In Need of a Little ‘Christmas Inspiration’

I’m in need of some serious Christmas inspiration. And I have chosen you, yes you, to help. Somehow it seems that when I wasn’t paying attention, all of the other Christmas decorations in our neighborhood went up. Lights, trees, ornaments…the whole shebang just suddenly appeared. Quietly and overnight…and early! Seriously, I hadn’t even removed our pumpkins yet!

So I waited (read here, stalled). “Later,” I said to myself. “I’ll put them up later….at a more traditional time.” But then I realized that I didn’t really know when that “more traditional time” was. Perhaps this is because I had lived overseas for so long that I have lost perspective. Or maybe there was another reason. When did we put our tree up last year? I couldn’t remember. But I was now trapped in my overthinking and my procrastination.

So, I asked Siri. She’d know for sure. With her usual perky tone, Siri led me to a page that declared that December 24 was the ‘traditional” time for many Christians to put up their Christmas Trees. Hmmm, I’m pretty sure that most of the decorated trees in our neighborhood will be ready to be taken down around then. And I’m positive that there will be no trees left for purchase anywhere on this entire island. But, Siri’s recommended site seemed to suggest that early decorations shortchanged advent (and focused on the heathen…or at least the commercial side of Christmas). I then glanced at a few other sites. At best, they contradicted each other. Some suggested putting up your tree twelve days before Christmas, others favoured the third Sunday in Advent, while others were set on the second Saturday in December. Finally, some sites endorsed the first day of Advent, while the British Columbia Tree Growers’ Association recommended December 1 (both these dates have already passed). Seriously this was quite the date range….and no real help at all!

As I continued to browse the sites, I began to find more questions than answers. Once we did find a date, we would need to decide on what type of tree —artificial, or real like we had last year? And if real, should we go with precut from our local supermarket, or fresh from a nearby Christmas Tree Farm? What was the best environmental choice? At least once these decisions were made, the question of tree decoration would be easy as I have collected keepsake ornaments throughout the years. That moves me on to Christmas cards and gifts…where I am in urgent need of creative (and earth-friendly) suggestions!

Aggghhhhhh! How had this all become so complicated?!

So, as promised, I’m turning to you. What have you done regarding Christmas Trees, decorations, cards and gifts for this year? What are the traditions that you have maintained….and are there any new traditions that you have added? I look forward to being inspired!

26 Replies to “In Need of a Little ‘Christmas Inspiration’”

  1. Christmas is a stressful period in our already stressful lives. I’d say “skip it”. No worries at all. But, that is not what you want to hear. 🙂 This year, I have not seen many cars drive around with Christmas trees on their roofs. Once that amount increases, it seems to be time for tree buying and decorating. In Belgium, we bought real trees with roots and planted them in the yard afterwards.

    As for the gift thing, my suggestion is do something fun with your friends and loved ones (like take kids to an amusement park, the zoo, an event and buy film tickets for adults or take them out to the movies, lunch, dinner, on a hike, you get the drift…) instead of buying more stuff and wrapping it up. Doing activities with people is environmentally friendly and creates memories, not materialism. Sending you inspiration and relaxing thoughts.

    1. You are absolutely right, Liesbet. Spending time/creating memories with those that we love is what is most important. I appreciate your sage advice!

  2. Donna…quite the situation!! Well not that I an authority on it but my usual is decorate outside lights only November 11 weekend but do not turn then on till December 1, Tree well if I use my fake one December 1… Real maybe first weekend in December! Cards always mailed by December 10th! This year however I am going to try something different ecards! Not sure I like the idea but going to try it!! Hope this adds more confusion to the thought process…..put on some Chrismas music have a glass of wine and I am pretty sure this will motivate you into getting started!! Thoughts are with you….and if you really do not feel like Christmas this year go somewhere warm!!

    1. Ahhh, Christmas music and a glass of wine sound like perfect motivators! Thanks for sharing, Georgia. And good luck with your e-cards!

  3. Inspiration- not so sure, but as I get older I seem to be doing less decorating! My tree goes up the last week of November and so do my family room decorations! I love sitting by the fire and enjoying the twinkling lights on the draped garland. A glass of wine and some appetizers help assure me that Christmas is coming!

    We are behind on the outside lights this year. I’m pretty sure our two weeks in Arizona had something to do with delay; but alas, we have been home for a couple of weeks and the urgency just isn’t there.
    It’s funny how traditions are altered as your family composition changes. Adult children just don’t seem to love the hubbub of Christmas as much as they once did! As a result, it’s just not as important to me! I’m sure as time goes on, there will be another burst of inspiration to resume my crazy decorating habits of the past. In the meantime …
    I’m wondering what to do with the twenty or so boxes stored in the basement!
    For now, the most important parts of our family traditions involve being together and sharing the joy and spirit of the holidays! Thankful there are no standard requirements-
    Enjoy and Merry Christmas Everyone! 🎄 😘

    1. Hi, Lynette – Thank you for your very wise words (as usual). I agree that being with family and friends, and sharing the joy and spirit of the holidays, is most important of all. Wine and appetizers around the fireplace sounds great too!
      Sending big virtual hugs to you, Jeff, Tyler and Jeremy!
      Warmly, Donna

  4. Hi Donna. What important is to think of a “new” trading that suits your family and wonderful new style. My parents are all about the lights, dad puts them up late November and so all the grandkids can see them. He never did anything for us as kids! When there were no grandkids mom put up a small ceramic tree with lights… that’s it. She’s not a fan of Xmas as her dad passed away Xmas eve.
    So Isaac and I had a blank slate to make it our own. I want isaac to love and find joy in the magic of Xmas. So we start with the tree and decorations December 1st. We do Xmas movies every night before bed, a Dan Xmas advent calendar that I make with a chocolate, a joke and an act of kindness each day. Our tree is a fake one because of Isaacs allergies and because we don’t get fresh trees to our island till Dec 11th, and the house looks weird decorated, lights and no tree!!
    The best thing we do for Christmas is the elf on the shelf, This is probably the last year that Isaac will really believe, so I’m going all out with that little elf. However my sister in law and her two teenage girls still do elf on the shelf and they take turns playing tricks. This might be a new idea for your family to bring some fun and laughter into your homes. It does at matter when you start now.
    I say do it now! Get you lights up. Decorate your tree with your beautiful ornaments, I know Phil and Megan would be proud ;). Make your own traditions this year. Then for 2017 you know how it rolls on the other side!

    1. Hi, Dawn Marie – Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. I especially love that you include both a joke and an act of kindness each day in your Advent Calendar (plus the chocolate, of course)! Also, way too funny about the “Phil and Megan ornament”. I was going to include that in my post…but finally decided that you likely had to be there for any of it to make sense. Wishing you and Isaac a warm and happy holiday season. Have fun with the Elf on the Shelf!

  5. My favourite way to get a tree is to go out trekking through the bush and cut one (in the zone designated for cutting trees or at a tree farm). For a while, we tried live trees but couldn’t plant them in the frozen ground for months (this was in the north), and ended up with too many evergreens in our backyard. In practice, we usually end up buying a cut tree from Boy Scouts or Canadian Tire, around Dec. 15-22. (Pre-Christmas is such as busy time at work!) We wait to decorate it when the kids arrive so it can be a family affair. As for lights, the weather after Dec 1 determines that. We procrastinate through all the warm lovely weekends and end up putting up the lights on the the coldest possible weekend, usually around Dec 15! This year, no decorating as we won’t be at home for the holidays.

    As for gifts, we are trying to simplify year by year. This year my side of the family is doing a name draw (except for the grandchildren). We lean toward experiential gifts (e.g., massage), or donations (e.g., school supplies in a developing country), or practical stuff (e.g., ski goggles). None of us needs a lot more stuff. Of course, some of our friends and family are into Christmas in a big way, so in those cases we try to go with the flow.

    1. Thanks,Jude – We have never cut down our own tree before, but one of our local Tree Farms does give that option…might be fun! I also like the idea of waiting until our children come home so that the tree decorating can be a family affair (that would then mean that our tree decorating would take place December 19 or later). Enjoy your Christmas Holiday on Vancouver Island. I look forward to meeting you soon!

    1. Hi, Kate. I shamelessly stole the idea from you! Because I use a self-hosted form of WordPress, I didn’t have the same snowflake option. But I did find a plug-in (Super Snowflakes) that was both free and easy to use. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Don’t worry, my fall decorations are still up too. I imagine I’ll switch things out over the next few days. We haven’t had a tree for years. Once I decided that it wasn’t required, my Christmas decorating stress has gone way down. I put up only the decorations that I love and work well with our contemporary design style. Last year I took pictures of the result so I can recreate it this year. Easy peasy.

    We don’t exchange gifts, except maybe a few little things. Goodbye stress, hello more time to enjoy the season.

    Now, I understand that this may be a lot easier for us since we don’t have kids or grandkids. If we did, we’d probably have a tree. And, I’m sure we’d give gifts. But, no matter what age, I think gifts of experiences are so much better than stuff.

  7. Hi Donna, hope you are feeling festive 🙂
    We put up a little tree here that we got in Ecuador and have hauled around the world a few times. It’s a bit wonky but the kids love to put up the gummy bear ornament – remember Germany? And the beefeater … remember going to London? And the tiny Chinese silk stockings… wonder how our friends are doing in Beijing? Etc. When we fly out to Canada we get a real tree (cut) because I love the smell, to put at the cottage and then cover it with another set of memories. We also have about 4 km of lights, both here and at the cottage, because we are suckers for twinkling lights. The tiny more restrained little LEDs here stay up indoors most of the year, but the larger Canadian Tire sets in Canada get holiday time only. We love turning all the other lights down or off and just sitting around feeling the magic. We have some ridiculous games that appear under holiday lights too- carpet boules, Jenga, pick-up sticks, etc. Whichever kid gets up first in the morning has the job of watering the tree and turning on the lights, a surprisingly popular role.
    David-the-organized does Christmas cards here (early of course, its David) because it’s nice to get real mail. He has been bugging me for your address… can you message it to me please?
    I suspect we aren’t super environmentally friendly but we try to make up for it in good karma and spirits 🙂

    1. Thanks, Liz – In a short paragraph you have brilliantly recreated the warmth of Christmas and Family. You have also given me some great ideas which I plan to steal. I can see David sitting at the table writing personal, hand-written cards…early! I’m messaging you my home address now!
      Wishing a warm holiday season to you, David, Toby and Oliver.

    1. I think that you are right, Anabel – different areas likely decorate at different times. One of my sons, who lives in Singapore, said that many homes and businesses near him have already had their Christmas decorations up for over a month. (Personally, I prefer the later…or middle-of-the-road approach)!

      1. I visited Singapore in November once and was bemused to see giant inflatable snowmen outside shops with the sun beating down on them! Funny how Christmas decor often implies winter even when it isn’t.

  8. I’ve put up my tree anywhere from first weekend in December till December 22 one year due to traveling in December! There is no rule…but buying a tree in late December can result in a “Charlie Brown” tree! That Dec 22 year, there were about 8 trees left to purchase at the local tree place. Going super cheap. 🙂 I had 2 I was debating between and a gentleman just came over and said, whichever you don’t want, I’ll take…those are the best 2 here…no rush! Years ago we did the cut down excursion, but now we just go to the local place. It’s cheaper and easier.
    This year, plan is to put tree up Dec 16-17 because we are traveling again. Might be another slim picking tree year.
    As for cards, I’ve been known to mail them Dec 22-24! Horrible I know. This year I was contemplating not even doing cards…but I think I’ll cave in once the tree is up and Christmas music is playing in the house.

    I do love having a tree up. One year we didn’t and it just didn’t feel like Christmas to me.
    Net, there are NO RULES. Do what makes you feel good and forget the rest!

    1. Thanks, Pat. You are right. Once the tree is up (whether that be Dec 1 or Dec 22) and music is playing, the rest will all fall together. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I especially loved the part about your ‘Charlie Brown’ tree shopping!

  9. Looks like you have a long list of comments 🙂 I’m dusting off my fake tree this year and putting it up with brand new lights. We haven’t had a tree for 6 yrs because we are never home–we travel to San Diego where most of our family lives, then some years go straight to Mexico (Baja) for two more weeks. Still going to SD, but I really wanted a tree this year. As for decorations, I put up a few things inside, around the house, I have a small house, so it doesn’t take much–just went up today. Don’t send cards anymore. And why are your snowflakes so big–you self host and must have a great snow plug-in 🙂 And of course I listen to Christmas music as much as possible. I love this season. We also only have a few young children in the family for whom we buy gifts.

    1. Hi, Terry – The plug-in that I used is called ‘WP Super Snow’. It is free and is very easy to use. You can add falling snow flakes and customize them via the WordPress Dashboard. I originally saw snow flakes on Kate Crimson’s and your blogs…and I was totally hooked. Thanks for sharing your Christmas experience. Enjoy San Diego!

  10. We’ve stalled occasionally, too. But making something new always kick starts us into doing more things for the holidays. This year we raided the discarded tree branches at the local tree stand and just had fun making things with them. I really don’t like the shopping…but I DO love the decorating.

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