How to Have a Beautiful Holiday Without Overwhelm & Still Have Great Decor
We've all been there. All of a sudden the marketers and retailers start telling us we should have orange, brown, and yellow in our lives if we are to be a part of the Fall seasonal bliss. Then, naturally they will want us to have red and green or blue and silver themed everything right after that.
I have a long and deep relationship with the art of decor, so much so that one of my teenage nicknames was 'Martha'...yes, as in Stewart. While exploring the land of fake decorations and crafts for all holidays, the whole concept ended up falling flat to me. Whenever I tried to decorate the way Michael's or Martha wanted me to, my house looked like it was trying to be something else.
Without realizing it I started carving out my own authentic luxury version of decorating that focused more on me having time to enjoy my own experience of the season as well as the special holiday moments and seasonal flare. Decor's job is to evoke the essence of a season and many times that essence relates to memories and tradition. It can also reiterate the way our senses connect to a wonderful new experience that's happening now.
Where Decor Misses the Mark
Do you fill your home with decorations that quickly fall out of style, then keep using those items just to recreate a happy time when the kids were little? Do you like investing in timeless decorations? I know sometimes putting them up takes lots of effort and they can be a large portion of the holiday budget.
I LOVE people who have a major decor commitment and I always enjoy their efforts, but I think there is a fair alternative that fits how busy people really are. While there are increasingly more distractions in daily life, savoring time as the most valued of all your holiday resources is a way to really be present to the joy decor tries to promote. Keeping boundaries on your time can bring in a refreshingly relaxed approach to decor.
Holiday home enhancements can be a thoughtful way of celebrating the current season regardless of what traditional displays expect us to buy or have. If you really want to celebrate a season to it's fullest, it should be more about what's happening now than expecting to recreate a past year's fun and games, or even a special time period of several years prior.
Thank those times for being so special, but in moving on, relish the current ways that fit your lifestyle to be joyful during these times. Recreating the past doesn't leave room for what's relevant now. Often times expecting a new event to be like an old one will be a let down.
Reconnecting with Intention
Rather than rely on the trends in the big box flyers I suggest connecting with the time of year with intention by thinking about scents, food, flavors, visual delights that are naturally occurring, and experiences. Connecting to who you are, how you like to enjoy the season, and how the season might bring you together with the people you love makes for a more lasting and truly enjoyable relationship with a time of year. Eschewing a predetermined idea of what that needs to be can alleviate a weight of expectations.
Let each year's holidays be new while celebrating the things you like about those holidays that were fun in the past. The very act of hunting for a specific seasonal spice or taking a friend to an obscure shop to complete a unique party tray idea may be just the memorable moment of the season you relish the most.
I recommend these specific ways to allow the seasons to naturally roll into your world rather than create a fuss about expectations and trying to be something that takes lots of effort.
Here's how to celebrate more of what's YOU about the holidays instead of the PAST.
Don't Overlook the Basics
Setting the stage for the right mood: Whether you are entertaining yourself or hosting a party, no seasonal mood will work if you have clutter or stress. Be sure your home is entirely decluttered. Every space in your home should be decluttered, even the basement & garage. Why? We can be more present when the physical objects that hold us back are gone. Once your space is absolutely decluttered, keeping it clean is much less challenging. Clutter free homes allow you to see the space in between things - the delightful way the rooms become cozy and dim in the Fall or the wide open view to the changing Fall leaves. Use the Marie Kondo book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and your life will, indeed be changed.
**Seriously, decluttering is the secret sauce part of the whole blog and I do all of these things myself, call us if you need help!**
Cleaning crew: I also advise having a cleaning service if not all year, around the holidays. I hear a lot of people complaining about how busy their lives get around this time of year. Time is the most precious resource that we use to connect with the people we care about. If this time of year is about that, outsource your cleaning so you can be more present and make the most of who you're with. On a budget? Find a couple neighborhood kids who want holiday spending money to help out, that's how I started out.
List making: Winging it for the holidays will add stress to your life in a major way. Make a list of parties you are hosting or attending and what you need to prepare or bring. Then calendar time to get those items done. Your list and your calendar will be the other two things that allow you to leverage your time and take the stress out of the season.
An alternate path to peace: You do not have to go to all or any of the events this season, even if it's a family tradition. If a certain gathering makes your holiday miserable, don't go. Visit those people on your terms if you need to, but this is YOUR life and you get to decide what traditions you enjoy. Even if everybody hates it, you will be rewriting how you enjoy this time for yourself and that's ok. One event that cramps your style can have you stressed out for months, and your emotions have value so respect what your body is telling you.
Layering in the Fun Stuff
Seasonal eats: Ok, now think about ways that food is also decorative. If you are a squash and pumpkin fan, buy some edible varieties and keep them on the kitchen counter in a large bowl until you've gone through them all. Getting curious and thoughtful about the food preparation this time of year makes the experiences both sensual and seasonal, which are how wonderful memories are created. Maybe you like to keep ingredients like brown sugar and nuts for your favorite baked goods on the counter in attractive containers. Let these everyday items be beautiful bookmarks for where you are in the cycle of the year.
Scented bliss: Candles are a no brainer for many people and I have become a big fan of diffusing essential oils. Bringing a scent into the room is a wonderful way to create a mood and if you cook seasonal things, even better. I am never far from my oils and they do change with the seasons, I also enjoy grabbing the cinnamon infused pinecones. Fragrance has such a powerful way of evoking emotions so don't underestimate how you can creatively use this. I even enjoy opening the windows to let the crispy leaves smell waft in until its too cold to do so.
Views: Just enjoy the outdoors! Seems way too simple, but having a hike as the plants are going to sleep or snow is getting ready makes you want to do those experiences with hot beverages even more. Take a buddy. If you are actually in nature, you are doing most of the things the gourds and pumpkins do by reminding you of what time of year it is.
Things you love: By all means buy those baby gourds if you love them. Don't stop from what lights you up, just remember that you don't have to paint a certain picture of holiday just because it's popular. The way I choose to celebrate seasons is with scents and looking out my window wall at the changing view.
Experiences: Visit family and friends around specific underutilized times of the holidays. That way you can choose events you enjoy together, jazz up the year, and keep the actual holiday day sacred for you to enjoy with yourself or your inner circle. My cousins and I have a new tradition of visiting adult scary mazes early in October, leaving actual Halloween and Thanksgiving free for me to do events closer to home. Think about updated ways to enjoy events that have run their course. When kids grow up often times the same dinners and potlucks are being held and people's needs have changed. Appropriate and rich experiences actually fill the same delight as decor does...ok not the same, but something that can be just as great or greater.
To recap, I really talked about making holidays more about your relationship with your home, yourself, and the people you choose to be with by engaging them intentionally than actual material items. What happens if you do that is hopefully a more rich holiday. I think people get caught up in the look and the way things have to be, but essentially that can create a spiral of stress that undoes the original purpose of connecting.
In living authentically, the main goal is to deepen your relationship with what is working for you, and to do that I always advocate removing what is not necessary as the way to access what is simply there the whole time, a way of living in beauty easily. Trust me, I have spent hours making wreaths for myself and other people, hauling greenery across town, and spending a boatload on plastic merchandise and I don't remember any of it as well as the experiences with others that I made time for.
If you like our message of authentic living and you have an interior or exterior living space you would like to connect more deeply to by renovating and redesigning, feel free to reach out to us by setting up a call: https://calendly.com/flourishbydesign/15min