When You Need to UnDecorate for Christmas

simple

Some years December comes in right in the middle of our mess.

And the thought of thoroughly decking the halls is more of a burden than a blessing….

undecorate

Sometimes it’s overwhelming to pull it all out knowing you just have to pack it all up again in three weeks.

Those are times we get to choose to listen or ignore that small voice questioning why.

simple christmas decor

twinkle

If decorating my house for Christmas is a burden, then I stop. I have to. It’s the most ridiculous thing in the world to overdecorate when what I really need is to undo myself and rest in the One who we are celebrating.

consider

relax

This year, there are no layers of Christmas decor that need to be carefully attended to and precisely packed away.

This year the surfaces have some space for life to happen in the midst of the season.

cozy

If you are going through the motions this year and it feels unbearable, I beg you, STOP. Make a change. Under-Decorate. Settle down. Rest.

Isn’t that the best atmosphere we can create for our families?

This year I don’t want a Christmas that needs to be packed away in twenty red and green plastic containers and feels like work and lists and hurry.

Maybe de-emphasizing the decor will re-emphasize true Christmas.

rest

rest

when? never?

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snow

Use what you have.

Make life easy on yourself.

Choose to get the most out of what decorations you invite into your home. They are there to serve your family and help usher in the season.

Let’s create cozy spaces that lead to rest, conversation and connection.

sparkle

Create beautiful, meaningful, imperfect spaces this season that allow you to celebrate the truth–and that might mean you put up more lights than ever before, or that might mean, like me, for the first year ever you put up a pretend Christmas tree that your family didn’t go pick out together, and you have tears of relief at the fact that it took about 180 seconds to go from box to set-up and lit-up and looking fabulous in the family room. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me how easy this could be?

simple

I didn’t realize what a gift a non-living tree would be for me this year. I wrapped living trees and plants in drop cloths and we can use them all year around. I added a strand of C9 lights to the pre-lit flocked tree for a little extra sparkle and we have a simple Moravian star at the top. This was too easy!

ocean depth of happy rest

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Comments

  1. I pulled out our 10 bins and have been encouraging the youngest kids to decorate a little each day. I am enjoying watching them. Our oldest daughter (26) keeps saying “Are you going to move that later?” No, I don’t think I will.

  2. Three weeks ago my husband had surgery on his ankle. He’ll spend the next 8 weeks in a wheelchair dependant on me for most things. After a very stressful week, he came home from hospital the day before my 17 year old graduated high school. Christmas Tree Day, family tradition where the older kids and grandkids came home to help the kids still at home decorate the tree, was just a week away . We wanted to keep everything as normal as possible, but I knew I couldn’t face a week of putting up decorations and making new things, or the task of packing it all up again. So I did exactly as you said. I chose a few easy to unpack and pack up again larger items, placed in a few prominent places around the living areas of the house, and I’m loving it. I also receive the added bonus of not having to re-arrange the tree decorations after the grandchildren had gone home. They did a wonderful job. Stress free and beautiful for Christmas.

  3. Vicki Bucy says:

    It seems that we all are here at the same time. We are tired, maybe of the things going on in the world and most of us are with out a lot of disposable income. I got out my bins, started on the tree, put a few things out and thought “I’m done. This is good enough”. Most of the time I keep decorating until it is time to undecorate. LOL This time, I put everything away, now my house looks nice and neat without too much STUFF! My husband and i are retired and it just was TOO MUCH. I am much happier and way less stressed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this and helping us know that we are all in the same boat. I love your blog and your views on making a home.

  4. Your post made me smile ’cause I’ve been wrestling with the same thoughts & feelings this season. Thanks for sharing. I don’t feel so bad now ;) Merry Christmas!

  5. THANK YOU for this! I have been struggling this year with the same thing. It can be so overwhelming – especially as a blogger who is “supposed” to have the perfect done-up house all the time. Your words have helped me feel much more comfortable with the idea of slowing down this season!

  6. ok, I’m sorry that this isn’t a deep, insightful comment

  7. ok, I’m sorry that this isn’t a deep, insightful comment

  8. Goodness I’m struggling tonight. Sorry folks for the posting issues.

  9. May I ask where you got the “the world is weary” chalkboard sign? Thanks so much the post. Sometimes less really is more.

  10. THANK YOU!!! I was feeling guilty because I don’t even have my tree up. My middle son and his family (wife, 6 yo and 2.5 yo) have been living with us for the last 7 months. I can’t get to my tree. I finally got the front porch and wreath up along with some items on our bar. They are in the process now of moving into their home and my house is a.mess! So undecorating sounds delightful. Reflecting and resting is exactly what the Season calls for.

  11. Such an on time post. I’m tired and overwhelmed this year and haven’t gotten far past the one tree in the living room. This post just completely let me off the hook and reminded me that God never commanded us to deck the halls. This year, I’m keeping it simple and managable and remembering that Jesus is the reason for the season. Thanks for the reminder.

  12. This is so true for me this year. Some years I love to decorate every corner possible. This year I chose to put up the tree with handmade ornaments, the advent calendar, nativity scene and a couple other special knick knacks that I can’t not put up. It is refreshing to not have it all out. It makes what I do have out seem more special. I have also taken this simplicity theme and used it for gift giving. I have chosen to not stress myself by knitting something for everyone. We have chosen to buy a few gifts and will do gift cards for everyone else. I am enjoying this season so much more by not stressing out about everything. It really helps me to focus on Jesus and the reason we celebrate this time of year!

  13. I just started embracing Christmas 2014 over the past couple of days. I have not done official decorating yet, but some empty gift boxes sitting on my chest in the living room are looking quite nice and I have given myself permission to do as much or as little as I feel like this year. Because when I think of having to pack it back up again, it’s just too overwhelming. Today I listened to Rod Stewart sing Blue Christmas while I did dishes and then later he sang Silent Night and I decided that focusing on the Silent Night was a great way to keep the blues away. Holy Infant. Tender. Peace. That is what Christmas should be.

  14. high five!!!
    well said!!
    amen.
    you’re the best
    merry merry christmas

  15. Laurie Takens says:

    I actually started this same process last year. We had a 13 ft, “put each branch in one by one” artificial tree that took a day just to put together. The kids always helped but with the youngest now married, I decided I was done. I gave away the huge tree to a young mom I work with and was actually blessed by another gal with a pre-lit tree that you put together in 3 sections. Less than 5 minutes! I gave away even more of my decorations to my kids who are all just starting out with decorating (then it’s meaningful to them b/c it came from me) and it only took me a morning to decorate. I, like you, have grown weary of putting it all up to just take it down again in a month.
    I also do most of my shopping online and early so I’m done by Thanksgiving. That way I can relax and ENJOY the holidays. I also don’t set high expectations….that way, there’s less stress. I think sometimes God looks down and says, “When did it get so out of control? I want them to remember my son Jesus’ birthday, but really??” JESUS IS the reason for the season…and as another commenter said, our world is going a bit crazy right now, and we need to hold onto HIM tighter than ever!

  16. I’ll try this again since I was having a hard time posting last night.

  17. Ok, I don’t know why it’s only posting half my comment….? Can you share where you got your furniture please?

  18. Your home looks beautiful! I didn’t put nearly as much Christmas decor up this year too, I put my trees up and a few other touches choosing to decorate for Winter instead I hate the let down when the Christmas decorations get put back in the attic and I just didn’t want every room to be full of decorations like I have done in years past, it feels so much less cluttered and more thoughtful this year.

  19. Thanks for giving me permission, I have been avoiding it, but now I am feeling inspired to run with the less is more theme. :)

  20. I just had a baby two weeks ago and can’t even fathom the thought of setting up our artificial Christmas tree. I let my 9 year old daughter put a few things out on her own because she has been anxious to decorate. Honestly, having a small newborn baby to cuddle and stare at is one of the best reminders of the real reason for the season: that Jesus came as a sweet little newborn baby, through a tired mother who was recovering from giving birth, just like me.

  21. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I hurt my back in September and had back surgery last week. There is zero Christmas in my house and I have been feeling so guilty! I know I will get a tree up (with help from hubby) but I might not be able to do much more this year. Your post lets me know everything will be ok! Maybe a more simplified approach will work best this year. When I was growing up we always had a Christmas tree and a few Christmas decorations around the house but nothing like I have been doing for the past 30 years. So, thank you for your timely posts and reminder of what the season is really about!

  22. Beautiful room! Did you make the prints on your mantle?

  23. I always do simple. I have 4 kids under 7. I use pretty greenery from our trees and pine cones on the mantle along with 7 big battery operated candles. I put a small winter scene on our hutch and big glass canisters in kitchen hold peppermint candies. A few spools of pretty red twine etc here and there and a simple wood box with greenery, oranges and candles on kitchen table. Simple pretty and uncluttered.

    • I always do simple too, and my kids are grown! I make a wreath from fresh-cut pine, pinecones, and a red ribbon. I already have silvery mercury glass candle holders all year round — I just change to red candles for the season. The crèche set (which I inherited from my mom) is prominently displayed on the sideboard, and on the dining table is a silver bowl (from my grandma) full of red apples and sprigs of pine. One other thing that adds to Christmas ambience is our collection of Christmas CDs which I play all the time throughout December.

      I used to spend much more time and SO MUCH MONEY on Christmas décor, and I stored boxes of it for 11 months out of the year. It was a wake-up call to me when I realized that I spent WAAAAYYY more time thinking about how I would decorate, what I would bake or make, what I would shop for, etc. than I spent thinking about what amazing love Jesus showed to us by coming to be born as a baby so He could live and die to save us. Like several other commenters, I would feel guilty if I ever wished I didn’t have so much to do for Christmas (all self-inflicted, of course). But for many years I never felt guilty that my priorities (putting décor and shopping, etc. over thinking about, talking about, and worshipping Jesus) were so out of whack. The Christmas we lost our house and my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s changed all of that. How much time and energy I wasted! That doesn’t mean it’s not fun to create a festive atmosphere, or that it’s wrong to do it (I’m not judging anyone), but for me it was just the wrong focus. It didn’t lead to peace and joy; it made me tense and discontented (’cause I always “needed” just one more thing to be “perfect”).

  24. yes, amen!
    kinda forced to “undecorated” this year due to a kitchen reno..
    but learning to let go and focus more on the spirit of my home vs. what it looks like.
    we can still have christmas without all the STUFF!!!!

    thanks, nester. xo

  25. I guess I am the odd person out! I have every space decorated. The loss of my Mom 3 years ago left me sad and lonely at the holidays but this year I am opening the boxes and trying to remember with a smile. I am pushing back tears and celebrating family and traditions and memories! We are all out Christmas and enjoying each moment! Enjoy your holiday no matter how you decide to decorate it.

    • I think that’s fantastic! My grandmother decorated like that and it’s one of my most cherished childhood memories!!! I hope she was like you and decorated out of joy and celebration. xoxo

  26. I know we talked about this before – but I feel much the same way. I did do a tree and a few other things, but most will make it through the entire winter and not just until New Year’s Day. And most of it is simple things like paper snowflakes and quick decorating. I just didn’t have it in me this year.

    And normally I change things up every stinking year – new ornaments, new stuff… blah blah blah. I finally bought a few things I’d been saving for – and I can honestly say that I love it so much I want the whole thing to look the same next year. Like most everything in life, I keep working until I get it “just” where I want it – then I leave it be. I bet we spent no more than 2 hours total decorating (and that includes outdoor lights) – and it will take even less time to put it all away. I just want to slow down and enjoy this time with my family instead of lamenting over tiny details that have no real meaning.

    Love you, friend!

    • Gina,
      Love your aqua modern mantel and that deer is gorgeous! Our guest bedroom is done in aqua, white and silver and I love it. Last week, I scored the cutest aqua nutcracker with silver boots and white hair at HomeGoods and it looks so great on the dresser in there.

  27. Ditto to your post!! Last year I began the process of transitioning to a more neutral, clean and uncluttered Christmas/winter décor theme and I am loving it! I have noticed on so many of the holiday house walks this year that many bloggers have done the same. BTW… love the look of your clean, crisp and simple mantel.

  28. Love your post and I am feeling that way this year. Simplicity at its finest where my most major job was to get our tree. This year there are no lights or inflatables just a wreath and lanterns for the front porch a lighted star on our kitchen window, paper whites here and there and even our tree just has lights on it and I am LOVING everything. No hassle, no worries of when everything has to come down and all the mess to deal with. Life is a beautiful hassle and so tiring that I feel Christmas should be about relaxing and enjoying the season with family.

  29. Mary Frances says:

    thank you thank you thank you! I am 32 weeks pregnant with a husband who will sadly be out of town for two weeks over Christmas and I really just couldn’t muster the energy to pick out a tree and decorate it along with the rest of the house this year. Thank you for the encouragement and reminder.

  30. This is a perfect post for me. I’ve been really wrestling with these feelings! I love the season, I enjoy the season, but I am not all that jazzed up about rushing around to get the house decorated! Where did the Fall go? December arrived before I was ready! I cannot get a faux tree, though, so we will still trek out at some point to get a real one and wrestle with the lights. That and some candles in the windows is about as far as I’m taking it though. Thank you for the reminder that simplicity in our seasons can be festive too!

  31. You lost me at “Lowes”.

    • Let’s not insist that post either be worth reading or sponsored, forced commercials. Lowe’s wanted me to show some of the Christmas decor they offered, I wanted to write a post giving us permission to under-decorate. This is exactly the type of sponsored post I enjoy reading, one that encourages me, whether I need what the sponsor is offering or not. It actually makes me appreciate all parties more–the sponsor trusts the creativity of the blogger, the blogger is true to their voice and serves the community. At least that is my hope, whether you need Christmas decor or not, that you leave encouraged.
      xo

  32. Thank you! I made myself decorate last year while pregnant with boy #3 and it felt forced. This year we bought our first live tree I strung up some lights in less than 5min and stuck a star on top. Boys 1 and 2 hung candy canes and I said DONE! It’s been so nice. In the midst of more unexpected house renovations and a now crawling 6mo old, I am content with our tree being up. The boys are making paper ornaments during some of our home school days and all with the focus of Jesus being who Christmas is about. It’s been lovely. So thank you also for taking a stand for under decorating and Rest!

  33. This year, my husband is gone, my sons are grown and on their way in the world and it’s just me. The big house is gone and now I live in a tiny, quiet house. Everything has changed. I’m trying to embrace it. I decided that getting the tree out of the attic and having to get it back up there, was too much trouble. So, I went to wal-mart and bought a smaller tree that perfectly fit on a round end table. Decorating the tree made me sad, so I stopped and pulled off the few ornaments I had put on. Since I had always loved an undecorated Christmas tree, this seemed the year to indulge. I have decorated my house with simple things that I love. It will all come down in a matter of 10 minutes, tops. Yet, I love the simplicity of the look. God is never through with us even when everyone else is. I feel the gentle, simple Baby Jesus in a manger under a star filled sky with beautiful angels overhead. It is the most beautiful decorations I can think of. I am grateful for this quiet, beautiful Christmas to remember what it really is all about. Merry Christmas.

    • “God is never through with us even when everyone else is.” First, I hope you don’t feel people in your life are through with you. Second, what an absolutely true and profound statement. When I start feeling disposable, I hope I will remember this statement.

      My tiny den is full of furniture and dog crates, so for several years my tree has been a small one stop one of the crates. Your tree sounds lovely.

  34. It’s funny that on a post about undecorating, I am commented about buying decor. BUT. I absolutely love the moravian star on top of your tree, and have wanted one like it for years – currently we have nothing topping our tree. I looked on the Lowe’s website – is it the GE Capiz Christmas tree topper? I would just love to know before buying it that it is the same one as yours, since I like the size of it on your tree.

    As far as decorating goes, I have realized that I love real, live decor the most (live tree, and this year we bought a poinsetta. Also, I love all the live garlands, wreaths, etc, I see on other houses as I walk around our neighborhood). So I want to stop buying more nutcrackers, or more more more of things that I have to store and put away, and instead use my Christmas funds towards simple, living greenery and brightness that we can enjoy during the season, and then compost at the end of it. Of course, I am not unaware of saying all this, and also saying that I really, really want to buy the Moravian star tree topper as well, but sometimes living greenery just needs a little sparkle, you know?

  35. Oh wait, do you have the plastic star instead? Looking around more on the website that looks like what you have.

  36. Kristin ;-) says:

    Thank you, Myquillin, for this timely post. I have been saying for days that I don’t mind the decorating, but I dread the “putting away.” The outside lights have been up for 2 weeks, thanks to my husband, but I haven’t had the energy to pull out all the “stuff” to decorate the inside of the house. Just last night, December 17, my daughter and I pulled out our pre-lit tree. She joyfully ran to the other room to get the paper snowflakes that she has been making for days. She brought them in, and we placed them onto the tree. When I said that maybe we should just decorate the tree with snowflakes, she immediately clapped her hands and asked if we could please make a popcorn garland to go with them. She is 12 and has embraced your philosophy without ever having read your blog. Thank you, Jesus! I learn from her (and Him) every day, and this was an especially important lesson. When she gets home from school this afternoon, we will put up the Nativity and string popcorn and bask in God’s grace and our togetherness.

  37. I absolutely love the angel wings!!! Where did you get them from?

  38. Two medium tubs of one to fifty years old christmas decorations + one ten year old plastic christmas tree + three strings of fairy lights + one afternoon with Christmas music on loud = simple joy in the corner of the lounge that brings a smile every time I look at it.

    Two hours to pack it all [very very neatly to avoid any stress the next year, yep! OCD] away with anything broken put in the bin straight away.

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