8 months out of the year I have absolutely no interest in holiday decorations. But come September and October and suddenly I get the itch to add, add, add decorations and make the place look FESTIVE! It’s like all of a sudden the weather changes and I want to surround myself with cozy textures, fall colors, and pumpkins.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Fall decorations morph into Halloween with the addition of more pumpkins, skulls, and crows. Halloween slides into Thanksgiving with the removal of all things orange and scary. Then comes Christmas where everything gets put away and the house gets filled with red, gold, silver, and evergreen.
All this shifting can become messy and stressful. It adds clutter and fills up horizontal surfaces which can make a small home feel even smaller. But decorating for the holidays brings me joy and my kids absolutely love it, so I’ve figured out how to make it work for us and our small house.
To help manage the influx of stuff and not go crazy, I have a few tips that can help anyone quickly and painlessly add fall and Halloween touches to a small house.
(1) Decorate for the season, not just a holiday
Use decorations that can span the season, not just a holiday. Most of my fall decorations stay up from September to the end of November. I try to stick to simple color palates of browns, blacks, creams, and whites. Carved wood candlesticks anchor the mantel and bring a cozy wood texture to the living room. Neutral ceramic and metal pumpkins scream fall and feel appropriate through Thanksgiving.
By decorating for the season, I maximize the enjoyment I get for the effort I put in. It also makes it easy to ‘add’ decorations for Halloween. During October, I keep the same fall base, but also layer on orange pumpkins and some spooky things, like bats, crows, and spiders. Once Halloween is over, I can simply remove the holiday-specific decor and return to the neutral fall base until December.
(2) Use items that are consumable, compostable, or recyclable
For fall, fresh pumpkins, squash, and gourds are the BEST. Not only are they widely available this time of year, but they come in a huge range of colors and sizes and can fit any decor style. You can even CHANGE your style each year since they last only a season. And when the season is over, they can go straight to the compost bin. Nothing has to be stored from year to year!
Fresh, or artfully dead, flowers and greens can be gathered from your yard or neighborhood and used in vases. Black-Eyed Susans drop their yellow petals to reveal black centers that make for very Halloween-like flower arrangements.
Wine bottles and glasses can also be used to bring a fall touch and – bonus – you can drink the wine! And recycle the bottle. 🙂
And let’s not forget about the versatility of sticks. Widely available and free, they can be used just about anywhere. Outside with pumpkins on a porch, inside mixed with other decorations and even a wreath for your door.
This year I attempted a DIY stick wreath for my door. It looks AWESOME covered with black spray paint, but the thing is pretty rickety and held together with hot glue and twist ties….ha. It will not last more than one season. But again, it cost $0 and will go into the trash once Halloween is over.
(3) Shop your house
Walk around your house and shop for seasonal pieces that work with your color palate. You never know what you might find that would be the perfect accompaniment to your fall decorations. Candles, fruit, wine bottles, glassware, vases, books, pillows, blankets, etc. are all fair game.
This year I incorporated black and white books, candlesticks, and vases I already had on hand. Shuffling things I already owned gave me a new look for $0.
(4) Focus on just a few key areas
You don’t need to cover every inch of your house in orange and black. In fact, in a small house, you just don’t have that many surfaces that you can decorate. I often run out of places where I can safely put out decorations, so I really try to focus on making a few key areas feel special. The front porch, the mantle, and the built-ins are where I focused my efforts this year. If I can make those look special, then it feels like the whole house is festive.
Multiples make a big impact. For example, this year I bought a few extra crows to add to my collection. They are fairly small and store easily, but when they are grouped together, they make a big impact! One crow is nice, but 8 crows are scary.
(5) Be unexpected
Have any leftover decorations? Look for unexpected places to bring a bit of humor or fun. This year I was racking my brain for a place that I could display my rubber hanging bats and had a lightbulb moment – the bathroom! I don’t know why I never thought of it before, but they hang perfectly on the newly painted black shelves.
It’s definitely a surprise for any visitor who needs to use our bathroom!
What I don’t do
While Halloween is one of my absolute favorite holidays to decorate for, I’ve really pared down and streamlined my decor over the last decade. What have I eliminated? I no longer have Halloween mugs since I just didn’t use them enough to justify storing them. I’ve eliminated some of the larger light up outdoor decor, serving plates, plastic pumpkins, and large wicker pumpkins that were hard to store.
What I have kept are items I truly love that bring me joy every year when the storage bin comes out of the garage. If you love something, you can always make room for it, even in a small house.
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