and get creative with it.
- Use the same pieces, but change what is inside them. The bathroom bowl of potpourri? Keep the bowl and simply swap out the scents and colors as each season changes, for instance, stashing the fall potpourri in a freezer bag until next year. Add red, green, and gold, and that one piece turns from fall to winter in a snap.
- Personalize your decorations. One of my new favorite ways to decorate is by using family photos from past holidays. I use the exact same frames and rotate the photos per season. In the fall, they featured my husband and me dressed in various costumes from Halloweens past. This weekend, I replaced the photos with family Christmas pictures, including family that is no longer with us. As I sit on my couch, I gaze at the pictures and am reminded of the joy we shared and the closeness of my family. They are my favorite “decorations” in the house. The same goes for ornaments made when our children were young, most notably the lightbulb painted green and turned into the Grinch. It’s old and it’s ratty, but every time I hang it on the tree, I smile.
- Keep your decorations minimal. Every nook and cranny need not be decorated. When you give yourself permission to minimize the clutter, it’s amazing how much less stressful decorating becomes. One big piece that makes a statement is often a better choice than 20 small knickknacks, and takes 1/20th of the time, both to set up and to clean! A wreath next to a trio of candlesticks is elegant and requires nothing else. A nativity scene or creche placed under the tree or on an end table is easy to set up and is a beautiful reminder of what we are really celebrating during this time.
- Turn your holiday activities into decorations. How, you ask? Think about everything you do with your family and friends during this time. We already talked about picture taking that can later become a decoration. But let’s extend that to your other activities. Gingerbread houses: fun to build together, great to decorate your kitchen when you’re done. Christmas cards: fantastic to receive, wonderful to hang or prop up as a visual reminder of friends and family who are far away. Christmas cookies that you baked with your kids become a cozy and warm welcome to anyone who visits. Just display on a Christmas platter and voila! You get the picture. Take something you are already doing and repurpose it into a DIY decoration.
Have any ideas of your own? How do you minimize stress in your holiday decorating? Be sure to share your unique ideas with us. The goal is to erase the stress over things that don’t really matter so we can concentrate on what really does – the celebration of our Lord’s birth, the love, and togetherness of family, and as the song says, peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.