Holiday Hindsight 2020

That’s right! I’m taking you on a tour of all the holiday things 3 weeks into January. It’s been prettyyy crazy ever since my last post back in September. We had our annual family vacation in the mountains the following month, immediately followed by my husband’s and my birthdays while simultaneously closing on and moving into our new home, followed by Thanksgiving in Florida and Christmas up here. So, since time was the resource I had the least of, the only solution I’ve found in the meantime to stay engaged with my blog was to lean more on social media with shorter posts and #latergrams, which have documented some of our mountains trip and Fall décor, as well as a limited look at my Christmas décor.

I have to tell you though, I am the most blessed because my wonderful momma came up to help a very overwhelmed me get settled in after Thanksgiving and get my house holiday-ready for the busy season ahead! So, from oodles of ornaments to my first ever garland-clad bannister, sassy bejeweled reindeer and glittering reminders of the season… I’m about to show you all of the beautiful things she did to help make my first Christmas in our new home truly special. There’s much to see, so get comfy and have your scrolling thumbs ready!

The Exterior

As I said, with all the moving craziness, Justin and I didn’t have much time to stop and look for and/or untangle string lights, much less hang them. Our new neighborhood was on their exterior decorating game early, which meant we were already behind! So, when my mom and I were simultaneously unpacking and pulling out Christmas decorations, we came across my favorite festive metallic picks and sprays. These are constructed with several branches of oversized multi-jewel tone sequins and miniature jingle bells at the ends — it was really cool hearing them softly jingling when the wind blew!

I have had these whimsical touches for right around 13 years now and they truly never disappoint! We also incorporated a cute little reindeer I had purchased a couple years ago from Pier One (same place we found the picks) and a set of tiered metallic trees that coordinated perfectly with the picks, so it was easy to create a festive statement outdoors with just a few eye-catching pieces added here and there. Justin even set up some red and green laser spray lights at night for a little more Christmas spirit too — so we weren’t total Grinches next to our neighbors! 😉

The Entryway

This house is actually the first one I have had with an open bannister that we could drape garland around. We were so excited to deck it with a vintage evergreen garland, multicolor accents and glittery sprays! At the base are two sparkling reindeer I found several years ago at Home Goods, paired with a few multi-color sequined cone trees and a few round, oversized sequin-clad ornaments that add a little extra pop of color wherever they go. Could there be any more sequins? Probably. I LOVE THEM. 😉

The Living Room

I was so happy with how my living room turned out! There were older and newer pieces grouped together, each one with its own story and memories attached.

For instance, the ceramic Fitz & Floyd nativity set on the mantle once belonged to my Mema. She loved it so much and it brings me such joy to display it at Christmas time. She always had her focus on Jesus, and while I’ve caught myself many times getting bogged down by the holiday rush, the gifting and twinkling lights, I can still remember my Mema’s voice saying “Jesus is the reason for the season, Katy” when I stop and gaze upon her sweet nativity.

These sassy, bejeweled reindeer on either side of our fireplace were an adventure in and of themselves a few years ago. While still living in Florida, I fell in love with one at Pier One the day after Christmas in Wilmington, NC and then somewhat miraculously located one other in Bradenton, Florida — of all places, my hometown store! She was quite literally the last one in our two states (and thank goodness they held her for me, although, I did have to make the purchase over the phone to have her held there until I could return home to pick her up)!

The Tree and Handmade Treasures

Believe it or not, despite my faux tree being purchased two years ago, this was the first Christmas we were able to actually have it displayed. Last year, I was bouncing back and forth between Florida and North Carolina before our house sold (prior to my official move to Wilmington), so we had to do as little decorating as possible for the holidays so that our house showed nicely and more spaciously. That meant no mega-size tree.

Fast forward to this year, and before I had properly fluffed the branches up top, it sort of looked a little like Clark Griswold had gotten his hands on it (a Christmas Vacation reference). But once every branch was put in its right place, it was exactly the perfect height. I was thrilled with how our eclectic Christmas décor turned out — my living room was full of holiday spirit and our new home truly felt like home. All thanks to the creativity and talented hands of my momma.

The combination of newer accents with the festive classics and handmade pieces really helps to make the season bright, don’t you think? One of my favorites is the stocking that was hung upon our china cabinet, handmade by one of my mom’s dearest friends several years ago. It is just not Christmas until this beautiful work of art is displayed! And the three beautiful angels above are more than sweet decorative figures. Justin’s Granny sculpted each of them for me. One has a bouquet of golden flowers, another is holding a heart of gold and my newest addition she gave me this year is holding the word Joy in gilded letters. Each of these are such wonderful treasures that I will have on display for years to come.

The Pillows

The first items to be put out each year are my Christmas pillows. Every year, without fail. Why? I’ll tell you why. It’s because we usually start decorating for Christmas immediately after Thanksgiving, and by the time you’ve packed up all of your autumnal accents (that is, if you’re a pumpkin enthusiast like yours truly here), Christmas pillows are the quickest and easiest way to change the seasons in your living space!

So, what are your thoughts on Christmas pillows: naughty or nice? If you ask the ladies in my family, we LOVE us some Christmas pillows and have collected more than we can count over the years. As I said above, it really is such a quick and easy way to give your seating some spirit! Now, if you ask my main squeeze (or pretty much any guy), he’ll inform you that decorative pillows of any kind are a hindrance to his comfort on the sofa and a less is more approach is most appreciated. (*sigh*) Men.

On the flip side, if you ask my little nephews here in Wilmington, they’ll tell you that decorative Christmas pillows are a very important communication device for alerting Santa when one of them has been naughty or nice, simply by adjusting two of our reversible “Naughty/Nice” pillows (one of which is constructed with mermaid sequining — go ahead and give it a swipe below!). The good news is, everyone starts out the season with the pillows facing “nice side out” but it’s anyone’s guess as to how soon they flip to “naughty” thereafter!

The Glass Trees

Next up are my collections of colorful mercury glass and art glass trees and the pieces we paired with them! These colorful glass trees are part of a collection I’ve had going for years with my mom and sister, each found from Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s stores all across the southeastern seaboard. The collection of ornaments displayed in the centerpiece above are a combination of vintage-inspired Christopher Radko miniature glass designs I snagged from TJ Maxx last year and the unbreakable glittery micro-ornaments from none other than the Dollar Tree, believe it or not!

All season long, I adored my fabulous emerald-colored velvet-clad reindeer — it was a gift from my sweet sister for our first Christmas in our new home. The bejeweled snowflake paired with it hails all the way from Micanopy, FL where my mom and I visited The Shop last Fall to shop their beautiful selection of festive touches.

The snow globe was also a gift, which I received from a dear friend in Florida after we performed a Christmas musical at my home church there last year. The name of the production was “Love Came for Me” and I had the honor of portraying the lead role of a busy momma who finds herself stuck in a snow globe where she learns the true meaning of Christmas from the nativity characters inside. It is a special gift that I will always treasure and each year remember what a wonderful experience I had with the talented cast and crew that Christmas. Decorating for the holidays is such fun, but when the unique pieces of each vignette remind you of your loved ones and special memories, that’s when it becomes so much more than just pretty décor, and truly wonderful.

The Tear-down

So… yeah, this was me two weeks ago. I knew that the time had come to take down my Christmas décor and put it away until December, but my heart just did not want the holidays to end! Well that, annnd… part of me had a strong aversion to packing things up again after our very recent move. (#boxesfordays) Not to mention, when you’ve got *this many* decorative pieces to put away, procrastination somehow comes all too naturally when faced with such a daunting task.

Thankfully, and not uncharacteristically, my amazing momma came to my rescue yet again and helped me get everything organized and put away before she and my dad headed back to Florida. Better yet, she and I unearthed some of my favorite year-round decorative pieces and got my new home ready for its very first Spring! I’ll share all of that soon enough, but this post is for catching up on the holidays and taking a few last looks at the twinkling trimmings that made the season ever so bright, thanks to a little [more like a LOT of] help from my mom.

PS: I highly recommend your next faux Christmas tree be a display tree from Dillard’s, purchased post-Christmas! But you have to be quick — they sell out fast the day after Christmas (I mean, they are high-end trees marked down to no less than 50% off that day). This baby was a dream to put up and take down, and the needles are a very natural-looking blend of textures, securely affixed to their branches, no less. I think this is the first year I haven’t heard Justin complain about putting the tree away, not that I could blame him in years past — some of those needles are really rough and yet somehow so delicate that they leave a trail, not unlike their “real” tree counterparts. Also, how cute is their private label name Trimsetter?!! Well, until next Christmas, my tall, evergreen friend!

So, real talk here: I’ve sort of been at war with myself the last few months, because I felt that if I used every spare minute on my days off of work to unpack and put things away, then I’m neglecting my blog and letting it go to waste (and yes, I also despise packing/unpacking); but on the flip side, if I tend to my blog, then I’m neglecting my new home and letting my family down after all they did to help me move. And then there’s the struggle to be present in the present with my loved ones, because I have SO MANY PICTURES that capture our special moments together, but I also want to enjoy each moment before it passes me by and not be glued to my phone or laptop, frantically trying to sharing it all out (*deep breath*).

I can’t help but realize that my knee-jerk reaction was to approach the craziness like Martha from the Bible, trying to juggle all the things and not fall short (all the while, somehow feeling like I’m falling short). But at the center is Grace. At the center are blessings upon blessings. I mean, just take a look at our New Year’s dining adventures, for example. It was an amazing time and our families came together to make each meal special and memorable, from our first oyster roast and low country boil at our new home (thank you Kristyn and Hudson for facilitating), to our prime rib New Year’s Eve feast (thank you, Mom and Dad) seated around our beautiful tablescape, to the New Year’s Day tradition of homemade cornbread and a brand new “peas for prosperity” dip (thanks to Justin and his parents).

At the core, my heart’s desire is to be more like Mary, focusing on the One important thing at the center of it all and taking the time to soak in the blessings around us. I’m just so thankful for my family for being there in every critical moment, whenever I need their hands and feet [and prayers] the most. And I certainly won’t soon forget the wonderful memories we created together this holiday season.

Sidenote: I almost forgot — I accepted the “Charcuterie Chalet” challenge, which was extended from at least half a dozen different people and created my very own “Charcuterie Chateau” that was huge hit over the holidays! Enjoy the pics from every angle, because I am nevverrr doing that again!

Here’s the plan: As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m approaching this blog a little differently this year (I mean, Haute to Joy isn’t even a year old yet). In the interim between online posts, I’ll be utilizing social media more to share out some of my favorite wholly accessorized items and moments. Sometimes they will be #latergrams and others will be right in the moment, that is, when possible. As for the frequency of my expanded posts online, I’m starting small — a quarterly rotation at first, then working my way up to monthly, etc.

A lot has happened in between the move and consecutive festivities, and I will be sharing all of that as well, but I’ve miraculously held your attention for long enough in this post and will save the rest for next time!

Happy New Year, friend. Blessings upon blessings ahead!

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