The Six Stages of Holiday Decorating


I spent a lot of time decorating this past weekend. Did you? While I always end up loving the finished product, the process of decorating is a bit of a roller coaster for me. Every year when it comes time to chuck the pumpkins and haul out the holly I go through the same process:

Stage 1: Anticipation – Oh, the crafts I will make! The cookies I’ll bake! The lovely touches I’ll add inspired by Pinterest and Etsy and the Pottery Barn catalog! My feed is filled with the soft glow of others’ filtered holiday images. The big blue bins in the garage have lain dormant for nearly a year, and their contents call to me with promises of inspired holiday decorating. This is gonna be awesome.

Stage 2: Disappointment – Oh, right. I forgot that I don’t actually own anything from Pottery Barn. I do, however, have a trio of snowmen I bought on clearance at Walgreens (one of whom is missing an arm) and a couple of smashed fake poinsettias. And what was I thinking? I’m not patient enough for grown-up crafting. Bah humbug.

Stage 3: An Existential Crisis of Fiscal Responsibility – I don’t own nice decorations because I’m too cheap to spend money on something that sees the light of day for one twelfth of the year. Then again, buying one or two quality pieces each year wouldn’t break the bank, and might offset the psychological cost of hating on a one-armed snowman every December. Hmmm.

Stage 4: Overwhelm – Where do I put all this crap stuff? Where do I put the normal home décor stuff during Christmas? Why didn’t I start this earlier? Why is my carpet covered in hazardous fake holly berries so easily ingested by dogs and babies? Why is this process taking me two weeks? Where’s my wine coffee? ARGHHHHHHH!!

Stage 5: Let’s do this – Alright, time to work with what we’ve got (and spend a little cash if I must). Fresh evergreen wreath and some real poinsettias from Costco? Check. Lighted garland spiraling up the stairs? Pretty! One-armed snowman strategically placed behind his more fully-limbed friends? Well, hey. They’re kind of cute! Okay, we’re getting somewhere.

Stage 6: Acceptance – It’s not a Pottery Barn masterpiece, but it’s my home. It’s cozy and imperfect and ready for the season. A nativity scene with a wise man whose head has broken off a couple of times as a casualty of loving play is better than a perfect magazine spread – and better than no decorations at all. What we lack for in vintage ornaments and rustic reindeer centerpieces we make up for in good music and yummy smells. And conveniently dim lighting to showcase the pretty lights and hide the cheap mantle décor. And wide-eyed babes who still believe in Santa. And love.

I think many of us go through this process – not just at the holidays but in other areas of life as well. We set high expectations and then feel bummed when reality sets in. We want everything to be perfect, but get overwhelmed when faced with where to begin. The lesson, at least for me this year, is that doing what I can with what I’ve got is plenty to keep me happy. And once my expectations are adjusted, everything I need to create a happy home is at my fingertips. Or at Costco.

Do you love holiday decorating? Do you relate to some of these ups and downs? 


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