Decoration or Demolition: What’s Your Holiday Style?
Many years ago I entered a post office near a friend’s house to mail a package. I had no way of knowing that I would be changed forever by the experience. As I stood on line I became transfixed by the work area for one of the three postal workers. She was clearly a huge fan of Christmas because every square inch of space was covered with some kind of decoration. It was so over the top you couldn’t really see anything except … cheerful, colorful red and green clutter.
She was so involved in making a statement that she even decorated herself! In sharp contrast her two co-workers didn’t have a strand of tinsel anywhere in sight. I’ve written about this lady in articles and even in a few of my books. Her good intentions were having the opposite effect I’m sure she longed to have. Instead of sharing the joys of the season (and her collection) she seemed to be foisting her neuroses on everyone she worked with and every customer who approached her window. I wondered what in the world her home looked like if this small area was so over decorated she couldn’t function in it. Was she married with children? What did they think about the holiday explosion that I presumed took over the home each year? Were they converts to the decorating cause or did they react like her co-workers? It was a juicy visual novel and I wanted all the details. Unfortunately I’ve been left to my imagination.
Less Is More
Have you taken all of your decorations out of their hiding place in the garage or attic? Are the boxes waiting for you to dive in and start setting up your annual visual feast before the first holiday guest comes to call? Let’s take a step back for a second and try something different. With the image of that cluttered post office cubicle in mind, here are a few steps that will bring variety, creativity and yes, sanity to your annual extravaganza.
- Survey your environment before you place a single snowman or Santa on the mantle. Is it cluttered? Adding decorations won’t make things better it will simply add to the visual confusion. Take a few minutes to tidy up. Toss old newspapers and magazines. Take items to the rooms where they should reside. You know what I mean: shoes go to your closet, the coat goes into the hall closet, the mail goes to your office and Fido’s bones go into his basket. Now look around and see if you should fluff the pillows on the couch, fold the blankets and put those CD’s and DVD’s in their proper place. Doesn’t that feel better?
- If you have traditional places for every decoration you own go crazy this year and establish a new order. Place everything on a flat surface like the dining room table. Can you make new groupings? Do you have several angels, Santas, snowmen and birds? Please them in new areas and keep them together. And remember that odd numbers are more visually interesting than even ones. Yes, I know, that means keeping some of your decorations wrapped this year. Take a deep breath and trust me on this one. You want choices.
- Do you see new color themes you could create? Perhaps this year you might have a few small trees instead of one big one and each could have a theme?
- Do you buy poinsettias and then trash them come New Year’s Day? If you live in the right climate why not plant them? In the future you’ll be able to bring in live cuttings from your own garden poinsettia and save money. They also turn into simple green houseplants. They may not be spectacular at that point but they’ll still be helping to clean your environment.
- Don’t over glitz or tinsel!
- If you don’t have a pre-lit tree be sure you untangle the strands of lights before you approach the tree! And wrap them around some sturdy cardboard so that next year you can skip this step and dive right in.
- Decide how you will display or collect your holiday cards. And no you don’t have to save every single one. By the way it’s illegal to toss children in the trash; it’s OK to toss a holiday card with their photo on it. Parents want you to see the progress their kids have made over the past year but they don’t expect you to start scrap-booking or storing these images forever. Suggest to family and friends that everyone go digital next year and save a few trees.
- Place a few items in unexpected places like the guest bathroom or mudroom. Put the outside lights on timer so you save money on your electric bill.
- If you store your items in cardboard boxes consider buying high quality storage bins at a place like The Container Store. They won’t fall apart over time and you can always re-purpose the containers later should you decide to downsize your holiday collection. I’d avoid the red and green bins. Print large clear labels on your computer and keep your stash in one area of the garage or attic for easy storage and retrieval.
- Got a full plate? Make decorating a family affair. It’s more fun if everyone chips in than if mom turns into an exhausted, cranky Martha Stewart. It may not be as perfect visually but your home will be infused with laughter and good memories. And those are the best decorations of all!
When I wrote One Year to an Organized Life I devoted the month of December to planning a sane holiday experience. If you’re traveling or praying you won’t break the bank this season, I’ve got you covered. It’s especially important to be fiscally responsible at this time of year. You don’t want to begin a New Year with bloated credit card bills. No one who truly loves you wants a gift you can’t afford. Any of the books in my One Year to … series will make a great stocking stuffer.
‘The Zen Organizer’
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