Do you decorate for Christmas? I’ve gotten excited about holiday decor for as long as I can remember. Even when I lived the single life in a shotgun apartment, I strung lights and decked out my abode. Each year, I picked out a tree, transported and secured it myself, and decorated it with the usual red, green, and gold tchotchkes.
After Mike and I married, decorating and celebrating the holidays took on a whole new meaning. Since he’s Jewish, he’d never had a Christmas tree before. And since I’m Catholic, I’d never lit a menorah before. I gave him a quick lesson how to pick out a tree, while he educated me how the candle lighting works at Hanukkah. We explored uncharted worlds at the time –– adopting one another’s lifelong traditions and forging our own memories.
One year, we picked out two trees. We did one in red and green for Christmas, and the other in blue and silver for Hanukkah. I think that was one way to convince Mike that we needed new ornaments. Fifteen years later, I still have those not-so-customary colors in my collection, and each season I find myself trimming our tree with lots of blue, white, and silver, and adding accents of red and gold.
Another year, we moved into a house with a renovation still in progress and were asked to participate in the neighborhood’s tour of homes (this was a huge remodeling project and was far from finished!), but we were honored to be considered, so we said yes. We closed the incomplete section of the house, and bought five Christmas trees to fill in all the empty spaces that needed furniture. Hundreds of people traipsed through our home and no one knew we were missing some major furnishings, thanks to the strategic placement of trees. Whew.
When we moved to New York, we encountered a new set of challenges when it came to holiday decor. Getting the tree home was one (some of the tree vendors will deliver…I’ve seen this take place in a shopping cart), but we wanted to carry our tree ourselves. I should say that Mike wanted to carry the tree himself while I walked next to him, opening doors and pressing buttons.
Meanwhile, we found that no matter how compact our living space is, we could squeeze a tree in somewhere without looking ridiculous. Unbelievably, one year we managed to host as many as 35 people for a holiday party too.Through trial and error, what I’ve found works best, is a smaller scale tree (around five feet tall), tucked into a corner in the dining area. I place the tree on a small table to give it height, and then cover with fabric. If only I could keep Bogey from squeezing by, whipping his tail back and forth and knocking ornaments and needles from the branches!
I’ve also figured out that less is better in a smaller space. When we lived in 2,800 square feet, I was a little too enthusiastic about the decorations, because I could be –– wrapping greenery around the staircase, draping evergreens around each window and the doors on the front of the house; a tree upstairs; a tree downstairs; a tree on the porch!
Today, I’m sharing the subtle things I do so our home feels festive for the holidays. You’ll see how a few colorful additions can clearly put anyone in the spirit and ready for December 25th.
First thing’s first. After Mike puts the tree in the stand and adds water, he strings the lights. He’s gotten pretty good at it over the years.
Next come the ornaments, which remain my specialty. I have many I love, so with a small tree, I don’t do as many balls, bells, etc. I hang a lot of my special, sentimental pieces first as well as some of my snowflakes (they make any tree look fab), and then fill in as needed.