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                              National Lampoon's A Christmas Vacation

Tips 'N Tricks for Winter Holiday Decorating

by Candi Bartlett December 22, 2019

Bells jingle, Die Hard is on TV, and everything is shiny. Lights glow, glitter and tinsel shine, and all of the American Christmas wonder and magic surrounds us. It’s also the time of year when flashing store fronts smack us in the eyeballs, we’ve had too much sugar because Karen won’t stop bringing cookies into the office, and there is never enough time to shop. The holidays can be hard to absorb.


Upsetting decorations can take the slippery joy of the holidays and turn it into, Grinch-like rage. Boris Karloff Grinch. The real Grinch. The Grinchiest Grinch.


In the spirit of sharing happiness with our neighbors, spreading cheer, and reusing materials for next year, here are a few tips and tricks for decorating.


Tips On Lights


A holiday least favorite thing: net lights haphazardly pasted to the front of a hedge. Frozen there, all crooked-like. Just not… right. Wrong. If you can’t find a set of net lights that actually fit over your bush or hedge maybe go with a fresh set of string lights. Or two! If the landscaping is sturdy enough, you can use clear clips to help secure the strand as you weave it back and forth or around in pleasant swirls of light.


Use the cardboard from all those deliveries to wrap up any new lights for next year.


The Swoop


At times, it is necessary to direct part of a strand of lights from the tree to the house. It is usually possible to do this discreetly without creating the dreaded walkway covering, average adult height swoop. The kind of swoop that catches one’s eye from traffic and might possibly infuriate them, chipping away at that sometimes fragile holiday glee.


If this negative, season-ruining swoop is one you can’t seem to avoid, consider finding a different way to light your tree. Or maybe you don’t have to light your tree. Just don’t light that tree.


Fun project (probably)! Replace those lights with homemade stars! Use boxes from gifts and empty wrapping paper rolls to cut out stars. Paint them silver, gold, and white, and hang from your tree with ribbon. Light will bounce off of them, creating beautiful twinkles in the night and no one shouts curse words at your house as they drive by. Depending on the weather, you might be able to keep these for a few years!


Wreaths and Garland


Wreaths come in all shapes, sizes, and scents of beautiful. They also come in too large, affronting large, and turn-and-run intrusive. When decorating your front door, including porch, balcony, or patio, remember that your guests this season are coming over with things. They’ve got coats and boots, presents and food – the doorways are already full. Wreaths and garland should not be in the way. Bigger is not always better.


Consider instead making your own door decor! Use ribbon with ornaments or winter cookie cutters to create a festive hanging bundle. It will last for many years and won’t get tangled in any relative’s large holiday hair when the family descends.


The Mix and Match


There's a lot going on this time of year. Winter Solstice is here! Miracle on 34th Street is on TV all. the. time. Everything smells like cinnamon and chocolate! Treasured holiday traditions and cultures butt heads in a flurry of smells, flashing lights, and lots of noise. It can be stressful for everyone. But, there are some things we can all agree on. Some stories that haven't totally been Mandela-ed. For example, Frosty the Snowman did not attend the birth of Christ. 


Every decoration you’ve ever purchased does not need to go on the lawn every year. Maybe give that blow mold Rudolph a rest the year you decide to showcase your new nativity scene. Mary had more than enough to deal with. 


Maybe, lawn decorations have piled up and you realize it's time for less, and those decorations that you've loved so much can be donated so someone else can love them for a while. 


Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year keep it fun - it will help keep some of those holiday stressors from creeping in. Most importantly, take a moment at the end of the year and reflect on how you fit into the world and how we all can help make it better. Eat a little too much. Love a little harder than usual. And make sure your circuit breakers are ready to party. 


- modified from Op Ed "Tips 'N Tricks for Holiday Decorating" written for LegionofLeia.com December 2018