When You Need to UnDecorate for Christmas


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….


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


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.



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.


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.



when? never?



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.


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?


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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  1. So funny you should post this today. Last night, my teenage daughter advised me, “Mom, every time you feel like adding a Christmas decoration, take two down instead.” Wise words.

    For me, holiday decorating quickly becomes a mad rush to beat the clock before the season is over. But this year, unlike others, we aren’t doing any big entertaining. It’s the perfect year to “undecorated” as you suggested!

  2. The other day I was putting up all my Christmas decorations and was dreading putting the tree up. I talked to my husband and asked him if we could just forget the tree. It takes so much work. He said it was fine and I LOVE not having a tree. The rest of the decorations are easy and my home still feels very festive!

  3. restful loveliness…now you have time to listen to carols and sip tea while reflecting on the Blessings of the Child….

  4. Beautifully simple!

  5. Love the cat on the pouf :)

  6. This is beautiful! I love the simplicity of it all. And the reason behind the simplicity is the best part. Amen and amen. If only we could all cling to the real reason we’re celebrating, rather than getting swept up in all the busyness and hurry and stress of the season. Thank you for sharing!

  7. So much truth. Why get bent out of shape trying to make things look like a winterscape full of messy tinsel and glitter? ;)
    I like your style. Going to put the rest of the boxes of decorations away and put more emphasis on the simply awesome gift of baby Jesus. :)
    By the way, I love your angel wings!

  8. Thanks for the permission to rest to see the beauty in the simple. I think the fragile German ornaments will stay packed this year, twinkle lights, bows and burlap will be a nice theme! Be blessed!

  9. Just this morning another blogger was complaining on FB that this week feels like ‘final week’ for bloggers….so many other bloggers commented and agreed…..all I could think was ‘why’???? Your post is a refreshing contrast! Thank you.

    • “finals week!” so funny! And I’m the first person to LOOOOVE and appreciate seeing all the lovely decorations, but when it comes to my own home, I want to be free to over or under decorate depending on my heart and what works for us.

  10. Bertie DeWane says:

    I did not pull out all the decorations this year either. In fact, I went through all my red and green bins and took out only the things I really LOVE and have two large bins full of decorations to give to a niece who has just moved in her first apartment. It feels great!!!

  11. I sense this “undecorate” is making the rounds – I have yet to drag out my red Rubbermaid tub, and there’s a good chance I don’t! Like you, I’m using some favorite things and lots of living greens to usher in the incarnation of The Gift!

  12. Just yesterday I gave myself permission to not put garland in a place where I normally put it because it was becoming more of a hassle than an enjoyment. I pulled it down and put it back in the box. That’s a big one for me. I’m so learning to embrace the simple, and you’re helping me do that. Merry Christmas!

  13. I’ve been simplifying our family’s Christmas traditions (decorating, baking, etc.) the past few years. I would be okay with not putting up any of the decorations, especially during Thanksgiving weekend. But my teenage sons wanted the tree up before we had extended family in on Friday-Sunday. I was stressed out about clean bedding, groceries, and cooking. Since it was so important to them, my husband and I let them do everything. I went grocery shopping (so I didn’t have to see the chaos), my husband made sure they put away all the boxes, and the boys did a great job (in less than 2 hours)! I know this only worked because they are old enough. But it was a good lesson to me that I don’t have to do everything.

  14. How did you make such great paper snowflakes? Any hints or tutorials???

    • Pinterest– my boys and I made them a few years ago together, we add a few more every year, but I just search : paper snowflakes on pinterest. xo

  15. I super appreciate this post– this is the first year I have done absolutely nothing to decorate and I need to just be ok with it. I am working 2 full time jobs right now and my husband is working and going to school… and we’re not even home on Christmas, we travel to our family’s house! It’s ok that we don’t have a tree or lights or garland- we are tired! haha

  16. sitting here with tears. if you only knew. well, i guess you do because you are feeling it too. life is too busy and hard right now.
    if i could reach through my screen i would give you a hug.
    thank you so much.

    • hugs right back to you, Kellie.
      it really muddies the waters when decorating for Christmas is part of your job. I’ve already decorated and torn it down twice this year just for “work” before the season even started and I have a feeling you are the same way. Love to you.

  17. I have a tree, but just the tree. No lights or decorations. Maybe I’ll put just lights on this weekend, maybe not. The tree itself is enough this year.

  18. I have been feeling increasingly burdened by this for the past few years as well. I think some of it is just my design aesthetic has changed, but also that simple feels better in my heart.

  19. Annie Barnett says:

    Love this so much.

  20. Laura Thompson says:

    Just this week I gave myself the best gift I could receive – permission to NOT put up the big tree in our dining room. I put up what makes me happy and stopped when I got to the stuff that was causing stress instead of joy. I’m thrilled with the décor AND my feelings of peace. You know me and know how hard it is to STOP and BE and SAY NO so I know you will appreciate this growth! ;-) Miss you, girl!

  21. i just did a similar post on my site yesterday how I’ve kept it subtle and simple this year!!

  22. I love this post. The living room is a little over, the rest of the house is totally under. Perfect for me.

  23. Such a great post…this year because of transitions in our lives with jobs and other things I have not been as in to decorating for anything (and I never did a lot compared to others). I gave myself permission to just simplify. I didn’t bother getting fall decor out. The majority of Christmas decor is still in boxes with just a handful of decorations out and about. We opted for a smaller tree and fewer decorations. I decided it was okay to go with the “less is best” mindset this year. I don’t want to be stressed with expectations of what ‘I” think it needs to look like.

  24. We leave home for a month or two the day after Xmas. I don’t want to spend the last day here racing to put all the decorations away nor do I want to come home in March to Xmas still needing to be put away. So I put lights and a garland on my jade plant…heading to Lowes for that Moravian star you used and I am done!!! Awesome!

  25. It was so great to be done “early” this year ~ essentially I stopped when I felt like it and called it done. I did end up adding “garland” to the tree based on your magazine spread a few (one) years ago. I had a ball of the puff ball yarn in the closet for who knows what & threw it on there. The girls love it and say it looks like tiny snowballs. I’m also kicking myself for having dragged a Moravian star from Old Salem through the airport this Fall. If I’d known then that they were going to be at Lowe’s…… :D

    I read a great idea yesterday to decorate in a way that when the tree comes down your house is ready for winter. Struck a chord about decorating for the season & not the holiday. Thanks for such a beautiful inspiration.

  26. So, it’s not just me, huh?

    In the crazy years, while still raising kids and adding on the first grandkids, I was referred to as ‘Christmas Mom’. I had more than over the top decorations, I had collections – Santas, trees, garlands, ornaments… took most of one weekend plus several days into the following week to get it all in place. It was partly me and my love of the season, my joy, and partly my job as a craft designer to come up with new stuff every year which I happily added to my personal Christmas commitment but definitely dreaded taking down and storing it into 22 bins which took most of the New Year’s holiday.

    About ten years ago, it hit me, as I was loading up the bins to go back to storage, that I was over it. You’ll understand being INTJ, when I decide something, it’s a done deal. The following year I offered my oldest daughter everything but the ornaments. She gladly took them. Then I continued to do a tree until four years ago when we moved to this, our last, house. While packing things up I found the bin with all the ornaments, most of which were handmade by my three children and the first two grands. A rag tag representation of the evolution of kids crafts from the early 70s to the late 90s. But more than that a bin humming with the stories of our family’s Christmases past. But I knew it was time to let go so I wrote a letter and sealed it and put it on top and then closed the bin. It sits on a shelf waiting now.

    I have to smile imagining that some day there might be a gathering of my heirs reading the letter and pulling out each precious memory sharing with great grands I’ll never meet. I think of it as my legacy. Christmas Mom’s last joy.

    Sorry this was so wordy – just needed to say it. :-]

  27. A kitty curled up on a pouf is a cute decoration if you ask me… what a cutie.

  28. One of my three kiddos is 2, so we have a 4.5′ tabletop tree. My older boy wanted a big tall tree, but I told him we wouldn’t be able to decorate the bottom half anyway. I hung the stocking s with cafe today, right on our 3 wall hooks by the door (we don’t have a mantel or fireplace), but that meant eliminating the coats that hung there. They are where they should be instead – the coat closet! The sjoe basket that was below the hooks – it’s gone, and the sjoes are in each of our closets. Maybe my Christmas decorating this year will be my jumpstart to decluttering come January… yea!

  29. And it doesn’t mean you can’t go big another year. I’ve gone simple for several years now but this year I’m pulling it all out at the request of my son’s girlfriend. More joyful to have a reason like that!

  30. Thank you SO much for this post. It’s a relief to see I’m not the only one feeling this way. We’re in the midst of the very slow process of cleaning out stuff our kids have outgrown, reorganizing, updating the decor in much of our house…and so trying to do the usual Christmas decor is overwhelming, and maybe not even feasible this year. It’s a bit sad, since we travelled last Christmas and didn’t decorate, so we had wanted to “do it up” again this year. Thanks for the “permission” to reconsider and come up with a better plan.

  31. Thank you!!! I’m literally sitting here reading this with tears streaming down my face in the midst of a sea of Christmas decorations trying to decide what to put where and I’m just overwhelmed by it all. I have felt so behind and have been just guilt ridden over being so “late” in getting things up and perfect. I needed this post at this very moment so thank you! I am part of that weary world who just wants to rejoice in His coming!!!

  32. Yes, yes, yes. To all of this – yes!
    I love to decorate, but this year it feels like a chore, not a choice. I’ve been having this internal battle with myself about getting it all up and done, in the meantime missing beautiful moments with my family. Silly and selfish. You’ve convinced me to stop! Savor the boys and the season and our Savior.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    Now, I just need my husband to lug all those Tupperware containers back to the basement.
    Blessings to you and your family!
    p.s. I read your book this summer and loved it. :)

  33. On December 10, 2013 I had knee replacement surgery so I had to do exactly what you are talking about here. I knew I wouldn’t want to be packing my usual bunch of stuff away in January so I really looked at what I really love and about 1/4 of what I had for Christmas decor came out. It was so much better and the things I did put out just fit the whole season. The tree came down but everything else stayed for a bit since it just looked like winter and not Christmas. Doing the same this year too.

  34. I love your tree!

  35. Your home looks beautiful as always! I have never been one for “holiday” decorating for any holidays but always do a tree and some other stuff. This year I added some ribbon to the tree, did the mantel and I’m done. I hate putting it all away after Christmas is over and I honestly just don’t enjoy holiday decor that much, not Halloween, Easter, Valentines Day or 4th of July. I know some do and they should do it because that’s what they enjoy! Thank you for sharing this, I just shared with my friend who texted me that she wanted to blow up her mantel trying to decorate it for Christmas.

  36. Cecilia Garza says:

    This year I decided not everything for Christmas was going to be put up. I normally get depressed right after Thanksgiving, I think because we live far from family and this season would make me feel lonely. Not this year – we have a new home, the kids, for the most part seem more relaxed, no one is sharing a room any longer , and we each have personal space. This might seem silly, but we value alone time, just as much as we do time with each other. We started decorating the day after Thanksgiving and everything was finished up yesterday. I love making my home “a home” for my Husband and children. I have yet to read your book, but it is on my Christmas list. I follow your blog and enjoy your advice. God Bless you today and always!

  37. Just a tree, white lights and the felt jesse tree ornaments. We may add snowflakes if we make some. Its enough.
    Too busy with starting my soap business and doing shows, keeping warm, shoveling snow, raising a 3 year old, helping my hubby and trying to keep the house clean.

  38. This year, we did the same… to a degree. Way less decorations. My 14 y/o son and 17 y/o daughter decorated the tree with just white and limited red. They chose the ornaments and put them on, i moved nothing, and the tree has never looked so wonderful. I think we left 3/4 of out decorations in the bins this year! It’s all beautiful!

  39. what timing! I’ve been working on getting the decorations out and put up – I was thinking today, the older I get, the less ‘stuff’ I want to put out. I have some out and I think I will leave the two huge bins in their storage spots and the multiple other boxes. the tree will go up because I have 3 kids who are super excited to decorate it. there will be much less out than what I have and that’s ok for me this year.

  40. Based the pictures you posted of your holiday decor I would rather hang out there any day than all the other popular blogger’s homes or my friend’s homes that all look like glitter, garland and gifts exploded in them.

    Ecclesiastics 1:2 says: “Vanity of vanity, ALL things are vanity”

    That verse always come to mind when I observe the entire holiday hoopla that begins with Halloween – in all the home and decor mags it’s the same exact thing more food, decor and gifts as if that is they secret to a truly merry Christmas. I look forward to the January issues when its all back to basics and staying organized! I proudly admit I have just two regular size bins filled with sentimental mixed in with dollar store ornaments, a plastic medium size tree (with lights attached!) and I reuse the previous years unused gift wrap. I buy our small family basic gifts and we don’t do anything extravagant during the holiday season…with that all being said I feel sometimes tired from that. I can’t even begin to imagine how all those who get so caught up in the idea of a “perfect white Christmas” manage to do it all their with what seems infinite time and money

  41. Yes . Yes . And Yes .

    We’ve been reading each other’s minds, hearing each other’s hearts, Nester.

    This is exactly why my wreath was the Way-Too-Easy Teddy Bear wreath earlier this week.


    ‘Cause all the rest of it is just not gonna happen this year. And I couldn’t be more relieved.

  42. Another simplified Christmas at our house!! Thank you for sharing your home..it’s one of my favorites!! I’m always learning from you…thank you!!

  43. I have never been much of a Christmas decorator. But, I don’t take anything down until the January 7th, the day after the Epiphany, which drives some people bonkers. That and the Advent wreath keeps me focused on Jesus. You can’t start too early or that tree will be a real Charley Brown fire hazard. I think one of the saddest things is a Christmas tree, with a stray ornament, on the curb Christmas Day afternoon.

  44. This is a super fantastic way to go!!

  45. OK I LOVE THIS! It sort of looks like my living room decor, so it makes me feel more stylish to see something similar featured here. Now just to convince my kitty to curl up on my Moroccan pouf for a photo opt. :)

  46. Thank you, for this post! It feels so, right-on-time. I’m rejoicing that Christmas is here. However, I’m not feeling the “deck the halls” so much. I gave myself permission just this morning to take a pass on breaking out the green and red tubs! I’m satisfied with our humble Christmas tree and simple wreath on the front door. Funny thing is, it still feels like the most wonderful time of the year!

  47. Such good advice for us crazy, busy women. :)

  48. How did you know that this was just what I needed to read today? Thanks so much for the inspiration! I want to do something natural and more to my taste and values and that’s what we’ll do this year! Sorry hallmark ornaments – it’s a hibernation year for you :)

  49. This is just how I feel this year. I will try to create a space for rest, conversation, and connection.

  50. And it looks divine!

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