The holidays mean different things to everyone. To some, they’re all about seasonal traditions and memories; to others, they’re a time for celebration and parties; to a growing segment, it’s a combination of both, reimagined with a conscious effort to keep things “green”.
The way a home is decorated tends to reflect the person’s or family’s preferences as well as their design style. A family steeped in tradition will probably have decorations that have been handed down through the generations, where each piece is a memory with a story behind it. I know of families whose oral traditions are kept alive through holiday traditions and decorations, as each new generation of children hears the memories of the generations before. Stories about how everyone looked forward to seeing grandma’s holiday gingerbread village, where individual houses were specially made for every child in the family, and everyone gathered around to eat the rest of the edible village. Kids lit up as they listened to stories of their great-aunt’s travels as her holiday mementos were hung on the tree and excitement fluttered in the air as everyone helped put together grandpa’s old train set piece by piece, preparing for the big moment when the switch was flipped and the train chugged around the track once again. For these families, creating the holiday is as big as the holiday itself.
Not everyone has such vivid holiday memories or collections, nor do they have room to store a large amount of decorations. The holidays are no less special, though, and sometimes it’s easier for these families to hire a designer who specializes in minimalist holiday decorating that’s conducive to entertaining, expresses the spirit of the season, and can be removed by the designer after the holidays are over. A tastefully decorated tree with colors that complement the décor of the home, a wreath over the fireplace, and holiday-themed china may be all that’s necessary to create an understated yet festive atmosphere for holiday parties and dinners.
So many people who are interested in eco-friendly design also want to extend that lifestyle into their holiday decorating. Many start with a live tree complete with the root ball, which they can decorate and then replant in their yards after the holidays are over. Taking that one step further, any branches that need to be trimmed in order for the tree to fit in its designated space can be made into a wreath for the front door or over the fireplace, or the boughs can be casually laid on the mantelpiece and interspersed with pinecones, nuts, or other decorations for a natural yet elegant look. A live rosemary plant looks very festive as a centerpiece on a dinner table and adds a wonderful aroma to the room. After the holidays, the fresh herb can be used all winter long. And strings of strikingly colorful LED lights save money on electric bills while being more eco-friendly than incandescent lights.
If you’re starting from scratch but still have an eye toward creating a sustainable holiday, you can put the “three Rs” into practice – reduce, reuse, and recycle. By buying vintage, antique, or previously-loved decorations, you reduce waste, reuse beautiful pieces, and recycle in a meaningful way. Chanukah menorahs are usually handed down through a family, which is an eco-friendly tradition that started long before the modern trend began. To take sustainability one step further, those in the know suggest using natural beeswax or vegetable oil candles, as they are the least polluting options when burned.
No matter what holiday you celebrate, there’s a celebration style to suit your home, beliefs and lifestyle. Have fun creating it, and make sure to include all the generations of your family! Happy holidays!
Pine cone image via Wikipedia.