Hi everyone! I hope you are enjoying this Christmas season so far! This year it seemed like gingerbread lattes showed up before I was even anxiously awaiting them (that’s a first). I got a little stressed about all the things I have to do, since I want to make sure I don’t get so busy I forget to tie the festivities into what Christmas is actually about.
My goal: Take the “mess” out of “Christmas” (while keeping the “Christ”). In case you are trying to do that too, here are a few ideas for keeping your sanity (and if you’re in my immediate circle of friends, please ignore this because I’ll either be found out or I won’t be able to use my ideas because they’ll be taken).
- Ask yourself how much you like the people who will be at the Christmas party. Do you really want to hang out with them? Are you looking forward to it? If not, politely tell them you are otherwise engaged. Who knows? The washing-machine repairman may be coming that day. Or the UPS man needing you to sign. Heck, they may even be having a sale at the grocery store you can’t miss. Can you think of anything you’d rather be doing than going to this party? You can? Great. That’s what you’ll be up to instead. You’re welcome.
- So it’s a party you want to go to. But there’s a catch: you have to bring something. Like, they’re expecting you to feed your kids Little Caesars while you make a gourmet dish. Don’t give in to the guilt. You know how people go to the trouble of bringing homemade macaroni and cheese to these parties? Or maybe some potatoes au gratin or whatever? They actually have a whole aisle at the grocery store dedicated to box-versions of these lovely sides. Pick up one for $1, put it in a pretty dish, and tell me how many people complain to you about it. If you’re really concerned, snip some parsley on top and you’ll have people asking you for the recipe.
- If you’re bringing dessert, you’re in luck. Buy a brownie mix and take a few candy canes off your tree. Smash the candy canes, sprinkle them all over the top before baking, and then bring your gourmet treat to the party (on a pretty plate, of course) and you’ll be a hero. I do this all the time, and I have been told many times that it is the best thing they’ve ever had. Actually it is, and you can even delegate the making of this to a preschooler and have it turn out just fine (for liability reasons I must tell you to help them with the oven and don’t let them eat raw eggs).
- Buy a fake tree (pre-lit of course, unless you like punishment). Put it up in the morning and have the kids decorate the whole thing themselves. This makes it “their own” and gets you off the hook about it looking perfect. You can blame it all on the kids. Plus, it teaches them how to work together, and if they fight, you can send them to bed for the day and get some time to yourself.
- Buy tons of bottlebrush trees from Wal-Mart (they’re like a dollar each), and place them all around the house on any surface for instant festive-ness. Bottlebrush trees make anything look decorated.
- Head to Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick up free tree branches from the Christmas tree department. They’re there for the taking, even if you didn’t buy a tree. We put them on our mantel to make it look like we invested in fresh greenery from somewhere expensive.
- Make pom pom garlands out of yarn and hang them everywhere. Or buy them for expensive on Etsy.
- Put candy canes in jars in different places in your house. They look pretty and motivate kids to sweep and mop (at least in my experience).
Enjoying the season
- Get some slippers, especially if you live on a slab. If budget allows, get the ones with wool inside instead of polyester so they don’t make your feet stink. I heart Uggs!
- Invest $3.50 in a bag of those Hershey Peppermint Bark Bells. I don’t know if that’s the exact name, but they are delicious and have red and green sprinkles inside.
- Ask your kids to clean the tub so you can have a nice bath.
- Enjoy all the gingerbread or eggnog lattes you can until they go away.
- Buy cider, caramel, and whipped cream so you can make Caramel Apple Cider at home, and save your Starbucks money for those gingerbread lattes.
- Just plan to bake sugar cookies with frosting, since you won’t be able to find good ones at a store, and you’ll only get frustrated and upset looking for them (unless you live in Spokane, WA, and can get them at the Rocket Bakery).
- Study Isaiah 9:6! This is one of the the coolest “Christmas” verses in the Bible. I’d love to get a huge piece of art with this on it to have out every Christmas. Here it is: For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- Listen to some good Christmas music (not the annoying stuff). My family’s favorites are Shane & Shane (they have two Christmas albums and they’re both awesome), Phil Wickham, Sarah McLachlan (although I haven’t heard her new Christmas one yet), and vintage favorites (Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Mahalia Jackson, etc). And I heard that Shane and Shane are having a Christmas tour with Phil Wickham and are playing at the Magnolia Silos! I wouldn’t miss that if I lived anywhere near there!
I’ll send you off with some pictures for inspiration! This first one is actually our mantel at our last house, made with free wood “pucks” from Home Depot in the Christmas tree area. They’re just laying in the bin of free greenery, so we decided to use our resources that year.
You’ll also notice the fresh (free) greenery. The jars are either made into snowglobes with a bottlebrush tree inside or filled with ornaments. The wreath was from Target a few years ago when they made things a little better and the mercury glass tree is from Pottery Barn. The stocking holders are from Crate and Barrel a few years ago.
This was our front porch, too! The chairs were originally green and we spray-painted them red to look cute on our porch. Then we moved, and now regret that they don’t match the other five green ones we have.
We also put the free greenery and pinecones in the enamelware bin. There is no end to uses of free greenery!! Below is another picture of the fireplace wall with the free wood “pucks.” This was a brand-new development house that we owned, and it was short on character! We painted the small fireplace wall a dark brown to be a good backdrop for the pucks.
I really, really miss having a gas fireplace! It’s on our to-do list for our new house, though it’ll be waiting for awhile since it’s not a DIY project.
Here’s an example of the kind of enjoying you should make time for this season:
And here are some pictures of our Christmas decorating in our new house! Here’s our dining room mantel:
Here’s the buffet, with a little of my new curtains showing!
At the moment the table has a huge bowl of pinecones on it, but some of them may be moving to other locations. Here’s some detail of the buffet up close:
Those are Shiny Brite ornaments in the bowl and on the silver tree. I love vintage Christmas decorations. Below is the other side of the buffet.
And here’s the whole thing:
I’ll leave you with one last picture! This is our Christmas-y couch!
Merry Christmas! I’ll post some more of our rooms before Christmas if I get a chance.