Simple and Meaningful Holiday Decorating: A Tulsa Holiday Home Tour

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Simple Holiday Decorating for the Tired and Overwhelmed

You can adorn your home festively even if you do not store a bunch of decorations in storage sheds. I get anxious thinking about lugging out things that may only be used a couple weeks, six weeks if I am lucky, before I have to put them all up again. This holiday home tour, believe it or not, reflects my crazed one storage tub for ALL holiday decorations rule. I will note, I have another container that only stores my ornaments because I want them to be safe and sorted with cardboard around them. I'm minimal, but not reckless, people. 

There are a few things to remember when you are an anxious human who gets overwhelmed about decorating for the holidays.

Only save what you love and holds meaning to you.

The weird vintage elves your mom unloaded on you when she moved to Texas, but that remind you of her over-the-top love and joy for the whole Christmas season. The plastic nativity set you played with since you were four. The handmade Santa elf that your father-in-law gingerly hand-sewed sequins on for your baby girl (It matches the ones his mother, Alma, made for his children, her grandchildren). These are holiday decorating powerhouses that pack mega punch when it comes to striking my heart with merriment. I am happy to see them when Christmas approaches and encounter a bittersweet moment as I put them away in early January. Rather than ripping through tear down, I enjoyably tuck them away and say see you next year! Excess decor, on the other hand, makes my heart feel two sizes too small, a less than flattering holiday emotion.

  Us looking for our Christmas Tree at Carmichael's Produce. Photo:  You Are Photo Co.  Why is my Ryan so angry at the tree? :-)

Us looking for our Christmas Tree at Carmichael's Produce. Photo: You Are Photo Co. Why is my Ryan so angry at the tree? :-)

There are items you can gather each year as part of a holiday experience, a tradition. 

We get a real tree each year; this year from Carmichael's Produce in Bixby, Oklahoma. As a woman in my thirties with a toddler, I am firming up my own family traditions. Memories my daughter can rely on and look forward to. Going to a big tree farm didn't quite feel like us, but a Lowe's trip didn't feel right either. Carmichael's reminds me of the tree stands you see in movies, pure and simple magic in the middle of a city. There's something romantic about that to me. Bonus? You can get bags of peanuts and other goodies from their market when you are there. 

I got live greenery for my garland this year from Under The Sun Garden Center. And a wreath from my favorite local floral shop, Eversomething, where my daughter scooted about with one of the owner's daughters and where employees know me enough to discuss where the best spot to hang my wreath would be.

May I note each of the above places are local? You may have noticed, local is a huge deal to us lately. If I don't spend my holiday dollars locally, how can I expect my potential customers to spend them with me? And what a better memory to spend time in cozy, small businesses around people who invest their lives and hearts into the products and the experiences they offer! 

Holiday decorating and crafting can be therapeutic.

I've taken some flack for being a bit of a grinch when it comes to decorating for the holidays, and that's cool, I guess. But as I was reading Palmer's holiday home tour post, I remembered some of the joy I used to find in dressing up my home for occasions. Not to get too off topic, but after thinking about it a lot, I realized I stopped decorating very much when my family (brother, parents, grandparents) all moved to Texas the year I got married, about eight years ago. I was so sad they were all gone. (Good news–parents and grandparents moved back finally and unexpectedly!)

My photos and efforts this year are a resurgence of Christmas spirit and hopefully an encouragement to people like me who may feel too tired, too busy, too anxious. Considering what touches would bring me joy, taking a moment to meditate on how I want to feel during this season was a really lovely journey.

I baked some oranges like Ashley Palmer did and listened to a podcast. I remembered listening to NPR with my folks when decorating our Christmas tree. I smelled fresh citrus and felt the value of using my hands to make something beautiful, the value of an adventure that never even left my kitchen. I fiddled farted with making my own little wreaths–cutting sprigs from my rosemary bush and winding them up with wire. I remembered earlier this summer when my neighbor Sue told me to cut that bush back and I did, and I thought it would never grow back. Now it is huge. I pretended to search for the hastily purchased stockings my spouse and I obtained in our early marriage, and instead went to my favorite locally run craft supply shop, Owl and Drum, and got supplies to sew and embroider my own stockings. I remembered my mom and grandmother making felt and puff-painted stockings for our family back in the nineties. Speaking of those nineties stockings, I made some matching felt ones for our newest family members–spouses and babies–for my mom to use at her home on Christmas this year, surrounded by our family.

I honestly don't know if I would have done any of this (maybe the tree) if I hadn't admired Palmer's thoughtful home–thanks for sharing Palms! Decorating this year was restorative and slow, the exact opposite of how the holidays often make me feel. I wish that for you, and for me, for years to come.

  That garland makes me super happy. It's so wonderfully absurd to bring trees and huge branches into your house!

That garland makes me super happy. It's so wonderfully absurd to bring trees and huge branches into your house!

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  We typically put a glitter encrusted vintage-inspired star on the top of our tree, but this year I got charmed by the idea of putting a momma, poppa, and baby cardinal up there instead. My daughter loves birds right now.

We typically put a glitter encrusted vintage-inspired star on the top of our tree, but this year I got charmed by the idea of putting a momma, poppa, and baby cardinal up there instead. My daughter loves birds right now.

  My great grandmother's ornaments, ornaments from my mom that I remember digging out year after year, this is what we hang on our tree. See that blurry red purse (see photo above for clearer image); my grandmother Loveda June Garner handed that down to me. It's so much, and I love it dearly. 

My great grandmother's ornaments, ornaments from my mom that I remember digging out year after year, this is what we hang on our tree. See that blurry red purse (see photo above for clearer image); my grandmother Loveda June Garner handed that down to me. It's so much, and I love it dearly. 

  Oh Walter, you beautiful pony of a Christmas dog.

Oh Walter, you beautiful pony of a Christmas dog.

  Our tree skirt was made by my husband's grandmother, Mimi, Alma Lee Daly. And that book under the tree is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," which my dad read to me every year and substituted my name in on Cindy-Lou-Who's part. "Ashley-Lou-Who who was barely 33." 

Our tree skirt was made by my husband's grandmother, Mimi, Alma Lee Daly. And that book under the tree is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," which my dad read to me every year and substituted my name in on Cindy-Lou-Who's part. "Ashley-Lou-Who who was barely 33." 

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  Check that awesome  succulent care calendar  all ready to be useful in 2018.  You can have one too!  :-)

Check that awesome succulent care calendar all ready to be useful in 2018. You can have one too! :-)

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  I asked my hubby to draw a winter holiday outdoor scene that I could tape over one of our vintage landscapes. Feels subtle and silly, just how I like to be described. That tiny gold tree against the china hutch holds a gathering of felt dinosaurs my husband's grandma made him. I mended a few this year and felt connected to the past, so that was nice.   Also, y'all, we painted dark green below our chair rail! 

I asked my hubby to draw a winter holiday outdoor scene that I could tape over one of our vintage landscapes. Feels subtle and silly, just how I like to be described. That tiny gold tree against the china hutch holds a gathering of felt dinosaurs my husband's grandma made him. I mended a few this year and felt connected to the past, so that was nice. Also, y'all, we painted dark green below our chair rail! 

  We poked cloves into oranges...so festive! They are called pomander balls, and they smell spicy and sweet. Those other bowls are holding nuts from our trip to the tree stand, and bulbs we recently planted in our back yard. It's fun to think about springtime tulips and crocuses during this chilly weather. It's like planting future smiles for yourself, dorky as that sounds.

We poked cloves into oranges...so festive! They are called pomander balls, and they smell spicy and sweet. Those other bowls are holding nuts from our trip to the tree stand, and bulbs we recently planted in our back yard. It's fun to think about springtime tulips and crocuses during this chilly weather. It's like planting future smiles for yourself, dorky as that sounds.

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  One year I glued glitter to tiny plastic deer. This is something I hope my future grandchild cherishes. What a nice thing to know about your grandma. Mini trees from our first year owning Retro Den.

One year I glued glitter to tiny plastic deer. This is something I hope my future grandchild cherishes. What a nice thing to know about your grandma. Mini trees from our first year owning Retro Den.

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  What the hell do you do with all those holiday cards? I started taping them to an empty wall in the growing shape of a Christmas tree. This year I added greenery clippings. What do you think?

What the hell do you do with all those holiday cards? I started taping them to an empty wall in the growing shape of a Christmas tree. This year I added greenery clippings. What do you think?

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  At the time of these photos, I just started embroidering the stockings I made. See the base outline of an "R" for Ryan? Top shelf is the glitter star we typically have on the top of our tree. It deserves to be out. Rosemary in my vase. That silly Santa elf my father-in-law Tom carefully cobbled.

At the time of these photos, I just started embroidering the stockings I made. See the base outline of an "R" for Ryan? Top shelf is the glitter star we typically have on the top of our tree. It deserves to be out. Rosemary in my vase. That silly Santa elf my father-in-law Tom carefully cobbled.

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  I want desperately to resist these elves, but I can't and I won't. They are funny to stash around the house. And I love funny. And they remind me of my mom, who gave them to me.

I want desperately to resist these elves, but I can't and I won't. They are funny to stash around the house. And I love funny. And they remind me of my mom, who gave them to me.

  A tiny wreath I made, some vintage brass bells Harriet picked out for her teachers and friends that I don't want to give away, some hokey holiday glassware I grin at with every sip.

A tiny wreath I made, some vintage brass bells Harriet picked out for her teachers and friends that I don't want to give away, some hokey holiday glassware I grin at with every sip.

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Happy holidays to you!

***I'd say all this can be cleaned up in well under an hour. How about that?***

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