Displaying Sentimental Decor for the Holidays

When the very talented blogger behind the blog withHeart, Mrs. Jennifer Stagg, invited us to be a part of her “withHeart Holiday” blog hop, we eagerly jumped on board! Not only are we always excited to collaborate with a group of creative individuals, but when we heard that her blog hop was all about sharing SENTIMENTAL holiday decor (aka holiday items that tell a story and/or carry on a tradition) we were S-O-L-D. Heck, it’s no secret that we are all about personalizing our homes with decor that is meaningful to us here on the DIY Playbook and as far as we’re concerned, Christmas is no exception to this rule.


Here is a look at some of the Christmas decor that is meaningful to me this holiday season and helps shape what the holidays are all about here in our house:

Christmas Tree CeramicDecor from my Childhood

There are just certain Christmas decorations that instantly take me back to my childhood. They immediately remind me of my parent’s house during the holidays and the priceless memories I had growing up there. This tiny tree is one of them. My mom actually painted this tree when my sisters and I were very young and it has grown to be one of my fav holiday decorations. Our family had several of these (in a few different sizes — this is a small one) scattered throughout our home growing up and when my mom offered to give me one for my house, I was BEYOND excited!! Every time I look at it now I am reminded of my amazing family, our quirky Christmas traditions, and how lucky I am for all of the blessings I have in my life. It may not always be “on-trend” but I see it as the ultimate classic piece, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

IMG_6352-001Santa’s Homemade Mug

This is another item that grew up with my sisters and me and another one that takes me straight back to my childhood. My mom painted this mug and it was our “go-to” mug that we filled with milk and left out for Santa. When we woke up on Christmas morning and ran to see if Santa came (!!!!!), we would always find this mug tipped over, milk spilled everywhere, and cookie crumbs all over the place (that Santa was a messy eater!). Next to the mess, Santa usually scribbled a thoughtful note and took our reindeer food as a carry-out meal for his crew. Haha… oh Santa. Sadly, we haven’t left out any milk or cookies for Santa lately…. but I do try to use the mug as much as I can throughout December.

Hopefully one day my kids can leave “grandma’s” mug out for Santa to enjoy once again. For now though, I’m perfectly okay enjoying some hot chocolate and thinking about the good ol’ days.

IMG_6338Christmas Stockings Our Stockings

I know this is wrong, but as a blogger, I sometimes feel “pressure” to make everything look perfect and most importantly, DIFFERENT than it did last time I shared it…. especially for the holidays. How boring would it be for readers to tune into my holiday tour only to see the exact same stuff I shared last Christmas?!

Don’t get me wrong, I do like the challenge of changing it up (especially on a budget), but I also LOVE some of my holiday decor and really want to continue to use it over and over again … even if it means repetitive looks. These stockings are a great example of this. As much as I want to change-up the look, I also want to start building traditions in our house and these stockings are doing just that. When Matt and I first bought our house, we scored these stockings after Christmas on super sale. We both picked them out individually and vowed to keep these as our annual stockings. They may hang in different places each year, but they are not just decorative stockings…. they’re our stockings and some of the first decorations we bought as a new little family. For that, I’m proud to say that they’ll be on repeat for years and years and years to come.

IMG_6272Displaying Christmas Cards

Receiving Christmas cards is one of my all-time favorite holiday traditions and displaying them for guests to see is just as fun to me! This year we chose to display them with clothes pins in a wire frame. We hung a fresh wreath on there this year (a little different from last year) and can’t wait to surround it with even more holiday snail mail. But the Christmas card fun doesn’t just stop there…IMG_6108-001Christmas Card Collection

Saving Christmas Cards

I like to SAVE these cards to look back on year after year. I have been doing this since we moved into our house and I love, love, LOVE looking back at how much the people in our lives have changed throughout the years. You can get the full tutorial on how I save my cards here, but in short… all I do is hole-punch all of the cards at the end of the year and clip them together. Then I bring these “booklets” out and put them on my coffee table for guests to flip through & enjoy around the holidays. So simple!!christmas cards

Hallway Dining Room Framing Meaningful Art

I figured out what to add to my frames in the hallway… finally!! For the time being, I have framed Christmas photos that I have taken and I’m pretty obsessed with the new look. I’m working on a full post to share all of the details, but in short… I took a bunch of my Christmas photographs & got them blew them up to fit in the hallway frames. I plan to bring these prints out (and maybe even add to them) each year around Christmas.

Our version of “Elf on the Shelf”

Don’t judge us, but we (as in me AND Casey) have a confession to make.

christmas elf on the shelfConfession: No, we do not have children…. but yes, we do our own version of Elf on the shelf with our hubbies. And in honor of full disclosure….. it’s just as hilarious/awesome/fun/creative/ridiculous as it sounds. We both loved the idea of elf on the shelf but didn’t want to invest in the “real thing” before having kids and enjoying it with them.

elf on the shelf ChristmasOur solution? Knock-off elves we found at local craft stores (we spent maybe $3 on our knock-off versions). We both named our elves (yes, with the help of our supportive and fully participant hubbies) and are entering our second year of elf-shenanigans. We know we’re huge nerds, but it does bring A LOT of entertainment during the month of December. We both take turns with our husbands to hide the elf each day and boy do our elves get in some interesting situations. Usually, we are sharing these photos with each other, our families and anyone else who cares to follow along with the pure ridiculousness. Seriously, if you don’t have kids but still want a good laugh each day…. we highly recommend a knock-off elf on the shelf. #youwontbesorry


 For our whole holiday home tour, check out this post

So there you have it…. 7 ways I incorporate meaningful decor into my holiday home! As you can see, holiday decor doesn’t have to be about big price tags, following trends or staying with a “theme.” Instead, displaying items and traditions that are important to YOU is the most important part. We would LOVE to hear how you inject your family’s story into your home this holiday season.   New traditions, old traditions… we want to hear all about it!! <— or at the very least, please tell us we are not the only crazy couples who enjoy elf-on-the-shelf without kids.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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