I love to decorate for Christmas and shop for presents. Back when my husband and I were newly-weds living with very little in our big fixer-upper Victorian home I counted down the days until I could put up the Christmas tree because it was the only time of the year that our spacious living room was filled and the beautiful tree made our somewhat drafty home feel warm and comfortable. Fourteen years later I have quite the opposite problem with one third the square footage and three extra additions to our family. Here are a few guidelines I’ve kept to in order to keep the our small home bright, festive, and functional.
Use Disposable Decor – One of the simplest decorations is the good old-fashioned paper chain. This is a craft that my kids look forward to making every year along with paper snowflakes, and gingerbread houses. We also pick fresh greenery off the trees around our house and use in centerpieces. Disposable decor is inexpensive, a cinch to clean up, and it also lightens our storage load in the off-season.
Decorate with Light – Jesus calls himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12) and Advent is a time of joyful expectation of this light. Is there not a more appropriate decoration than the simple white tea light or string of lights? I stock up on tea lights that burn for 6 hours at a time and use inexpensive tea light holders all over my house. Both strings of lights and lit candles bring a lovely glow to our home at Christmas. While most of our decor gets put away on New Years Day a lot of the lights stay up until the days get longer.
Less is More – The less is more approach always appeals to me but especially at Christmas. There are so many beautiful options when it comes to Christmas decor and everything goes on sale, which is tempting. However, keep your decor simple and fill your home with decorations that you really, really love to keep your home from getting cluttered. Go ahead and discard the extra items you aren’t incredibly fond of. It will keep your storage tidy and also make decorating next year a breeze.
Because I have three children in one bedroom, my husband and I consider this when we are buying gifts for our children. We don’t have hard and fast rules about the quantity and size of our gifts but here are a few gift-giving tips that have helped us when we are shopping for our kids and living in a small home.
Consumable Presents – My girls love card making crafts, and paper dolls and sticker books. The cards they will give away to their friends and mail to relatives. The sticker books are enjoyed for a time and are thrown away when they are all worn out weeks or months later. For boys there are paper airplane books and a Star Wars flyer books. Magazines subscriptions are another fun consumable gift.
Gift Experiences – Since we have been living in our smaller home we’ve started trying to think of gifts that are experiences. Music lesson, crafting classes, or a planned camping or fishing trip. Tickets to concerts or sporting events. For girls a manicure and/or pedicure are fun treats to be enjoyed without adding bulk to our home.
Fun, Practical Gifts – Because my children are older I’ve started trying to think of fun, practical gifts. These are items that we need and use. A nice flashlight to replace the dollar store one, quality mechanical pencils for school, a backpack embroidered with my child’s name. These are gifts my kids will use and they already have designated storage spots in our home. Sleeping bags, clothing, snow gear, camping gear, bedroom decor, bedding, school supplies and sporting equipment. These are all items that aren’t toys but can be really fun practical gifts.
Christmas is a special time of year that our family looks forward to. There is an extra blessing in so many parts of our life and every bit of rearranging, shuffling, and planning is another reminder of how incredibly blessed we are. The desire to keep the decor, gifts and hospitality simple and beautiful keeps my mind uncluttered, contemplative, and joyful through this important celebratory season.
Don’t miss Lisa’s post, Holiday Survival Tips for Kids from “Hard Places”.