Deck the Halls . . . or not.
We’re still a good ways away from Thanksgiving and it feels like the middle of the post-Christmas sale in most stores. Your Halloween decorations are still up or are sitting somewhere inconvenient in the middle of your house waiting to be put away. But . . . you are putting it off because you know the next thing to come out of your storage hidey-hole will be Christmas decorations.
Let’s face it, snow or no snow, it’s too early for Christmas decorations. (The folks across the street? Who never took their decorations down last year and are now re-lighting last year’s decorations? They are cheaters! LOL!) Sorry if I sound bitter. But, someone has to speak out.
Don’t Let Those Holiday Magazines Fool You!
Holidays should be allowed to unfold in their own time. December is almost here. You’re seeing the magazines and online advertisements with their insane decorations and insane recipes. Remember that these are NOT real. No one’s food looks that pretty. No one’s house looks that festive/rustic/romantic. EVER. You are real. Your family is real. Your holiday should be real. Real is good for so many reasons.
The biggest reason to love “real” is because you can do it and be festive and make your home inviting without having to race around whisper-screaming “Don’t touch that!!!!!” or putting your kids into a playpen until January 2.
Here are ten suggestions for decorating like a “real” person this year. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that your kids will not be small forever. There will be time to unleash your inner Martha Stewart later. I’m not sure how much later, three of my kids are “technically” adults and they managed to knock the tree over last year but I’m thinking my year might be coming soon. Make your decorations fun, kid-friendly and spend your time enjoying the season.
- THE RULE: You should never decorate so early that you have to dust, shine or replace a dead decoration. When the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone – feel free to break out Christmas.
- THE TREE: If you have multiple young children (under 5) adopt the tradition of decorating the tree AFTER the kids have gone to bed on Christmas Eve. It’s up to you whether you want to put the tree up a week or so before with or without lights – just don’t decorate it. The children aren’t old enough to expect a tree so they won’t miss it. If they do ask, just say they’ll see it on Christmas morning with no further elaboration. Their faces on Christmas morning are amazing! When you are dealing with preschoolers and young elementary aged kids, shift to decorating the tree on Christmas Eve. It keeps them busy and contained. Finally, be realistic. Unless you hide your children from your friends and family, everyone visiting your house knows you have kids. They will understand the giant clump of plastic ornaments hanging at short people height with all the grown up ornaments just out of reach. They will understand why you have tethered the tree to the corner walls.
- THE BATHROOM: I recently saw a suggestion on a big website for decorating your bathroom. They urged readers to buy a clear plastic shower curtain and hot glue Christmas bulbs all over it before hanging it up. I have been laughing ever since! Decorating your bathroom is an insane suggestion if you have little kids. Don’t provide them with new things to flush. Buy a couple of decorative bars of green soap and call it good. (I’ll wait while you check that off your list.)
- THE BEDROOM: Lately magazine and websites are showing kids’ bedrooms fully decorated for Christmas. Ummm . . . no. Unless your children are old enough to get their decorations down, string their own lights and then put it all away again after Christmas, this is a waste of your time. It just feeds the frenzy. If your own bedroom is anything like mine, it becomes a catchall for miscellaneous holiday debris in December. Do like I do, call that decorating and cross it off of your list. If you have a guest room and are expecting guests, get crazy and stick a poinsettia on the night stand.
- THE KITCHEN: Decorating your kitchen is entirely dependent on your kitchen and how you use it. If you have a small kitchen and spend most evenings with your entire family squashed in with you while you cook dinner I’m going to vote no on big decorating. Put up an advent calendar – preferably one that does not cause your children to beat each other up over whose day it is to get the prize and clear the front of your fridge for Christmas cards.If your kitchen is eat-in sized or larger, fill a pretty wooden or plastic bowl with plastic ornaments (they’re actually some very nice ones available just about everywhere) as a centerpiece. You want your table to be easy to clear for eating dinner and/or for any baking you might be doing. All you really need in your kitchen is a nod to the holidays. Remember the rule, you should never have to dust your Christmas decorations!
- THE ROOM WHERE YOU PUT YOUR TREE: Living room or family room, this is the place to add some fun. Rearrange your furniture to accommodate the tree (no matter when you’re putting it up). If you have heirloom Christmas decorations, keep them in storage until your children are older. Instead, decorate with greenery – fresh or fake depending on your location and your allergy situation. Add some ribbon or twinkling lights. It’s pretty. It’s timeless. Most importantly, it’s not that interesting to kids. Need more? Find a pretty wrapping paper and wrap up your picture frames and rehang them. Find (or ask for as a gift) a kid-friendly nativity set for the coffee table or on the floor. It’s okay if they add action figures and happy meal animals – your children will not burst into flames. Have the kids help you gather pine cones and put them in your “tree room” in a pretty basket or kid-proof bowl. With older kids, let them use some glue and glitter to decorate the pine cones.
- OUTSIDE: If, like me, you are married to a Clark Griswald type, just give in. Again, unless you hide your children from the neighbors, they are all aware that you have small kids. Get an inflatable snowman or a Santa Claus riding a Harley. Someday . . . you can have pretty luminaries lining your walkway and a yard studded with ice sculptures. For now, make it fun. Make it kid friendly and enjoy it!
- JUST FOR FUN: My husband and I were given a set of Christmas dishes when we married. I’ve added to it over the years. I store it in a place I can get to easily and every December 1, I swap out our regular dishes for the Christmas dishes. The dishes are not expensive and now they are a huge mix n’ match of everything Christmas, but it makes December fun at every meal. If you can manage the storage and swap of dishes easily, I highly recommend this tradition.
- LAUNDRY: If you have a laundry room/area, go ahead and buy yourself a poinsettia and string some lights around the area. You certainly spend enough time out there, you might as well feel a little festive while you’re fluffing and folding.
- CAR: Yes, I decorate my car. Get an inexpensive wreath – plain evergreen or a funky color – and bungee cord it to the front grill of your car. I do this to my car, my husband’s car and the trucks at our small business. You’d be surprised at how many people will smile and wave as you drive by. Why not??
Happy decorating. Send pictures of fun ideas you come up with to keep your decorating kid-friendly, sane and festive!
– Guest post by Amy