Less Is More

By Kate Riley December 3, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I’m strongly feeling the need to spend less money on things this season, and far more time with family and friends.   The ‘spend less money, spend more time’ notion I mentioned last year is again rearing its head when it comes to decorating around the house. 

Just the other day, I opened the Christmas closet and realized I didn’t even want to bother with half the *stuff* stored away in there.  I pulled out some silver and gold favorites and put everything else back.  Maybe it will stay, maybe it will go, it depends how I feel come January.  Are you feeling the same desire to keep it simple this year?

When it comes to decorating this season, I’m working (mostly) with what I’ve got, trying to create something fresh and new, but not spend money on things I don’t need.  This year, I decided to give a half dozen thrift store candlesticks I had in my stash a quick coat of spray paint . . .

  spray paint candlesticks


. . . I stacked a few more ornaments in a favorite hurricane, placed some fresh garland to the kitchen mantel, plus my two favorite mercury glass candleholders and called it a day.  Then I made hot chocolate and settled in on the couch with the family for another Christmas movie. 

  silver and green ornaments

Quick and easy, cheap and pretty.  

My kind of holiday décor!

More peeks into our home coming soon on Nester’s Christmas 2010 Tour of Homes on December 13th, will you be there?  

The Holiday Home link parties continue next week with little ol’ me hosting Christmas Crafts.  Anything you’ve created for your holiday home counts (ornaments, wreaths, gifts, etc.) so be sure to link up on Tuesday December 7th! 

 holiday home banner


Here’s a friendly button if you’d like to add it to your post on Tuesday . . .

kates holiday home button


Later today, a fantastic giveaway from one of my favorite designers, stay tuned! 




  1. I’m definitely feeling the less is more vibe this year. When I pulled out my fall decor, I was kind of shocked by how much I had, considering I’d lived in a 900-sq ft condo in the past years. I didn’t use most of it – it’s being given away.

    Personally, I’d rather have an emergency fund *especially in these days when my job could disappear at any moment* than spend a ton on the holidays.

  2. I think that sometimes, less really is more. I love your mantel. The fact that you finished it quickly and got to enjoy some time with your family makes it even better. I’m doing that more with blogging this month…spending more time with my fam and less time returning emails. ;)

  3. My friends and I have been talking about this very same thing. We thought maybe we were getting old. :) I decided that I didn’t want to put out anything that required me to “fluff it. So out went the artificial greenery and garlands. I realized that I have been dreading those things every year for 10 years. I bought live greenery for the mantle, decorated the dining and breakfast room tables very simply, put out a few Santas here and there, downsized the tree to a manageable size and called it good. I’m loving it!

    I realized also that some of my decorations made me too nostalgic. So I didn’t put them out. I’ll repack them, offer them to family and if there are no takers, there’s always freecycle!

  4. It’s funny, but I’m right there with you this year. Usually I can’t wait to get the tree up and the house decorated. This year I pulled out all our decorations, put 1/2 of them in boxes to donate, and put out the rest. Since then I’ve been wanting to take down half of what I put up – it’s too much clutter and I want to simplify! What IS this?!

    Your decorations look simple and lovely. Perfect!

  5. I feel the same. I just opened our three tubs of Christmas decorations and already sorted out about one entire tub that will go to goodwill.

  6. I think there’s a lot of that going around. I usually like a little glam for holiday decor, but this year pinecones are my thing. It feels more “right” to go more simple and natural. I really think the continued blah economy — the affect its had on everyone now that we’re in year, what, 2 or 3? — is tempering the desire to go big. I know I’m feeling tired of it and it has actually had a positive, keep it simple affect. Less IS more. And look what a gorgeous affect it had on your mantle!!

  7. Your mantel is great! I love the green and silver..those are the colors I’ve used this year…I completely understand your idea on less is more…I’ve always had that philosophy…seasons tend to be a time when people buy too many chachkees…(did I spell that right?)….I like the idea of using silver, gold, and glass pieces that may already be used in my home and just incorporating a little holiday color to get a great look. Can’t wait for the next link party!! :)

  8. i totally agree that it is best to work with what you got sometimes. and this time of year is made for family and fun, and togetherness, and not for spending, spending, and spending. thanks for making a point of that.

  9. This year, we have decided to do away with 100 things! Each member of our family is cleaning out 100 personal items (clothing does not count) and we are donating it to our local Goodwill. At first, it seemed like 100 items was a lot of things, but when we started to clean out rooms, closets, and the like, we quickly found 100 personal items and more! It was amazing how many things we were holding onto and didn’t really need or use. And the feeling of cleaning out was very freeing. I put up our tree and the ornaments that really mean the most to us. I also added a few decor items to my kitchen. Other than that, I had gotten rid of 7 20 galloon tubs of decorations 2 years ago…the time and effort it took to decorate, I now use to create homemade gifts and edibles for family and friends. Less is best…and less is more time for really celebrating the season.

  10. Having the same feeling this year also, usually I am stoked to get it all done, guess may age is showing just getting to old.

  11. I’ve discovered Martha Stewart glitter, printed off some 50% off coupons and purchased several colors. I’m taking apart some of my old Christmas decor, adding glitter and making it into something different. I have glitter EVERYWHERE, but I’m having a ball and my grandchildren are gonna love all the sparkle!
    My favorite project so far was taking some hurricanes I got at Michael’s on the sale table last year, adding silver glitter to the stems, pouring salt mixed with crystal glitter in the bottom of each and adding a white candle. I have a group of 3 on the corner of my entry table and even my husband commented on how pretty they look.

  12. Yes, this is my idea of how to decorate for the season, quick and easy! I love placing ornaments in a glass vase, yours looks gorgeous on the mantel! Janell

  13. Love the green and silver look! I’m going with blue and silver this year! So excited to see how it comes up. Love those candle stick holders too!

  14. Those are BEAUTIFUL! The silver really adds a modern touch to the elegant candle sticks — love it with the green as well. Though i may be biased — i’m OBSESSED with green =)


  15. beautiful!!!! And yes I have felt the need to simplify this year too…….actually took some sticks out of the yard after a huge windstorm…brought them in to dry, spray painted them gold and silver..put them in a vintage white hobnail vase and voila! :)

  16. Oh Kate I agree I am not buying anything new to decorate and I am also spending less; we are doing more family events to just be together and enjoy!!

    I have a $200 Giveaway from Fifi Flowers!
    Do come and enter!

    Art by Karena

  17. We’ve been doing the same thing. I started x-mas shopping in August so I’d have plenty of time to get things on sale or with a coupon. I’ve also been doing a lot of shopping on Etsy. Gotta support the small businesses!

  18. I am totally with you, my mind can’t work properly when there is too much “stuff” around. I love the colors you have in that hurricane of ornaments!!

  19. We are doing the same thing this year- keeping it simple just saves time, energy and money that could be spent elsewhere!! I love the colors you’ve chosen…& I’ve been on the prowl for a hurricane like that- love it!

  20. I was the same way this year too…usually I pull everything out and put it in the same spot every year. Not thinking much about it. This year I was particular about what I wanted out, and thoughtful about where to put it. Half went back to the garage (I’m sure my hubby was thrilled he hauled it all in for me!) I’m much happier with the simplistic decor this year. And happy to watch Elf with the kids! “bye buddy…hope you find your dad!”

    happy weekend!

  21. Well it looks darling!

    Normally I completely agree with less is more generally speaking. But love getting ALL the christmas stuff! It’s the only time of the year we have lots of “stuff”. We went from a tiny townhouse to a much larger home, was so excited to see the potential for Christmas decorating… huge staircase, 2 story rooms, etc. Finally get that and now the trend is to only lightly decorate, sigh, I’ll always be an embarassing step behind.

  22. I love what you put together – it looks very festive! And yes, I am keeping it simple around the house this year. I love it! I don’t think I’ll be feeling as claustrophobic come January, either:)

  23. The older I get and the older my kids get the more I realize that making the “perfect” holiday scene is not important. I still love to decorate, but I rarely buy anything new. And then there is the issue of the environment and the resources it takes to manufacture all of the “stuff” we all buy at Christmas (decorations, wrappings, and gifts) as well as the eventual disposal of that same stuff at some point. All in all, I am all for simplification and celebrating being together with my family.

  24. I hear you! I did the same. Brought out boxes and only used a few items for decor this year. I’ve definitely been feeling the simplify theme running strong lately. Christmas shopping is already done, and even though I keep seeing great deals on things I feel comfortable with what we’ve bought and made and comfortable saying no to more. It’s a great feeling. Love your candlesticks.

  25. I am right there with ya! I am still decorating, as I had a stomach bug last week and then got busy with volleyball uniforms…but I am definitely simplifying things this year! I’d rather settle for a few nice arrangements, our trees and staircase, rather than have stuff everywhere. For the most part, I’ve used what we had, added some natural elements from our own backyard, and added maybe a couple new things.

  26. I absolutely love this site. The candle stick transformation with the silver spray paint is so easy, beautiful and timelessly chic. I have a few that I can definitely do this with. I am loving the simplicity of it all!

  27. Your mantle is stunning. Very simple and elegant, Kate. I’m with you about less is more. The older I get I seem to veer more this way. We’re looking forward to lots of time with family and friends.

  28. Your kitchen mantel is lovely!

    And I agree with you! While unpacking xmas decor this year, I started a Goodwill pile. There are just items I haven’t decorated w in years and there is no need to keep them any longer.


  29. Last week I was at Michaels looking at all the Christmas decorations and decided I was going to try to recycle or repurpose things I already have. After being married for 30 years, I have an abundance of decorations!

  30. I’ve struggled with Christmas this year because of losing my mom. So at first, I just didn’t want to decorate at all. I just didn’t “feel” red and green, jolly and cute. I’m fine, but I feel different this year. So, much of what I have stayed put away this year too. I went with lots of silver, white and bits of gold. My house looks soothing and wintery, as does the tree…it really fits how I feel this year. Plus, I won’t be in such a rush to put it all away since it doesn’t scream Christmas at me.

    I love the green with the silver.

  31. Wow, so much of what you said and the comments are exactly what I’m feeling. Sue – I lost my dad in February and that plays apart in my blues over the holidays. This is the first time I won’t have any parents to hear tell me Merry Christmas. We are also a family who just fell into the unemployment line in Nov. and like the news reported tonight. Unemployment is at an all time high.

    My big problem is… I’ve always been the Christmas Elf of the family, decorating, having an annual party and trying everything I could to bring joy to my friends and family. I’m feeling very quilty about not wanting this role this year.

    I got out just enough decorations to please party guest and family and I’m done. Nothing new added and 1/2 of it not coming out at all!

    I love MIKKI’s idea about 100 personal items donated. I have been more in the giving mood, then the receiving mood, even without an income now. I’m going to suggest this to my family this year. This sounds like a fantastic ‘movement’ that our nation should take part in.

    So CG thank you so much for confirming the fact that it’s not just me feeling this way and to all the fellow bloggers – THANK YOU too. Your comments and ideas are reassuring.

    PS. Love the mantel!

    Liz – Good Memories Cafe blogger and small business owner

  32. How nice to have a mantle in the kitchen! Yours looks beautiful with the lime and silver and fresh garland. I may be in the minority because I didn’t have much Christmas decor to start with this year- 3 bins. Is that a lot? Most of it is ornaments, then there were a couple wreaths, two pillows a blanket and some dish towels- we came from a small townhouse so that’s all we had room for (to display and to store!) This year, I bought a few new things but always make sure when I’m going to spend the money that it’s on what I love and really want in our home.

  33. Lovely, Kate! It’s all simple and beautiful & yes, yes, yes, I’m feeling the need for a simpler Christmas this year. I left 1/2 my bins in the attic and still had plenty to make our home festive, without spending so much time on it. I definitely feel the need to pare down.

  34. I am loving your blog, brought to my attn. from a fellow photographer friend here. It’s funny because I have a blog post drafted entitled ‘less is more’ to do with photography gear! Loved the black widow and spray paint articles, I’ll be back to read more!
    Love you house, WOW, so bright and airy.
    Best wishes :o)

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