Master of Your Domain

Something is wrong with me.

Let me explain. I think it started last year, within one hour, I got all of my pretty vintage garland out and put it on the huge, long railing of our stairs, looked at it, it annoyed me, and I took it all down.  I packed it up and sold it at my yard sale a few months ago.  I ended up finding some fresh garland and hanging it at one little spot on the railing and in our breakfast area.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I have 4 bins of Christmas stuff in our garage.  One is now empty after putting lights on the tree.  So I looked through those three bins thinking I could put a few things out and join in Rhoda’s Christmas Vignette party today.

And let me also take this moment to have a disclaimer.   I LOVE Christmas decorations.  I love bright colors together, I love when people do all whites, I love red and naturals, glitter and silver and gold is gorgeous,  I love plaids and layers and textures and tiny details, I think it’s all so beautiful, and I appreciate the creativity and artisticness of the person who takes the time to lovingly decorate their home {I like to think I am one of those people}.  But for some reason, this year, when I tried to put a few items around in my home, they annoyed me.

And the fact that my Christmas decor annoyed me~annoyed me.  Are you getting this?  I panicked a little am I becoming a minimalist? Not that there’s anything wrong with that {insert Seinfeld laugh track}.  I mean look at that photo up there, there’s a ROCK on my dresser.  A rock.  And it’s the thing that’s NOT annoying me?

In my defense, the rock does relate to my the container of forced bulbs and rocks. I did manage to sneak an ornament in those leaves, that is Christmasy, right?

The only things I could put up with were the most simple of items.  A bowl of nuts and a few ornaments sprinkled here and there. Forgive me for thinking this angle will look fun, it just looks annoying, doesn’t it? See? EVERYTHING is annoying me.  What is my problem?!

This room is all dressed up for the holidays.  See it?  There’s another ornament tucked in that brown branchy stuff. Done.

So, maybe tomorrow I’ll unpack everything in those three bins.  Or maybe I’ll sell them at a yard sale next year.  It’s very freeing for me to not feel like I have to put all my regular stuff out this year.  Maybe this house finally feels like home and I no longer have to try so hard to create that seasonal warmth and feel that I’m after.  We haven’t lived in a house this long in years.  Or maybe I’m changing and I can only tolerate so much stuff in my house.

It’s perfectly wonderful to have a home fully decorated for Christmas, no matter what that means in this season for you.  I’m learning to realize what having a home that’s ready for the holidays means for our family right now.  And this year I embracing all the ways to get that Christmas feeling in our home; music {the classical Christmas channel on our TV is wonderful} food, tradition, gatherings, time, space, slowness, and items in our home that remind me of the true meaning of the season.

There is no wrong or right way to decorate especially when it’s done with purpose.

What are you doing differently this year?


  1. Maybe it’s just too soon. That’s how I feel. Wait a week or so and maybe you’ll feel it some more. I am disliking my xmas bins too. I let the kids decorate a little tree and it is on my nerves. I am planning some branches in a pot with a few natural items adorning. Plus it’s nice to be different every year.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. I agree, I much prefer natural decor! But, my kids love the Christmas colors, so that’s what we do briefly!

  3. I’ve been feeling the exact same way about Christmas decorations! Even though I always love lots and lots of them, I’m feeling minimalist as well. Or maybe it’s not minimalist, it’s calm and unexpected. A little greenery hanging from my curtain rod…A mini christmas tree above my sink. Instead of my 109 piece Christmas china (really, why did I get that much?)

    Also, I think about what a friend told me several years ago. She said her theme was manger scenes and nature. I was like, “WHAT?!? Nature is a theme? I thought a theme was something like Santa or Snowmen!” That one little comment made me rethink everything…

  4. Your post made me laugh because it is so ME this year! Usually we have lights all over the outside, wreaths hanging everywhere, etc etc.
    This year? Lights are still outside, but greatly downsized. No wreaths on the windows. No big bows/garland on my stairs. We have the tree, stockings and I’ve put my random ornaments in my glass bowls/jars all over my house. I’m SO with you on the “adding a random ornament makes it Christmas”!

    Merry Christmas!

  5. This year I worked really, really had to make our home feel like Christmas but using a lot of decorations that were not related to Christmas. In the family room I did a lot of light blues, silver and glass. In the dining room sparkly reds, silver and black. In the basement lime green. It turned out much more festive than I thought it would! Happy Holidays!

  6. I am gradually putting out my Christmas decorations. Some I haven’t had out in several years and there are some things I will not put out. I don’t have room of all of it. This will be the fourth Christmas we have celebrated in this house and I am still trying to figure out where to put items. I have too many collections: nativities, nutcrackers, Christmas village, items from my childhood and my Peanuts collection. So right now I am taking a room at a time, a collection at a time and a day at a time.

  7. Just don’t give all your stuff away and then “be a person who gives something and then they’re dissatisfied and they wish they had never given it to the person that they originally gave it to!” Are you not familiar with that term? (The Cigar Store Indian Episode)

  8. Oh my goodness. It must be contagious! I spent all weekend taking stuff out of bins and then putting the same stuff back into bins. I now have an evergreen garland with white lights on my mantle and a bare evergreen wreath surrounding a hurricane with a tall vanilla pillar on my table. That’s it. It is reassuring to know that others are feeling the same way.

    Ladies, this must be the year of what will be will be.

  9. Very same with me this year! Got some things out and I’m just not getting anywhere with it all. Looked thru 3 containers and put some things in bags to bring downstairs to place “somewhere”. I loved how you put little touches and glimpses into your world of Christmas 2010. Great idea to make that statement. I applaud you for your “minimalist” decor for 2010. I advise you to keep the other decorations for at least another year and then look again in 2011 to see if you still feel the same. \

    Way to be different I say!!

  10. This was quite inspiring for me because I still don’t have much Christmas decor. We just moved into a new home and are hosting the family Christmas dinner this year, and I was feeling like our living room wouldn’t look festive enough. But because we are in the midst of renovating our new home, I didn’t have the money to go out and buy a bunch of Christmas decor. Thanks for inspiring the “less is more” idea in the midst of a holiday that’s usually “enough is never enough”.

    Oh, and as for your question about what I’m doing differently this year, this is my winter-time goal:

  11. That’s where I am as well, so maybe we’re “crazy” together. I really couldn’t even participate in the vingette party today b/c of that very fact…of wanting less and not more stuff out of the attic. I’m cool with it & it’s our home, so that’s all that matters:)

  12. I don’t think anything is wrong with you – sometimes Chirstmas decorations or any decortions for that matter- just become stale, lifeless. I always say to myself if it doesn’t make me smile- out it goes. Life is too short to be the caretaker of the wrong details. If it doesn’t feel right – its not right. Even though I love certain traditons and the nostalgic warmth the holidays bring -Change every once and a while can be a good thing.

    I LOVE listening to classic Christmas songs sung by the old timers on my TV, too. It would not feel like Christmas without Christmas music. I look forward to coming home from work every afternoon and turning it on -getting all cozy. To me that is pure holiday bliss…that along with candlelight and a shiny ornament or two.

    My best- Diane

  13. ohhh Nester….this is what I needed to hear! I put up my decorations last week and I was irritated the whole time! I just wanted to be done with it! I sent out three tubs worth of stuff to our garage sale stash…all the while my husband telling me, we can store it! No! I want to get rid of it! I couldn’t believe myself. My first thought was, “am I becoming my mother???!!!” gulp. But your lovely post spoke to me…I am becoming a minimalist. Life is easier and more enjoyable with less stuff. I am changing. And that is ok. I need to stop pressuring myself to be like I always have or to keep up with the decorating jones’. this post has been a breath of fresh air!

  14. I’ll let you in on the secret Nester, it is that haunting cottage in the mountains you went to……the images are burnt into my memory and from time to time I go back and review them on your blog. They make me (and perhaps you?) believe that more is less, that serenity lives in less, that just perhaps there is a spiritual aspect in less. Anyway, I am having the same problem and have put tons out in my shops for someone else to love. I want pine cones, real berries, candles and magnolia leaves and outside……I want my old sleigh with branches tied with a red plaid bow on it and a white wicker basket full of boxwood and pine……oh, and in the corner of the porch I want an old rusty bucket filled with greenery too. I am resting in the simplicity……thanks at least in part to a mountain cottage I’ve never been in:)

    Thanks to you.

  15. You’re becoming part of the Minimalist revolution that is going on these days :) People everywhere are starting to wake up that having lots of stuff isnt what makes you happy. That’s why websites like, and are becoming so popular, spreading the idea that minimalism and having less stuff will make you feel more free and less stuck in the past because of what you collected. Sometimes that can sound harsh, but I think of it as liberating and fun!

    I’d say rather than storing the stuff for another year and having to think about selling it next year, pull it out NOW and sell it! Put a sign out for a couple hours this saturday morning – it’s still the beginning of December and lots of people still need to decorate but dont want to go to department stores to buy them for just a couple of weeks.

    PLEASE sell it now, get some extra cash and I’d love to read about your experience doing it :)

    • Oh my that is actually a FANTASTIC idea….I’m not worried about if I ever needed to replace something, I’m not a super sentimental type when it comes to Christmas stuff, I have a few things that I would keep but other than that everything could be replaced.


  16. Understand completely. Something inside of me wants to want it all up, and I probably will get it all out, but another bigger part says less and not now. I guess I’m waiting. Even looking at my Christmas card list and thinking of downsizing. I just have more important things to do this year, and I’ve heard this from a lot of people I know who just want a quieter and more thoughtful Christmas. One that is has more meaning and less glitz. ( I like glitz, dont’ get me wrong, but this year just seems different for some reason.) Ready for a Simple but still beautiful Christmas.

  17. TIna Lavender says

    I hear ya! I start getting really anxious starting around Halloween and it peaks at Thanksgiving. I feel like I am doing a presto chango of decor from fall to winter, even though in Texas, there is no difference! I feel like the Grinch every year when I drag out my bins marked “XMAS”.I just asked my husband if we were going to put lights up on the house this year and he kinda stalled. I don’t blame him. It’s a chore! Not to mention the stress of Christmas gift shopping. Thanks Nester- I am going to focus on baking, making crafts with the kids, setting out the nativity, watching holiday classics, etc.

  18. I think re-thinking is a wonderful thing. Sounds weird,but some years there’s a tree & some there isnt. Some years it’s just garland&bows on the 1st floor front windows& simple white candles in the front windows upstairs. I tossed most of my early adult “my first homes” stuff years ago. Now it’s more important to hang the dough ornaments the kids made years ago,one per window, hund with a plain red ribbon, and remember how fun it was. Even my neighbor, who for 17yrs has spent all day Black Friday decorating just the outside of her house, just did the front door&a couple spotlights. Frankly,after all the years of overdoing, doesnt it feel good to under-do & simply enjoy it? -s-

  19. I go both ways…I hate houses that look overly cluttered with stuff in every corner…however this is the first time I have ever really gotten to decorate so I am taking advantage of it, but hopefully in a tasteful way!

  20. PS-I’ve even “re-thunk” what simple things I was planning, like live little “FatAlbert” dwarf Alberta spruces in buckets to plant the first winter thaw, dressed in nothing but Cmas hankies with tiny clothespins. I re-fractured my old frax’d rt knee (avascular necrosis) and can barely walk after a week,still. So yup,rethinking is a good thing. :D Nester, i’m with evrybody else & love your decorations-if you’re not annoyed or irritated, they are *perfect*! it’s your home,your holyday, your choice. Not *1* thing wrong or crazy or anything. -s- (again)

  21. Don’t know what your problem is, but its my same problem this year, too! All the stuff is annoying me. Like there aren’t more important things to worry about than cluttering up the house. It’s all about ease and I’m ready to make the seamless transition between the seasons. Why do we need STUFF to declare how we are feeling, or demonstrate the season? Its not about the decor – its about living in the moment. I’m so glad to read yours and other posts here. I thought I was losing it!
    Thanks again, Nester. :)

  22. I’ve been in my current house 6 years, and have had my ups and downs on holiday decor. The last few years I didn’t feel like I wanted much up. But this year it came in a wave, I was ready to put up more, change up where to display it. Ride it out, I’m usually one to pitch and donate what you don’t need, but I was so happy I held on to most of it, what better time for a trip down memory lane than Christmas.

  23. This will be the first year that I’ve ever used anything from nature in my decor. Shocking, I know. Recently while at the playground with my daughter I picked up a lot of acorns. I would have liked to have gotten more, but I started to feel guilty for stealing all the squirrels’ food!

  24. Why do I read your blog? Your house is beautiful and if mine looked like yours I wouldn’t want to mess with it either. By the same token I understand. All of the curtains in my house are put up with tension rods. Why? I’m afraid that I’ll put up an actual rod and not be happy with it then have huge holes that I’m horrible at repairing in my walls. That’s the same reason I don’t have things hanging on my wall and use removable tape for everything. And I’ve owned this house for two years. Pray for me.

  25. I appreciate the creativity and artisticness

  26. When our daughter was two we moved into our house on Dec. 19th. I had strep and was sick as a DOG! It was A NIGHTMARE. It was freezing. My house was a mess… of course! We just moved. I didn’t put up a tree because I didn’t think you’d be able to find said tree! My mom said, “What two year old doesn’t have a tree at CHRISTMAS?” (in her most dramatic voice!) You know what… we had the best Christmas that year in our new home. I loved just not worrying about where everything was going to go and how I was going to repack it all. It’s not about the decorations. It’s about the people who are there to share this special time of year with you!

    My, now, 9 year old has NO memory of it what-so-ever! HA!

  27. I did what you did last year. It is a good thing.

  28. Nester, I love you! My tree is tiny this year (only 5 – 6 feet because HEY it was on sale) and it only hold the ornaments my three kids have made – I LOVE IT. The stockings are up and a few meaningful items are scattered around. I have candles in the windows (my very favorite holiday decor) and a mrs myers candle burning…. I think it is the perfect Christmas for us!!

  29. oh my, 151 comments? Hot topic, for sure! I understand completely. I set out my tree and a few things here and there. Some years I decorate full on, others not so much. You are right, it’s about the people in the house, not the stuff!

  30. Yes, it’s not about the decor but I do wish you change your mind again, because when we don’t have those little details we do miss them. Believe me, I know. Last year at this time we where homeless living in a half finished basement with no bathroom…we made do but i desperately wanted/needed to feel the Christmas spirit. This year is already MUCH better and I know my situation was extreme…but I smile every time I pass our Christmas tree. Many Blessings.

    • I think it’s about balance. You are so right about missing those little details, and you have a unique perspective, thank you for sharing. I think I’m just feeling like I have too much, and many of the Christmas decorations I have are getting in my way this year. Literally and figuratively. We still have the wreaths and the tree and such. Just not as much.

  31. ha – i think there is a lot of this “disease” going around this year! all my friends are saying the same thing. my christmas tubs are still in the attic. i did put up 1 of our 2 trees, but used pinecones & stuff from around the house to decorate, instead of my usual ornaments. i put up that, our nativity, and stockings, and hung fresh wreaths on the front doors.

    thats it. i normally do SO much more, but just not into it this year.

    and the fun thing is, i feel just as christmasey. maybe more.

    i could sell about 80% of the christmas decor in my attic. and i just might. next year.

  32. I didn’t take a true minimalist approach to my decorating this year. I actually went glitzy and glittery but I didn’t use all of my Christmas decor. I only used part of it. I went through and picked out what I actually wanted to use. I don’t think I’ll get rid of anything because I might want to use it in the future. I am a pretty plain decorator during the non-holiday season so I thought I’d fancy it up for Christmas but not go overboard.

  33. OMG! It happened to me too!!! 8 crates came down from the attic. I used things out of 3. You have inspired me just to get rid of so much I have in those crates! The garland on the banister’s annoyed me soooooo bad last year! Didn’t do them this year. Didn’t do them at all.

  34. I loved your post because I’ve been experiencing the very same thing this year! i got all the Christmas decor out and put 1/2 of it back in the attic. I’m even re-thinking NOT doing the garland on my stairs with the bows I paid $80 (stupid) for last year!

    And…I put my nativity set on my mantle this year. I wanted it to be the focal point of our Christmas this year.

  35. I SO related to your post…I put up a whole Christmasy mantel, and every day I hated it more. It all came down, and now I very few Christmasy items up there.

    On another note, the photos of your home do the OPPOSITE of annoy me. It looks like a beautiful place to live! :)

  36. Sometimes ther e are just those years where less is more. I have had the annoyed Christmas decorating seasons, and found that when I was done, I was DONE. And it was great!!!

    It’s a little intimidating seeing some of these blogs completely decked out (and they started decorating in OCTOBER!! sheesh!) But I think remembering what your family appreciates and likes and values as tradition is more important than anything.
    This year I did ‘try’ a little more, but I’m finding I get a lot more joy from picking fresh things out of my yard to add into the decos, and smiling over those little pieces that have brought great memories over the years.

    Love your blog. And your room. I could look at it forever! :)

  37. I went through something similar this year. One reason is because I did not decorate for fall, but for an overall winter theme and liked it so I didn’t want to undo it. I have also made a number of changes to my house since last year. I have “mistreated” by windows and it is like a totally different house. I also repainted a large majority of my house. I did still put of decorations, it is something that my husband didn’t have growing up, so it is always a must for our kids(well and him! LOL). One thing I did do and was very happy with was instead of adding more “stuff”, I replaced some of my everyday decor with holiday decor so it didn’t feel so cluttered. Regardless of what do you to make the Christmas season special, remembering the true meaning is the most important.

  38. This is so funny because I felt the same way this year. I just figured it was because after 33 years of marriage I’m just getting a little tired of unpacking everything placing it, then having to pack it all up again. But then my daughter suggested that I go through and get rid of. DONE! EASY! DIDNT MIND DOING IT! Emptied out 3 of my bins to Good Will. Am I becoming a minimalist too? Maybe so. And I kinda like it.

  39. It looks so pretty, I really like it. We’ve just put ours up, but I let our 7 year old do it so it’s a bit of the glitzy side :)

  40. As I was reading your blog this morning I could definitely relate. I got all my decorations out and most of them didn’t excite me. With all my girls in there 20’s and living away from home, I’m ready for new decorations, a new look. The little carolers just don’t do it for me anymore. I’m even tired of the old ornaments. I think it’s time to box them up and give my girls a box of them this year. Simple, change and different is good. Thanks for writing about how I was feeling.

  41. …i think you may have hit a nerve…one that most of us keep hidden away…about 7 years ago as we were “taking down” christmas i was struck by how beautiful our tree was with only the tiny white lights and our “first christmas” angel serenely on top…it was perfect…and that is all our tree has had since that christmas…i realized that i love love going to get the tree and cutting it down ourselves …i loved doing that with 2 little boys underfoot…and i love it now with the two original members of our family…my husband and me!…but the tree decorating itself had become a chore…and once decorated it seemed out of place with my heart… this simple act of an unadorned tree keeps christmas as it should be…and as it was that first night in bethlehem…a single angel…and stars twinkling overhead…

  42. i sold 90% of my christmas stuff when i moved this year. i haven’t decorated yet because i don’t have anything to decorate with—at least very little in comparison to years gone by. i think i’ll join your camp. a few fresh greens and a bowl of ornaments.
    or else i’ll panic and pull out my four boxes and put it all up this weekend.
    do i need psychiatric help?
    don’t answer that.
    lots of love dear friend!

  43. Funny, I did the same thing this year. I changed my color pallete to a more cool pallete and so my Christmas decorations had to do the same. I’m using stuff I already have, but less of it and softer colors. I’m doing ALOT less on my home exterior for a change. I’m just tired of all the stress of unpacking it all and the zillions of extension cords needed to light it all up. I’ve read on several blogs that people are doing less this year and using what they already have. I think it’s this darn recession! We’re all a little depressed and have had enough of the “excess” that seemed to be the wrong direction to go in. That’s my theory anyway. I think it feels liberating to use less and yet still feel fulfilled. January won’t feel as much of a let down when you don’t have as much to take down too.

  44. I love how fresh and uncluttered your home looks for the holidays…it is so serenely festive. Thank you for showing us that it’s possible!

    Looking back at an older post on How To Decorate Christmas Trees, would your Wintry/shiny/natural/browns/whites/nesty/blues tree be minimalist enough for your mood this year?

  45. Similar thing going on over at our house. We didn’t get all the decorations out this year and it felt right. We did hang wreaths on all the outside windows, which is new and I love it. So, some things less, some things more.

  46. This must be a reaction to the economic times we are currently suffering….I’m an older mom to two grown daughters, and have lived in my country home for 27 years and NEVER have I felt a need to NOT decorate, overdue the bling and glitter until this year. I have 5 bins of Christmas decorations accumulated over 30 years, and 4 of them are not being touched. We have a 15 foot fake tree that I refused to put up. I’m cutting down a tiny cedar tree ( they grow wild here) in our pasture, putting a few of my daughter’s handmade ornaments on it they made over the years, a tree branch in a glass vase with paper notes and old chandelier prisms to hang, stockings and a tiny olive wood nativity scene and that’s it! No lights outside either, wreaths, bows or garlands. This must be something we are feeling in our hearts….that Christmas is not about expensive, flashy decor. It’s a return to what it is supposed to be…the celebration of the Savior’s birth, light, joy, and giving to others less fortunate.

  47. Raegan Parker says

    Its like playing Where’s Waldo with Christmas decorations. I’m not saying you need to go way over the top but, I think you might need to find a middle ground.

  48. OH Nester, that line about “am I becoming a minimalist?” just made me laugh!
    I did the exact same thing this year. I’ve been getting rid of the clutter lately and when I looked at all those Christmas decorations all I could think of was how cluttered they were going to make the house look. And yesterday I went to Target and saw some cute decor stuff and thought to myself, “That’s cute, but I have enough stuff already”. I even gave away all my Christmas plates because I decided I don’t want to store things all year just to use them a few times.
    WHAT THE WHAT?!? Who am I?? What’s next? No objects are safe in this house!
    Hide your toys, kids, MOMMA’S DECLUTTERIN’!
    Thanks for the inspiration and for making me feel not so weird! :)

  49. WITH YA! YEP. THE BINS ARE GOING IN THE BASEMENT! White lights, some greens, a few twig snowflakes. I’m good.

    What’s up with all this? I DO NOT know.

    It just feels right.

  50. Alicia Gaines says

    I wish I could “like” these comments! I am in the same boat as many of you. I have 3 small girls so they LOVE to get out the ornaments and decorate, but I have definitely scaled down this year and still have a lot of decor sitting in bins that might just stay there! Kudos to those of you who are just looking forward to Christmas TV classics, crafting and spending time with family!

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