I’m fighting an internal struggle about Christmas. When I was a kid, we had a tree, some garland, a wreath, and stockings on the mantle. The same ornaments came back year after year and made us happy once again. Some homemade, some gifts from great aunts and the like. Some elegant, some kitchy. The biggest change we made was to maybe use colored lights one year, all white the next. Everyone had their favorite option (I like white and blinking was never acceptable). There may have been a special platter or two that came out for Christmas dinner. Some families did more and I was often jealous of those with reindeer on the lawn and lights to guide Santa to the house.
Now, I’m still often jealous of the beautiful front porch displays I see. I love the beauty friends with far greater decorating skills than I are capable of creating in their homes during the holidays. It looks beautiful, festive, and warm. But here’s where my struggle begins. I’m an organizer. As such, I like ease, efficiency, simplicity. And I’ve helped my share of clients sort and store their holiday decorations and it’s an endless challenge, and I want know part of that.
I blame Pottery Barn.
Aspirational holiday style in catalogs sent weekly. Many others of varying price points. Their relentless campaigns of endless perfection have us transforming every aspect of our environment for the holidays. Lanterns, signs, bedding, reindeer throw pillows. Multiple trees, of course; and new designs each year for the front porch. It’s all so charming and festive - I want that in my home, don’t we all?
But they don’t want us to just do it once. They’ve got us convinced that we need to refresh our collection every year. They tempt us with their beautiful photography and because we are in the holiday spending mood, we add on. And Christians aren’t the only catalog victims here. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa have their featured pages and decor too as the industry urgently tries to get those holidays to behave a little more like Christmas.
If you’ve got the money, and the passion & talent for decorating, I do not begrudge you this joy. But I despite my admiration for the beauty, I won’t be adding on much for two reasons:
Decorations are Time Consuming
They take a long time to put up, they take a long time to put away. If your family is like mine, they’re all excited to help decorate the tree while drinking eggnog and and listening Bing Crosby in December. Somehow, though, I often find myself alone when pulling those storage tubs up from the basement, and trying to remember what fit where in January. During this season, your time is so precious - the world is making demands on you to embrace all the joys of Christmas. A lot of us are quietly wishing 12/25 would get here quick so you can have a day off. A day with nothing left to go to, nothing left to shop for, nothing but time with your family -- the thing most of us really love about the holidays. The more decorations you have, the more time you need to put them up and take them down.
Decorations Take Up a LOT of Space
Decorations require storage for 11 months of the year. [Or 8, 9, 10 if you’re like some…]
Unless your storage space is like a Mary Poppins carpet bag, you will run out of places to put them. To make matters worse, many holiday decorations are oddly shaped, oversized, and fragile-the trifecta of storage challenges.
I love the holiday season as much as the next person, and I envy the look of beautifully decorated homes. But I’m going to work with the minimum I need to feel festive and toss the catalogs when they come.
Now, if you are reading this in complete disagreement with me - and I know some of you are -- it means you are willing to do the work, and you have a storage solution that works. Great-enjoy every minute!
But at least do this: Assess what you have before you buy. Be deliberate. Make decisions. If you unpack a decoration that hasn’t been used in five years, or is in need of repair, or that you’ve always hated, but your grandma gave it to you... consider letting it go. It’s taking up space, time, and mental energy. I say BAH HUMBUG to that.
*BTW - Stay alert. The catalogs are on an on-going quest to keep your house decorated year round. Valentines Day decorations, St. Patty’s Day, Easter… and don’t EVEN get me started on Halloween.