Porch Poinsettias, Etc.

By Kate Riley November 28, 2011

Well here we are again caught up in the the holiday hustle and bustle and how quickly it can get overwhelming. If you were standing in my house right now, you’d laugh at the scene inside. Well maybe not laugh, but be relieved that yes, our house is messy, and so yes, we’re perfectly normal.

The dining table is covered in artwork and letters for Santa, the kitchen is a mess, there are bins and boxes of holiday decor everywhere, and the living room is unrecognizable because I’ve been moving furniture around again. There’s not a clear surface to be found, but I really don’t care. The messes are evidence we’ve been busy making Christmas memories.

I made a decision a few days ago to not get caught up in the craziness of the season but instead to choose a slower pace. Since Friday, we’ve started each day hiding in winter pajamas under flannel sheets and emerging on our own time, not one dictated by the clock.  We eventually dragged all the decorations out and now they’re all over the house. I managed to plant poinsettias and suspend a few ornaments on the front porch, but that’s it.  It’s simple and pretty, so I thought I’d share. And why not some thoughts on the season to go with it.

kate front porch christmas 2011


As mothers, we set a pace or a rhythm in our homes. That pace can be chaotic, it can be crazy, or it can be be comforting. As of today, ours qualifies for all of the above, but mostly I’d like to think it’s leaning towards the latter. Sure it’s chaotic because of looming holiday burdens and oh heck yeah is it crazy because of all the holiday decor strewn about. But mostly it’s comforting because of the choice to prioritize our time spent together – it’s more important than anything else.


red poinsettias in urn cg


Our family is in this magical place right now with children at the age where they still believe in Santa but old enough to marvel at every snowflake, angel, or twinkle light they see. I know next year will be different. My daughter is seven and already suspicious that the Elf on the Shelf does not move by himself. Surely her disbelief in Santa will come next. We teach our children about our faith and the true reason for the season, but as parents, we still enjoy the Santa experience for as long as it will last. I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

cg christmas front porch


With children this age I really just want with all my heart to freeze time because this season comes once a year. But that’s impossible. So instead I turned off Twitter, ignored Facebook, and even the ol’ blog for a couple of days.

lantern with ornaments and poinsettas cg


We watched a double feature of Home Alone and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. We sorted twinkle lights, we drank hot chocolate, and we made all our Christmas lists.

reindeer with bow cg


And I remembered that the blessings of this season come from those memories made from making those conscious choices of where we spend our time.

kates christmas porch


Instead of rushing around I’m determined to do just the opposite ~ to slow down and savor the season for all its magic and meaning.  I hope you’ll join me.


**I’m announcing the winners of all the giveaways later today, just as soon as I change out of those winter pajamas. :)



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  1. Good morning,
    I enjoy starting my day reading your blog and this post was very nice. I just wanted to say the best part of this post, was seeing your son’s face in the last picture. He is peeking out of the sidelight to the right holding what looks like the Christmas elf. Priceless!!

    To Lesley,
    I’ve seen the deer and other woodland ornaments at Pier 1 Imports.

    Happy Holidays,

  2. Great post. Love the reminder to take it slow. This year I started my shopping early so I could sit back and just enjoy time at home relaxing and enjoying without rushing around for all those little things that appear under the tree. We have someone turning 10 tomorrow in our house so we start Christmas after the birthday celebrations are over. But I wanted to tell you that you may have a few more years yet in the Santa department. My 8 and 9 year old kids caught us hiding eggs at Easter last year and admitted to suspecting that the Easter Bunny was not real. When we told them the truth my 8 year old son laughed and my 9 year old daughter welled up with tears. And her only response was, “just tell me Santa is real, right?” To which we nodded our heads with big smiles. So I have a full on Tween as of tomorrow and we are still believers. But dang, it is getting harder and harder to pull it off with older kids.

  3. This will be our first year to skip visiting Santa. Neither of my kids believed last year but we went anyway, knowing it would probably be the last time. We have always gone as a family to a farm – you ride the horse-drawn wagon out to the barn where Santa is waiting in overalls to visit with you and there’s a bonfire, hot chocolate and dinner out afterward. It’s been such a fun tradition – not crowded, no lines, not rushed. They have asked for a new big kid tradition but I haven’t figured that one out just yet!

  4. That’s great advice. I too plan to slow down and enjoy the little moments this year. I normally rush to get my entire house… inside and out… decorated by the weekend after Thanksgiving, but not this year. I’m simplifying the decor and doing a little at a time, so I can enjoy it instead of being worn out.

    Your porch is lovely… love the simplicity of it.

  5. The porch is lovely Kate! I think I need to slow down also… this season is majical but it can go by in a blur if we aren’t careful. I’m glad your family was able to have some good, quality time together this weekend. :)
    ~ Kim

  6. Love the decorations…very pretty! My son stopped believing in Santa Claus last year…he was 11. My daughter is 10 and still believes in Santa and the elves that come visit the 12 days before Christmas (elfingaround.com). There is a great book called The Autobiography of Santa Claus (by Jeff Guinn)…we read it last year with our kids…there are 24 chapters so you can read a chapter every night right up until Christmas Eve. My son loved the book despite the fact he had figured out that his dad and I were putting the Santa gifts under the tree but knows there really was a Santa Claus long ago. There are 2 more books that were written by the same author and my son and daughter are both looking forward to reading the next one together this year. You can see the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Autobiography-Santa-Claus-Jeff-Guinn/dp/1585422657

    I highly recommend it! Even once they stop believing in the Santa that comes every year NOW they will still be able to believe in the original and my son had no hurt feelings and was not the least upset when he figured things out…it was great all around.

  7. Lovely porch! And a great reminder that so many things are more important than having a perfectly decorated Christmas house.

  8. Love it! Perfectly simple and elegant. Now if only I could get motivated on my day off to get out of my pajamas and start decorating, I’d be in business! Thanks for the inspiration. :-)

  9. Fabulous post. What a great reminder and reinforcement of priorities:) Oh, and the porch is stunning!

  10. Your words are very wise, I will be slowing down to enjoy this wonderful time of year! Your entry looks beautiful I’m lucky that my grandsons have a few more years to believe ;)
    Love this post!

  11. My sentiments exactly. On Thanksgiving as I was mashing potatoes, my 4 yr old boy was jumping up and down over the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. I was so thankful for a little boy in my home that has genuine, unabashed excitement over that parade. It is a wonderful age.

  12. What you say is so true! It’s so easy to get caught up in the business of the season that sometimes we forget what it’s all about! I’ve making a conscious effort this year to stop and enjoy time with my family and the gift that is Christmas!

    Your porch looks great! That last photo is priceless!

  13. I remember when my daughters (ages 22, 20 & 17) stopped believing. It was a sad time for me – like when they lost their first tooth. I still have a 10-year-old believer but realize this may be the last year. While we have always emphasized the true meaning of the season, we have always integrated the spirit of Santa as part of that message. We continue to keep Santa alive through various traditions for our older girls and they wouldn’t have it any other way. It is something they constantly talk about and it warms my heart knowing that they will continue the traditions with their famillies in the future. After all, aren’t we all believers?! :)

    This is a great post Kate!

  14. Love your front porch…thanks for the inspiration with the lanterns. Today I will take out the pumpkins and replace them with ornaments.
    I always have to remind myself to slow down and not stress when the house looks like this…the transition between holidays can be overwhelming!

  15. What a heart-warming post. I agree with focusing on what’s important and truly enjoying the season. On my post today I talk about the state of my home at the moment as well- craft projects going on here and there and a few decorations emerging. Your front porch looks amazing. That’s on my list to do this week. Happy Holidays!

  16. I’m glad that you are taking the holidays at your own pace. The time spent with the children are what makes memories that endure forever. BTW, your decorations are lovely too. Merry Christmas!

  17. Beautiful porch. My children are all grown and have long since known the truth about Santa. I
    must say that while I missed that magical feeling, it also was a bit of a relief! We really began
    to focus on the memory making more. Now with the first grandchild turning one I am really excited
    about the new memories of Christmas with her!

  18. I would love to take it a little slower this year. That will be my goal…just don’t know if I will be able to achieve it. Love your front porch. Looks awesome.

  19. grrrl if taking 3 days off a 4 day holiday weekend is your idea of a break then I am l.a.z.y. :)

  20. Bravo! My goal is to slow down this month too. We teach our girls about the “reason for the season,” but we think Santa is fun too. My girls get so excited whenever we pass him in the mall, and they’re already planning to make some reindeer food for Christmas Eve. I agree with you–this time is too special to waste on blog stuff. This is the time to make special memories!

  21. I finally came clean with my 14 year old son last year and he cried (really) but then quickly wanted to play Santa himself for his younger siblings. I said he could but when the time came, I couldn’t wake hime up! I don’t think his three younger siblings will hold out so long and even though the youngest is only five, I can see we may only have a couple of years left, if that.

    Your porch is beautiful! Your children are going to have wonderful memories from their childhood!!

  22. You’re so right, you blink twice and they’re grown, like mine !!!!

    Your front porch is so pretty……how did you hang those ornaments, love the look !!!

    Kathy :)

  23. What a great post…and at the perfect time! We, too, started our holiday decorating last night and our house is an utter mess. A few decorations are up but, by and large, there are twinkle lights, ornaments and santa throw pillows covering every surface of my living room and kitchen.

    But you know what? We had a *fantastic* weekend snuggling, watching movies and traipsing around Christmas tree farms searching for the perfect tree. For once, I don’t care if my home is a mess. I had a great weekend to show for it!

    Now, tomorrow? Tomorrow I’ll have a panic attack and the house will be spotless again. :) But today I’m ok with the mess and I was so happy tune into your blog and realize that you’re ok with it too. For now.

  24. The ribbon with the balls at the end are such a nice touch. I just put up our Christmas tree and a few decorations last night. My son’s birthday is Nov. 28 so I usually wait until after his birthday to put up decorations so that the Christmas decorations don’t get in the way of birthday party decorations. So after a birthday party and trying to decorate our house is also a complete mess. I’m hoping to finish decorating tonight and getting a little bit of the cleaning done too.

  25. Beautiful post. Beautiful porch. I have GOT to slow down, but I have once again not purchased or planned a single Christmas gift- yikes! My kids are 11 and 6, so I know I don’t have long to enjoy the magic.


  26. Oh… I remember those days when my boys were still young enough to believe! Just this weekend our 16 year old announced that he would not pick out his own christmas present because it just wasn’t christmas if he didn’t have a surprise under the tree! Your post is so true and appreciated! It’s good to slow down and enjoy the holidays.

  27. Kate~your porch looks fabulous! I love your idea of slowing down at Christmas…that’s my thing too! I try to get as much as I can done in November, so that December can be about enjoying and slowing down. Last week I completed lots of Christmas baking for the freezer, homemade gifts for friends and and decorating. This week’s goals are Christmas cards and shopping. I made the decision to give our friends homemade gifts only….so less time in busy stores and traffic. Have a wonderful week Kate! Wonderful post! Angie xo

  28. You know what Kate, I have found when you go through all these special traditions with your children, they never really grow out of Santa! My 3 big boys 18+ still all have a sleepover in one bedroom with their younger siblings( ages 9,11) on Christmas Eve. They still get up at 6am to open gifts and they LOVE Christmas!! So keep making these special moments, one day they will be adult sized and still in pjs with you making Christmas lists!! ::)) at least until they get their own families!!

  29. My husband leaves Dec 5, returns for three days over Christmas, and deploys to Afghanistan Dec. 27th. I won’t see him again until next October (no leave anymore!) Today was my birthday and I realized that with his birthday/kids birthdays all falling over his deployment, the next time we will be together singing around a cake is my birthday next year. For the past few months, I’ve had a list a mile long of stuff he needs to do/I need to do/we need to do before he goes. Then I asked myself, “why?” Why spend our last weeks together being all crazy? I’m going to hire it all out after the holidays. I put up half my Christmas decorations, I may or may not bake. I may or may not do cards. The pressue we put on ourselves affects our kids and those around us. This season, I’m totally with you, Kate. I’m just going to take it all in and actually enjoy it. xxoo

  30. When you mentioned watching Home Alone and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas it brought back a lot of great memories watching them with my nieces and nephews. I still love all those movies. I’m watching the Hallmark channel right now and it’s a Christmas movie. Yay!. Now there’s an adorable 16 month old to look forward to sharing all the new memories with now. Your porch decorations look great and I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the inside this year.

  31. What a lovely post, Kate, and so well put. We did a lot of the same, for 4 straight days! It was amazing. I take the 2 weeks off work that my kids are home from school, so it was a nice teaser of our time to come. Glad you had a great holiday!

  32. Kate, I love this post! Wonderful reminder to enjoy NOW! And, so wise of you to realize that your time with your children is fleeting and these truly ARE the magical years! I married off my oldest two this summer, and oh. How. I. Miss. Those. Days!

  33. Beautifully said Kate. I agree and can so relate to the house being a mess this weekend as I pulled out all the Christmas decor. My son is just 19 months old and I want to savor every moment:)

  34. I enjoyed your post. Very beautiful front porch and words. I love when the kids still believe my oldest is on the verge too, I ‘m not sure about next year, but for now It’s fun to feed his belief.

  35. ditto, kiddo- but we are not putting up a thing until next weekend except our countdown calendar
    ( and hey, my twins still believe and they are 25! LOL )

  36. Kate! How cold does it get there? Because being from Ontario, Canada I can’t imagine it being warm enough to have poinsettias outside but it being cold enough for flannel sheets, and winter pjamas, LOL! But the reallllll reason for this comment. That little dear brings tears to my eyes. I love it with all my heart. ~ karen!

    • Hey Karen, we’re lucky here in Cali, it doesn’t drop much lower than 40 degrees at night right now, and no frost, so I’m hoping they’ll make it to Christmas! And I do love that deer too, bought it for my little girl who adores anything woodland!


  37. Beautifully said, Kate, and thank you for the reminder to slow down and enjoy the season and all of the memories we are creating. Your porch looks gorgeous. Simple and elegant! The little deer is darling.

  38. Gorgeous! And a really thought provoking post. My house is finally starting to get under control and I’ve learned something this year. Don’t take on what you can’t handle or things that interrupt family time. Looks like I have all of December to put this one into practice. :)


  39. How beautiful! And what beautiful memories you guys are making, cannot wait for my daughter to remember our special Christmas prep! Maybe in a year or two :).

  40. Your porch decorating is lovely! I enjoyed reading this; and agree whole-heartedly! Last year, we moved to Bermuda, and one of the things I was most pleasantly surprised (and happy about) was the way the holiday season was celebrated. It’s so much less consumer driven, less craziness, less pressure. The merchants are definitely trying to be more US driven and get people to cave into the buy-buy-buy mentality, but overall.. I have to say, I love how relaxed it is. The first half of the month is filled with family friendly activities – Santa parade, Pantomime, Carols for all, school Christmas fair, school concert, company Christmas party. But surprisingly, by the time the kids start break (12/18), it quiets down… I love that. We have a few weeks to just enjoy being with each other and settling down for the rainy/windy season (no snow! Thank you, God!) It’s a far cry from what I was used to living in NJ for five years… and NYC before that!!


  41. Ah yesss, I’d love for this time of year to slow down so we can really enjoy it. However, all the blog linky parties are putting the pressure on to get my blog posts up, even though my decorations have been up since after Thanksgiving =T

  42. Such a gorgeous and welcoming front porch you have! Please share how you hang the ornaments with ribbon–how is the ribbon attached to the ornament and how it the ribbon attached to the house. Thanks so very much.

  43. Great Christmas porch. I was wondering where you purchased the reindeer….or where I could find one similar. Thanks and Merry Christmas

  44. Beautiful, and I love your daughter and the elf peeking through the window in the last shot!

  45. Kate, just found your porch decorations on Pinterest..I know you posted your picture at least 3 or 4 years ago but here the holiday is slipping up on us again, and December is ’round the corner. Do you mind if I ask what type of paint you used on your urns? Looks like chalk paint? I’d have to use faux poinsettias because life ones would never survive outdoors in our cold temps in D/C/Md. area. I wonder if the paint will stick on the urns in our current temps? The neighbor that lived across from me passed away last month and her children and others are over there starting to clean out the house now. She had a bench like that; I wonder if she would give or sell it to me to use..Might have to be brave and ask tomorrow when I see her daughter over there.

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