Lights, tinsel, sparkle! Time to get decorating

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

I love the holiday season. There’s just something magical about Christmas. And one of the biggest parts of Christmas is the sights. The decorations. Every year, I have big dreams of turning my home into something out of a magazine. To be honest, I’m lucky if we get a tree up and my girls’ stockings. But I have big dreams!!

We have a few traditions around decorating for Christmas holidays. First, I do love the look of a house decorated outside for the season. Then there’s the tree of course, and the stockings. We also like to do some homemade things. It’s all about making it fun for everyone, even if it’s not Pinterest-perfect.

Starting outside

As a single mom, it’s a little harder to decorate outside. I don’t have a ladder, and I don’t have a guy around to do it. Last year, my ex and I were getting along decently, so he volunteered to put our lights up. While I wasn’t intending to take them down, they came down in one of the windstorms we had this summer.

This year, I’m considering buying or borrowing a ladder and buying the rope lights. I kind of like the look, and the LED will probably be better for my electric bill. I also love the look of icicle lights. And I do have those.

I have some flowerbeds in front of my house, with a nice shrub. We also have a very large tree. I’m thinking that this year, I want to get one of those light nets for the bush, and then wrap the tree trunk in lights. Maybe boost one of the girls into the tree and have them string the lower branches at least. There are so many possibilities!

The Front Door

Every year, I buy an extravagant wreath for my front door. I love the look of these wreaths. I know I could reuse them from year to year, which I do, but not on my front door. The wreaths of other years get put on other doors and in other places. I love getting a new one every year. It’s just part of the charm of decorating for Christmas!

This year I have some planters for my house. They have hosta planted in them, but now that the frost has killed off the leaves, we just have bare dirt. I’m planning on getting evergreen decorations to put in the planters. It should look marvelous. Maybe we’ll light up the planters too? I may need to get more lights!

The Tree

Of course, the center of any Christmas decorating scheme is the Christmas tree. For my family this is a huge deal. For the last four years or so, we’ve gone to a special Christmas tree farm, approximately two hours away. Why so far? Because this farm has a Christmas village!

My girls have so much fun at this farm. There’s an amazing playground complete with tire swings and ziplines. There’s horse-drawn wagon rides. The giant hay maze is more like a huge hay-fortress! And there’s candle making, cookie-decorating, and ornaments to personalize. I think we all like the campfire best though. I bring hotdogs and marshmallows to roast, along with blankets to curl up in and hot chocolate thermoses to sip. It’s fantastic.

After the day exploring the farm activities, we all troop out to the trees themselves. The girls take their time picking just the right one, which I then cut with a hand saw. (Yes, me! You don’t know what you can do until you’ve cut down your Christmas tree with a saw!) We drag it out for the tractor to bring back and grab the wagon ride back to the village. They wrap and shake the tree, and drill a hole in the bottom for us. Then I load all the kids, their ornaments, my wreath and our lunch back in my van. And then I tie the tree to the roof rack for our two-hour-drive back home.

Decorating the tree

A live tree is a lot of work, but the smell can’t be beat! I have a special stand for it, so once we get home, I get it into the stand and get water into it right away.

Depending on how late it is, we may wait a day to decorate the tree itself. But when we do, again, it’s a big deal for my kids and I.

First go on the lights. Every year, they tease me that no matter how carefully I put away the cords, they always end up tangled. (It’s true! I have the worst luck with tangling cords!) I stick to white lights on our tree. We have a special tree topper too. It isn’t just one star, it’s a spray of stars, with LED lights, that change color in a pattern. It looks fantastic, and every year my girls shout over it.

The tree ornaments

Next we get out our ornaments. No we don’t have generic sparkly balls. We have special ornaments. These are from another of our Christmas traditions, started 14 years ago with my oldest daughter. For her first Christmas, I bought her a Christmas tree ornament, with the year on it. And every year after that, I bought another dated ornament. When she got old enough, I took her shopping and we chose it together.

I only ever missed one year — the year I got married. My ex didn’t understand the importance of the tradition, so refused to let me get it. But the next year, I bought two ornaments to make up for it. And I bought them for every new baby. This year, I get to buy one more “First Christmas” ornament.

Now my girls can’t wait to go shopping for their ornaments every year. In fact, we’ve already bought one, when by chance we saw the perfect ornament for one of my daughters. I mark the date on them, if they don’t have them already. The process of unwrapping the ornaments, and handing them out to each child is part of the fun. Everyone exclaims over “their” ornaments and tells the stories of why they picked them. It’s important to have traditions like this.

The stockings

Another big tradition we have here is our stockings. Every one of us has a stocking, and for my girls, theirs has their name on it. Yay, I get to buy one more stocking and personalize it this year — how fun! Even though we don’t do the Santa story, I do fill their stockings on Christmas eve, with hair things, jewelry, pencils and markers, and little treasures that suit each child. I also pass out just a little bit of candy. After all, what’s Christmas without candy? I even fill my own stocking!

The rest of the house

It’s a bit harder to decorate the rest of our house, just yet. My girls are still quite little, so its not like I can put out kitschy things. But I do have a few candles, figurines and hangings that I bring out just at Christmas. And we have a nativity set, that I clear out a shelf for on my special bookshelf (that the girls know not to touch!).  I have a play nativity for them to play and re-enact the story with.

We also cut out snowflakes and hang them in our hallway. And I have a few smaller wreaths to hang on the girls’ bedroom doors. That’s about as far as it goes right now, but as they get older, and the toys get fewer, well.. we shall see what we can do.

Looking at the pretty houses

I love decorating for Christmas. And even though I don’t have the time, money or energy to go all out for it, I love the elaborate displays. So another tradition for us is to go look at the lights. In our area, the city has a park with tons of special displays. There are also neighbourhoods known for going all out with decorated houses. So we drive around and look at all decorated houses. Then we come home for popcorn and hot chocolate and a Christmas movie.

I love Christmas. What are some of your traditions? Do you decorate all out? I’d love to see pictures! Post them on my Facebook page.

Need help with your holiday decorating? Check out my From Stress to Bliss Holiday Planner. You’ll have all the planning worksheets, including some for your decorating plans, that you need to be able to relax this Christmas. 

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