Thoughts on pre­par­ing for the hol­i­day sea­son

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - Real Estate - By Mary Carol Gar­rity TRI­BUNE NEWS SER­VICE (TNS)

Ready or not, here it comes … the hol­i­day sea­son. For most of us, the first step in mak­ing the hol­i­days mag­i­cal is dress­ing our homes for the sea­son, from trim­ming a tree to deck­ing the man­tel to set­ting a ta­ble for par­ties and feasts.

Be­fore you crack open all those boxes marked “Christ­mas Dec­o­ra­tions” and be­gin your usual hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing rou­tine, pause for a mo­ment. How do you want to cel­e­brate and show­case the hol­i­days in your home this year? Here are a few ques­tions to ask your­self, to help make it the best sea­son ever…

1. Where am I in my life?

We go through so many sea­sons in our life. Your ap­proach to hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing should honor and re­flect where you are now. For ex­am­ple, in the early days of Nell Hill’s, my grand old home in Atchi­son, Kan., served as an ex­ten­sion of the store, a real-life show­room filled with ideas and in­spi­ra­tions for the guests who toured it dur­ing our hol­i­day open house ev­ery year. We did things up big ev­ery year. To­day, I live in a snug lit­tle cot­tage that’s not big enough to open up for tours. Our Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions now are fo­cused on fam­ily, the star of which is our grand­daugh­ter. We keep the decor sim­ple and edited, with a few whim­si­cal won­ders thrown in to de­light lit­tle Maeve.

How you dec­o­rate your

home for the hol­i­days will change with your stage of life. Don’t con­fine your­self to do­ing what you’ve “al­ways” done, un­less that’s ex­actly what you want to do now.

2. What fam­ily tra­di­tions do I love?

Fam­ily tra­di­tions are of­ten the heart of our hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions. No mat­ter how old we are, we feel like a kid again, thanks to the cher­ished tra­di­tions that take us back to cel­e­bra­tions past. This year, ask your­self: Which fam­ily tra­di­tions do you ab­so­lutely love and want to con­tinue? Are there any that you don’t en­joy, that you are do­ing out of habit or obli­ga­tion? Maybe this is the year you let it go.

I also want to en­cour­age you to em­brace new tra­di­tions, adopt­ing fun or in­ter­est­ing ideas you hear about. For ex­am­ple, a dar­ling cou­ple came into the store to re­dec­o­rate their liv­ing room. They knew they wanted to keep their large cof­fee ta­ble be­cause it’s here where their fam­ily gath­ers ev­ery Christ­mas morn­ing to eat break­fast and play a spe­cial card game. I was thrilled days later when they came back to the store with a deck of cards for me, an in­vi­ta­tion for my fam­ily to adopt this tra­di­tion, too.

3. Do you have hol­i­day decor that you no longer love?

Over time, our dec­o­rat­ing tastes change. Chances are pretty good you will fall out of love with some of your hol­i­day decor. The good news is we are not mar­ried for life to the baubles that cap­tured our hearts way back when.

This year, as you un­pack your boxes of decor, take a good, crit­i­cal look at ev­ery sin­gle thing. If you don’t still love it, let it go. Donate it to a char­ity thrift store near you, so it can help those in need in your com­mu­nity while also find­ing a new home with some­one who loves it as much as you used to.

4. Is there a new hol­i­day look you want to em­brace?

Once you have weeded out the hol­i­day decor you don’t want, make room for some­thing new. There are so many great places to find in­spi­ra­tion for hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing.

But don’t stop there. What else do you want to try this hol­i­day sea­son? Maybe you want to throw a fun party for friends and neigh­bors? Try a new recipe for your hol­i­day feast? Is there a new gift-giv­ing idea that in­trigues you? Maybe you want to do some­thing dif­fer­ent on Christ­mas or New Year’s Day? Some folks spend it vol­un­teer­ing to feed the hun­gry in their com­mu­nity. Oth­ers run 5Ks to ben­e­fit a char­ity. Or, maybe your bliss is spend­ing the whole day co­cooned at home in your jam­mies. What­ever brings you joy, do it this hol­i­day sea­son. I hope this year’s cel­e­bra­tion is merry and bright for you! This col­umn was adapted from Mary Carol Gar­rity's blog at www.nell hills.com

Once you have weeded out the hol­i­day decor you don’t want, make room for some­thing new.

Your ap­proach to hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing should honor and re­flect where you are in your life now.

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