Conventional Holiday Decorating ... Or Not?

Posted on December 04 2017

Conventional Holiday Decorating ... Or Not?

What is 'Christmassy' to you? What does that mean to you, me or anyone else? In decades past, there was a conventionality to holiday decorating. House to house, home to home, there was generally a common theme. Whether the tree be real or bright silver from a box, we could count on seeing the heavily laden limbs of tinsel, coloured lights and garlands of bright shades, of the festive season.

Although the true spirit of Christmas remains unchanged, our design sensibilities have evolved in leaps and bounds. And this shift has greatly affected holiday decorating. We want more and more to follow colour and style trends in our decorations, as we do with fashion and general home decor.

This is very evident when at the stroke of midnight November 1st, stores and websites come alive with the latest colours of the season. One year it was lime green, another year it was expressive jewel tones. We seem more inclined to follow trends rather than maintain that traditional feel of Christmas.

For years I also followed those trends, which strangely seemed like my own ideas until I hit the stores and found that my inspirations were in fact the osmosis effect of subliminal messages from various media. When I went through my Blue phase, a lot of my decorations didn't make the cut and never made it out of their boxes. I went through a primary colour phase after watching Christmas movies such as Love Actually and The Holiday. I cheerfully made childlike chain garlands out of construction paper, careful to use only red, blue, green and yellow. My husband wasn't too excited about this trend. To appease him, one year we had a Star Wars Christmas. The force was with us that year!

Pink Christmas Wreath

The pink theme in Montreal's Gare Centrale.


As I became more and more devoted to the idea of following trends, the bigger the storage boxes had to be, to store my growing collection. Honestly, we are ready to burst at this point. So what of this year? Last year, we decided that our theme was not to have a theme at all. We put up all of our favourite ornaments: those which were handed down keepsakes, those which were handmade, some were quirky, some were gifts, some were funny and some just because they were pretty. I think that the best trend of all, is for you to be you. I encourage everyone to shop and look around for some nice pieces every year. But don't overhaul your entire collection as I'm sure many of your ornaments have a lot of sentimental meaning.

Chrismouse Santa Tree Ornament Reindeer Felt Christmas Tree Ornament


Also, think about using your ornaments in more creative ways. The bauble may not be new, but how you display them, can be on trend. I love saving those little red mittens you sometimes get with chocolates or wine bottles. They may seem cute but useless. I love putting them at ends of horizontal tree branches. Nothing like "Jazz hands" for your Christmas tree! I also have a little red mitten on the ear of my pewter deer head, which is proudly mounted on a wall in my living room.

Some innovations have been warmly met and are now must haves. Improved lighting technology is by far the most impactful change to the way we holiday decorate indoors and out. Solar fixtures and strands allow us to have light where it was not possible before. Also tiny battery pack strands are bright and beautiful for our interiors. I'm usually quite tempted to leave them long after the Christmas dust has settled. LED lighting is the now and the future. Fantastic for its energy efficiency, no longer is bulb burnout something we need to contend with, on a small or epic (National Lampoon Christmas Vacation) level. We went from loving our coloured lights, to white and back to colour again. The more the merrier as far as I'm concerned.

Are you a vertical space decorator or a horizontal space aficionado? Do you spread out or stand tall? I find that people generally fall under one of these categories. Some like my sister in law, have lots of pretty table top decorations to make the season bright. Her mantle is always a joyful ledge adorned with seasonal candles and twinkling garlands. I have one long shelf which acts as my mantle. But otherwise, I'm a vertical dresser. I like to swag a lot of garlands and hang coloured balls from hooks, rods and ceilings. I'm also a firm believer in utilising our everyday decor to incorporate seasonal decorating into it, as opposed to packing up anything not deemed Christmassy.

Rustic Burlap Hearts & Stars Garland

I also like to make sure that dressing up for the season means I give equal attention to all of the public spaces and some quieter thoughts to private spaces. Spread the joy and the decorations so there is a little something in the kitchen, the powder room and even the stairways. It doesn't have to be about quantity. A little bit of cheer goes a long way to give your homes that lift they need at this time of year.

Christmas Bathroom

We may no longer have stuffy living rooms meant only for guests - kids and pets keep out! But there is a growing trend for families to have a separate kids tree. They can decorate in any way they choose, mostly with home or school project ornaments. This way, the adults can have their serious, perfect trees for display. What do you think about that idea? I'm on the fence with this one! As a person who likes things just so, I think it would be nice to have that perfect tree. On the other hand, are the kids being deprived of that Cindy Lou Who experience of collective tree trimming memories? I won't weigh in too much here. I think that there is no wrong way. Do what works best for your family dynamic. However you decorate, however you chose to celebrate this glorious time of year, take a minute to enjoy all that is merry and bright.


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