I've begun the process of decking my halls for the holidays. In the past, I knocked it out in 3-4 days shortly after Thanksgiving, but this year I've been slowly adding things since November 1st. Yes, the turkeys and cornucopias are still out and ready for turkey day, but Christmas is making its presence known. I've enjoyed decorating at a slow and steady pace, and know it will alleviate some of the pressure in the not so distant future. Besides that, it's made my heart happy, and I'm working on keeping "wonder" in my life. (see past post on the tea towel) I've learned a few things over the years about decking halls, and felt compelled to share some advice, most of which came to me by my own stupid mistakes. Hopefully this will save you some headaches. You're welcome.
First, let me state for the record that I am no expert on decorating. I've been blessed with a momma who passed down many gems and tricks of the trade, but I don't do this for a living. I've never received a degree in interior design. I'm a wife and a mom who has quirky creativity and tends to go all out for any holiday. I draw from decades of triumphs and failures, and I'm not too proud to expose my flops, so surely my missteps could assist a beginner. If you want expert advice, seek out a professional such as Jennifer Riley or Donnie Sasser. They do this for a living and will hopefully add a few tidbits of knowledge in the comment section (hint, hint), but more on them later. For now, you're stuck with me. Buckle in people, here we go....
*Please invest in at least 'middle of the road' quality. It will save you money in the long run. The cheap garland will break instead of bend, and the loss of needles will leave you with ugly, naked holes. The extra sweeping and vacuuming of said needles will also drive you up the wall, so save yourself some stress and spend the extra $10. You'll thank me later.
*For the love of God, fluff your greenery! Being lazy is no excuse for flat greenery. If you're going to the trouble of hanging it in your home, don't skip this important step. Ornaments and bows cannot camouflage nasty greenery.
*Garland is bendable for a reason. You can make it lay the way you want it to lay. Don't have an end sticking out all cattywampus because you didn't bend it down. It could impale someone for crying out loud! However, if you did not invest in the decent greenery, it just might break. (See the first section on greenery)
*Please hide your plugs that are on the end of string lights. You can tuck them behind garland easily, and twist a branch around them to keep them in place. And by all means, cut off the unsightly tags! There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about those huge tags on the end of lights. I've never read a single one of those tags, they have never assisted me in using the lights, and I don't believe it's against any law to remove them. If you think you might need them, keep them in a drawer if it makes you feel better. Just get them out of sight.
*Wrap your lights from the "trunk to the tips" on trees. Adorning only the tips of the branches might be easier, but it's just not pretty. It looks weird, and not in a wonderful way. Lights and decorations must have depth. Yes, you may get a few scratches on your hands, but the outcome will be worth it, I promise. No pain, no gain.
*One little strand of garland with no lights and only two tiny red bows on each corner is not worth hanging. Don't waste your time. It will be depressing for you and your guests. You will constantly beat yourself up for not finishing, or not having creativity. Instead, devote your efforts towards something you can make fabulous. It will bring you joy.
*Only display the things you love. Sometimes less is more if the more is less than fantastic. (Say that three times fast.) Bottom line: you don't have to put things out just because your third cousin twice removed gave it to you for a wedding gift seven years ago. If it's ugly, get rid of it. Period.
Now if the mere sight of tangled lights sends you hyperventilating and running for a paper bag, you might want to seek professional help. I mentioned two such geniuses, Jennifer and Donnie. It is worth the money to pay someone to create your vision if the idea of trimming a tree brings on an urge to self medicate. In fact, they will create something better than you imagined! You can justify the cost by all the money you'll save on medical expenses or "medication" brought on from trying to do it yourself, and you'll be in a much better mood for your loved ones. That's a win-win! Besides that, they're super fun people that you'll love having around, even for a little while. If you know others that are creatively blessed and take Christmas bookings, feel free to list them in the comments. Including a picture of their work or a link to their website would be a nice touch. Let's keep the decorating challenged folks from a breakdown this year and get them the help they need to enjoy this magical season.
If you're in my category of "creatively crazy enough to love it", then forge ahead! Pinterest has a plethora of ideas to give inspiration. Put on some Christmas music, cozy up under a blanket, browse the site and be inspired! Most of all, have fun! Change it up a little. Don't do the exact same thing in every corner of your home this year. Keep your traditions, but allow yourself a little room to play. It activates the child in us, and that will bring on the wonder. My holiday theme for this year is, "be filled with wonder." Not just in decor, but in life. So get cracking, and enjoy making your home magical, so matter how simple or grand!
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