Minimalist Holiday Decor

One thing I’ve never liked about the holiday season is the proliferation of store-bought décor. Plastic trees, mass-manufactured ornaments, and objects emblazoned with Santas, elves, and reindeer are not only a drain on our planet’s resources; they’re also extra things that must be stored, unused, for eleven months of the year.

I’m certainly not against decorating for the holidays; I simply think we can do it in a lighter, more elegant, and more environmentally-friendly way. Here’s some ideas:

Decorate with nature. Spread evergreen branches across your mantle, or spruce up your table with sprigs of holly. Gather pine cones into a bowl, or place a few poinsettias around your home. Natural items give us a true appreciation of the beauty, and bounty, of the season.

Decorate with food. A garland of popcorn or cranberries is a lovely way to adorn your tree or mantel, and a plate of festive Christmas cookies (not to mention the divine smell of them baking!) is enough to put anyone in a holiday spirit.

Decorate with photos. The holidays are all about family—so what better way to add warmth to your home than with a special display of family photos? Dig out those dusty prints from yesteryear’s celebrations, or make a slideshow of digital ones on your TV, computer monitor, or digital frame. Reminisce over your family history, or simply laugh at your hairstyles and fashions from decades past.

Decorate with color. An item doesn’t have to be holiday-themed to qualify for display. Any object in a seasonal color—like a red throw, green vase, silver candleholder, or gold-rimmed plate—can just as effectively set the mood.

Decorate with handmade items. The holidays are a perfect time to showcase the creativity of your household. For a particularly delightful effect, ask children in the family to create special artwork for you to display. Their Santa drawings and paper chains are infinitely more charming than department store baubles.

Decorate with recycled materials. If you’re crafty, the cards, ribbons, and wrapping paper of Christmases past can make simple seasonal touches around your home. (How about some gift wrap origami?)

Decorate with candles. Some strategically-placed tea light, votive, or pillar candles lend a warm, magical feel to a holiday gathering. (Of course, make sure to take all appropriate safety precautions!)

Decorate with music. The sounds of Bing Crosby crooning classic holiday tunes—or your twelve-year-old playing them on the piano—creates just as wonderful a seasonal ambience as any visual display.

And for the die-hard minimalists: admire other people’s décor. Go on a holiday house tour, visit a botanical garden, or explore your hometown (or a neighboring one) for festive seasonal displays. It’s a great way to get your holiday fix with no stuff, no fuss, and no clean-up!

Do you keep it simple when it comes to holiday decor? I’d love to hear your strategies for a festive (yet clutter-free) look!

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

84 comments to Minimalist Holiday Decor

  • We are soooooooooooooo minimalist I am not sure we will have any ! Love the Grinch

  • Anne

    Nature, candles, colours, cookies: I think you already mentioned all my strategies… Oh, no, there’s one more: scent. We burn some christmassy scent cones. Besides, branches also have a distinct scent which adds much to the holiday feeling.
    We do have some special christmas decorations, though. They’ve been hand-made presents or heritage and we still love them. We’re making sure though, that they never exceed the designated box. Also, I own three cookie tins with a christmas or winter decor on them. I need them every christmas season for holding christmas cookies. They’re also displayed and double as holiday decoration. The rest of the year, they’re in the ‘christmas box’ with the other decorations.

  • Rae

    When I went to the grocery, I saw a lot of Christmas decors for sale and this is exactly what I thought of, where will all these go after the holidays? I don’t mean to be a scrooge. I want the festive feel of the holidays too, but I want to be more creative with those that you suggested and not take the short cut of buying what’s in the stores.

  • Lolly

    I am a little scrooge ball and decided a Christmas wallpaper on my computer is enough but these ideas are fantastic and might implement some :)

  • All very good suggestions, I use most of them in our home :D
    I blogged about our simple Christmas decorating here :
    http://lifeshouldbethecatsmeow.blogspot.com/2011/12/simple-christmas-decorating.html

  • mrs Brady Old Lady

    Die hard-minimalist, I like that phrase!
    Am working on it – no decorations AT ALL, just the Xmas cards I receive. Not even a Christmas tree! Festive enough for me.

  • Good ideas. I have very few decorations any more. I cull them every year as we get them out to decorate. Everything except the Lego train can fit in one bucket!

  • CJ

    Until we moved into our house 2 years ago, we always had a small artificial christmas tree on a table – we’d never settled anywhere long enough, or had enough storage space, to justify a big tree. We did however have two ‘sets’ of tree decorations, so we wouldn’t have the same look every year. After enduring years of work on our house, we celebrated last Christmas by going out and buying a large artificial tree. Around the same time we also inherited a load of old family decorations. The tree looked awful. It was far too big for our sitting room (we have an Edwardian terrace with small rooms), required us to move the (useful and much used) side table to accomodate it, blocked some of the window and generally got in the way. This year all I have so far is a garland and fairy lights on the mantlepiece, and at each end two candles which are there all year round. And our wreath, which we’ve had for years, on the front door. It looks beautifully cosy and festive, and simple, and is just enough for the space we have. We’re going to give the big Christmas tree to charity. I feel stupid only having used it once, but I don’t want to hang on to it ‘just in case we move/have kids who beg for a big tree’ etc etc just because we spent the money. We already gave away the smaller tree we had before to a friend who does charity work supporting adults with learning disabilities to live independently and its going to be given this weekend, to a lady she supports who can’t afford one. I certainly won’t feel like we wasted the money if it goes to such a good cause.

    We’re thinking about getting a very small real pot-grown tree closer to Christmas, as they don’t like to be inside too long. Then we’ll keep it in the garden and bring it in every year until it gets too big. We’ll keep a few of our nicest decorations, and ones passed down from my husband’s grandmother and donate the rest.

    I absolutely love Christmas, and I do still get a stir of excitment from decorations, but not all the tacky ones that I see as having no connection either to the religious festival or the celebration of nature’s survival through the winter (Btw I used to have artificial trees because I couldn’t bear the sight of all the dead trees being disposed of on January). I would like to have a few festive plants around however we have cats and my favourites, cyclamen and poinsettia, are both toxic to cats.

  • gretchen

    we decorate for ‘winter’, not for christmas. that way the natural decorations can stay up right until candlemas (february 2nd) without looking tacky. we use: pinecones, branches from our own garden (red twig dogwood, silver spruce, juniper, scarlet and coral bark curly willow) and white candles. all of our beautiful russian and greek icons are given a loving cleaning with rosewater and blessed with holy oil. then we are ready to celebrate this beautiful season! it is simple, natural and reverent.

  • SallyGirl

    I LOVE decorating for Christmas, but I keep it pretty simple. I don’t by decorations for the sake of decorations and I don’t cover every surface either; I have to LoVe something and know exactly where I want it to go in our little bitty home. I have a single container for holiday storage (that’s Halloween, Fall, and Christmas), and I don’t allow myself to fill it up, which is actually pretty easy, since again, I only put up decorations I love. (And, in respect to not consuming a lot of brand new things, I look at garage sales in the summer and thrifts stores for the occasional treasure.) Maybe this is a middle-of-the-road technique between no decorations and having a house covered in lights and artificial garland.

    • AussieGirl

      I agree. I also love decorating for Christmas and whilst my decorations are not homemade or ‘fresh’, they are very much tasteful and still what I would consider as minimal.

      I think the middle of the road approach is best. I can’t be a scrooge and I can’t do an overabundance of cheap, mass produced junk. :)

  • One strategy we use is to fill the space under our tree with our kids’ stuffed animals. It looks festive, and when we’re done, the animals go right back in the playroom – nothing to store!

    • Karen T.

      When our daughters were little we always had a tree (cut from a Christmas tree plantation belonging to family friends), and all their stuffed animals would “live” under the tree until after New Year’s day, when the tree was taken down and composted.

      Now that the girls are grown, we do not put up a tree, but I make a wreath from fresh greens for the front door. I treasure a pair of caroling angels that my mother bought when I was a baby; that and a multi-piece manger scene are our only “bought” decor. I use candles and bowls of fruit, nuts, and old-fashioned “ribbon” Christmas candy to make things look festive.

      Francine, I love your comment about “decorating” with Christmas music. It just isn’t Christmas without Bing, Nat King Cole, Julie Andrews, Jim Brickman, and others.

  • Kate

    You mentioned paper chains! My 4 year old is really into this, but he also plays with them which means they break and we have to make a new stand every few days. I decided to make a reusable set out of fabric and velcro. I don’t consider it a superfluous decoration because it’s hours of creative fun for my boys and ultimately saves a lot of resources over all that paper, and can be stored flat in a file folder, though I bet he’ll keep them out all year.

    For your food idea, how about candycanes. They last all season, as long as you’ll eat them eventually!

    • Jen

      My cousins used to make paper chains every christmas, too. Except their parents would tape them up along the walls at ceiling height, in swags. All the fun of making them and looking at them, but removing them from little prying hands.

  • Brenda

    If it were solely up to me I would have no Christmas decor at all. But I gave in to my 18 yr old son and we do have a tree with lights and a few decorations. When he moves out though, the tree goes with him! Instead of Christmas decorations I do have a few things I put out during the holidays that are more winter decorations. That way I can have them out for a few months instead of just one.

  • Excellent recommendations!
    I used the “decorate with nature” approach for Thanksgiving, since we had guests. I also put a poinsettia on the doorstep. As for the December holidays, Hubby and I are both traveling so much (for work and play) this month that there will be no further holiday decorating.

    But we DO plan to go for an evening run through the neighborhood to enjoy the pretty lights!

  • Taryn

    I have 6 children-the youngest is 18(he finished his home education last June) and he recently moved in with his oldest brother and his family. Our daughter and granddaughter still live with us. We have 5 granddaughters so far. We are Bible-believing Christians and attend a Baptist church. Like many Messianics, we believe Scripture teaches Jesus was born probably at the Feast of Tabernacles(usually in September). We do not have any holiday clutter-no tree,etc. We have a turkey dinner-everyone is off of work. My husband gives gift cards for the grandchildren this time of year. We do not celebrate Halloween but do give out chocolate. We do not celebrate Easter,etc. but we have turkey dinners on Resurrection Sunday and Thanksgiving.

  • Saved by Zero

    Zero decorations here, just the usual assortment of candles and houseplants we enjoy all year. We spend Christmas Eve at my in-laws, so I get to enjoy their holiday decorating efforts. Cannot say I enjoy how stores are festooned, because I will not go within a five-mile radius of the suburban shopping district until mid-January. ;-)

  • Kurkela

    Minimalism is like religion or vegetarianisms – everybody should choose it for him/herself when mature enough to do so. Very minimalist Christmas for families with small children – that seems somehow heartless… and I am NOT talking about having or not having mountains of presents under the Christmas tree.

    • Kate

      if becoming minimalist is a choice to wait to make as an adult, then you can also argue that being a clutterbug is a decision to make as an adult, and therefore excess consumerism and hoarding should be avoided until the child is old enough to decide. I find it rather heartless when that type of lifestyle is imposed on children, but to each his own. As long as parents set a genuine example filled with love and compassion.
      Raising your child with a meat diet then letting them make the decision of vegetarianism as adults is no different than raising them vegetarian and having them decide if they want to eat meat when they’re adults. Sure, I’m depriving them… of high cholesterol and saturated fats, and the guilt of animal cruelty.
      Your child’s starting point doesn’t have to be the status quo.

      • SS

        You are so right Kate. My parents raised us in a minimalist home with very healthy eating habits(candy or fast food extremely rarely, never sugared cereals or processed foods, lots of fruits and vegetables) and I am grateful for it. We all were well loved, and thanks to their efforts, grew up to be slim with low cholesterol as well as non materialistic. My siblings and I range from very minimalist to medium minimalist. We were free to choose any style (including non minimalist) growing up. I never viewed my parents as heartless, I treasured the thought my parents put into the few gifts we did receive as kids (we stopped exchanging as adults and started giving to charity instead), and the time spent with us instead of shopping. We lived in an area full of wealthy kids at school who would compare gifts and I didn’t care what my parents spent. We learned to value others by the love shared, not the material gifts given or owned. Donating and volunteering were more a part of our lives than shopping. And I’m grateful that instead of being in debt spending, spending, spending, my parents taught me how to save, save, save, while being generous. In the process of teaching us kids to be detached from getting, my parents saved to be able to provide for themselves and others as they aged so they gave us children another gift, that of self sufficient parents. Although I would help them if they ever needed it, some of my friends worry about supporting their parents financially, a worry from which I am free unless something unusual happens. So seeing as raising healthy, self sufficient, environmentally responsible adults who love and are loved by their parents is the result of minimalist holidays and lifestyle, it hardly seems a cruel option to me. Quite the opposite, I am deeply grateful for the low stress healthy life they taught us how to lead with their minimalist ways.

    • Tara

      Do you really think small children will feel ‘deprived’ if the house is not decked with decor? That Christmas trees are absolutely essential to a child’s happiness? Do you think, in twenty or so years, they’ll even remember that mom and dad didn’t hang wreaths on the front door?

      To take a popular quote, “Kids may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” I’m sure if the parents show their love, the kids will forgive a few missing Christmas lights or two.

  • Great suggestions. I love the origami link too. We have a few “special” or heirloom ornaments and decorations that were homemade either by ourselves or people we care about. We store everything in one box … and cull every year, leaving only those items that continue have real meaning and appeal. Decorating with candles and nature is the way to go.

  • Our current display consists of two holiday cards we’ve received. Otherwise, we have nothing up, and I LOVE it! I’m probably one of the few minimalists who does NOT like to look at all the decorations. To me it’s just more clutter and trash than art and beauty.

  • Azulao

    Chuckle, I am going to call my sheer laziness “minimalism” and not put out a single glim this year, because the few little trinkets I used last year stayed out until, er, June…

    More seriously, we did get a big artificial tree a few years ago which I deeply regret now. (Especially since the spouse will not allow it to be gotten rid of since we “might” want it some day.) I so wish we had not done that… I think it would be more fun to decorate and such if we had children; since we don’t, it’s all too easy just to let the whole thing slide on by. Which is NOT minimalism.

  • Darlena

    I take the christmas cards that I receive and tape them to the wall. Sometimes in the shape of a tree or a wreath.
    I’ve seen some offices wrap their framed wall-hangings with wrapping paper and ribbons to make them look like hanging presents.
    I was so happy when I donated my tree and most of my ornaments. I used my cats as an excuse, but the real reason is that I hated putting everything away, and would put it off. I still have a bag full of Hallmark Keepsake ornaments my mom gave me every year that I feel guilty getting rid of, but don’t display since I dont’ have a tree.

  • Kristina

    Lovely ideas–I’m going to implement some of them. My sole Christmas decoration for years has been a beautiful handmade wooden Nativity set that I bought from a natural-goods store in MD, but I love the idea of adding some natural materials and candles for decoration; how fresh and pretty! (And totally biodegradable!) I might as well get some use out of the pine trees that surround my apartment, since I spend the rest of the year cussing them for dropping needles all over the place. ;)

    One thing, though–it’s a good idea to skip poinsettias if you have pets who roam around the house and might nibble on them. They’re poisonous!

  • Music, food, and baking cookie aroma–check! We’re religious so most of our holiday decor is in the form of a few nativity scenes (not really creches–smaller, one-piece deals) we’ve been given over the years. We do have a small artificial tree that my sister and brother-in-law gave us because they decorate even less than we do (dead trees are sad–although, as my native New Englander husband points out, the real trees his family got growing up from tree farms right next door and then burned for firewood were more environmentally friendly than fake ones). On it goes a few special ornaments we’ve been given (I REFUSE to buy any–that’s just asking for loads of sentimental junk to accumulate). On our door we put up a branch from a fake tree I found languishing in a parking lot dressed up with a few bells and a bow…plus candles it also doubles as the Advent wreath at our church start–shh don’t tell!
    Our centerpiece this year is a glass Limca soda bottle (red and green accents) my husband had for lunch last month which will get recycled come January 6. Oh and some lights! I love the glow at night.
    A disposable chocolate Trader Joe’s Advent calendar was also given to us by friends–you bet we’re enjoying that decoration!

  • et

    I’m going to make these:
    http://rhythmofthehomeblog.com/12/holiday-simplicityice-luminarias/
    & paper snowflakes with kids.

    And then there are other snow/candle decorations for outside.

  • Susan - N.C.

    I LOVE the idea of the reusable fabric and velcro links for Christmas garland — and I’ll probably borrow it, but use a variety of stiff ribbon to make mine. Thanks for the great idea!

    I construct a huge wall-mounted Christmas tree made of Christmas cards from years past and present. It’s colorful, 3-D because I attach cards so they can flop open, as big or small as you choose, won’t topple over if the cat gets adventurous, and doesn’t encroach on floor space. I end up re-reading each card, so I enjoy the messages again and again — both the Christmas message and the handwritten notes inside. We also display the nativity scene my husband grew up with because it represents the reason we’re actually celebrating, and because we love it. Merry Christmas!

  • I am so resonating with what you’re saying. Adios to the plastic, the phoney, the schlocky! Nature, photos, candles, music … so life-enriching. I’m especially enjoying pandora.com at this time of year.

    I’ve found your perspective on gift-giving really powerful … and shared it with the people in my world this week –
    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2011/12/what-we-really-want.html

  • whisper 2

    I did nothing but a glass vase with some pretty lights for a few years but my adult daughter comes home for Christmas and was a bit under-whelmed. So, this year, I will have a tiny natural tree with some tiny clear lights and I am using all my jewellery for decorations – mostly silver earrings plus pearls and amber. Then I only have one string of lights to store. I am so excited to see how it turns out and must admit I feel like it is a brilliant idea – we’ll see!

  • Erica

    Why stop on the 25th? The dreariest time of year in New England for me is January and February. I bring garden plants in, like begonias, geraniums and herbs, then put them back out in the Spring. For inspiration on this check out
    http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/category/houseplants/

  • i grew up in an elaborately decorated house (which was beautiful), and thought it only proper that i do the same thing when i moved into my own space. but it’s not me nor does it suit my more minimalist taste. this year i said to hell with it and am declaring our nicely wrapped gifts to be decoration enough.

  • Linda Sand

    My favorite tree was the year we made gingerbread men and strung popcorn with cranberries. We hung those plus candy canes on our tree and it looked fabulous.

    I also liked the year we tied pretty ribbons around our throw pills to make them look like gifts. And the fabric we hemmed and used for many years as wrapping paper with ribbon ties back when we were still doing the gift giving thing.

  • Since moving to Hawaii, I got rid of most of my things. I had a wonderful tin Christmas tree that just couldn’t be packed with the sharp edges etc. I gave it to one of my friends when I left. She just came to visit and talked about how they aren’t around for Christmas much and this year they will be at home. The tree meant a lot to her.

    I brought with me 2 magical looking stockings. We put them up, one for each dog. I had a hand painted tall skinny Santa I brought. That is out.

    The rest is Hawaiian style. Poinsettias grow outside here. They are beautiful right now. Making wholesome food and having the time to enjoy our friends visiting is our celebration and decoration this year. It feels right and will become what we do every year I’m certain.

    I’m so looking forward to our first Christmas in Hawaii, without a lot of stuff. We grow our own coffee, it will be our gifts to our mainland friends and family. Something they can use instead of something that will sit around and take up space.

    ~Aloha wags and illuminated light of the mind all around this holiday season!

  • Jessica

    Several years ago before I even new what minimalism was, my now husband and I bought a mini tree for our apartment. It brought us lots of cozy holiday cheer, and we decided the small box we keep it in is the most space we’ll dedicate to holiday decorating ever!

    We reuse the same mini ornaments, star, and lights every year.

  • Taryn

    One Christmas season in the eighties we bought a real Christmas tree and I had the worst migraine I ever had. It turns out the fumes can trigger headaches-that can be googled. We had an artificial tree before that and after, until a few years ago.

    • Elizabeth

      I just read about this yesterday. It seems that when you put the tree in water, microscopic mold starts to develop immediately. My oldest son and I have always had lots of allergy problems associated with the tree, which is why we didn’t put one up until Christmas week. And we always took it down the trash day before New Year’s.

  • runi

    We are Wiccan, so celebrate Winter Solstice (just a few days before Christmas. Our only decorating activity involves pine boughs. Then we pile them in the back yard to shelter the possums and birds.

    Halloween (our Samhain) is very simple also. Just one moderate size pumpkin. Then we make a few strategic cuts in the pumpkin to facilitate animal access and put it in the back yard. (We have seen lots of different species gnaw at the pumpkin–possums, squirrels, rabbits and birds. Once there was even an eagle, we don’t know where he/she came from or where he/she went.)

  • Elizabeth

    We stopped decorating when we started travelling for the holidays. Before that, it was fairly minimal with lots of handmade items like gingerbread houses, cookies, things the kids made in school, etc. Our next door neighbors, on the other hand, have really outdone themselves this year; the house looks like the Griswald’s house from National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation. I don’t begrudge anyone their decorations, but these neighbors turn their lights on at 4:00 p.m. and they don’t turn them off until 7:30 a.m., when she takes the kids to school and that is only if she notices. It is a terrible waste of electricity, (I don’t want their bill next month, hehehehe), plus they have pointed one of their beacons directly into our house, so we have to sleep with the doors shut to block it out. Yes, it is THAT obnoxious. Oh my, I sound like such a Scrooge. Anyway, everything within reason and also within balance, I say. Happy Holidays!

  • Megan

    These are all great ideas! I would love to just have xmas cards on display and use some natural decorations like pine cones etc. However my husband would not go without the tree and decorations esp since we have a child now. I agree that a child does not need a tree or all the glitz to enjoy xmas.

  • Tammy

    This is my first year of minimalism. I have never been a big decorator for Christmas but this year I really changed my plan. We did put up our tree because I have 6 kids (4-20) and a lot of ornaments (usually keychains or something from one of our travels). I LOVE to hear them talk about where they picked up this ornament or ‘do you remember’ comments when they put one on. But this year we are doing more with experiences such as cookie baking, advent activities, etc. I find that my kids are asking more questions about the season and realizing that it’s not about the decorations and the gifts, but about the time we spend with each other and the fun we have. To me, that’s the ultimate reason for a minimalist lifestyle … because without all the stuff, a happier life happens easier and way more often!!!

  • Cynthia

    I got rid of most of my decorations last year but kept the fewer nicer things. I pared down so much I love not dreading having to put them all away because it will be simple and quick. That was the worst part to me, having to put all the crap away. This year we bought our first real tree in 10 years, kept a Nativity Scene my son made me in grade school, 3 stockings are hanging and a pretty poinsetta plant on the Living Room coffee table. A pretty white tree on the kitchen table as a centerpiece decorated in silver and blue and that’s it. The problem I have is the stupid village. I hate that thing. I bought it and all the details and didn’t put it up this year and don’t have the heart to get rid of it. It’s owning me right now, but I will give it to one of the kids someday. Having a real tree has been wonderful though. Just me and my youngest went on a horse drawn wagon ride on a christmas tree farm and picked it out. That’s the meaning of Christmas to me…memories (and of course Jesus’ birth).

    • Linda H.

      I laughed when I read this…My co-worker complains EVERY year about the “stupid village”. Every year I tell her to ditch it. Even her kids won’t take it.

      • Cynthia

        Even her kids won’t take it! Now THAT’S funny! Thanks for making me laugh also. I’m beginning to wonder if it really matters to save it and just ditch it. Have a Merry Christmas, Linda!

  • Heather

    I love Christmas and my son is only 5, so I try to make it fun and remember the real reason, for us, for Christmas. I do have some flashing icicle lights outside and we do decoratea tree. I have some white bottle brush trees I put out and my son’s art he makes in school each year. I also have some light up stars and white stars but I love stars no matter what time of the year. : )

  • Amy

    O Christmas Tree! How cheap thee were on clearance! But you’re 7′ tall and 4′ wide. I can barely fit you inside. (sob) I love the thing and it’s beautiful. After spending 4 hours decorating it, I laughed because I’m doing a major minimizing and it’s got to go. And best to do it before Christmas so someone else can enjoy it for the holiday. Honestly, I’m having a hard time parting with it. But I know that I can get another one on clearance when I finally find a spot to settle down in. I can’t justify the moving and storage expense. Goodbye beautiful tree! I hope someone loves you as much as me!

  • maloyo

    Pets are what turned me into a minimalist Christmas decorator. One year we decorated the six foot tree, and went to the kitchen. Heard loud rustling, then “meow,meeoowww” followed by a crash, and Kitty streaking through the kitchen with ears pinned back, tail slung low. Yup, tree was on the floor. My current kitty munches anything living and green, but turns up her nose at fake greenery. And poinettias are toxic to cats.

    I love having pine cones in a bowl with greenery, but real greenery gets pulled out and chewed. Pine cones are apparently great cat toys.

    So, my decorations are a bit of fake greenery, candles, and a foot high table top tree too small for any cat to try and climb. :-)

  • April

    Until this year, we’ve always bought a real tree and decorated it. The decorations all fit into a small box so they just go into the uncluttered storage area under our condo. This year we moved from Arizona to Michigan and will be going home for the holidays. We didn’t get a tree this year because it didn’t make sense with being gone so much of December. I do miss not getting to decorate our simple tree this year. Next year we will especially since my daughter will be a little older and can participate.

  • This year we bought a lemon cypress tree in a pot. It is our living Christmas tree, but the best part is that we get to keep it all year round. I can’t wait to watch it grow and see how much bigger it gets as the years go by. For Christmas we’ve decorated it with a few homemade ornaments and a string of popcorn.

  • Nicole

    Our minimalist house makes it a fabulous blank canvas for Christmas. My two daughters receive lots of cards from kids at school and they have lined them up along one of our counter tops which is normally a clear surface. Our tree is plastic and packs up well – it is covered with decoration my daughters have made and chosen (1 each year). It has decorations made from their handprints and those of their cousins, ones from teachers and some made in the classroom. On Dec 1st we have a huge afternoon tea and they decorate the tree, we hang their advent calendars their Nana bought them. We homemake a wreath for our front door every year. We love Christmas but it all has to fit into one box. By being minimal we have allowed room for traditionally less decorations to make a big impact.

  • Jules

    I love reading your blog! My husband and I live by the water and a few years ago decided to forego the big tree thing and purchased a small table tree with tiny white lights. Each year, we decorate it with ornaments i made from a variety of shells and rope. The tree skirt is fish netting. The pure simplicity of this small tree makes me smile every time I see it and the storage is minimal.

  • I love your ideas for natural decorations :)

    I have cut down on what I used to display (two rooms worth – fully decorated) – but we still have a large artifical tree brimming with decorations (some going back to childhood, lots of handmade items), candles and a few free-standing ornaments – mostly handmade by craftspeople. Although the decorations have to be stored all year in the loft, they have lasted many, many years and have become a bit of a ‘tradition’. I’ll probably cut down even more before we move again, though.

  • Rowan

    We’re “in transition” right now, so every year we pull out our holiday decor and anything we don’t display we get rid of. If there’s something that we are having a hard time letting go of that we don’t have room to display, we put it back in the box and re-evaluate at the end of the season. I’m really hoping to get it down to one box. And there’s no use in keeping it if we aren’t going to use it. Most of our decor is hand-me down stuff, we don’t typically buy that kind of stuff new. Like I said, we’re transitioning to a more minimalist lifestyle. Baby Steps, right?

  • Until this year, we always had a real tree. Mostly one cut down in its prime which then suffered the heat of a centrally heated house for 12 days, losing all its needles and then being discarded as compost… Once or twice we had a potted tree. They grow fast, and never came in two years in a row. The last one was potted, too, and suffered over the summer, so although it’s recovering in the garden, by the time it looks decent again, it will be too big.

    SO… this is the first year I’m using a simple small artificial tree. For a small sum, it looks fine, shows off the baubles I love best and will last a looong time and takes up little space in a small home. Win, win, win.

    I love greenery around the house but the central heating makes it simply too dry and warm, even though we don’t overheat the place, we jsut have very well-insulated homes here. Therefore, while I condone using prunings etc. the only things I can really use are dry twigs, branches or pinecones. Everything dries up well before Christmas, including Advent wreaths.

    Otherwise we like to stick with simple decoration, homemade or edible, and lots of simple candles, mostly tea lights, which are very cheap and easy and look so effective!

  • I saw a man walking down the road with a live christmas tree this week and it made me think of how lovely that tree would have been to continue growing outdoors and to provide shade and oxygen and a refuge for birds.
    For less than a month that tree will slowly die in the corner for the mankinds amusement.
    Im really happy our family and our workplace has decided to forgo the decorations this year. I believe christmas is about people and giving and caring, not superficial overconsumption and further destruction of nature.

  • Taryn

    Our family remembers the Christmas that we had Chinese food(Chinese restaurants were the only places that were opened) for dinner and no decorations because we had just moved from Ohio back to Long Island. Our boxes were still unpacked. I don’t use candles because I think they are fire hazards. I don’t send cards for anything if I can call someone. I’m giving up chocolate(we never did an advent calendar) after reading articles on the internet about chocolate and child labor/slavery. Years ago, I stopped putting sugar in my tea after reading about the sugar industry and children workers.

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