Christmas accoutrements

3 November 2020

Surely by now you’ve seen the Christmas decor and debates popping up on Instagram. I give decorating before Thanksgiving a solid salute of “good for her, not for me,” but in many ways my attention has turned to the holidays. The way I see it, there are a few options to tee up a peaceful, joyful holiday season:

  1. Be someone with few or no expectations around holiday festivities. Don’t have specific things you want to do, food you want to make, people you want to see, gifts you want to give, or experiences you want to have.
  2. Be someone with very few demands on your time. That way, you have the space for last-minute errands, day-of adjustments, and pivoting on a dime without getting ruffled.
  3. Plan ahead.

This might sound flippant; I really don’t mean it to. If you’re someone who’s happy to go with the flow, has a fairly empty schedule, and is just happy to experience whatever festivities fall into your lap, planning ahead is maybe not necessary. But — if you have a vision for how you’d like your holidays to unfold, if you have a job or other demands on your time, if you have kids relying on you to make holiday magic, if you have a budget to stick to… then, yes, planning ahead is necessary for a peaceful and joyful holiday.

With that out of the way, I’d first like to direct you to this post I wrote last year. It outlines six things I do every November to set myself up well for December, and I stand by them all (many are on my goals list for this month!). If you carve out time to do these things in the next few weeks, not only will you have set yourself up for a smooth and worshipful last month of the year, but you’ll be able to indulge in some of those holiday vibes we’re craving without going whole hog.

That being said – the point of this post is a little more commercial. I’m the last person to tell you you need to buy anything to have a magical holiday, but I also know you likely will buy a few things, and want to help equip you well. (And the weird fact is, many of these things will sell out by the end of the month – such is the way of the world). So, I’ve rounded up a few of our favorite Christmas accoutrements (as well as a few I have my eye on) early so you can plan your shopping accordingly. Or at the very least, indulge in a little window shopping :)

This candle is my holiday ultimate. I’m not really a “candle person,” per se, but I will go through one of these in the month of December. I like to buy mine at a favorite local boutique, but they’re available online, too. As a runner up, I considered buying this scent I spotted while walking through Whole Foods the other day – the holder is so pretty! It’s also available online.

— Y’all know what Advent calendar we’ll be using this year (!), but if you’re looking for a paper version, I love this one and this beautiful nativity one.

— Our ring-around is one of my most treasured Christmas decorations – it stays on our kitchen table throughout the month and our kids are as transfixed by it as I remember being when I was their age. Other decor I’ve been eying: this whimsical dish towel, this canvas or this one from Lindsay Letters (we will pull out our classic O Holy Night that we got as a wedding present!), and a fluffy garland for around our porch steps.

— I’ve long been enamored by Christmas villages, and love the more modern takes that have been popping up in recent years (though truly, I love the classic ones, too!). I even went so far as to order all five of these from Target, only to return them when they arrived larger than I expected and accepting that I don’t actually have a tabletop to display them on. If you have the space, these are cute, too! (And these are a little smaller – and a GREAT price!)

— Our tabletop real estate goes to our nativity scene. I collected the Willow Tree set over many years (love it!), but just added this little peg version for June to play with this year.

— We added this tree (above) to June’s room last year and it is MAGICAL! Totally worth it at the $25 price point. It’s sold out right now, but add yourself to the in-stock list if you’re interested – I’ll bet it might come back in the next few weeks. The same model also seems to be available here, though for twice as much! We added a pom pom garland and a multi-pack of pink and gold balls from Hobby Lobby to June’s – this mini blush faux fur tree skirt would be perfect, too. Planning to get another one for Shep’s room (for next year!) when they’re back in stock! If you can’t or don’t want to have a full-on tree, this little pom pom tabletop number is adorable.

— We go real for our big tree, and ever since our first year celebrating as a couple, I have been searching for a topper that strikes my fancy. I imagine I’d like an angel or a star – maybe something like this. (This natural wood star is also really pretty!) We also buy an ornament for each other and for the kids every year – eyeing one of these sea creatures for June (in honor of our Octonauts extravaganza) or this one in honor of her new wheels! Though we use several Ikea faux fur mini rugs around the base of our tree, it’s fun to see all the options for tree baskets after posting about them so long ago! :) This cream knit pom pom version is lovely, too.

— I LOVE the ceramic Rifle Nutcracker plates I snapped up last year and can’t wait to bring them out of the attic – just wish I had bought more! Anthro’s offerings this year include this sweet city design and a fun 12 Days of Christmas set by Inslee. So fun for after December breakfasts and after school snacks. Also love this plaid or city scene version of the cork placemats we use daily.

— This will be the first year we’re home for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and need to hang our stockings by the chimney with care! Accordingly, I’ve been on the hunt for stocking holders. These stars (or these ones – would need to see the finish in person) are pretty, but I might go for something simpler (or for a little less). If we didn’t have heirloom knit stockings (made by my grandmother and sister!), I’d probably choose something like this cream knit for the stocking itself! For a head start on your stocking stuffers, try this list for grown-ups and this one for kiddos. Will add more in the gift guides!

— Pajamas! These often go quick – many sizes are already sold out. My best-case scenario would be a pair of these from Lake for myself. Look, I know they’re $$$, but I have one long-long pair and I have worn them almost every single night this year… embarrassing, but true? Alas, they are currently sold out in my size – added myself to the list to see if they restock. While I LOVE the idea of matching with June, I don’t think I can stomach the price tag for something she’ll grow out of in a year. Other lovely options: this plaid set for mama, this very sweet Nutcracker set or pink candy canes for little girls, this polar bear Fair Isle number in pretty colors, and these cute forest friends. And my little fire-truck loving man would LOVE these!

— Need an at-home Advent wreath, if you won’t be in church this December? Here’s a beautiful metal one you could use for years to come! (Great price, too!)

— Finally, a few books that I’m considering adding to our stack: The Christmas Baby, Christmas in the Manger, The Night of His Birth, and The Gifts of the Animals.

Whether you’re pulling boxes out of the attic, cutting branches in the woods, or building your Christmas collection from scratch this season, I hope this post was an enjoyable little foray into the Christmas spirit! :) My encouragement: shop now for whatever you decide on, then set it aside for a few weeks.

What, decor or accoutrement-wise, are you shopping for this holiday season? I’d love to know!

P.S. Though I have never seen more exhortations to vote in my entire life, I would be remiss not to include my personal endorsement for exercising your civic duty today, if you’re a US citizen and if you haven’t already. Voting is a privilege and an honor and I am so grateful to be able to do it!

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Jessica Fowler
November 3, 2020 10:37 am

I’ve been loving Target’s decorations this year! This is my husband and I’s first married Christmas in our new home, although third Christmas living (and decorating) together. I have a hodgepodge of decorations for all holidays from college and post-college, and while it’s all cute, it isn’t necessarily cohesive. Lots of cute dollar spot stuff, but also isn’t necessarily the quality to last a lifetime.

I am practicing restraint this year and working on putting together a decor mood board of sorts (for fall and winter decor) so I can narrow down my taste and plan to purchase things next year. As you said, it sells out, and by the time I realized I love the woven pumpkins at Target this year, they were sold out! By focusing on somewhat of a color scheme (for Christmas: traditional red/green, all white/silver/gold, or multicolored), I am hoping to make decorating and shopping easier in the long term.

Thanks for sharing some of your favorite picks!

November 3, 2020 12:37 pm

Ah I love posts like this! We live in the Southern Hemisphere, so we have a summer Christmas. I miss the cozy winter Christmases in North Carolina, so glad I can live vicariously through your post. Not sure how we’ll decorate since Christmas trees here since Christmas here is associated with outdoor BBQs and beach days… but one day we’ll figure it out. ????