How to gently transition your décor from fall through the New Year
by Kerri-Lee Mayland
There is so much going on this time of year! August became January in the blink of an eye. In the span of just a few months, countless holidays are celebrated, memories are made, and a décor dance of sorts takes place in many homes and yards. Now that we are into full holiday swing, chances are your home is reflecting the special occasions you love to mark every year.
Here in New England, we spiff up off our porches, doors, fireplace mantles and dining tables as each holiday approaches. This can be an overwhelming undertaking without employing a few short cuts. But is it really possible to float from fall into the New Year without losing your mind along the way?
With some careful planning, editing and multi-purposing, you don’t have to do a complete decorating re-do every few weeks. Walk through fall through the New Year with me to see how you can decorate for the holidays you want to celebrate without unnecessary shlepping and strain. Not all our holidays will be the same, but these tips will help you ease one holiday into the next, saving you time and money for the rest of this holiday season, and many more to come.
SEPTEMBER – Fall
Once autumn hits, my décor dance is in full swing. I like the outdoors to play as much of a role as the inside. My summer planters still have a lot of life left in them; I embrace that while adding gourds and mini pumpkins amidst the flowers and greens. Corn stalks are large and impactful and inexpensive— plus you can use them in a number of places. They look great at the front door, up against a fence or tied to the mailbox post. Indoors, an easy meaningful way to add décor is by using your kids’ fall art projects from school on walls or shelves by simply framing them or incorporating them into your displays and vignettes. If you are feeling inspired to create your own, frame some pretty leaves you find on the ground and display them in shadow boxes, or ink around some leaves to create black and white pieces.
For my family, this month is a biggie. Canadian Thanksgiving! The one time every year extended family from above and below the border come together to kick up our heels in custom perch, wear flannel and celebrate all we are grateful for. My fall décor already in place is merely added to so the holiday isn’t recreated but compounded. The corn stalks on the fences are joined by full-sized Canadian flags, while the paper lanterns I hang for summer in the backyard combine with red and white lanterns with maple leaf motifs. Quick, relatively inexpensive décor can come in the form of a lawn inflatable. They have pieces for almost every holiday you can think of. I bought a pre-lit blow-up lawn turkey, and it did the trick as well as a larger-than-life wooden Canadian Mountie on loan from my older sister. I also brought out some crazy Canadian pieces like a boozy moose wine holder my brother donated to the collection years back, and the late Queen waving her signature wave thanks to a solar pocketbook. No need to sweat this holiday, the fall pieces are a perfect backdrop and wherever I can I add a Canadian flag, or maple leaf anything, I do. The point is to just add theme pieces that work with the existing décor that can easily be packed away after the long weekend.
With Canadian Thanksgiving in the rear view, I got back to strictly fall décor for a week or two before I started adding any sign of Halloween. This year, I changed up the corn stalks on the fences by adding bedsheet ghosts. These couldn’t be easier. A Styrofoam ball is pierced by a steel rod from the hardware store, a bed sheet is laid over top and a black sharpie makes the eyes. I pinned a corner of the sheet onto the stem of the pumpkin, so it looks like the ghost is leaning on it. I added spider webs to the dying hydrangeas and boxwoods around the vignette, and voila, trick or treat ready! I added some mini candle-lit haunted houses indoors and more webs to a branch from the yard I use as décor in my hallway. On the front stoop, I keep the pumpkin stacks, fall grasses and cabbage, and then add a lantern and jack-o-lantern Halloween night.
NOVEMBER – American Thanksgiving
The beginning of this month marks my husband Kirt’s birthday, so Halloween is a bit of a crazy cluster of celebratory. There is a quick swap out from Halloween to birthday late after the trick or treaters have gone to bed and then an early morning to get the kids to school. I’m usually winded at this point so I don’t stress if things are a little seasonally décor confused for a couple of days. But then, it’s go time again!
Whatever pumpkins weren’t carved stay put in preparation for Thanksgiving, the carved pumpkins are donated to wildlife looking to fatten up for winter. You can also bury them, donate them to farms for their livestock, roast the seeds or make pumpkin stock—whatever you do, don’t throw them into the trash. For Thanksgiving round two, I bring out some of the fun turkey china I’ve collected over the years and create a cornucopia of produce down the middle of the dining table. Not only is it pretty, I cook from it and try to use up as much as possible throughout the course of cooking the meal. And yes, the inflatable turkey makes another appearance on the lawn marking round 2 for Thanksgiving at the Maylands’ house. I bring the outdoors in Thanksgiving weekend and spend hours with daffodil, tulip and paperwhite bulbs. Choosing various vessels for each, I put some in water, others in soil and “force” the flowers to bloom for the next few weeks so when the outdoor landscape is bleak, I have lots of cheerful signs of life and color around my house.
DECEMBER – Christmas
My decorations vary greatly year to year; I don’t necessarily put out everything I have because the entertaining needs of the season change. Also, because I do seasonal décor for hotels and restaurants, festivals, and Christmas Tree lightings, I can get “twinkly light overload.” That happened a couple of years ago, so I pared my own décor way down and used fresh pine boughs and white, green and black ornaments, and that was it. Last year, my husband and I danced in the Nutcracker with our daughter Katalina, who was cast as Clara, so it was a year to go over the top. It was such a special occasion we kicked up celebrations with a wrap party for 80 after the final performance. I went into Nutcracker mode for the party but knew it would be able to stand through Christmas as well. Every Nutcracker ornament or tree trimming we had collected over the years came out. We covered an extra tall tree in the entryway with Nutcracker figurines at its base. For extra fun, I purchased a giant lawn inflatable Nutcracker and Mother Nature chipped in by providing our first snowfall of the season on the day of the party!
It was a lot of work to set it all up but since I did it right after Thanksgiving and could leave it up into the New Year, it was worth it.
New Year’s Eve
For me, this is a bit of a chill holiday. I don’t usually do too much decorating to ring in the New Year. I either go to friend’s houses for their parties, or we stay at home and order in and watch the ball drop if we last that long. (I know, real partiers, ha!). I love the glitz and sparkle and fun of this special night though. There are so many ways to make it shine, and I have prepared many a tablescape for clients over the years. If you are looking for something to do, why not host an open house featuring your favorite hors d’oeuvres for a few hours? Host a potluck for neighbors, featuring a tablescape of things that represent the best of the last year, like family milestones, concert ticket stubs and vacation pics, and allow everyone to bring a favorite dish. Or elevate the evening with silvers and mercury glass, or black and gold party décor for a black-tie soiree. Get fancy for the final evening of the year. How you ring in 2024 should be whatever makes you feel happy and ready for a reset once the calendar slips into a brand new year.
JANUARY – Winter Décor
This is the month I give myself—and my décor—a much needed rest and refresh. I embrace the winter cold, ice and snow and take advantage of cross country and downhill skiing, snow shoeing and winter hiking. Rosy cheeks after time in the frigid fresh air are sometimes “décor” enough. With Christmas down and packed away, I salvage any boxwood wreaths, or pine garlands and boughs that survived the season and add plain white twinkle lights. I bring lots of citrus into the house and display the fresh bright colors in plain white bowls. The smell is a reminder of the warmer seasons that will come when winter thaws. As part of my yearly health reset, I cut them up and use the juice in glasses of ice water, or the lemon in hot tea. After-Christmas sales are the time to get balsam fir candles at a big discount, a favorite scent I burn into February. Now is also when my forced bulbs from Thanksgiving are in full bloom; they are such a welcome treat when the nights are long, and the days are short.
Before you know it it’s Valentine’s Day, then Easter, then spring…and on we go until summer winds down and fall nears. But you are going to be so ready next year! In the meantime, try to be present for all the holidays you love to celebrate and keep stress to a minimum. The décor is only supposed to enhance the holidays, not BE them. So let the ambiance you create be supporting cast to the real star of the occasion: the friends and family the holiday lets you celebrate.
If you don’t want to lift a finger, no worries! Let us bring the holidays to you via our latest edition of the Seasons Media television show, “At Home With Kerri-Lee.” We are celebrating the various holidays in ways you may not have thought of before. This is your invitation to come along for the ride! Tune in December 9 on Channel 3, WSFB and streaming anytime on athomeklm.com.
Happy Everything friends!