Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Your advice. I need it.

The above is just an example. Maybe not the best. It is only to say, I have a real issue with holiday decor. I get a buy at this time of year in that most of the fall work is done by a garden and land which is, no pun intended, giving up the ghost at this time of year. Dried corn stalks and gourds, pumpkins, hay bales from forgotten corners of unused paddocks. All this is fine by me, what came from the earth, I eventually turn back into it in one way or another: The pumpkins will be stolen by the foxes, the corn will compost, the hay will cover the garden through snow.

Once in a while though, I see these happy commercial seasonal items which, if I were not more careful and guilt-riddled, would leap thoughtlessly into the canning-overstuffed pantry or butlers closets. And there they would sit the remnants of fun from last year, useless for all but three weeks per annum. I caution myself with the words of Suze Orman to some poor soul in front of her on a check out line, "No wonder you're in debt! Do you need all that crap?!"

But once in a great while, especially where babies and fun holidays are concerned, my resolve becomes less steeled. I almost allow myself a retreat from the effort to minimize the clear waste that any sort of storage is...

I don't know, Gorgeous Souls, tell me how you balance it all, and by it - I mean - the stuff in the closets?

Photo: Pottery Barn, Blushing Hostess sponsor


Tamra said...

If you haven't used or even thought about it in a year, get rid of it.

You will be shocked at how good you will feel. The first attempt of just saying "Ok, it goes" and then moving it to the donation pile will be a bit uncomfortable, but once you've really done it, dropped the stuff off knowing it will be used and loved by someone who needs it you will want to do it again.

Feng shui says that clutter causes congestion. Now I'm not a FS freak but I do believe certain principles do apply and this is one of them. If you have "stuff" just sitting, filling up space in cupboards and closets even if the rest of your house is in order and lovely then subconsciously you know you have stuff you don't need taking up valuable space and it's not good.

Unpack, unload and give away. You will not only feel better but the next time you want to get something you wont' feel like you have to justify it. You'll have plenty of space and room.

Heather said...

If I see a magical holiday piece for our home I refuse to buy it unless it passes this one test. Do I think that it will become part of happy memories? If the answer is yes then I purchase it and throw away one thing from storage that is not passing the test. One in - One out.

The Ancient said...

Divide the problem into two parts -- children and adults.

For your children and their siblings, friends and cousins, you might want to have a small cache of inexpensive, unbreakable things for certain occasions, including inexpensive tablecloths, etc. Perhaps a few gaudy seasonal things that they might notice and remember. When the parties are over, everything is either thrown away or moved to the attic until next year.

Holidays for adults are much simpler. You buy lots of fresh flowers, etc., But basically let your food and drink carry the story. (And the music, if you're going to the expense of a band.) Have an excess of inexpensive champagne glasses, linen napkins, and serviceable but undistinguished plates (because they will get broken). When the occasion is right, have lots of good but not extravagant champagne.

Christmas needs a tree, the Fourth needs sparklers, New Year's needs a countdown and those silly paper toys that throw out streamers, and Burn's Night needs lots of disagreeable food and readings according to the ancient ritual. In other words, you don't need much of anything.

(The rubbish that's sold to decorate seasonally -- low, middle and high-end -- never ceases to be rubbish. Unless it makes you particularly happy, forget it, because your guests are there for you, not some collection of geegaws.)

Important exception to everything I've said: If your family or your husband's have time-worn holiday rituals, honor them. If you have ancestral things that are meant for some specific holiday, use them -- even if they're things you might not buy for yourself. Etc. Holidays are part of the thread that binds the living and the dead, the past, present and future. That's why we love them.

pretty pink tulips said...

I think the trick is to balance "store bought" seasonal items and just tweaking what you have. I'm a huge believer in the power of ribbon - a strip of black gingham takes you into Halloween. I store my seasonal things...and each year let some go. Adding others. Just like everything else you have. A new item in...and old item out. Good luck!!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

A great question! My kids are teens and they still expect "seasonal" decoration, many wonderful childhood memories wrapped up in it.

However, the purger in me is in love with the thought of eliminating much of it!

I have just completed tackling the organizing the garage and storage room...where there is still far too many years worth of decor biding time!

Let us know if you figure how the best solution.

Country Contemporary said...

I love a beautifully decorated space with seasonal/holiday touches as much as anyone, but I'm a firm believer, as I continue to downsize and edit out my holdings, that while traditions come from the celebration of holidays, less still is more. Most of what we see in the stores, shops and online is excess and really not all that special. Treasure the few things - hopefully small - that you have kept from childhood or brought into your world and provide those things that your children will enjoy (preferably edible rather than permanent) and keep the clutter to a minimum. I have realized that the "things" that I treasure really aren't so much the stuff of my childhood, but the heart-shaped, buttery golden cakes with strawberry pink icing or the special turkey stuffing that my mom made for us. Yes, I have a few "smalls" from various seasons/holidays, but it's the taste sensations of special occasions/seasons that are so much more memorable and special than the fleeting visuals.

Genuine Lustre said...

We have nary a seasonal decoration stored in this house. It's so bad, my 11 yo son bought 2 cardboard Easter "posters" to hang up one year. : )

I rely on "natural" things, because I just can't see spending the money. Pumpkins and gourds, cornstalks from my garden, bunches of lavender and hydrangea blossoms. Greenery and citrus at Christmas. A string of white lights go a long way to make things festive.Tablecloths and napkins if you must.

teaorwine said...

My opinion concurs with that of GL. Natural items dominate as seasonal embellishments at my home. The only exception would be colorful and season-appropriate ribbons. Fresh evergreens only, here.

Reggie Darling said...

The only Halloween gear we have at Darlington House are two little papier mache trick-or-treat baskets, one shaped like a pumpkin, and one like a cat's head. Not vintage, but made to look like they were from the 1930s. They were a gift from my sister, and I love them. Otherwise, I abstain from Halloween stuff available from mass merchants, far prefering to decorate our house and property with corn stalks and pumpkins, and assorted devilish tools and implements found in our barn.