Simple Christmas Decorations

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Every year I find myself keeping Christmas decor more and more simple.  It is amazing how freeing it is!  Less bins, less mess, less dusting, less time setting the house up & less clutter.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that ‘less is more’ when it comes to Christmas decor.  My home feels just as festive, cozy and meaningful as it did in past years.  I know this is because I was purposeful with what I decided to keep around.

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1.Keep the Twinkle & Sparkle

I adore anything that has a twinkles and sparkles, especially around the holidays.  Even my nail polish gets a bit of sparkle around this time of year!

Christmas lights are a great way to add amazing atmosphere in a simple way.

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2. Use Books

Books are a practical way to add meaning to your decorations.  We had a tradition when the girls were young to buy a Christmas book each year.  We now have a collection of about 13 amazing Christmas books.  I used to read one every evening when the girls were younger.  Now that they are teens and preteens, we save it for Christmas morning, after stocking are emptied but before bigger gifts are opened.  It is a great reminder as to why we celebrate Christmas.  Every time I pass the book in the picture above, I am reminded of THE gift of this season.

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3. Keep Things That Make You Smile & Bring Tradition

It is hard to know what to keep and what to get rid of when downsizing Christmas decorations.  This fun pillow was a no-brainer for me.  It was given to me by my Mom which makes it automatically meaningful, it adds a pop of color, texture & whimsy to our couch, the kids love it, and it makes me smile.  That pillow will be around for years to come.

I must touch on the subject things that are kept because they were gifts from loved ones.  Your loved ones do not want their gifts to add clutter, work, stress and extra dusting to your life.  It is ok to let things go.  If it does not make you smile,  get rid of it.

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Getting rid of things can bless others.  Whether you give your extra items to a local mission or to someone in your life that you know might like it, it can be a super meaningful thing for everyone around.

Here is an example.  For years I have drooled over nativity sets every time I would go to Hobby Lobby during the holiday season.  Yep, I would lust after shepherds and 3 wise men.  I just love nativity sets…but I do not love their price.  I settled a few years ago for this little snow globe that has sparkly glitter that floats when shaken and plays music.  It brought our family much joy.

This year, my Mother-in-Law texted and said she was downsizing her decorations and asked if I wanted a nativity set.  She had 2 to choose from.  I get a bit giddy, but asked for a picture as I know I would only want to accept something I would love to keep around and matches my esthetic & taste.  I had my fingers crossed for a very simple, all white nativity set.

She sent a picture of 2, and sure enough, one of them as all white.  It is so precious to me. It is worth every bit of dusting and packing it up with care that I will need to do.  It has brought such a feeling of peace to look at in the midst of a pretty challenging December.  I will share a picture of it below, but it brings me to my next point:

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4. Know When to Say Yes To Gifts Offered

The new items in our home this season is the nativity set I spoke of above, and these two chairs.  I love that both items that pack a punch.  I brought this table out from our kitchen in to the living room.  In the world of laptops, I love having a sitting area with a table in my living area.  Todd’s Mom, Sharon, knew I needed chairs for it, and my birthday happened to be at the end of November, right when I was rearranging and decorating.  She suggested gifting me a chair for my birthday and a chair for Christmas, and even let me pick them out.

These chairs make me so happy!  I have already had some amazing heart-felt moments & conversions while sitting in them.  I love that the silver embellishments add just a bit of shine.  They can be found at Target.

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4. Candles, Candles, Candles

Todd and I were at a Christmas party thrown by my sweet mentor.  There was a gift exchange and I stole this candle from another person at the party, as it was one of those fun gift exchanges that you are allowed to be selfish at.  Love it!  This candle smells so, so good.  It is a bit of a unisex scent, not too girly or fruity.  I want to go grab a couple more up before they sell out for the season.   It can be found at Bath & Body Works.

I light candles every day during December.  I love having a candle burning, both for the scent and the warmth they bring.

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6. Be OK With Using Inexpensive Decorations

I’m all about the dollar store!  This little tree and those silver balls both came from the dollar store a couple of years ago.  They add a ton of sparkle to a dark corner of our living room.  I sprinkled those little glitter balls in a couple of areas, which made that dollar stretch! I like that I am more free to get rid of items if I know they didn’t cost a whole bunch of money, and I like it when things don’t cost a whole bunch of money!

The candy canes also came from the dollar store.  Hooked onto a vase, they are super festive & add fun color to my dark book shelf.

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7. Add Meaningful With Whimsical

The HOPE photo above was taken by my dear friend Megan Newsom.   She used to be a contributing author here at New Nostalgia & she was such a gift!  She is an amazing photographer and has such an eye for creating and capturing beauty. It is crazy to think I have never met her in person, as I have such a heart connection to her.  She sent me this photo in a care package when I was going through surgery.  It was the perfect word & perfect gift.  When I look at it, it brings back all the emotions of opening her care package & the love I felt from her in all of the sweet details of it.  It makes me very happy!

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8. Don’t Take Your Decorations Too Seriously

This is important especially if you have young ones.  Cherish every one of those homemade decorations.  Notice I didn’t say you have to keep them all!  I said to cherish them.  Notice them.  Display that amazing kid art your kids are so proud of.  Use the refrigerator to group them together or even tape them into a collage on a door.  A key to keeping things organized and easy on the eye is keep in mind the idea of a group.  Kids are packs a sweet punch when grouped together, verses spread out all over the house.  When everywhere, the eye doesn’t know where to look.  A grouping tells the eye right where to go.

We have the tradition of making a gingerbread house every year.  My 11-year-old youngest is the only one still interested in that tradition.  She made the one above.  I love displaying them every year!  I love how they look with our Nutcracker.  He is one of the few decorating items I kept from when the girls were young.  I remember little chubby fingers playing with it, making his mouth open and close.

The great thing about gingerbread house is they can be thrown away at the end of the season.

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8. Wreaths

I only have one wreath, and one is enough.  I love that it is large-scale, which makes a statement.  I also love any Christmas decorations that I can make stretch through the winter season. My wreath is plain enough to keep out until spring, as it just has a few pinecones added to it.

I do the same with a few evergreen trees.  They, too, are simple enough to keep out as winter decorations until spring.  This year I have two of them at our dining room table.  You can see them keeping my Colsie girl company as she does her homework in the picture below.

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9. Pops Of Color

My pop of color choice for Christmas is red.  It is a no-brainer.  It will never go ‘out- of -style’ at Christmastime.

The round, red candle holders below are from my sister-in-law.  They add red, shine and sparkle.  I have had them for about 5 years now and I love them.

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Another way to add a pop of color at Christmas is to use wrapped gifts.  The silvery gift wrap you see is so very pretty under the tree as the tree lights reflect off of it & create a sparkle under the tree.  I love it so much I will be purposeful about buying reflective gift wrap again this year at the after Christmas sales.

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10. It Is OK To NOT Have Christmas Dishes

I got rid of all Christmas dishes, except one festive platter,one red mug, and those little tea bag holders.  I love drinking hot chocolate out of my festive mug, and it is made double special as it was a gift from a friend.  I use the platter when we are asked to bring a sweet treat to parties.

I do not miss packing up a bunch of Christmas dishes.

What do you think of my new stackable Starbucks mugs? I used some birthday money I was given and splurged on these awesome mugs.  I ordered them on black Friday where Starbucks was having a deal of free shipping and $25.oo off every $70 dollars you spend.  They were a steal.

I have very little kitchen cupboard space so I got creative with a cabinet that we brought into the kitchen from the living room.  I took the doors off and am using it for storage.  I freed up a ton of cabinet space by getting stackable, matching mugs.  These mugs feel so nice sturdy in your hands, & make me very, very happy!

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11. Don’t Decorate Every Room

I used to go nuts and have Christmas decorations in every room.  Not anymore.  I now keep it to my living room, dining room, a couple pops of sparkle in my kitchen & a festive candle in my bathroom.  That is it.

It is what works for me.  I no longer dread packing and unpacking Christmas decorations.

The little evergreen in the kitchen window was a birthday gift from a friend.  I love!

Notice how even marshmallows in a jar can look festive.  Finding ways to decorate yet still be practical is rewarding for me.  I love making the mundane beautiful, and my kids love just grabbing the jar of cocoa mix and marshmallows when in the mood for a warm drink.  Accessible warm drinks are a must in my kitchen during the holidays!

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Whoops…I forgot about this guy in our home office.  He has a matching friend on the other side of the desk.  These nutcracker’s were kept purposefully and will be given to my girls when they move out.  They were gifts from their Grandpa Don which he bought them when he took them to the Nutcracker a few years ago.  It was a super special night and it was when I was sick, so I remember being so touched that he would love on them in that way & create such a beautiful memory.  I think they look great with our new office painted wall treatment.

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Do you see my ‘new-to-me’ nativity? Isn’t it just wonderful?

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How about you?

Do you feel like simplifying Christmas decorations?

Why or why not?

Before and After Home Office Organization

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“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Sharpie, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #EverydaySharpiehttp://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

I have been ignoring our home office closet for way too long. Now that fall is here I have been motivated make our home office uncluttered, minimalized & esthetically pleasing.  I loved the simplicity of our home office since removing things from the walls and giving it a paint treatment–that is– until I would try to open a desk drawer or look for something in the closet. We we’re to the point where drawers were not closing, closet shelves were falling down, and closet doors were not closing!  It was time to focus in and tackle it, and I did just that on a cool fall-like Sunday afternoon.

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I started on Saturday, tentatively opening drawers and closet doors, taking in what was causing the clutter, and taking note of the things I knew we would be keeping in the office.  This step was important in order to visualize what the best use of the space in the closet would be.  I ventured out on Saturday, visiting Walgreens and my favorite dollars store for supplies.  I looked for a variety of bins of different sizes and textures.  I wanted to keep the color scheme simple, so I chose white, orange, black & a touch of natural brown wicker color.  I thought this color combination would go great with the new deconstructed chevron wall I just painted in our home office.

I also bought supplies to create labels.  I knew in order to keep this closet looking great, the first step would be getting rid of everything that is not used or necessary, and then label containers for all that is left, giving each item a clearly marked home.

I bought some fun yellow washi tape.  I couldn’t find an orange to match the containers I purchased, and I knew this yellow would be a fun pop of color, just as my special yellow chair is that is in the study.

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I bought some chevron grey, white and black note cards, some white 3×5 cards, and my favorite Stainless Sharpie Pen 1S.  I’m a bit of a pen snob, and I wanted a pen that would work well, look & feel sleek, & make my handwriting look somewhat decent.  Isn’t it funny how a good pen can actually do that?  I also wanted a pen that would be permanent like a marker but write like a pen; without smearing.  Walgreens has the Stainless Sharpie Pen 1S for $5.29.  I also grabbed the Sharpie Pen Grip RT Black, this is my second favorite.  I love that it has a comfortable grip & is retraceable and does not have a lid. My girls tend to lose lids quickly, which is why the Stainless Sharpie Pen is MINE. For older kids and teenagers, retractable Sharpie pens rock!

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I bought the wooden clothes pins from the dollar store, and some binder clips.  I decided I am done with sticky type labels–washi tape does not count as it is super easy to remove.  I like the idea of being able to quickly change out a label depending on the need at the time.  This is why I went with very inexpensive 3×5 cards–they were .50 cents for 400!  Can’t beat that price!  The chevron cards I picked up would be the perfect backing to these 3×5 cards to make them pretty! I used the chevron notecards to back my 3×5 cards, then clipped them right to the container with a clothes pin. When I need to change the label, it will just take a matter of seconds to write on a new card and clip it back onto the container.  Easy!

Armed with my supplies, I started clearing out the closet.  Oh my. It is amazing how much stuff gets thrown in there!  Our home office is a very central location of our home and it just seems to be a magnet for clutter.

While I cleared things out, I made a pile for donating, had a trash bag handy for trash, and made another pile for items that belong elsewhere.  There was also a nice big basket full of papers that need sorted, but I didn’t allow that to distract me from the mission.  I set them aside and will go through them slowly throughout the week, maybe while watching Dr. Oz!

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I spread all my containers out on my kitchen table, and as I cleared out the closet, it became apparent what items needed grouped together and a home.  I brought those items out and put them in the appropriate container, labeled it, then carried it back into the closet and put it together in the most practical,efficient, and beautiful way I could think of– kind of like a puzzle.  I wanted the closet to be appealing to the eye, but also as functional as possible, as this would be key for keeping it organized.

Before I carried all the labeled containers back into the closet, I made sure to sweep, dust and clean the shelves.  I also had to fix the base of the shelves, as it had come apart from the wall and was leaning heavily to one side.  That alone kept my procrastination in full gear when I thought of organizing this closet.  I’m pretty good with power tools but I don’t like the process of using them.   I can’t tell you how happy I was once the base was screwed back into place and the shelves were straight and usable again.  That gave us almost a 1/3 more closet space then we had before when it was broken. Thank you drill and electric screwdriver!  I am woman…hear me roar.

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I put my power tools (and my roaring) away and got out the tools I am more comfortable with:

washi tape

paper

note cards

letter stickers

binder clips

wooden clips

scissors

Sharpie pens

I had great fun making the labels. Like I said above, I kept it simple enough to be able to do a quick change of label if needed, just by grabbing a 3×5 card, a clip and my Sharpie pen.  I stored the 3×5 cards, cut in half, in an envelope and taped it to the inside of the closet door with washi tape.  I utilized the inside of the closet doors by hanging a few bulletin boards.  The board marked ‘Truth’ will hold a weekly scripture verse to keep front and center in our minds throughout the week.

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I’m super excited about how the closet turned out.  I can’t believe the difference.  Because the closet is in such a central location in our home, and because we do not have a coat closet, I decided to make this closet an office/coat closet.  This is why you see coats hanging & bins marked for mittens, gloves, scarves & hats.  I even kept an open square of the wire shelving open for storing my snow boots.

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I’m trying to keep our office free from paper piles, so I made each family member a magazine file holder with their name clearly marked on the front.  I like that these are big enough to not only hold paper, but also any projects or items I find lying around in the office.  I also made one for my receipts & for papers that need filed.

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I did give in and use some stickers on a few larger bins that hold items that I know we will always need for storage & whose labels will not need changed out.  I just couldn’t pass up how cute they were.

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One of my favorite areas of the closet is the wire shelving that holds bigger bins.  We have had this for a while, and have been utilizing it in this way, but the closet got so full you could not see it, and the bins were not clearly labeled.  I now have 4 clearly labeled bins.

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They are marked:

Library

Donate

Deliver

Socks

Are you wondering about the sock bin?  Our laundry room is downstairs which is just to far to go whenever someone cannot find socks.  This bin holds those dreaded missing socks that everyone is always asking for.  Now I just send them to the sock basket.

The library bin keeps the books we get from the library in one place.  I love that I can quickly make another label and jot down when they are due and clip it right to the bin.

The donate & deliver bins are pretty self-explanatory.  I am always collecting items that people left at our home, especially my kids’ friends.  I love having a place to put this stuff and will tell said friends to go check the deliver basket when they come.  I will also use it to keep track of what I need to return to people and deliver myself.  The donate bin is a great place to keep items I want to get rid of.  Minimalizing is an ongoing process in this house, so I always try to have something in that bin!

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I can now get to my vacuum quickly, and the attachments are all in one place stored above the vacuum.  I hung them in a bucket on a tension rod that I found in the back of the closet.  I also found a hook that is perfect for hanging my camera bag.  I take photos constantly for New Nostalgia and now my Colsie has an interest in photography, so I like having a specific place for the camera where everyone knows where it is and where to put it away.

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On to the desk.  Cords were an issue…but not anymore!  I used my Sharpie pen and marked plastic zip bags with what specific cord wasis inside.  Make sure to use a Sharpie, other markers will smear.  Earbuds also got a home.  No more tangled mess!

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I bought a bunch of little round containers from the dollar store & used them to corral all those small items that make a mess in drawers.  I also moved printer paper & lined paper from the closet shelf to a drawer.  I found when my girls would grab a piece, more than one would come and my closet would be littered with paper.  A drawer should solve this problem.  This is an example of how important it is to always look for the most efficient way to store items.  Put items that are used regularly front and center.  Keep ‘like’ with ‘like’ and when one item is always creating clutter, figure out another way to store it or give it a specific home.

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I am so very happy with how our home office is shaping up.  I have a couple more fun project planned for it–an artistic wall piece that doubles as a way to display photos, a fun project with clipboards, and a homemade light fixture.  Look for those posts coming to New Nostalgia this fall.