Festivities & Celebrations

Decorate Like A First-Grader

Many women start hyperventilating around the holidays, and it’s no wonder. There’s an enormous amount of pressure to produce succulent meals and exquisite decorations while pretending that you are not only sane, but serene.

The problem is exacerbated by the magazines set up in the checkout lines at the grocery, which feature beautifully set tables with flowery centerpieces, place cards, candles and gobs of crystal, silver and linen. Even the publications that profess to make things “simple” are too much for me.

This year, I have invented a new approach to decorating for the holidays, called “Decorate Like A First-Grader.” In short, I’ve delegated the decorating duties to the twins, who were all fired up about their new responsibilities. It’s proven to be so successful I thought I should share my strategy with you.

My first project was to decorate the mantel. I enlisted Porter to help me with this, as Drew was at a friend’s house and Finn was at Bible Club. We spent a pleasant afternoon bonding and decorating.

It would be easy for me to describe how Porter decorated the mantel, but despite my reputation for veracity, down deep you would be doubting that Porter had in fact performed all the work himself. Thus, I photographed every step of the process, both to show you how to do it, and to prove that I am a woman who can be trusted.

Here’s how it went.

PROJECT 1: WINTER BRANCH ACCENTED WITH COLORFUL ORNAMENTS
as created by Porter Glamore

Here is a picture of our mantel before we decorated it. I bought that star thing at a garage sale years ago and it stays up all year.

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Have your first-grader get a stick with lots of branches on it. Some decorators may have to forage in the woods for these; Porter happens to keep a good supply in his
bedroom. No, you aren’t drunk (or maybe you are); I let Porter do some of the
photography for this project. He has trouble focusing.

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Get a sturdy container for the branch. Stick the branch in the container and fill it with rocks or marbles so the branch stays upright. (I got this HEAVY vase as a wedding present. Interestingly, the surgeon who performed my first spine surgery gave it to me. I love the vase, but I always thought it was ironic that he gave me a gift that weighed 1000 pounds. He wasn’t jonesing for more business; he was retired when I got married. But I digress.)
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Gather a bunch of colorful ornaments. I got these at Target. My Friend With Artistic Flair says that when you display things in various sizes they are more “interesting” visually; thus some of the balls are bigger than others. Don’t forget the wire hangy things! If you have an older child, a third-grader perhaps, I suppose you could get all fancy and hang the ornaments using ribbon, but Porter couldn’t master the tying of the ribbons so we stuck with the wire hangers (Joan Crawford be damned.)

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Hang the balls on the branches.

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Lift the whole thing onto the mantel. (I had to do this– Porter wasn’t tall enough).

Oops. It would have been smarter if we had measured the branch before we put it in the vase and decorated it. We should have made sure the branch was no taller than the distance from the mantel to the ceiling.
Duh. It was too tall, so we had some ornamental roadkill. Learn from our mistake.

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But overall, the project was a huge success. Isn’t this beautiful?

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It looks so good I think I’m going to send Porter back to his room to retrieve more branches so we can do another one for the other side of the mantel.

That’s all there is to it: a branch, a container, rocks or marbles, ornaments and hangers, and a willing seven-year-old.