Sustainable Holiday Decorating
For many of us, the holidays can be an overwhelming time—not just personally, but with the sheer amount of stuff that is expected and pressed on us. I’ve always tried to cut back on the noise, now more than ever, and I start at home.
I love to get into the festive spirit as much as the next person—my little one really understood Christmas last year and is already counting the days this year!—but you can have a festive home without spending too much and going overboard. Here are some of the things that I do to decorate for the holidays, most of which were adopted from my mother and grandmothers.
Simple is best
Don’t let your decorations get drowned out! I see so many people with elaborate, expensive wreathes and you lose the sense of the wreath when it’s completely covered by other things. I favor a simple evergreen wreath and always tie a red or white bow around it. I’ve also seen beautiful wreathes that pick a coherent then and don’t crowd the wreath, which looks very nice as well.
A little garland goes a long way
Have a mantel and don’t know how to fill it? How about a banister? We used to wrap garlands around our banisters and lay them out on our mantelpiece, tied with red ribbons. It’s simple, elegant, and smells delicious.
I’m a big fan of reusing things—I usually buy a big bowl’s worth of pine cones from a local shop and add them to a big bowl. Sometimes I will wrap a small amount of garland or a ribbon around the bowl as well. I add two red Caspari candles* for the finishing touch and there you have it! This will last the entire holiday season and, if properly stored, the pine cones can be used again.
Focus on meaning
We decorate our tree only with meaningful pieces to us. Whether they are old ornaments (from my family or my husband’s) or newer ones (gifts from friends, an ornament for each year of my child’s life), each ornament has a special meaning and is not merely a placeholder. Last year I received two very special ornaments from my godmother—my grandmother gave them to her. While my godmother’s tree has all the same style of ornament (like the ones she gave me), our tree is always more diverse. It’s nevertheless so special and beautiful to me, because our “theme” is sentimentality, and that is what makes our tree perfect.
Decorate for your family (and not for Instagram)
Hand in hand with my previous point, decorate for yourself! If you have small children, less breakable decorations are crucial. You don’t need to make everything so precious just for a photo on the grid—you are the one who is going to be enjoying it! Use the things that you love—even if it’s not cohesive in the sense that everything is monochromatic or in a certain pattern, it will be all the more meaningful to you.
The photo above is from the house in DC where I lived for five years after college! We had the best time decorating for the holidays.
4 thoughts on “Sustainable Holiday Decorating”
Such great advice! In recent years I have really embraced Christmas decorations that have been passed on to me by my mother and mother-in-law (many of which are beautiful German pieces), and natural elements – a real tree, simple wreaths, holly, ivy, dried orange slices, pinecones, paperwhites, amaryllis. To me, the holidays feel more meaningful when I focus on special, natural decorations.
I love that, Emily! It’s so nice to bring in decorations from family members. And adding the natural element does seem to ground the celebration for me as well. I am committed to paperwhites and amaryllis this season! Let’s see if I can manage…