By Julie Choquette
As a child of the 60’s growing up in the Midwest, I remember taking my pillow and lying underneath our lit Christmas tree to read my book. The smell of balsam, the reflection of the colored Christmas lights on our Shiny Brite ornaments, and the silvery tones of Andy Williams on the record player are some of the dearest memories of my childhood. My passion for Christmas decorating definitely got its start then and really manifested itself when I first hosted Christmas Eve as a young wife and mother in my own home. That is also when Christmas became more than my favorite holiday – it became my favorite season.
For many years I have started Christmas decorating early so I can enjoy rediscovering my treasures at a pace that doesn’t overwhelm me, but instead comforts me with great memories, while also giving me time to think of new displays. My Christmas décor is an extension of my everyday décor, focusing on muted colors, textures, nature, and handcrafted art. I love pulling out my vintage Marshall Field’s ornaments, one-of-a-kind Belsnickle’s handcrafted with old army blankets and quilts, lights, greens, objects of nature and German glass glittered ephemera. I have fun arranging sweet little vignettes in corners, powder rooms, tops of cabinets and bookshelves.
This obsession with decorating isn’t limited to Christmas – I love all things home; décor, color, texture, comfort, family memories, trends, art, etc! My house will never be ‘done’. Ever. As we age, we evolve and grow as human beings – and so should our surroundings! My home is a creative outlet for me and a way to express my personality and interests – and never more than at Christmas. When others complement my decorating I am thankful and secretly thrilled, but honestly I do it for myself (& my husband….well, a little bit for him!).
Decorating inspiration, Christmas and otherwise, is all around us (reference the song from Love Actually!) – you just have to really look for it. In the 70’s I read women’s shelter magazines and wandered the aisles of local gift stores and nurseries. I was obsessed with the Christmas windows at Marshall Fields in Chicago and wanted to be their window dresser when I grew up! With a young family in our first little home, life was simple – I hunted diligently each year for the PERFECT live Christmas tree and made all my ornaments. Today, in order to put up multiple trees, decorate every corner and do it early (while keeping costs down) I use mostly quality artificial trees and greens, buying them on clearance. My one concession is using fresh cut greens, garlands and wreaths on the outdoors – you can’t beat the fragrance and beauty of fresh greens as you welcome guests at the front door
I’ve also discovered that in our much more complex and techno-savvy, DIY world of today, decorating is a blast! The online ideas and trends you can find are endless. And if you can’t afford something then learn to make it or wait for those amazing online deals. I still read shelter mags, but when I want to search for something specific or see what’s new out there, utilizing technology couldn’t be easier. I have found many shelter blogs that reflect my interests and give me new ideas. For Christmas inspiration I love HGTV, Pinterest, Etsy and Houzz.com. I certainly don’t want to copy rooms that inspire me – but I try to incorporate new ideas, trends and colors with my existing décor (I don’t pay attention to ‘decorating rules’ and I never want my home to look like it came out of a showroom). My only rule – if I like it, then it works. For me. And isn’t that what we all want?
This Christmas season try taking a step outside of your decorating ‘box’ and do something different with your décor by incorporating ideas from shelter blogs, stores and magazines. Look around your home and in your cupboards, utilizing what you have. A little paint, chevron ribbon and some sparkle could be all you need to bring a whole new holiday look into your home. Have fun and make it a special Christmas season!
Merry Christmas from Our Christmas Home to Yours!
About the Author:
Julie Choquette must decorate! Must paint! Must re-purpose! She has retirement dreams of turning those passions of painting, decorating/design, reading, writing and photography from part-time endeavors into something grand.
Julie’s been told she’s ‘Best Nana Ever’, and works hard to keep that title! She loves being a nana, mother and wife. She really loves being an empty-nester with her husband, feeling blessed that she was given a second chance at love/happiness/life! She has worked as a director/department head & grant writer for a government/non-profit agency for 20 years, but is more than ready to see what the next phase brings.