My Mom’s Traditional Christmas Home
It’s December, so I think it’s officially time to get into full holiday mode here on the blog. And what better way to do just that than with my mom’s traditional Christmas home tour?!
As you read from her downsizing series over the summer, my mom moved from a large house in the suburbs to a small condo in the city to be closer to her kids. But just because she downsized, that didn’t mean she was going to skimp on the holiday decorations. Nope. In fact, I’d say her Christmas decor makes an even bigger impact now because she is able to cover every inch of her place, while using fewer decorations.
Jan is a big Christmas lover and always puts up her decorations early and keeps them til January. I’m usually so eager to get my house back to “normal” after Christmas comes and goes, but she is always a bit sad when it’s time to pack away all of her treasures. This year, she put her decorations up in early November. Anything to make 2020 a little happier!
If you want sources and information about my mom’s condo, you can check out this blog post. I don’t have many sources for her Christmas decor because she has had most of it for decades and only buys a few new things every year. That’s what makes it so special. Many of these Christmas decorations have been around since I was a kid and she just changes up how she styles them to keep things fresh.
Let’s dive into her cozy winter wonderland…
Oh, Christmas Tree
First up, Jan’s Christmas tree. She has a 9-foot tree from Michaels that has been going strong for the last few years. It’s a good tree because it’s slim and tall, which is perfect for a small condo with high ceilings! My mom’s ornament collection is very impressive. She has been building it since 1978! She buys at least one new, dated ornament every year, so she can reminisce about that particular year when she adds each one to the tree. And she always says no ornament is too ugly for her tree! She still has all of the ones we created as kids, as well as ornaments from our family travels, and ornaments from our annual Cookie Day party. (Sadly, we won’t be having a big Cookie Day party this year due to the pandemic.)
It’s so fun to look at her tree because each ornament has a story. When we used to decorate the tree as kids, it would take forever because we would talk about each one as we put it on the tree. It would take hours and hours but it was always so fun to hear the stories about each ornament. I absolutely adore her tree!
Little Touches Here and There
Jan likes to bring a little Christmas into every room in her home. In her bedroom, she swapped out the pillow and blanket for red and plaid ones. It is such an easy swap that totally changes the look of the space.
The color scheme for her traditional Christmas home is red and green and incorporating those bold colors here and there makes such a big difference!
Here’s her main bathroom. (You can see the makeover of this space in this blog post.) She swapped out a few accessories and it’s instantly more festive!
Since her home is pretty neutral to begin with, these pops of color add so much!
As I mentioned, most of Jan’s Christmas decorations have been around forever and they come with a story. Her stockings were handmade by her grandmother and they are treasured in our family. My great-grandmother even made lots of extras, so my mom has been able to use felt and add new names as kids are born and new family members marry in.
Rory even made the mantle this year and seeing this stocking made my heart burst.
It really doesn’t feel like Christmas until I see these stockings hung up in my mom’s home. They’re perfection.
Jan’s Holiday Decorating Tips
Now, let’s break down some of my mom’s best decorating tips to achieve a gorgeous traditional Christmas home.
Create An Easy Centerpiece: This is one of my favorite “hacks” that my mom does and she has been doing this since I was a kid! She takes a vase, fills it with water and faux greenery, adds fresh cranberries on top, and lights a floating candle. It’s inexpensive, creative, and looks so beautiful! If you’re looking for some easy decor, this is such a fun little project. The cranberries usually last for a few weeks so they don’t need to be changed very often. Just be sure to change the water frequently and you can even squirt a tiny bit of bleach in the water.
Include Special Christmas Pictures: My mom has dedicated frames where she keeps special Christmas pictures, old and new. Instead of swapping her everyday pictures with Christmas ones, she has a whole set of frames with the pictures already in them. That way, she can just put up these frames, instead of taking the time to pop out the pictures and insert Christmas ones. I love seeing the cute holiday pictures from when we were young, along with new ones of the grandkids and Santa – even if they might not be super happy sitting on his lap. Ha!
Add Greenery: My mom swaps out all of the decor on her white built-ins with holiday pieces and then adds little pieces of faux greenery throughout the shelves. Even if you just keep your regular decorations out, adding the greenery will instantly make things feel a bit more festive. It’s such an easy hack to add some of that green color to your home.
Create a Christmas Card Display: Instead of putting all of the Christmas cards you receive in a basket…display them! This creates instant holiday art in your house. My mom and I found these huge chicken wire frames at a flea market, years ago, and we each have one that we bring out at Christmas time. We add a wreath and then put all of the holiday cards we receive up with clothespins. My mom’s frame is always covered with cards – like literally two or three layers of them! She says you have to send out a lot of cards to receive a lot of cards, so that has always prompted me to send out cards. (P.S. Here’s how we both save our holiday cards come January.)
Every year, my mom hosts us for Christmas Eve and that’s our plan this year. It will just be our little quarantine bubble of me and my brothers and our families. We have dinner – usually a shrimp boil – and open presents.
I can’t wait to celebrate the season in her gorgeous home.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.