A Minimalist Approach to Christmas Decorations

We are minimalists when it comes to Christmas decorations. Not because we don’t like the holiday, far from it. Not because we are of mixed religious backgrounds. (Judy’s dad was a Lutheran minister, while I’m Jewish. Which, in the memorable phrase coined by Walter Matthau in Pete’n’Tillie, would make us Jewtherans.) Actually, neither of us is religious, but that’s not it either.

Festive, no?
Now this sort of reminds me of a Dahlek from Dr. Who. Our house is the white brick.

The biggest thing is that the kids are no longer small, and no longer live at home. Though even when they did live at home we were pretty restrained with the holiday decorations. Our one big splurge would be a big live Christmas tree, which the kids would help to choose and decorate.

But now we have adopted this tradition of travelling together for the holidays, so it’s been a while since we were actually home on Christmas.

But today Judy did return from running errands with a couple of bagfuls of holiday decorations, so at least we are putting forth some effort. Plus at this late date the decorations are 50% off.

So we have some colorful glass-like baubles. I hung them on the old morning glory vines on our tuteur. Judy was a little dubious about it.

Swag on the front door.
Swag on the front door.

There was also a swag for the front door. Judy tells me a swag is a wreath that hangs straight down. I thought it was free stuff that’s given away at conferences.

Garland on the mantel.
Garland on the mantel.

And finally, a garland to lay along the mantel, providing a nice accompaniment to Judy’s poultry collection.

Plus, she did bring home a white Amaryllis bulb and some paperwhite narcissus. Those should brighten up the dreary days of late winter when the bloom.

So how are your holiday decorations this year? Are you minimalists, like us, or do you go all out with lots of lights, Santa, a creche, etc?

37 Comments on “A Minimalist Approach to Christmas Decorations

  1. Jason,
    You know I’m a big fan but must acknowledge a misfire when I see it. Your morning glory tuteur looks like the character It from the Addams Family ran into the Christmas tree at the mall. Too harsh??? Regardless, Merry Christmas to you both, Patrick

  2. We’re minimalists here too. We haven’t put up any for the last two years. None this year either. I wish I could talk my husband into traveling at Christmas. He refuses to join the masses of people. I just want a break from cooking.

    • I don’t mind Judy having a break from cooking as long as there is good food from some place. Actually she likes cooking holiday meals, or so she says.\

  3. I love your mantle and the door….but am laughing out loud at Patrick’s comment….I think I have to agree with him!!! xxx

  4. Festive is one way of describing your morning glory with baubles.
    I like your swag on the door though.
    I’m a minimalist too when it comes to Xmas decorations. Flashing Santas etc -Ugh!
    Chloris

    • Look, it’s not easy to make a dead morning glory vine look festive! Of course, you could ask if there is a reason to try …

      • I wasn’t casting aspersions. Your dead morning glory looked…unusual. And obviously you had tried.
        Anyway I think it’s good to make people laugh at Christmas.Now’s the season to be merry etc.
        Chloris

  5. Same stage of life as you – kids grown & gone, so don’t go to much fuss… although I do seem to put up a tree every other year or so. Paperwhites, a basket full of poinsettias, several wreaths inside & out. And I put tiny white lights on the mantle – very festive with a minimum of effort. And I haul out all the Christmas CDs. Fa-la-la-la-la! Your treatment of the tuteur is… interesting… and I love the mantle.
    Merry Christmas you two!

  6. We still pull out all the indoor decorations because the grandkids help us decorate and as they say – it’s tradition. But, this is the first year I didn’t haul all the extension cords out, tree, sleds, ornaments, wreaths, other decorations, and lights for the outside. Asked if anyone wanted to help, no response, so there’ll be nothing to put away in the freezing cold – not all bad. Love your decorations and your travel plans. Have a great trip.

    • I think we would still put up a live tree if we were going to be at home … but we wouldn’t decorate it without the kids. Would be interesting to see how enthusiastic they would be about the decorating at this stage of their lives.

  7. We are minimalists by default. My husband and I are Muslims but the kids wanted a tree so we decided to celebrate a secular Christmas to make them happy. I’ve always loved Christmas lights and decorations. So we started putting up a tree 3 years ago. I don’t put up anything else because like you, I didn’t really know what a swag is.. or anything else beyond the tree and the lights 🙂

    • I know kids really want to feel a part of things. That’s one reason why we celebrate both Christian and Jewish holidays, though we also enjoy both traditions. Even so, it can be hard not to feel different. I remember when our kids were little there were neighbors who didn’t want their kids to play with ours because we were a “mixed” marriage. I hope your kids get to experience being part of a larger community that shares their own heritage.

      • OMG, that is sad and pathetic they didn’t want to socialize with you because you were a ‘mixed marriage’. My husband and I are both very God conscious but not necessarily religious; although we do celebrated Islamic traditions for the sake of the kids. We have friends from all walks of life, as do the kids. My daughter’s best friend is Jewish and one of my closest friends is athiest. And yet another is very religious Muslim. I don’t feel threatened by diversity. I don’t believe in separating ourselves in groups. Good people are good people. Good deeds are good deeds, no matter what language you speak and how you color things. Ultimately people are people.

  8. We used to go all out with decorations in every room when the kids were small, but now just a tree and some ornaments that they made.
    I laughed at Patrick’s comment but I don’t think it looks all that bad. You probably won’t see another one like it on your street, so people might think you’re a real trend setter.

    • Very true! Although there are a whole bunch of other trends I’ve been trying to set and no one seems to be following so far.

  9. We have a live Christmas tree and decorate the mantel. Not minimalist but not extravagant either.

    I kind of like the morning glory vine. It’s unique.

  10. I’m not a big fan of xmas, but I hang a few decorations. Now that I have a grandchild, I once again am putting up a tree, but bought a fake one that is pre-lit – so much easier! When granddaughter is older, I’l enlist her help in making xmas garlands for the wildlife.

  11. Your decorations look nice. The garland on the mantle is very sophisticated. Today I finally put lights on some evergreens outside and it lifted my spirits.

  12. I like your wreath and mantle. I love bringing fresh scented Bay into the house, but not this year as we’re visiting friends and family. A very happy Christmas to you.

    • Same to you, Christina. The bay sounds lovely, that’s not something we have growing around our house, though.

  13. Unlike most of the people here, we are rather extravagant! Live tree in the living room, artificial tree in the family room, wreaths, lighted garlands on the stair railing and above several windows, homemade gingerbread house, nutcrackers, creche, angels. Now that the kids are 13 and 16, though, we have been weeding out some of the old stuff that they no longer love. We do lights and wreaths outdoors, but no big inflatables or anything like that.

    If we weren’t home for Christmas, I wouldn’t do as much.

    • Some extravagance on occasion is a good thing! Sounds like you get a lot of enjoyment out of the holidays.

  14. Sometimes less is more (although that Christmas decorating philosophy has yet to infiltrate my house). Last year I devoted a blog post to the decorating. This year my readers get spared :).

    Merry Christmas to you and Judy!

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