A Holiday Destressorating Guide

I read with interest a number of design and décor magazines each month and have been surprised this year with the number that suggest simplicity in Christmas decorating. Whether it is a reflection of the state of the economy and the challenges facing our country or just the fatigue of too, too, much, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Here are some of the suggestions I found most valuable:

  1. Pick two colors and use them throughout the house. While it may seem limiting to choose only two colors, using them in different shapes and textures and layering them in varied shades creates a more elegant and soothing environment than a jumble of different colors — think Whoville.

    When you look from room-to-room, you want everything to work together to create a pleasing vignette. In addition to traditional red and green, attractive color combinations include green and silver, red and white, and white and gold. The idea is to pick a basic color and a metallic, or to pick two colors and use a metallic as an accent. Another option is to pick a range of neutrals (white, tan, beige) and pair them with silver or gold.

  2. Only decorate common areas such as the entry, living room, and family room/kitchen and forgo decorating every bedroom and bath. Imagine a fresh garland strung with tiny white lights and silver snowflakes hung over a kitchen window.

  3. You don’t have to decorate every surface. A wreath, a tree, and a stair garland or mantel display are enough. Too many decorations can be visually overwhelming as one bed and breakfast owner attested. She typically decorated every nook and cranny, but stopped when she sensed that it made some of her guests uncomfortable. The long days of winter (even without the snow) offer the opportunity for reflection which can be compromised when there is an overload of visual and auditory stimuli.

  4. It’s OK to use an artificial tree. I know, I know, as blasphemous as it sounds, having had an artificial tree for the last three years, I can attest to the fact that it truly saves time and reduces major sources of holiday stress — finding the “perfect” tree, installing the tree straight and stable in the stand, untangling and testing multiple strings of lights, and watering the tree daily so it doesn’t dry out. If you do decide to take the leap, make sure to choose a tree with a natural look and feel (more $ but worth it) and one with pre-stung lights to eliminate this major source of aggravation. Another advantage of artificial trees is that you can choose one that fits perfectly in your home — you can select a slender tree if you have an especially-narrow space or, if you have high ceilings, you can find 12′, 15′ and taller varieties.

    And, so you are still able to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of fresh greenery, hang a fresh wreath on a mirror or window or a fresh garland to a mantel or stair rail.

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