How to Freak Out a Little Less About Holiday Decorating, Gifts & Entertaining

Freak less about holidays? I’m not writing this post in the spirit of a holiday decor dynamo (gurrrrrl, that I aint!) or ‘listen to me – I’m wise with a master’s in counseling.’ Nor am I dishing out advice as yer zenniest girlfriend around (did I just create a most craptastic new word?). Rather, the tone here is an encouraging one from an everyday mostly clueless soul muddling through the tail end of 2019 with laughter in her heart, right there with you. Onward then with How to Freak Out a Little Less About Holiday Decorating, Gifts & Entertaining.

White modern farmhouse kitchen decorated for Christmas with wreath over farmhouse sink. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
Hello Lovely Studio – White wooden Swedish electric candelabra: FIND HERE...certainly a staple in my Scandi holiday decor.

But can we survive the relatives arriving? (THIS IS A MUST WATCH!!!! Hahahahahaha)

How to Freak Out a Little Less About Holiday Decorating

1. Remember Decorating Early is Overrated

It’s okay to be last minute or seat of your pants if it means you’ll be calm for most of the season and then happily decorating in a surge close to the big day. Why? There may have been multiple Christmas freakouts yesterday when my energies could have been directed more intelligently toward turkey day.

White kitchen with Minuet Viatera quartz countertop, mirror, and Christmas decor. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
How to Freak Out a Little Less About Holiday Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.

And it wasn’t just me. I decided to bring up ALL the Christmas decorations and pile them in the dining room when I should have been focusing on clearing and cleaning that space for Thanksgiving.

White Shaker style kitchen with Christmas decor - Hello Lovely Studio. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.

Also, the lights on the bottom half of our prelit tree failed to illumine, and my guy may have COMPLETELY LOST HIS MIND and stayed up until 2:30 a.m. trying to pull a Thomas Edison.

Don’t let Christmas tree lights send you filling your prescription for emergency Xanax.

Christmas decor in living room - Hello Lovely Studio. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.

2. Don’t Decorate for Anyone But You & Yours

Yesterday, in my feverish mode of: get the house decorated BEFORE Thanksgiving like a rockstar, I made all sorts of mistakes. For example, I tried to incorporate things I’m not crazy about: wee sweet decorations and embellishments with red. Red is not a favorite, and little knick knacky things of any hue can make it hard for me to breathe.

So why was I trying to make them work and freaking?

Window seat in white kitchen decorated for holidays - Hello Lovely Studio. How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.

Two reasons I think. First, I had picked up little things here and there over the course of the year because they were bargain priced or appealed to me in some way, and I’m sensible. If I bought it and it says ‘Christmas,’ then certainly I should display it at least one year, right? Wrong. They just didn’t feel right, and it began to feel like someone else’s home! (Strangely enough, I can wear red accents!)

Holiday vignette with red wellies and plaid scarf with vintage chair and wooly wreath. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.

Second, I was thinking with a blogger mindset about this blog. Switching it up for interest to get new vignettes with more saturated colors seemed more creative than my predictable neutrals. But I am the same me as last season, and I’m decorating for us…not a blog.

Inspiring quote from Anne Lamott - come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining. #quotes #annlamott

Your decor should reflect YOU and make you feel at ease and at home. It wouldn’t make sense for me to decorate heavy-handedly or boldly for the holidays. I like wearing red this time of year, and red accents on a holiday table are truly appetizing. But it simply creates too much contrast for my taste against all the white I love.

Serene white bench and mirror with winter holiday decor - Hello Lovely Studio. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.

As soon as I put the red away, I felt so much relief!

The decorations that didn’t make the cut which still have their tags on them will go in a gift basket for someone who appreciates the color!

Christmas decor inspiration flatlay with rustic chic organic natural inspiration and cake from H&M. #christmas #holidaydecor #simpleChristmas
H&M…certainly a holiday statement making cake indeed.

3. Use Food as a Decor Element

Never underestimate the power of a festive cake (homemade or store-bought), platter of gingerbread cookies, or pretty dessert to play a starring role. We all know the power of fresh flowers on the table, but a gorgeous edible centerpiece can do the trick too.

French country white Christmas decor in a historic living room in Spain - El Mueble. #christmasdecor #whitechristmas #frenchcountry #holidaydecorating
See more of this lovely holiday home HERE…certainly a vision of holiday magic.

Also, there is something so lovely and understated about decorating with oranges, apples, and pears during the holidays. I love how bosc pears look with garland on a mantel or the way a small rustic bowl of green apples on a coffee table adds life.

Pamela Pierce Christmas decorated dining room. Fresh, smaller trees throughout her home without ornaments. Trimmings from the Noble firs for wreaths, one of which is hung on the reverse side from the ceiling with silk ribbons. Her dining table is set with angel-shaped sugar cookies and cake. The room is infused with the holiday fragrance of fir, immediately evocative of the Christmas season.
Photo: Peter Vitale for Milieu – Pamela Pierce Christmas decorated dining room.

If you’re not a stellar architect of gingerbread houses, consider baking or buying cookies to decorate a Christmas tree.

Sweet and petite simple gingerbread house cottage upon a jadeite cake pedestal - Design Improvised. #gingerbreadhouse #christmasdiy #holidaybaking
Design Improvised…certainly a festive simple centerpiece indeed.

Their fragrance alone may win you over!

Dog chalkware on book with animal print - Hello Lovely Studio. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.

4. Wee Trees Are Beautiful

No worries if you decide NOT to bring that 10′ glorious Spruce home. A wee tree in a charming urn on a tabletop or tucked within a rustic wood box can be magical.

Swedish Christmas tree in a gorgeous vintage planter in a white on white Nordic French room by My Petite Maison. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
My Petite Maison…certainly a simple Scandi Christmas vignette indeed.

5. It’s Okay to Decorate Just One Corner

Why do we think every single hall needs to be decked? Maybe it will ease your worry this year to choose just one area–like the fireplace if you have one–and make that mambajamba sing.

Farmhouse Christmas decor and vintage holiday decorations from Trove Vintage at Vintage Bliss in Beloit. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining. #holidaydecor #vintagechristmas #farmhousechristmas
Trove-Vintage…see this story for more vintage Christmas inspo in case you love farmhouse!

You don’t even need to reinvent the wheel for that one area. Faux or fresh garland, fresh fruit (or pinecones or cookies!), and gold toned candleholders may be all you need with a few stockings for that hearth moment.

Skeptical that just a few elements are sufficient?

Beautiful holiday greenery on a white fireplace - Monika Hibbs. #holidaydecor #fireplace #garland
Monika Hibbs…certainly a charming holiday mantelscape indeed!
Beautiful faux evergreen garland on white brick holiday fireplace - Francoi et Moi. #fireplace #manteslcape #holidaydecor #garland
Francois et Moi…in case you admire lush holiday greenery and garlands.
Beautiful and romantic holiday decorated fireplace - Anthropologie. #holidaydecor #fireplace #christmasdecor
Find this gorgeous Primrose Mirror in Gold here at Anthropologie.
Romantic and rustic fireplace with greenery and candles - Happywedd. #fireplacedecor #romanticdecor
Happywedd…in case you admire rustic decay and weathering finishes!

6. Candles & Twinkling Lights Are Everything

If holiday decorating anxiety is kicking in because you’ll be hosting a gathering, keep in mind that mood lighting can be easy and your secret weapon.

Beautiful natural and rustic country French farmhouse Christmas tablescape. #holidaytable #frenchcountry #frenchchristmas #christmasdecor
Boxwood Avenue…in case you love farmhouse Christmas decorated tables.

A fellow blogger I know doesn’t even do a thorough cleaning of her home before a holiday party since she turns the lights down, sprinkles candles everywhere, and saves the housework for after guests leave!

Simple and natural holiday tablescape - Zevjoy. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.  #holidaydecor #holidaytable #tablescape #frenchcountry
Zevjoy…certainly an inspiring holiday tablescape with gold.

So if you’ll be entertaining in the evening, keep in mind a lot of those little vignettes or time consuming fresh garlands will be in the dark!

Here are the votives I reach for and sprinkle around my place.

Royal Imports Votive Candles Bulk Set of 36. Come be calmed by How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
votives – How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
White kitchen decorated for Christmas with small tree and paper wreath - Hello Lovely Studio
Snowy winter branch tree is from RH a few years back – options HERE.

7. Pick a Theme for Gifts

It always helps me to come up with a theme for the season and choose related gifts. Even a broad category like ‘food gifts’ or ‘personalized photo gifts’ can help you simplify. Need inexpensive ideas?

Gift guide under $25 Hello Lovely Studio banner
Pin me!

1. Box // 2. Almonds // 3. Mug // 4. Cookbook // 5. Stationery // 6. Sports Bottle //7. Hand Cream Set // 8. French Soap // 9. Tiara // 10. Pet Pouch Hoodie // 11. Blocks // 12. Caramels // 13. Personalized Spreader // 14. Provence Towel // 15. Organic Candy Tins

Is this the PERFECT one size fits all GIFT for every human on your list?

Godiva Chocolates…certainly the perfect gift indeed!

8. Give Yourself a Deadline for Gift Shopping

Get it out of the way. If you’re like me, you may feel insecure up until Christmas day about your gift giving! I always feel better if I finish my shopping as early as possible, wrap gifts when I am relaxed and listening to Christmas music, and don’t have those lists hanging over me.

9. Exchange Handmade & Homemade Gifts

It’s old school, retro, and sooooo old fashioned which means it’s an idea ripe for becoming a hot trend. Who doesn’t appreciate someone who took the time to make them delicious homemade marshmallows?

Plain and Chocolate Covered Marshmallows…in case you need an awesome recipe from Pinecones and Acorns. How to Freak Less About Holidays, Decorating and Gifts as well as Entertaining.
Caramel Corn…certainly a thoughtful gift from Pinecones and Acorns.

10. Host Without Cooking or Baking

Host that holiday gathering, but without apology…skip the cooking. Do something unexpected like cater Mexican from your favorite restaurant. You can always add little holiday flourishes (stud guacamole with pomegranate seeds).

Lovely simple and white Swedish and Scandi Christmas placesetting for a white Christmas -from ljo-s blog.
Ljo-s…certainly a delicious and simple Christmas placesetting.

For dessert, how about a plain cheesecake from your favorite restaurant or bakery? A few topping options on the side so everyone can enjoy their favorite, and you’re a hero.

Serve just one signature drink like a margarita or holiday mocktail instead of stocking a bar.

Delicious cocktail or mocktail idea for Thanksgiving with apples and cranberries - sangria recipe from Delish. #sangria #thanksgivingrecipes #thanksgivingmenu #applecranberry
Apple Cranberry Sangria RECIPE – Delish…certainly a festive holiday drink to make!

I hope these ideas and tips help you in some way freak out a little less. But I mean. Even freakouts can be endearing and slightly festive:

Hahahahahahahaha – I love Aunt Sue, and we all know one!

Peace to you right where you are.

-michele

I independently selected products in this post—if you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.

Shopping for items you already intended to buy on Amazon RIGHT HERE (not just items mentioned in posts) or home decor keeps decor inspiration flowing on Hello Lovely!

Hello Lovely is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Swedish Wood Electric Candelabra
Evergreen Bucket
Capri Blue Candle in Mercury Glass
Winter Jewels Crown Decor
Blue Juliska Platter
Swirled Taper Candles
Flameless Candles & Remote
Antiqued Brass Candlesticks
Classic White Dinnerware
Natural Linen Napkins
Shaw Flatware Set
Black Taper Candlesticks
Gold Flatware Set
Classic Stemware
Spanish Wine Glasses
Linen Hemstitch Napkins
Gold Rim Wine Glasses
Sweater Weave Basket
Rustic Wood Candleholders
Ilse Jacobsen Boots
Faux Bois Candleholders
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9 Comments

  1. Naagin 4
    November 30, 2019 / 8:49 am

    I am very enjoyed for this blog. Its an informative topic. It help me very much to solve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so speedy…

  2. Mumbai
    November 30, 2019 / 12:40 pm

    no freak out….and less is more. That’s xmas without stress. Love it

    • Michele
      Author
      November 30, 2019 / 8:09 pm

      Yay for no freakouts! 🙂

  3. Theresa Ozuna
    November 30, 2019 / 12:50 pm

    Always look forward to seeing what you are up to or what suggestions you have for the home! Wondering … what is the backsplash in #1?? We are remodeling our kitchen and would like to find something similar to these tiles / marble / ?? Thank you! T

    • Michele
      Author
      November 30, 2019 / 8:09 pm

      Hi Theresa. It is polished venatino marble subway mosaic (Allen + Roth) from right off the shelf at Lowe’s. The mosaic sheets made the project so much easier than tiling with individual little tiles. 🙂 Peace to you.

      • Theresa Ozuna
        November 30, 2019 / 9:12 pm

        GRAN THANK YOU!!! YES!! Now are the tiles appear to look like 2 x 4 … is that right?

  4. Joanna
    November 30, 2019 / 3:36 pm

    I find decorating early (around the 20th November) eases stress. It’s one thing ✅off my list. I plan my theme ahead of time and gather. This year it is all about candles, mini lights and gold deer scattered throughout. Add some Christmas tunes and I’m in the mood for hosting get together, writing those Christmas cards to family & dear friends, and picking out The Perfect Gift. Truthfully, I do stress a little over finding a gift that will ooh & ahh. We can all buy the necessities of life but it’s the special, thoughtful gifts that touch one’s heart.
    Be true to oneself and you’ll find happiness,
    ~Joanna

    • Michele
      Author
      November 30, 2019 / 8:07 pm

      Wise and wonderful, Joanna – the twinkling lights and gold deer sound so pretty. The greenery and christmas trees have begun to appear here – so it’s beginning to look ‘a little’ like Christmas. 🙂

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