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This is our first (and only!) Christmas that we’ll spend in our rental house. When we were packing our old house we didn’t know what type of rental we would wind up in, I was almost certain it would be some teeny tiny two bedroom apartment. I knew I wouldn’t be able to live through a holiday season without decorating for Christmas, so I pulled all of our Christmas decoration bins out of the garage and went through them, taking my very favorite pieces out, and consolidating them into a bin by themselves. Even if we were in a really small place, I knew these precious pieces would be enough to bring us joy in the holidays.
Honestly, I wasn’t mad about it or disappointed, I actually felt a little bit relieved. Christmas decorating (and the holidays in general) are some of those things that starts out as a sweet treat, but tend to grow year after year, and get bigger and bigger, and eventually the decorations take on a life of their own. It has the ability to make you go from feeling joy into feeling like it's a chore. I know so many moms who feel this way, they are all at once excited by and then anxious about the idea of starting Christmas decorating. It turns into a bit of a burden, which is the exact opposite of how this celebratory season should feel. Having a boundary, like a temporary home, gave me permission to dial things back and simplify this year.
Well, fast forward a couple of months, and in a surprising plot twist, we wound up in a rental that is actually bigger than our last house. So this became my dilemma – did I want to go full Clark Griswold and deck the halls as big as usual, or use this opportunity to try for something a bit smaller and simpler? The answer is somewhere in the middle. I didn’t pull out every one of my 10 Christmas bins (and don’t you know that I know exactly how many I had, because of my handy moving box spreadsheet that you can get here), but I also didn’t limit myself to just the one bucket.
It’s the best of both worlds. The ease of a pre-lit Christmas tree + fewer decorations meant we went from zero to North Pole in just half a day, rather than a week. And by saturating a few spaces with a lot of Christmas, rather than spreading it into every room of the house, we still get big impact in the rooms where we spend most of our time.
Even though you may not be living in a temporary space, you might be thinking about simplifying Christmas yourself. Maybe it’s because you’re not hosting a big Christmas party this year so you don’t want to go through the effort. Or because 2020 has beaten the heck out of you and you just don’t have the energy. Or maybe you’re saying “FORGET IT!” and are going to spend Christmas in a cabin in the woods all by yourself! No matter the reason, hopefully you’ll find some inspiration here.
Enough talk. Let me take you around! Let’s start with The Big Show – the tree. I will confess, we are typically a 2-tree family. One is mostly for me and is beautiful and color coordinated. The other is a vintage tinsel tree that I let the kids decorate to their heart’s content with all of the handmade ornaments, ornaments from our childhoods, and anything not fancy enough to make the cut for the pretty tree. This year, though, in the name of simplicity, we just went for the 1 big tree (I just let the kids put the ugly ornaments on the back. Ha!).
This is the first thing you see when you walk into the house is our fancy tree. It’s a pre-lit flocked tree that we bought a few years back when I was pregnant with Theo. We used to be a real-tree family, but that year I wasn’t allowed to lift anything so we opted for a faux tree. The ease of plugging this beautiful bad-boy in is awesome. I love that this is the view that welcomes people into our house, and it is right next to my work desk so I get maximum enjoyment out of it.
Right next to the tree is the fireplace, and the mantle is where I set up my collection of vintage Putz houses and ever growing collection of bottle brush trees. I shared on Instagram this week about having a Christmas color palette (if you don't have one, get one!! You can read about it here). Ours is primarily pink, mint, red, gold, and white. Having everything in the same color palette means that year to year I can change things up and move them all around the house and freshen things up without having to buy anything new (except another 5 or 6 bottle brush trees…thus is my mania). The side-benefit is that these are the colors I have in my house year-round, so I don’t have any issues with Christmas decorations clashing with my artwork or furniture. I do the same thing at Thanksgiving, which you can see here.
I used wooden blocks from Theo's toys to prop up the trees and give them some height variation to make the display more interesting.
Now for the china cabinet. I didn’t unpack any of my china during this temporary move because, 1) I can live 9 months without china, and 2) we don’t have a formal dining room in this house so we put the china cabinet out in the open simply because it had a wall where it would fit. But it is an excellent place to add some more Christmas cheer! Especially things that tiny people tend to destroy.
Through the rest of the room I sprinkled a few other touches - a few Christmas pillows, our Advent candleholder, and nativity.
Nothing says Christmas cheer quite like a Christmas cocktail. Along with stocking the bar for our favorite Christmas cocktails (don’t worry, we’ll be blogging our favorite!) I also added a few festive touches to this space. Clearly I need to make a Trader Joe's run and stock up on some more wine!! This is pitiful.
I couldn’t resist a couple of festive touches in the kitchen. A simple “merry” plant in the windowsill, my grandma’s Santa mugs, and a few other favorites. Since I spend so much time in the kitchen during Christmas I thought it deserved some love.
These Santa mugs are some of my favorite pieces! The big ones are vintage from my Grandma (if you've been around awhile you might be thinking that my grandma gives me the best vintage things...you're right!) and the small ones were gifted to me by a neighbor. And thank you Aldi for the little succulent in the Merry pot that I got for $3 last year that is going STRONG. I just turn the Merry around the other 11 months of the year!
Just around the corner in the dining room I added all of our family Santa photos for the last 9 years. It's an incredible tradition and I'm hoping that even with COVID we can still see Santa and add to it this year.
Now you might be saying “Tara this still feels over the top to me!”. Well, it might be for you, but for me this is just about half of our Christmas stock. I didn’t bust out the 2nd full sized tree, half the ornaments, another mini-tree, Christmas plates and glasses, and the dozens of figurines and other décor that I normally put out. We also don’t have any decorations in our bedroom, any of the bathrooms, or our family room. The beauty of simplifying is that you can find the vibe that feels right for you – there are no hard and fast rules.