Does the thought of having to decorate your house for Christmas make you panic?  Is it another thing you have to do that you don’t have time for and don’t want to spend money on?

Well, if this is how you feel, you are not alone.  I love Christmas, but the past few years I have been so busy with my business (especially this time of year) that I can’t seem to get too excited about getting all the decorations out, or re-styling my entire home for the season!

So I have come up with a new plan:  KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Just because houses on HGTV and in magazines show elaborate decorating schemes, just remember that they have a team of professionals working on the rooms we see!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you start:

1. Who are you decorating for?  Do you do alot of socializing, or will it just be for your family?
2. What decorations do you already have that you would like to use again?
3. Can you afford to spend money on new decorations?
4. Are there things you could make from supplies you already have, or greenery from outside that you could use?
5.  Are there family members or friends who could help you?

If you are decorating just for family – do it in a way that will make everyone feel warm and happy.  No one cares if the colour scheme is the latest trend, or if everything coordinates. The most important thing is that you have created a feeling for whatever Christmas means to you.  It may be having an advent wreath and a nativity scene, some pretty candles and hand-made table linens.  It may be having everything sparkly and glittery with lots of twinkling lights and ornaments in bowls and hanging in windows.  Tradition is important to family members; it is how we create memories.  So bake their favorite Christmas cookies and hang the stockings that they’ve always had, and your family will love it!

Decorations – old or new?  You may decide it is time to splurge on a few new decorations.  I like to buy one or two new items each year, and “retire” some of my old ones.

At least a week before you plan to decorate, get out all your decorations that you’ve stored.  Decide which you will want to use this year.  If there are any broken or that you haven’t used in years, you may want to concider recycling them or giving them away.  This will help you decide whether you need anything new.    I love to use a mixture of old and new decorations.  I will  use my “antiques” all in one area – maybe on the mantle, or a bookshelf – creating a vignette with them.  Powder rooms are also a great place to tuck a few special ornaments.

Decide whether you plan to use Christmas decorations both indoors and outdoors, how many you’ll need and where you’ll place them. Decide whether each room will have a unique decorating theme or if one theme will carry from room to room.

Everyone has different ways of decorating.  Some like to do it all in one day, others like to spread it out over a few weeks.  Either way, it is important to have a plan, or at least an idea of how you want things to look.  I always encourage clients to clip pictures out of  magazines to show me when I’m decorating their houses.  That way I can get an idea of the colours and “feel” that they like. Do the same with Christmas decorating.  Keep a file labelled Christmas, and every year add some pics to it.   Now compare your vision with what you actually have!  Decide what you really need to make your ideas into reality.  Remember to include not only things to look at, but smells and sounds, too. Who doesn’t love the smell of cinnamon and the sounds of bells at Christmas?

Children often love to be involved, and depending on their age, can be alot of help.  I let my two teenage daughters do most of the decorating last year – they did a fantastic job!

So, with a little planning and thought, decorating your home this Christmas does not need to be stressful. Over the next few weeks I will give you lots of ideas for decorating without spending alot of money, plus ideas for making Christmas decorations yourself.

Here are also some tips on how to store your artificial Christmas tree