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Beginners Guide to Christmas Decorating

There are two types of people when it comes to Christmas decorating. Those who look forward to Halloween, just for the simple fact that the following day is November 1st which means it’s semi acceptable to start getting out the Christmas decor. Then, there are those who will NOT, under any circumstances put up a …

There are two types of people when it comes to Christmas decorating. Those who look forward to Halloween, just for the simple fact that the following day is November 1st which means it’s semi acceptable to start getting out the Christmas decor. Then, there are those who will NOT, under any circumstances put up a Christmas decoration until Thanksgiving is over. Which side do you and your family fall on?

My family comes from the cannot wait for Halloween to be over with so we can put up the Christmas! When I was a child, my parents would wait until after Thanksgiving to start putting the Christmas decorations up, but over the years my mom started accumulating so much decor that it takes A LOT of time to put it all up. When I say she has a lot of decor, I mean, her house is straight out of a Home & Garden’s Christmas Edition magazine. Every room has a tree (bathrooms too!), bedding is changed out, ALL.THE.THINGS., you get it.

Over the years, as my mom has updated her Christmas decor, she has handed things down to my sister and I. That’s where the majority of my decorations have come from, along with my Grandma, who is an amazing artist specializing in Christmas decorations. I have also added some pieces here and there of my own, and while my husband and two oldest kids don’t always love the idea of skipping straight to Christmas after Halloween, they quickly come to love it once I get started. Maybe not, but they definitely put up with it and join in on the decorating and early Christmas spirit.

Where Do I Start?

Christmas decorations tend to, over time, make the house start to feel dirty (in my opinion). So before I put anything up, I deep clean, and I mean like spring cleaning in the fall deep clean. As we get the decor down from the attic, I start to sort it in the Garage. Everything has a tote that it goes in, so that when it’s time to put it back up I know where everything goes. There are storage bins for upstairs, family room, Martin’s tree (the one that I try to hide from plain sight because it doesn’t exactly match my style), outside, kitchen, etc.

Once everything is sorted out, I take an inventory of what we have and what direction I want to take in decorating. This is also a good time to test the lights. No one wants to get half way through a project only to find out you have to either run to the store or redo the whole thing.

Then, I take one room at a time. I used to bring all the storage bins into the family room and kitchen area and just tackle it all at once, but that just made it so hectic! Not only that, but if I didn’t finish that day then I had to either lug everything back out to the garage or just let my house be a disaster until I got back around to decorating.  I can usually get the whole inside of my house done in a day if I have help with the little kiddos and can solely focus on decorating. My parent’s house takes a week or two and that’s with multiple people helping.

Because of how long it takes my mom to decorate, the whole family knows how precious her decorations are and how much they mean to her. You can imagine our shock and fear the year our cat climbed the living room tree, which by the way had almost all glass ornaments on it. Thankfully, when it went toppling over my uncle was there to catch it and stop it before hitting the ground.

Picking a Theme

This is a newer thing I’ve started to do as I’ve accumulated more decorations. I would eventually like to have a theme in every room, and we’re close to it just not quite to where I want to be yet. My son, Deklan, has a love for Nutcrackers that started when he was about 3 years old, and now at 8 he still thinks they’re cool. Needless to say, the theme in his room is Nutcrackers. The family room has an elf theme with traditional Christmas colors (white, green, and red), but the tree in this room does not completely follow the theme. I do add some elf decor to it, but for the most part, since this is the family tree I add all of the FAMILY ornaments to it (Just Married, New Home, New Baby, created by the kids, etc). I’m currently working on building up my Grinch decorations for the playroom/classroom as I think that would be a really cute theme for that room. The point is, I try to pick a theme that I think goes with the specific room.

This doesn’t always apply though and sometimes traditions just take precedent. Over the years Martin has started to get enough ornaments that he now has a tree in our sunroom that just he and the boys decorate together, it’s become a tradition every year that he looks forward to. This tree is mostly Star Wars and beer ornaments, hence why it probably isn’t the prettiest, in my opinion.

Decorating The Tree

In most cases, your Christmas tree is going to be your focal point. With this being said, I start there. If I know what I want the vibe of the tree to be, then the rest of the decor will follow.

First things first, when starting your tree make sure that all the branches are fluffed. (This more applies to those with artificial trees.) This means taking a few steps back and taking in the whole picture, it can be hard to tell up close if you have any holes between the branches.

Next step is for the lights to go on. I like a very well lit tree, so the more lights the better in my opinion, but do it to your own liking. Although, you CAN over do it with the lights.  My mom is also of the thinking that the more lights the better. So much so that one Christmas her tree completely toppled over. The steel frame stand could not bear the weight on the tree, and in order to keep it standing my dad had to reinforce it by using a solid wood pole.

After the lights, it’s time for the ornaments! There’s just something so heartwarming about going through the ornaments you’ve received over the years and reminiscing about them. It has always been a tradition in my family to receive a new ornament, and it is always something that applies to your life for that year. I have a University of North Carolina ornament, because when I was in 5th grade that’s where I dreamed of going to college (I didn’t go there). I have an ornament that my husband gave me when we found out we were having out first child together. Each ornament on this tree tells a story about our lives, and I love this tradition so much so, that I have continued it with my own kids.

The last piece to complete my tree is an angel, which I usually let my husband put on. I don’t know if he actually likes doing it, but I like the tradition and like having him be involved in part of the decorating process.

I don’t currently use any ribbon on my trees; although, in the future I plan on adding some. If I were to add the ribbon, I would put this on after the lights, but before the ornaments. This way, I could position the ribbon how I liked without having any ornaments in the way or potentially having some get broken. Ornaments are generally easier to work with than ribbon, in my opinion.

Completing the Look

Now it’s time to pull the rest of the room together. I do this by adding blankets, trading out pictures on the walls, changing out the throw pillows on my furniture, and clearing out my everyday decor for my Christmas decor. I change out centerpieces on tables, candles for a more holiday scent; you name it I pretty much change it out for the Christmas decorations.


I know that all of this is not at all necessary, but it’s what I grew up with. Over the years, it’s become less about the decorations, and more about the memories. Anyone who knows my parents, can tell you that if you’re going to see their house at any point of the year, you should make it Christmas because it truly is unbelievable. While I love decorating and sitting back to enjoy the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree, it’s less about that and more about the tradition. So, following in my mom’s footsteps with my decorations is more about having that connection with her and having the tradition with my own kids than it is about the decorations themselves.

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