Decor and More: Christmas and Holidays

Hello Readers!  Happy Family Day!  I don’t know about any of you, but I have been up for hours already!  Today marks the end of the Fall festivities and the beginning of the Christmas season.  And, if you are anything like me, you have already been out shopping during the fantastic Black Friday deals!  But, today I want to talk about about decorating for the holidays.

Normally, I would begin my Christmas decorating today because this is typically the day on which my family and I would decorate the house for the holiday.  However, today marks a special day for us as we are spending time with our families and attending the Polar Express tonight.  And since we have a birthday celebration this weekend that we will attend, I will be decorating our house on Monday instead.  However, today I want to cover what decor I choose to display in my home.

The Tree.  This is an obvious choice, but it can also be the Menorah for Hanukkah or the Karumu for Kwanzaa or the centerpiece of your decor for your holidays.  In our house it will be the typical Christmas tree.  A few years ago my mom purchased a six foot tree for me with built in lights that comes together easily, so that’s my tree of choice.  It takes a little time to set up and assemble, but then it’s done and ready.

Now the ornaments are special.  Over the years, my family always celebrated by having us each pick out our ornament every year.  My mom would carefully write our names and the year on each ornament, and they were always carefully wrapped and placed in our ornament collection each year.  When I finally moved into a place of my own, my mom gave me my ornaments from my childhood.  Each one was hand picked by me as I grew up, so they all mean something special to me.  Last year, my mother in law gave me all of my husband’s ornaments for our tree, so now we have a full collection of ornaments.  And we have started with our son Sean’s collection, too.  So, the ornaments are all memories of our childhoods.

If you don’t have a collection like this, I highly recommend either starting one or choose a theme that suits you.  Not every tree has to be a collection of ornaments like this.  For example, my sister typically has two trees: one for her family and one for decor.  The one for her family contains their personal ornaments and is housed in their family den.  The one for decor is typically a themed one and is housed in the formal living room.  This is fairly easy to do since most boxes of matching ornaments cost around $10.  She ended up with two trees–one from our mom and one from her in laws–a few years ago, and this was her solution to having both.  Each year, she either buys a new set of ornaments to grace her tree or she uses her previous ones to create a unified look.  She also tends to keep her non-family gifts under the decor tree in order to keep them separate from her family gifts.  This means that she doesn’t have to search for gifts for people during the seasons and gifts aren’t forgotten.  If you have the space to do something like this, I highly recommend doing so as it will make your home look even more festive and fun.  Best of all, you can ensure that your family traditions are still upheld in your family space while creating a warm and inviting space for your guests.

Advent Calendar.  This one will be new in my house as Sean will finally be old enough to begin enjoying the holidays whereas last year he was barely four months old.  But the Advent Calendar was key in my household growing up, and it was a fond memory for both myself and my husband with his own family.  This, of course, can be done in different ways.  You can buy a standard one or you can splurge on a more expensive one.  Or, you can create one that’s less traditional.  For me, I’m doing a paper chain calendar this year with activities for the holidays rather than just having chocolate.  My mother and I have plans this coming year to make a quilted Advent Calendar for future use out of fabric from my childhood, and I can’t wait to get started on that.

For now, however, I’m planning on creating a calendar out of construction paper with simple holiday tasks on each chain, such as “Drink Hot Cocoa”, “Take a Drive through Neighborhood Lights”, “Go for a Walk through the Summit (outdoor) Mall”, “Visit Santa” and the like.  While I plan to continue this trend as Sean gets older, for now I plan to stick to simple tasks that we can enjoy any day of the month.  However, I will eventually plan on doing events like “Build a Snowman” as he gets older.  If you wish to do something similar, please keep in mind that your tasks may not be easily planned due to weather constraints.  On your day to visit Santa you may have a large storm that prevents you from leaving home.  If that’s the case, have a couple of back up tasks ready to go (like “Color a picture for Santa” or “Make paper snowflakes”) ready to go and switch them out.  Keep your original task handy for a later day, but still plan on having a back up.  If you want to do a paper chain like me, stick to homebound tasks like the ones mentioned above and keep them simple.  Making Gingerbread houses, doing holiday arts and crafts, and making Christmas treats and gifts are always wonderful ideas for the Advent Calendar.

If you don’t celebrate the Advent Calendar or the countdown to Christmas, why not add something similar to your own holiday traditions?  You can do a Hanukkah countdown with Hanukkah-centered activities for your children, such as “Play the Dreidel spin”, “Make Latkes”, and “Read the Story of the Miracle of the Oil”.  This helps children learn their own history and traditions as well as makes the holiday special and fun.

Garland.  I love draping garlands!  Making them from popcorn is always fun, and kids love being able to sneak a bit of popcorn while making these, so this is a tradition I will uphold in my own home.  But I also love to have an evergreen garland on the fireplace mantle.  Unfortunately for us, our fireplace is built into the wall and there is no mantle, but this can easily be remedied by tacking it to the wall above the garland.  I love this garland because, with some clothespins or decorative clips, holiday cards can be attached to the garland for display purposes.  Furthermore, these garlands always add a festive flair to the mantle, along with the traditional stockings on their hooks.

Again, while you may not celebrate Christmas, the traditional garland can still be used in your own home for the different holidays.  It still adds a winter touch and pleasant scent to any home during the colder months, and it can tie into your own celebrations by displaying cards for the different holidays among the needles with clothespins or festive clips.  It is a creative and fun way to share your cards with your guests.

Nativity Set/Decorative Sets.  I rarely see these anymore, but they were always important in our household as I grew up.  In fact, my mother has four different Nativity sets.  A few years ago, she gave me one set that I had loved as a child, and that set still graces my living room every Christmas.  You can sometimes find these in Christian bookstores or in select stores, but they are becoming less common in retail stores.  Still, I like to display mine.

Now, another optional set to display would be a Christmas Village.  My mother in law always displays her village, and it’s always a delightful sight for guests and children.  They can be expensive, so keep that in mind when looking for one, but they are always fun for the holidays and they display a perfect Christmas world for people to admire.  You can also display a train set at this time.  My dad had grown up with a train set around the tree base every year, and he brought that tradition to our own home.  So, I would also recommend a train set for your home if you want something besides a Nativity set or Christmas Village.  Other options are a festive Menorah, Karumu, Candle Pillars, Decorative giant ornaments, and more.  Whatever the case, something whimsical for your celebrations is always a bonus feature.

And these are just a couple of the traditional decor elements I plan to have around my own home this year.  What sort of decor graces your own home each year?  I would love to year from you!

Until next time,

-BBM

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