House For Six

holiday

Organizing and Storing Christmas Decorations

Deme Crinion2 Comments

I'm probably waaaay behind the power curve (and disclosing my complete slacker status) with this post as most of you probably packed up the tinsel weeks ago. But if there happens to be any fellow Christmas clean-up procrastinators out there, this one's for you!

Great tips for how to organize and store Christmas decorations.

I shared this photo on IG and it sounds like a least a few of you have similar looking dining rooms at the moment:

I finally finished purging, organizing, and boxing it all up yesterday and feel like I can breath again.  I did things a little differently than years past and thought I would break down that simple process today for anyone that needs a little encouragement.

Purge

The end of the season is always a good time to take a look at what you have, what you actually used, and what things you most enjoyed or added to the season.  We're at a point that we're craving more simplicity in basically every facet of our lives, Christmas decorating included. I used a lot more greenery than I have in years past and want to go more that direction in the future. Less chotchkies, more natural elements and accenting what's already there.  Hopefully that translates to less to pack/store!

I already purged quite a bit when we moved, but it seems every season we find or receive new things to add to the decor stash.  Which means we need to weed out some of the old if we don't want to end up adding a bin to our supply every year.  

If anything was broken, crunched, missing pieces, or otherwise falling apart it went in the trash.  If I haven't glued on St. Joseph's head by now then it's probably not ever going to happen.  In the past I haven't put out every single thing from the bins.  So this year, If there was anything I left in the bin for 2 years in a row (or more) it went to a donation box.  Even if it was something I really liked.

Wipe everything down  

Let's face it.  Our Christmas stuff stays out for a good number of weeks and even if we dust/clean during that time, there's still plenty of dust o' gathering.  No one wants to crack open a decor bin come next Christmas to be greeted with a nice puff of dust.  Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like an allergy fit.  

This year I dusted most of the decor items with a Swiffer duster, but I took an antibacterial wipe to all the kids stuff so that I could be assured everything was clean and ready to be played with when I pull it out next year.  

Little People Nativity

For those cloth items like stockings and hand sewn decorations, I used a sticky roller to get off any lingering dust/fuzz.

Separate Into Categories

I started our Christmas take-down by directing the kids to go through the house, grab anything that qualified as "Christmas", and bring it to the dining room table.  From there I purged out the trash/donate items and was left with what we planned to keep.  

I could have just started packing it away and making a list of what was in each bin, but I thought I would try to make things a little easier on myself next year.  I started by sorting all the items into categories which ended up being Tree Decorations, Kids decorations, Advent Items, Books/Puzzles, and General decor.  

This gave me a better idea of how many bins I would need and in what size.  

Box it up  

There were some great comments on FB/Instagram about how to categorize and box up all your merry stuff.  Dwija said something that really made sense for me: some of us decorate in one fell swoop and others of us decorate over the course of days/weeks.  So she packs bins according to how they decorate in phases.  

I realized that my categories had fallen into a similar pattern.  We don't always put up Christmas and Advent at the same time, so dedicating the Advent items (Advent wreath, Giving Manger, Advent cards, Calendar) to their own box will make it much easier than trying to pull those items out of a larger bin.  On the same note, we usually spend a day finding and decorating the tree, another to the outdoor decorations, and yet another to sprucing the rest of the interior. So, everything we need for each of those events is together.

It's not that I didn't do this in the past, it's that I would put multiple categories into one big box, so the stockings and Elf would be in with the tree stuff, and I wasn't necessarily ready to put them all up at the same time.  Which meant the bin stayed out longer, half-emptied until I was ready to put out the rest.  Keeping the categories for each bin more specific and their containers smaller if needed was a key change that will hopefully make things easier in the long run.

I ended up with 1 large bin for the tree decorations/ornaments, 1 large bin for general decor, 1 medium bin for kid stuff, 1 medium bin for books and puzzles, 1 small bin for Advent, and another small bin for my white ceramic village. Within the bins I used smaller boxes and plenty of zip lock bags to keep items organized and contained.

nativity .jpg

I know many people have specific wreath holders (which I may invest in someday) but for now I stack mine inside a large trash bag and tie it up.

Label It 

It doesn't have to be fancy, but somehow creating a label that details what's inside each bin will make it super easy to grab what you need.  Next year I might be more motivated to create something cute, but this year I just used a sharpie and some large note cards.  I taped the labels on the outside of the larger solid bin and slipped them on the inside of the clear bins.  Then I moved them down to the basement and called it done!  

That pic was taken before I brought down the wreath bag and our outdoor decorations (2 light-up skinny trees, 2 light up deer, and one XL ziplock bag of bows/garland).  And I actually feel pretty good about bringing it all back up in approximately 354 days #dontfreakout

Hope that helps some of you that may not know where to start!  Or just be dragging your feet like me.  I admit the clean up sucks, but it sure does feel good to have a blank slate again.  Feel free to share any of your tips in the comments!

We'll be back later this week with an update on our entry.  3 months ago we had a major bathroom leak that damaged the last section of old flooring in the house (and thankfully didn't touch any of the new flooring!) and after working through some kinks, we've finally landed on a new plan.  So excited!

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Our First Holiday At (This) Home

Deme Crinion6 Comments

I love this time of year so much!  It really does feel magical, and while I don't have any misgivings about a perfectly styled home yielding the perfect Christmas, I do think that all those ways we bring Christmas into our home lend to that feeling that something special is happening.  

You might love trimming a perfectly themed tree (or five!).  Or maybe you're in the just-throw-some-green-branches-around-the-house camp.  Or maybe you clear the stores out of the $1 red bows like it's cool.  Whatever your Christmas flair, it all gets the job done in it's own way.  It's the shift out of our ordinary day-to-day rhythms that jars us out of a monotony of motions.  Because something special is happening

And I couldn't wait to deck our new halls for the first time!  That is until James dropped a bomb on me a few weeks ago...

"I really hate decorating for the holidays".  

*GASP*   What do you mean??  Do you hate the actual decorations, or the process of it?  

Yes. Both.

Ugh. #stabtotheheart

We were interrupted by the kids, so I gave it some thought before I revisited the topic.  I will just say now, that I am the worst about starting something, knocking out 80% of it fast, and then not finishing it.  Rooms sit undone, boxes sit in walk ways, and the chaos of the unfinished eats away at the would be calm.  

Last year I thought slowly decorating would take off some of the holiday stress and pressure.  And it did, but it caused a whole other level of stress to have the giant Christmas bins floating around various rooms for weeks on end.   And I know it drives James nuts to do a rote motion like reach for some hand soap and have some unexpected object known as the "holiday vignette" block your way (and get knocked over in the process).

I finally asked if these were the reasons for his aversion to holiday decorations.  He confirmed. Which left me with two goals when it came to our holiday decorating: 

1 - Make it quick.  Don't let it drag on.  No need to rush but stay focused.  Keep the bins out of the way of our daily routine....and PUT THEM AWAY when the job is done. 

2 - Ditch the cluttery vignettes.  I had started going this direction over the past couple of years anyway.  I wanted to include more natural greenery and to keep things simple. And now I would add being considerate of placement.  As in....will hanging this wreath here make it hard to close the curtains?  Will this decoration be annoying every time we open/close the door? Will the toddler be able to destroy this and send me into a mom-rage every time she does?  Etc, etc.

Being that this is our first Christmas in the new house it did take some time to figure out how our tried and true decorations would work in this home.  It took about a week (instead of the weekend I hoped for) and I finally had to let go of some of my ideas to call it done.  I have lots of plans for next year, but that's the great news.  We have many more years in this house to have fun decorating for the holidays in new ways.

So, with that, here's how we brought in some holiday cheer for the first Christmas in our new home....

I apologize in advance for the snowpocolypse shot.  All we did for our porch was put up our light-up skinny trees and throw some red bows on the lights for a little pop of color.  As if the door weren't enough ;) You're guaranteed to be be greeted by at least one munchkin when you knock on our bright blue door and they're happy to usher you in.  

holiday porch

Our entry has the perfect sized wall for our piano and Mia loves playing because the acoustics are great in here (read: it's loud).  I split up a 20 ft fresh garland from Trader Joe's (under $7!!) and spread it around the house.  I attached some poinsettia clips from Tar-jay to the garland on the piano and added our favorite Nativity.

holiday entry - fresh garland with poinsettia clips

Our entry is right in the middle of the house and the rooms form a U-shape around it.  If you walk to the left you enter the living room.  We slid the desk over to make room for the tree, added a poinsettia that always reminds me of my grandmother, and that vase of fresh greenery a friend gave me.

family Christmas tree

Cutting down our family tree is always the highlight of the season.  The kids decorated almost the entire tree themselves (I just helped with the fragile ornaments on the top), and they knocked it out of the park.

family Christmas tree

We opened up the wall between the living and family room when we first moved in and although the tree is in the living room it's really close to the fireplace in the adjoining room.  We didn't do much in the family room, but we did add a holiday bin for all the Christmas books.  

simple holiday decor in the family room
holiday bin for Christmas books
holiday bin for Christmas books

The family room flows into the kitchen - again thanks to opening up another wall.  We just added a few touches of greenery and stocked the fridge with peppermint mocha creamer.

fresh greenery in the kitchen
fresh greenery in the kitchen
fresh greenery in the kitchen
holiday touches in the kitchen

I think he's embarrassed that we still have a Halloween pic up, but he'll get over it.

holiday touches in the kitchen

Past our kitchen and to the right is our dining room, just on the other side of the entry (don't mind the toddler mess at the bottom of the stairs).  We recently switched this from a play/homework room back to a dining room and it's getting so much more use.  It's also doubling as our Santa's workshop.  Gifts, wrapping paper, ribbon, and gift tags are stashed all around the room. 

holiday entry
holiday dining room
Modern advent wreath
White Christmas villiage
holiday dining room
holiday dining room
holiday card station
holiday card station
holiday dining room

My favorite addition to this room (aside from the long table) is this bar cart.  I recently had a Holiday Mom's Night In and this was our hot drink station.  We filled a thermos with hot cider, another with hot cocoa, and then filled up the cart with some fun drink additions and a few merry touches.

Holiday Bar Cart
Holiday hot drink cart
Holiday hot drink cart
Holiday hot drink cart
Holiday hot drink cart
Baileys for the cocoa bar.jpg
Holiday hot drink cart

Since my mugs are all white, I added a snowflake wine charm to each mug, so guests wouldn't confuse their drinks. I found this set of six at Home Goods (similar set here) but I think this set of nine looks pretty fun too.

wine charms on mugs for hot drinks

The charms do tend to slide down the handle, as modeled by our resident Vanna here, but they still did the trick....and gave the plain white mugs a festive touch.

wine charms on mugs

The final bit of holiday decor was in our bedroom.  I've never added any decorations in here before and since this room is still very much a work in progress, the blank wall above the headboard was begging for a wreath.  I'm not sure James loves that I put up the furry white one up, but I love it.  Next year, maybe we'll try some greenery in here - more masculine?

holiday bedroom

And that's about it!  That one large bundle of fresh garland gave us some serious bang for our buck.  It ended up in three different rooms and the house smells like a Christmas tree farm.  Even though there's more I would like to do next year, I love the simplicity of what we have going on this season.  It also won't feel like a bear to put away when the time comes.  This is the earliest we've ever put up decorations and been "done" with plenty of time to actually enjoy them.  Maybe there's something to be said for not procrastinating after all ;)

We hope you're able to enjoy the process of getting your home ready for Christmas this year, however simple or elaborate.  It felt good to take the pressure off and say "good enough".  Because something special is happening no matter what my house looks like...and I might just enjoy the waiting a bit more now.

holiday bedroom

Sources:

Entry:  Garland (Trader Joe's) | Poinsetta clips (Target in store only - by the wreathes/bows) | Lamp bases (Home Goods) | Lamp Shades | Canvas | Nativity (Home Depot super clearance last year) | White sheepskin (IKEA)

Living Room: Tree Skirt (blanket, Home Goods...this one is fun too) | Desk (Walmart - old, but similar) | Poinsettia (Home Depot) | Rug (Costco)

Family Room:  Chair | Plaid throw (blanket scarf from Target Dollar Spot) | Wooden Book Bin (Home Goods) | Rug (Beaumont Distressed Adileh in "green"...which reads aqua blue in person) 

Kitchen: Garland (Trader Joe's) | White pitcher (Home Goods) | Hedgehog table crumb brush 

Dining Room:  Table (Pottery Barn Outlet) | X-back chairs | Grey linen chairs | Plaid Throw (old blanket scarf) | Buffet (Craigslist) | White Ceramic Villiage | White shelves | Lego Advent Calendar | Giving Manger

Bar cart: | Stainless Pitchers | White mugs | Wine charms (Home Goods....similar here or these cute ones) | Camping mugs | Silver Tree (older, gift) | Marble bowl w/ gold spoon | Green velvet ribbon (Home Goods)

Master Bedroom: Headboard | White quilted linens (similar) | White fur wreath (Target last year)

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Our Family Christmas Tree

Deme Crinion1 Comment

The first year we moved to Ohio we found the sweetest Christmas tree farm [Spring Valley Tree Farm] and cut down our own tree.  It's been a Christmas tradition we look forward to ever since.  

The farm has a few precut trees, but we usually channel our inner Paul Bunyan and scour the rows of planted trees to cut down our own.  It adds to the fun (and discomfort) and the tree usually doesn't dry out as quickly.  

hunting for a Christmas tree!

The owners are so nice - not only do they shake, bag, and load your tree on your car, they serve cookies and hot cocoa in their little red shack.  

We found this year's winner pretty quickly and Jack was determined to haul it to the front himself.  

Let no one say this child lacks fortitude.  Or facial expression.

The kids wanted to do the decorating themselves, and for the first time, I really stepped back and let them drive the show.  Even though there's at least 20 counting dinos buried in the branches, they did an amazing job!  With necessary water breaks of course.

Family Christmas tree
Family Christmas tree
Family Christmas tree
Family Christmas tree
Family Christmas tree with Santa clothespins

Pulling out our favorite ornaments from years past is the best part about decorating the tree.  I love how they tell our story (and it's only just begun!).  Do I sometimes wish for a pretty, themed tree?  Yes.  And maybe one year I'll get a small second tree for just that, but this one will always steal the show.  In all her perfectly imperfect glory.  

Family Christmas tree

We're not going to have a full blown holiday house tour this year since we're fresh off a move, but we'll be back next week to show you the small ways we're bringing the holidays into this home for the first time.  Have a wonderful weekend! 

A Thanksgiving Table (JuSt In Time!)

Deme CrinionComment

Before the interwebs are pumping out all Christmas all the time (wait, we're already there, aren't we?), I wanted to throw it back to Thanksgiving for one last shoutout to fall.

I recently gave up the idea of using our dining room as a playroom, and switched it back over to a dedicated dining space.  The playroom/homework room made sense, in theory.  We have four young kids (read:  toys, and books, and backpacks oh my), but we found that they rarely used this room.  

playroom

We opened up most of the first floor when we moved in so it feels like one large living space.  With the exception of this room.  It's on the other side of the main level and sort of closed off.  Perfect for corralling toys out of the way, right?  Turns out our kitchen must have a large magnet because that's where everyone congregates.  The older kids use the breakfast table or bar for homework and Liv would never play with her toys in the dining room..because she must be in the mix at all times.  #notoddlerleftbehind

Since moving her play kitchen into the family room, she plays with it daily.  I moved the computer desk into the living and the craft supplies up to the guest room. Which meant.....time to hunt for a table!!  

Except I wanted a big long table to seat lots of people, and holy moly when did they get so expensive?? I was pretty discouraged until a friend texted me a picture of some farm tables at the PB outlet informing me that they were not only 50% off but on sale for an extra 20%.  

When you're shopping an outlet you really don't get to be picky.  There's often only one of a particular item (especially if it's a larger piece of furniture) and could have minor to major defects.  And there one table that was perfect.  The farmhouse style I love, long enough to seat 8, had two additional leaves to seat 10 or squish in 12, solid wood that would last forever, under budget.....perfect. 

Thanksgiving table

Except somehow I managed to talk myself out of it (because it had grooves and imperfections [that I love] but would make it difficult if you tried to write or do homework there).  The whole way home I regretted passing it by.  I mean the whole point was for this to be a space for gathering to share a meal and play some board games.  There were a million other surfaces to do homework.  

I called as soon as the store opened the next day to confirm the sale was still on and drove the 40 minutes back out there to get it.  Let's not dwell on the extra gas money.  

Thanksgiving table

It was delivered the day before Thanksgiving, just in time for us to host our first holiday in our new place.  We had a small gathering with one of our dearest family friends who also have 4 kids, and by bringing in Liv's play table all 12 of us were able to eat together.  

The table was loud and rowdy, and while I normally would have been worried about my children's table manners, I was just so grateful for the life that was happening in our home.  

Thanksgiving table

Really, it wasn't the size or style of the table that made it wonderful.  We could have pushed a bunch of folding tables together for the same result.  But investing in a table gave me the nudge to reopen our doors and do community again.  

Thanksgiving table

It's always hard to open your home after moving when there are still boxes to unpack and pictures to hang, but let's be honest.  If I waited for the house to be perfect (or even "done") before we invited people in, the months would turn into years and we would miss out on so much.  

I hope our kids see that it doesn't matter how the house looks, it matters how we use it.  We are just as much stewards of that gift as we are finances, talents, and little souls.  And it's always the season for opening our doors. 

Thanksgiving table