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Easy Holiday Decorating: Creating a Simple Holiday Decor “Capsule Wardrobe”



Today, you can easily spend a huge amount of money on holiday decorations: Halloween decor that becomes an eyesore on November 1, Thanksgiving decorations that become unseasonal 3 weeks later, and Christmas decor which is appropriate for 5 weeks at best.

Rejecting this holiday-specific marketing, a few years ago I resolved to create a rhythm for seasonal, not holiday, decor. At the same time, I decided to forgo factory produced decorations and instead make my own. (For example, passing on a $70 wreath with miniature ice skates in favor of a large plain wreath and a flea-marketed pair of vintage skates for a total cost under $40.)

GOAL: More home-made, less big-box decorations.
GOAL: Seasonal, not holiday decorations.

“Seasonal” decorations on my deciduous trees meant I could leave the decorations up much longer than “holiday” decorations. Simply having “winter” “summer” and “fall” decor is much easier, cheaper, and requires less off-season storage than trying to decorate for each holiday.

decorating a deciduous tree for christmas

Unlike “Christmas decorations” that look unsightly if left out into January, seasonal non-holiday decor gracefully transitions into late winter.


Many older homes have stately elms, maples, or oaks regally placed in a front yard or stately lining a driveway. My property in Missouri was one such property. 5 century-oaks stood on the property when I purchased it (one of which we recently lost but repurposed the hardwood into a mushroom garden). Each of these trees, along with Hawk Hill’s three porches, was a canvas for seasonal decor.


A casual pile of homemade faux-wool blankets, ice skates, and other seasonal items make this porch cozy and holiday-appropriate from November through February.

A casual pile of homemade faux-wool blankets, ice skates, and other seasonal items make this porch cozy and holiday-appropriate from November through February.


Two of our century oaks stood within spitting distance of my driveway, and over the years that I lived and loved my farm, I had a lot of fun playing with alternate ways to decorate these trees seasonally.

Some of my favorite seasonal outdoor decorations:


Flag Pole Tree

A well-placed tree makes a good location for a bracket for an American flag. A stately oak gracing a driveway can be a classic location for a flag. (Be sure the tree you choose is not one that will drop sap, however!)

flag mounted on tree


Functional and classic summer decor, a mature tree with strong limbs can support a rope swing or even a porch swing.


Ice Skates

The flag bracket does double duty: in the winter functioning as a hook to hold a sprig of artificial greenery and a real pair of white vintage ice skates (get a pair just link mine here). These skates usually stayed up all winter- from post-thanksgiving into March- requiring no maintenance other than cleaning and conditioning the leather once a year before storing for the summer.

decorating a deciduous tree for christmas



Purchased for $25-$50 depending on quality, vintage sleds leaned against a trunk can make a great decoration for a deciduous tree. (If you are in an urban area you may want to use a bike lock and cord to secure your sleds around the trunk, through the runners) Sleds can stay up from Thanksgiving through early spring . Using real sleds rather than cheap reproductions looks so much better- but does require just a bit of maintenance. About every two years, before storing my sleds for the winter I condition the wood with a beeswax-based conditioner and rub oil on the runners to protect against rust. Sleds can be found by hunting antique malls or just check out these listings on Etsy.

decorating a deciduous tree for christmas

decorating a deciduous tree for christmas

Seasonal Wreaths

Here’s another example of using a deciduous tree to display vintage sporting goods in a seasonal/holiday display. In this photo, I used what I had to create a wreath (even though I’m not really into tennis!). Two vintage tennis rackets are wired into an X shape and then wired to a mid-range, plain wreath.

decorating a deciduous tree for christmas ice skates



How to create a capsule wardrobe of holiday decor that makes holiday decoration cheap, easy, and in season for longer periods

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