Holiday Decorating: Keep the Best, Remove the Rest!

November 1, 2021

There is a lot we do not have control over, but as I have said in other articles, we DO have control over what comes into our homes and what stays. Let’s recommit to the idea that This Year we are going to Both Decorate and Purge.

Whether you decorate for Halloween (many spend almost as much to decorate for Halloween as they do for Christmas) or you prefer a more general Fall theme, or you wait until Christmas to decorate, make a promise to yourself that IF there is something that you don’t use this year (decorations, wrapping paper, lights, linens, candles, special socks, holiday sweatshirts/ugly sweaters, baking supplies) then remove it from your home either as you are decorating or after the holidays.  If donating, holiday items are very much needed and appreciated at Children’s Home, Senior Centers, Women’s Shelters even Animal Shelters can use some of the items (blankets, towels, linens for bedding)! 



Kitchen and Dining Room

Holiday Dishes: (Decorate) Remove items from the storage area (box, or top/back of the cabinet) and inspect for any chips or cracks.  If it is just a small chip and you are not going to serve any liquid items, I wouldn’t worry too much about it (you can always wipe it down with a little isopropyl rubbing alcohol to be extra safe).  If it is a larger chip or a crack and you are planning to serve beverages or even moist items (casserole, gravy, salads) you should be more concerned about bacteria and perhaps need to (Purge) toss it out or use it as a flower vase or candle holder (just don’t eat off of it!). 

Wash all dishes or run through a quick rinse in your dishwasher to remove dust before setting on a table or displaying.

Holiday Patterns?  Do you have Christmas Dishes from Lenox or Nikko?  Here’s a list of the top 25 patterns and links to purchase replacements if needed.  Also check local thrift or second-hand stores for pieces to your pattern.  You’ll be surprised how often you can find a candy dish or an extra serving platter at one of these.

Replacements or additions to a china pattern is a great gift idea too.  If you can’t think of anything to put on your list but you know your family is going to ask for ideas, consider asking for these (if you enjoy using during the holidays—if not donate the ones you have and let someone else enjoy them).     

Pay attention to how often you use these special dishes.  If you have cute Christmas mugs like me and enjoy drinking your morning coffee from them the entire season, then keep them and enjoy them.  But ask yourself, how many do I really need?  What if we break one?  The truth is I will be sad, but the truth is also there are always cute Christmas mugs for sale. 

When you are ready to pack up the Christmas China be sure to store them in quilted fabric cubes or carefully wrap them before putting them in a storage box.  Label the box so you know exactly what you have.

Lennox Christmas pattern:

8 dinner plates

8 salad plates

8 bowls

1 oval serving platter

Items you may not use and want to PURGE include:

  • plastic cookie tray (from Walmart, Big Lots or Dollar Tree)
  • metal canisters or baskets that you got as a gift a few years back
  • ceramic tray that is cute but doesn’t match any of your other holiday decorations
  • family items that you don’t use (candy dishes, salt & pepper shakers, small knifes for cheese balls)
  • glassware that does not match or you just don’t need

All these items can be donated and will be appreciated. 

Candles: (Decorate) We all love special holiday scents!  But some of us have an issue with headaches if the fragrance is too sweet.  Plus if “too Christmassy” you may have to carefully store and use for several years.  Do not place them in the attic or the garage where it just gets too hot. Be sure to wipe the inside of the jar and inspect the wicks to see if they need trimming before each use.  If the wick is too long a BIG FLAME could easily cause a fire hazard and Windex on a paper towel usually works to remove the soot. 

If you can find locally made candles, I encourage you to SHOP LOCAL.  I recently purchased a couple of candles from Saltwater Cottage in Navarre (you can find them on Facebook) and love them.  Check out this Candle Buying Guide.

Holiday Linens:  Tablecloths, placemats, and napkins: (Decorate) If you are like me and fold to store your linens then we are going to need to iron the tablecloths and napkins before putting them out.  If you have room to store on a roll you may want to get special tissue paper: Acid-Free/Non-Yellowing.  This is not the same tissue paper you buy at the dollar store to stuff in gift bags!  This paper costs about $1 per sheet.  Also, don’t store in dry cleaning bags due to the fumes from the chemicals that can cause the fibers to break down.

(Purge) any linens that you no longer need.  Perhaps you don’t have the same dining set or your entire color scheme is different than when the kids were little, this is the time to decide how many tablecloths do you need (even when the whole family comes over) and remove the rest.  Ones that are too short for my table will be donated with the hope another family can use them.  There are some with stains that I can’t get out and I will call to see if the animal shelter can use for bedding or I will have to toss them. 

Living Room-Family Room

Mantels: (Decorate) Once you have placed your decorations and stockings on the mantel, and you are happy with the way it looks, take a picture!  This way you can re-create it each year or if you have a medical situation as I did in 2015, you can sit on the couch and someone else can create it for you using your picture.

Collectables–Nutcrackers, Lighted Villages, Lego Christmas Set: (Decorate) Remove from their storage containers and inspect.  Does anything need repair (little super glue)? If lighted, are all the bulbs working? If everything is in good working condition, placed these where you like, and take a picture. It is always best to store any extension cords or multi plugs with the lighted villages to avoid the hassle of looking for one while you are decorating.

(Purge) any miscellaneous extras:

  • the stocking for the pet (that passed away years ago)
  • the old set of stocking hangers
  • candlesticks or extra greenery

If you don’t like it this year, the chances of you liking it next year are slim!

Garland for Mantel or Staircase: (Decorate) Many magazines have BEAUTIFUL garland and as much as I have tried, I just cannot make mine look like the pictures.  I’ve used different flowers and ribbons, and even bought the garland ties that look like mini pinecones!  If you want tips on how to hang garland, look online.  There are lots of videos—I have given up, but if you really want to, I’m sure you can find a great tutorial.  Send me pictures! 

Christmas Tree/Ornaments/Tree Skirt: (Decorate) I admit I love ornaments!  I like very traditional red, green, white and gold ornaments and the more the better!  At one time I had over 1000 ornaments on our 12-foot tree.  It was beautiful but it was a project to decorate it each year.  We moved and sold the 12 ft tree and set up a small 6.5 ft tree and pared down to under 200 ornaments.  The ornaments that I kept were the more decorative ones since I didn’t need to fill some many branches. Since I am now in Florida, and my color scheme is different, I may use more of the white and gold going forward and (Purge) the red and green ones.

Any ornaments that we have purchased or have been given that I don’t put on the tree go in a metal sleigh.  Ornaments are very sentimental for most of us!  They remind us of places we have been or special interests or hobbies we enjoy. But just because they were a gift, you don’t have to keep them (if you don’t like them!)

(Purge) Be sure that you do not keep any ornaments made with food or candies—they are bug magnets!  And teachers, please stop having the kids make these for gifts. 

When it comes time to take the tree down at the end of the season, be sure to check out this list from Hayneedle. 

Newer Pre-Lit trees are easier to set up and have some extra features to their lights as well as coming in all different shapes and sizes.  If you haven’t had to replace your artificial tree in the last couple of years, I suggest checking out what is available now so when your tree goes out (they all do!) then you know what to expect as far as cost and what options are now available.  And if you can catch one on clearance-even better!

Wreaths: (Decorate)Just like with trees, newer wreaths have extra features. Many now are LED lights with battery packs that can be hung just about anywhere (no more extension cords hanging down).  The key to keeping your wreath looking good is proper storage.  When you bring it in, but sure to shake it out good to remove any dirt or leaves that may have blown into it. Double-check that the decorative items are still securely fastened and then don’t crush it when you store it.  You can hang it on a wire hanger and place a dry-cleaning bag over them to keep dust-free or in a wreath storage bag.

Lights: (Decorate) Be sure that you label light strands so that you can easily place them where they go and create your winter wonderland quickly.  If you find bulbs that are broken, unplug before attempting to remove the bulb to avoid getting shocked.  If your strand is too long you can either cut it and then cap it with electrical tape or just wrap the extra and place in a ziplock bag, taping the cord and bag closed.  This will prevent any rain or snow (depending on where you live) from getting in the unused sockets and causing a short or blowing your plug. (Purge) Any strands that are not working, of course, need to be thrown away, remove any bulbs if possible (C7, C9) to use as replacements or to fill in the strand you will go buy to replace the broken one.

Gifts and Wrapping Supplies

Wrapping Supplies:  Since holiday paper, bags, and tags are only used once a year, you may want to not keep them with your regular supplies.  Take an inventory and see how much paper, tape, ribbons, tags, tissue paper, and bags you have on hand.  What can you use up this year?  If it looks like you have plenty, plan to use it and replace it after the season to get it on sale.  If you must purchase this year, go with solid colors that will coordinate with what you already have. 

Gifts: Make a list of everyone you will be buying gifts and an estimate of the cost or amount to spend.  There are lots of shopping apps that let you share ideas with family members.  Not only saving you time but also money as you can compare prices easily online.  If you enjoy picking up a few unexpected items for stockings or appreciation gifts from coworkers, church friends, etc., please SHOP LOCAL. 

Consumable Gifts:  Consumable does not just mean food!  Although it may mean a gift card to a favorite but more expensive restaurant or it could be a special bottle of wine or a special whiskey and it could mean tickets to show or concert.  Think of consumables as items that can be enjoyed at a specific place and time.  They are also items that don’t require dusting or maintenance, but could be subscription based (3 times a year or for 6 months or 1 year). If interested in joining a wine club, I recommend the Boisset Collection.   

Regifting:  I am not encouraging that you give worn out things, nobody wants your junk, but think carefully about extras that you already have around your house, and gather them together and make an “emergency gift stash” that you can pull from when an unexpected invitation arrives or a work associate surprises you with a gift. 

Working as an organizer, I have seen sets from Bath and Body Works stored under bathroom cabinets or in the cabinets over the washing machine and I know the family is never going to use all that soap and lotion.  Also, if you have some candles that you have never lit and are still in really good shape, I suggest “re-gifting” them.  This is an excellent way to PURGE extras from your home and give a nice gift to someone else without spending any additional money.   

Purging as we go will make putting the holidays away so much easier after Christmas!  You may even have some extra storage bins! (We will find a use for them in the garage later in the spring).  And the items we donate may be just what that family that was displaced by a fire needed or a Christmas coffee mug might be just what a great-grandchild can take to the senior’s home to spread some cheer. 

I hope this article inspires you and encourages you to KEEP THE BEST and ENJOY IT FULLY!  And I pray that you know God’s love and protection.  He wants only the best for each of us and sometimes He helps us purge to draw us closer to Him. 

Enjoy the Holiday Season (for some that starts with Halloween!)

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