The Plan for Holiday Decorations

I was talking with someone the other day about the things that make our houses (or spaces, like the work cubicle) feel like home (or homey if it is work, which shouldn’t be home, but you are still there a lot so you should like your space).

There seem to be some very common characteristics that make us feel at home and then there are some very different nesting traditions that folks have and it is interesting to compare them.

My friend was all about scents so burning candles is very important in her nesting routine. I like a good scented candle, but after growing up with brothers and having so many dogs, I probably don’t automatically associate good smells with home. I bet you all want to come over now.

I do associate good food smells with home though. I think a lot of us do. Meals weren’t necessarily a big event in my home growing up but it was a nice time when we got together and smelling a meal cooking implies a pleasant future event to me. We are getting together and I enjoy anticipating that.

I don’t normally do a lot of decorating for the Christmas holidays because I have always gone away to family so it didn’t make sense to do a ton of decorating since I wasn’t coming home until after the new year.

Past decorations – very simple, very lean.

This year, since the grandparents can’t travel anymore, the whole family will be here. I’m going to be properly decorating for the first time since I’ve moved into this home. Heck, for the first time in nearly 20 years. I kind of don’t even know where to begin!

Since the design options are endless (seriously, I can get lost in ideas and never get anything accomplished), I decided I’d start from the position of feeling rather than visual. I can build the visual based on the emotional inspiration.

The funds are extremely limited this year so creative planning is what is going to make the magic happen.

Last year’s frugal decoration. Inexpensive balls from Big Lots in a glass container. A little sparkle can go a long way when you have few decorations.

Breaking down my emotional inspiration, I find there are four areas of focus:

  • Good food smells
  • Lighting
  • Vignettes
  • Comfort

Good food smells + busy schedule is going to call for the slow cooker I think. I’m a big fan of the slow cooker but they really prove their worth during the holidays. Slow cooking meals is a great strategy for cost savings too so I’m calling this idea a win-win. I’ve started collecting recipes to make over the holidays, including beverages (pumpkin chai tea? yes please!). I’ll feed guests and stock pile frozen meals at the same time.

Because slow cookers are so flexible, I can stick to buying what is on special at the store. My main financial output is going to be on acquiring some more gallon freezer bags.

Lighting goes a long way in making a space feel intimate and inviting. My house tends to be quite dim and during the winter, when we have so little sunlight, it is downright dark. I always put lights on the outside of the house because having those on when I leave in the morning and come home from work at night is practically a necessity.

In the evenings, I’m going through each room and identifying the dark, depressing corners. Because I’m going for soft, atmospheric light, I’ll round up all my battery candles and utilize them around the house. There is a set on sale at Costco right now with a remote control. It’s tempting to grab one of those for ease of use but since I’m avoiding costs when possible, that may not be a solution. I could also use a few lamps here and there so I’ll check out my local thrift stores. We may have some lamp projects in the next couple of weeks.

Vignettes – I love having little stand-alone spaces in a room. This is an easy way to provide that cozy intimacy in a room. In the bigger rooms, I’m breaking up the room into four corners with a focus point in the middle. Each corner will be a vignette. In the smaller room, I’ll build the vignette around the focal point. For example, in the family room, the focal point is the fireplace and mantle.

I’m not sure I have enough decorations for proper holiday vignettes. This is where I’ll be relying on nature elements such as greenery and pine cones. Rather than holiday-specific items, sparkly items and rustic pieces should bring a holiday feeling to the vignettes.

Comfort – Pillows, throw rugs, and lap blankets are a few things that can cozy up a spot. I want people to come in and feel at ease enough to curl up with a cup of tea or cocoa and read or nap. For me, comfort is about texture as well as access. In cold weather, I like to be surrounded with flannel, corduroy, fleece, and wool. Scarlet will be our quality control in this department because everyone knows kitties are the best judges of comfort, although greyhounds run a close second. I’m lucky I have such a skilled staff.

Do you have a standard plan and tradition for holiday decorating? What makes your space feel cozy and holiday-ready?

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