Does Christmas mess, mess with your head? Has decorating for the festive season become a chore that means dragging out umpteen dozen boxes of stuff, and spreading it around the house, only to have to pack it away again, come January?
Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas. I adore it in a manic child like way that has me baking, and preserving, and marinating, and embroidering, and sewing for the entire year, never mind in the months of November and December.
But I have learned over many long years, that 'more' isn't necessarily 'better'. Often less really is more, or at least in this case, more Festive. Sometimes Christmas decorating, isn't decorating. It's just swapping one type of clutter for another, or even worse, adding to existing clutter, with even more, shinier clutter. I think Pinterest and blogging has a lot to answer for in that respect. We all feel like we have to outdo each other, with ever larger displays of Festivity.
I used to think my husband was the ultimate Grinch. He seemed to become more stressed, the closer we crept towards Christmas Day. For many years, I thought he'd had a bad childhood experience that he wasn't ready to share, and just tolerated his Grinchy behaviour with soothing words, and foot massages. Meanwhile, I was happily adding to my usual display of knick-knacks, with ever increasing numbers of Christmas knick-knacks, from baubles and bears, to snow globes and Santas, to Nativities and Noel signs. He'd be humphing, and harrumphing, and I'd be scratching my head wondering why he wasn't getting into the Spirit of things.
I need to add here, that he is five years older than I am, so I find myself in recent years, at the same stage of life where he first exhibited what I thought was a Bah-Humbug attitude towards all things Festive.
Suddenly I see things differently.
We both enjoy a clean, tidy, beautifully presented home. We have a home of which we are very proud, and love entertaining friends and family and enjoying the haven we've created from the world. We both have a few favourite bits and pieces on display, which we swap as season or whimsy dictates, but neither of us believe that it's necessary to have every. single. thing. we love, out at the same time. I wasn't always of that frame of mind. Lesson one.
We do have different tastes. One of his favourite pieces of artwork in the home is this print, purchased at the National Gallery in London, and framed upon returning home....
I once declared that I hated it and hurt his feelings terribly. When I recovered my diplomatic skills, I asked what it was that he loved about it. He said that it reminded him of water skiing as a child. He and his brothers were all champion water skiiers, and spent every weekend at a well known ski point, honing their skills. They'd arrive at 4am, ski from 5am till 9am, and be finished by the time everyone else was just starting to arrive. This print, reminds him of the calm, mirror-like lake of his water skiing childhood, with the grey criss-cross lines, resembling the tracks left by the water skis. Well. Who knew, right? I see this picture in a whole new light now, and have a new appreciation for why he loves it. I even like it. It's not something I would choose, but I enjoy looking at it now, knowing it's significance for him.
Here is one of my favourites by comparison...
Ballerinas. In tutus. What? You expected something else from me? Lol...
So, see, we have different tastes in artwork. The garden the same. He loves spiky, sculptural plants. I love soft, flowering, ornamentals. He loves Sandalwood soap, I love Jasmine or Rose. He drinks coffee, I drink tea. He loves the ocean, I love the mountains. Why then, would I assume that his taste in Christmas decorating, would automatically mirror mine? Lesson two.
Finally, we used to have different levels of tolerance for clutter. I have always been the Bower Bird, and as my husband and I met later in life (I was 35, he 40), we had to accept that some things we saw as less than ideal in each other, were not going to change. He'd like to live in a very pristine, five star hotel style environment, with minimalist décor. He's not averse to a few photos, and decorative thingos, but he hates having something on every surface in the house. Me, on the other hand...well, I live by the mantra 'my eye must see something of beauty at every turn'. I am very visually stimulated, and need pretty things around me. He's learned to allow me full rein, as far as displaying my collection of vintage pretties goes, so long as I keep it to my office, the kitchen, my craft room, and our bedroom. I've learned to not have everything out at the same time, and to put away, before adding to what is on display at any given time. I've also learned that he lives here too, and is equally entitled to display his collection of vintage cars, quirky clocks, and music paraphernalia, even if it does clash with my rose themed teacups, harlequin kitchenware, and Art Deco bedroom furniture. So, a truce, and an understanding is reached. Lesson three.
These days Christmas decorating is elegant and low key in our household. I've given away my gigantic 7 foot tall green plastic tree, and replaced it with a sweet tabletop, vintage silver feather tinsel tree. We adorn it with monochromatic ornaments and white fairy lights, and it lends an air of festivity, without dominating the living room. It's not up yet for this year, but will be soon.
Meanwhile, I've stopped bringing out every snow globe, French inspired Santa, glittered bauble, holiday themed serviette and placemat, figurine, wind chime, wreath, and feathered thing I own at Christmas.
Instead, each year, I choose a theme, and display a select few items, first packing away our daily display of favourites, to give our festive pretties a chance to take centre stage. I give my husband the courtesy of taking my cue from the high end hotels and department stores, and focusing on half a dozen themed and co-ordinated displays, over several dozen insignificant ones. I'm adding a Scandinavian restraint too, by choosing a single colour scheme and focusing on displays that are gentle on the eye and the mind, at this chaotic time of year.
We carry the restraint through to other rooms in the house, by not necessarily adding glitter and glitz (I know, right? You're now wondering if I've lost my mind...me....the sequin lover!), but rather changing linen and cushions to colours reflecting the Seasonal Spirit. There aren't too many Santas and Reindeer in the house these days, but Christmas abounds in calm and soothing colours, touches of Scandinavia in garlands of Fir tree boughs, silver, gold and clear baubles, and plain white candles.
Here are some key elements here this Christmas, and thanks must go to the many inspiring bloggers who post their ideas on Pinterest. I've drawn inspiration from them for all of these ideas. Whilst I haven't followed them slavishly, I have used key elements, and made them my own with what I had on hand.
Here in the front entry, we have a dozen simple household candles, bundled together and tied with a Champagne coloured, double satin bow. I added some gem like berries, sourced at the local haberdashery. The vintage fruit compote bowl, previously held a collection of vintage cotton reels. Cotton reels packed away. Candles on display.
While I was buying faux berries at the haberdashery, a few other assorted items found their way into my trolley. How does that happen? These Fir tree garlands were just $8, and when cut into four, gave me ample greenery to display. Taking my cue from a few favourite pins on Pinterest, and armed with my idea of leaning towards a Scandinavian take on the Festive season here, I added these little white polystyrene cone shapes to my trolley, to use as a suggestion of Christmas trees, without being 'trees'. I added a hand made tag to dress one up a little. The silver tray, had previously held my collection of crystal decanters. Decanters packed away, greenery and cones on display. Speaking of cones, I think this one needs some natural pine cones to finish it off. I'll grab them today on my walk.
My lounge cushions actually have crowns printed on them. I've reversed them so that the greenery takes pride of place.
A simple brown craftboard collection of letters, with a wreath of ivy and berries replacing the letter 'O', forms the word NOEL on a sideboard. Even my husband said 'aren't you going to put glitter on that?'. I just about died laughing! Has my leopard changed his spots?? I might glitter the star. I haven't decided.
More greenery, my favourite candlesticks, vintage baubles and white candles in a French themed wooden box. Thankyou KMart for saving me the task of making one. Shabby frame behind. Nothing more needed.
As a nod to The Grinch, who remains right up there with Santa as one of our favourite Christmas characters, more greenery, chunky candles, and some dried rosebuds, found their way into a wicker basket in the kitchen. My daughter inscribed the quote from Dr Seuss's Grinch, on a tiny chalkboard which somehow found it's way into my trolley too. More and more, we are realising that 'maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store....'.
My daughters room got a makeover with a bed sourced on Gumtree for just $50, and it's simply stunning. She's wrapped one of the fir garlands around the head, fairy lights at the foot, a red comforter, her usual cushions and throw rug, a Grinch style hat on the bed post, and dang, how did that shaggy white rug for her tootsies, get into my shopping haul? I couldn't resist. Sorry.
Do not be alarmed. All of this festive spending amounted to just $65, so I was pleased and so was husband. A far cry from the hundreds being spent on crazy shiny glittered stuff by many others, and formerly by, yes, me, myself and I. I told you. I'm learning.
Do you consult your husband or other family members before embarking on your Seasonal festivities? Do you feel overwhelmed by Christmas like my darling used to? Maybe it's time to reassess how you decorate and celebrate, and treat yourself to a low key Festive Season.
I was rewarded just last night, when my husband hugged me, and said 'I love the house like this'. Well. I never. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Christmas decorations and he loves it? Win!
Maybe, this year, 'Less is More', and it's time to appreciate a more elegant and restrained approach at your home too. It's chaos out there. Make home your haven. It might make all the difference.
Five Star Frou-Frou is my neverending linkup and you can find it here.
I feature a blogging friend who links, each time I post.
Todays featured blogger is....
Pam from Threading My Way, who shared her adorable stitched gift cards. I love this idea, and see all kinds of variations! Thanks Pam!