In our over-consumptive society and in the season that exposes it, we buy too many gifts and go overboard with decorating. Lights outlining entire houses, garlands across doorways and up banisters, a wreath on every door, the tallest and fullest tree loaded with ornaments and lights so you can’t even see the greenery, scenes of Santa and/or mangers in the yard… Couple this with the glut of wrapped presents, and it borders on gaudy, in my opinion. Never mind the umpteen hours it takes to put it all up and take it all down as well as the inflated electric bill in January.
I never decorated very much. I got my taste from my mother, which was always simple and conservative. Simplicity is a part of who I am, too, so the holidays were never a time of year to go overboard in any sense.
Simple and spare holiday decorating
This year, I have only hung stockings, which are all the same size. Three are patchwork Christmas fabric, which I made for the girls and me many years ago, and three are store bought for our dogs. They are strung across the mantle. The size continuity makes the design stand out, while the different red and green designs give it visual interest. I am wrapping our few presents in red paper and using green or silver ribbon. They will be placed on the floor in front of the mantle. That’s it. Simple, but effective.
Subtle decorations suggest the holiday instead of screaming it. Put a single pine bough or stalks of red berries in a plain glass vase. A green, red, gold or silver ribbon is optional. Place it where it can be seen when you are entertaining or in your entryway. A shallow bowl of pine cones, again with or without a ribbon, a plain wreath of red material or candy canes, a glass bowl of red and green ornaments, and groupings of white and gold candles are other suggestions of the season. You can repeat these ideas in a few places in the house for continuity.
Minimalist white for a white Christmas
A theme of white is reminiscent of snow and can be low-contrast if your interior is white or off-white. The monochromatic color scheme is easy on the eyes and the psyche. How about white wrapping paper with silver ribbon? A white tablecloth with white and silver candles in the center can be spiced up with with silver or gold ribbons on the napkins. White paper snowflakes and ornaments can hang from a white ceiling. Don’t do all of these! Do one!
One large focal point works well, too. A single huge wreath with minimal ornamentation can hang on a big wall space. A mantle can be tastefully done up with stockings, a garland, candles, lights, bowls of ornaments, pine cones and a wreath above, making it eye-catching and busy, yet simple, since it will be the only decorated spot in the house. Don’t make it cramped. Let each piece show.
Choosing a single focal point
The best way to approach decorating minimally is to look at all the decorations you have and choose one to work with. If you have a wreath you love, hang it in a visible spot and decorate it with whatever you like – small ornaments, candy canes, pine cones, ribbons or lights. A plain wreath can be repeated on the front door and in one or two visible places in the house, like over the mantle or as the centerpiece on the dining room table. Repeating simple decorations reminds us of a holiday without the feeling of overwhelm that is so common this time of year.
A single string of white lights draped at the top of a wall near the ceiling in the living or dining room is festive as the only decoration. Houseplants can be decorated, too. This works best with one large one, such as a Norfolk Island pine. A few small ribbons or non-sparkly ornaments give the feel of Christmas. Using matte finish ornaments and ribbons also adds to the subtlety, as does a monochromatic color scheme.
Reduce your stress, and keep it simple
It’s a hectic time of year. Why not make decorating simple to reduce your stress. It will also free up your time when you don’t have a lot to put up or take down. This should be a joyful time of year, not a stressful one! Happy Holidays!