My friend’s mom is one of those people who meticulously changes her decorations for every holiday, she has such a gift for decorating. Less than a week after Halloween is over, the pumpkins have been replaced with turkeys and cornucopias; by mid-January, her Christmas tree has been swept clean of the house and hearts are scattered across every window and tablescape. But not all of us have the time or the money to change over our decorations every holiday; hell, most of the millennials I know have no holiday decorations to speak of at all. Those are the kinds of living accoutrements that are built up by living in the same place year after year, and hauling all of those decorations from rented apartment to apartment doesn’t have the same emotional or practical appeal.
All that said, I personally love doing myself up in themes for parties and other social events; that I can’t do the same for my living space has always been a sore point. Which got me thinking, maybe the trick isn’t to buy specific things for each holiday, but to find a way to honor passing festivities with some all-season decorations. With that in mind, here are some holiday staples that can set the season and the mood, no matter what the occasion:
As a kid, I remember taking out two specific candles every holiday season: A giant angel, and a giant glittery Christmas tree. However, my parents never lit either candle, instead preferring to use them as eternal parts of our holiday decorations.
Scent is an excellent way to signal what time of the year it is. And rather than buying themed candles, set yourself up with a few tealight holders and just place in the appropriate lights for whatever celebration. It’s Halloween/Thanksgiving time? You won’t go wrong with pumpkin-scented candles. The holiday season? Opt for pine scents, or maybe some homey and warm scents. (Gingerbread, anyone?) And when it comes to more ambiguous themes like Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day, you can aim for colored candles in a standard scent like vanilla.
A long string of soft lights always make me think of Christmas, but as long as they’re not wrapped around an evergreen tree, they add that perfect amount of sparkle to any social gathering. Opt for shapes beyond your regular pointed oval lights so you can hearken, but not literally interpret, Christmas lights. I personally have this IKEA set, and it’s fantastic.
Paper bunting banners
Also known as “those string decorations that aren’t lights,” paper bunting banners add that festive pop in a space, and can be easily customized by your choice of paper color combinations. Keep a few rainbow sets on hand, and swap out color patterns for the appropriate feel: Red and white around February, orange and black around Halloween, orange and yellow around Thanksgiving, and the like.
Hear me out: Whether you have a spot for a doormat or not, using chalk to illustrate some seasonal motifs (pumpkins, hearts, the like) around your doorstep is a quick and easy way to add some festival feeling to your home without actually having to do anything inside the house. If chalk isn’t an option for outside, test some on your walls to see if you can wipe it away; then, get your internal muralist out. (Or go big and set aside a specific chalkboard wall!)
Happy all-holidays; now there’s no excuse not to be kind of, just a little bit festive!