Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sharing Christmas

One of my real-life-first, blogging-second friends Megan hosts a fun tradition called Sharing Christmas in which a group of bloggers give virtual tours of their homes all decked out for the holidays, and share details about their families' traditions. This is the second year for the event, but it's my first time participating. I'm excited to share a bit of our Christmas with all of you! So let's start the show....

It's fitting that this is my debut year in the online "Parade of Homes" because this year is host to a lot of other Christmas firsts. We've decorated for Christmas before, but this is our first house, so it's given us the chance to expand our meager decorations to a grander scale. First stop on the tour- Our beautiful house all lit up!

We've never put up exterior lights before, and owned only a single wreath (more on that beauty in a minute!) so we looked at our "naked" house and brainstormed what would look best. We decided to go for a simple, classy look. Each window got a wreath with white lights, silver bows and bells. Our only other light is a single green spotlight. You may not be able to tell here, but it really does light up the whole house, and looks great with our green front door! Some may prefer bolder looks (my neighbors have a amassed a not to subtle inflatable shrine to the season) but I'm kind of a "less is more" kind of girl when it comes to exterior lighting...Unless you're going to go Griswold. Then hats off to you!

Though my house may not show it, lights are one of my favorite parts of Christmas. But I think it has more to do with tradition than the decorations themselves. After our Christmas Eve church service, we all pile in the car (usually several more passengers than is legal) to drive around and look at Christmas lights. We have a couple favorite stops, and everyone picks their favorites. I love seeing what people come up with- from tacky to beautiful, I really love them all. Not on the tour though- My mom's house. My step dad has nixed Christmas lights in the last few years saying he's saving his money for his grandchildren rather than using electricity. Maybe he'd be proud of my humble display?)

Worth every penny!

I love my sparkle berry wreath- Our only previous existing piece of outdoor decor. It used to brighten up the halls of our Cincinnati apartment building, and now it has a more permanent home. But you're probably getting cold standing out side while I yap about wreaths....Let's head inside!

This is our foyer table, with a bit of festive flair (The Spanish welcome is a year-round sentiment. Perhaps I should invest in a Feliz Navidad sign?). The main attraction is the advent calender which was lovingly made by my mom a couple years ago. It has a theme each week and a corresponding bible verse to read each day (along with an ornament to decorate the tree). I think it's a cute version of a similar tradition I had since I was tiny. I loved putting ornaments on our advent "tree" and couldn't wait for the 24th to come so I could put the star on the top. It's even better now because the verses serve as a daily reminder of what the Christmas season is truly about.

Before we move on, I should probably mention the biggest "first" this year. Yes, even bigger than the new house. We've decided to that rather than traveling this Christmas, we're going to stay home (weird...this is our home now. Not just some transient place that we’ll be until I finish school, or until we get tired of renting. It’s a real home.) Since I was born, I've spent every Christmas at my parents house (minus a couple years that we switched it up to go see Dustin's family). The details changed a bit each year; sometimes we'd travel to my grandma's, sometimes I'd spend it at my Dad's house, but I have always spent it with my family. But this year, everyone's schedules didn't quite align, so we're taking the opportunity to take a bit of a break and just stay put.
Now, it's not that I don't absolutely adore our families (I do! A lot!) but I'm actually really excited about having some time as a family of our own. Sometimes the holidays seem so geared towards kids, or at least childhood memories that I feel like our Christmas doesn't count until we have children to share our memories with. I think it'll be really nice to have a chance to do something totally new, and start to make some traditions all our own. I'm sure we'll borrow a lot from our parents' way of doing things, but there's something pretty magical about making this Christmas very us. (Note: to all our family- don't cry we'll see you the week after Christmas, when the great Tour de Bowden resumes!)
Now, on with the tour! Not pictured on our yuletide journey is a mistletoe ball hanging in the living room doorway. I'll avert my eyes while you steal a kiss from your sweetie. But don't linger too long, the living room awaits!
I'm probably similar to some of you in that I only decorate the first floor of house. I haven’t collected enough stuff to go everywhere (though that is rapidly changing!) so I make some big statements in the common areas and hope that's enough. The lit star in the corner is a prop I developed for AE stores last year (one of the perks of working in visual merchandising!)
In a non-Christmas related note: Do you like our new rug? It was kind of a spur of the moment present to each other from our last trip to Target. We didn't anticipate a need for a cart though, so Dustin was forced to carry it around on his shoulders while I continued the search for the Christmas gifts we were actually there for. That's what men are for, right?
New for this year is a group of glittery pears (another impulse buy at Target. That place is dangerous!) This is part of my ever expanding pear collection that shows no sign of slowing down. We do not, however, have a partridge. I guess I have to draw the line somewhere. The bowl was previously home to a fall display of mini pumpkins. Not sure how it'll be reinvented for spring yet. Hmmm...
Another first this year- we have a REAL fireplace! Two years ago our stockings were hung on the windowsill (with care!), last year we had a mantel, but this is the first real working fireplace we’ve had. I desperately want a fire, but we haven’t had the flue cleaned (I don’t even really know what that means) so I’m not positive it’s safe. And I imagine chimney sweeps charge a pretty penny this time a year. But without a fire, where am I supposed to sing my yuletide carols?

I made our stockings a two years ago, and I like them, but I want to make new ones. Possibly out of die cut felt or maybe I’ll learn needlepoint. My childhood stocking is a needlepoint Santa made by my grandma, and it’s so beautiful. These are cute, but not exactly our forever stockings. But I LOVE my deer stocking hooks. There’s a buck, a doe and a baby fawn (I’m saving that one for when Dustin surprises me with a puppy...yeah right!) Our stocking tradition is pretty basic, we all open them first, at the same time. I like to open gifts one person at a time (which drives Dustin crazy) so you can see what everyone got, and enjoy the process, but stockings are just a free for all! The only problem this year is that my mom (I mean...Santa) usually fills the stocking for the family (even her own!) so we're on our own this year. We've yet to discuss the plan...maybe Santa really will have to show up!

Moving right along...In my opinion, no Christmas would be complete without a bit of glamour- Cue the chandelier!

We have the candles out all year round, but the light fixture got some extra special holiday flair. I absolutely love our dining room, but I think I love it even more now that it's all glittery and aglow. Truth be told, we use the table more for game playing than fancy dinners, but we might have to change that for Christmas. I've never cooked for the holidays before, and typically Christmas Eve is spent rushing off to church rather than sitting down for a meal, so I don't have a lot of tradition to pull from. My only frame of reference is I just swap the turkey for ham? It looks like I'll have to stop by the other Sharing Christmas homes for some recipe ideas (or dig the Holiday issue of Rachael Ray out of the back seat of my car!) Maybe all the sparkles will distract Dustin from a lack-luster meal? Knowing his affinity for food, not likely.

And now it's time for our final stop, and the ultimate highlight of any Christmas tour, the tree!

Ta-da! The one thing I am truly passionate about when it comes to Christmas decorations (other than glitter) is that trees should be REAL. For years and years, my family went and cut down a tree of Griswold proportions. (seriously....I could have saved us all some time by skipping this post and just having you watch Christmas Vacation. Seems like my memories come from there as often as they do from real life!) Getting a tree truly is one of my favorite things to do, but this year we saved a little time, and a lot of money and went to Lowe's. They had a TON of trees, and really good deals (sorry neighborhood boy scout year we promise!) and I actually love our tree. Little full, lot of sap.

As for the decorations, it seems like everyone has a tradition when it comes to ornaments. I wish I could say the same, but it was never really that way growing up. Of course we had the ones I made, some keepsake ones, and some favorite ones, but I didn't get one every year, and my family didn't really have any sort of rhyme or reason to acquiring them. I've wanted to create some sort of tradition with Dustin, but we've been slacking on it for a few years. Our families have given us a few, we've bought some generic items here and there, and the rest are (more) props I designed for work. Between that hodge podge, the colored lights, and the circus-tent inspired tree skirt, we just might have the tackiest tree in the neighborhood. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

We did buy a new ornament this year, to commemorate our new house (are you sick of hearing about that yet? I might never tire of it!). You would be surprise how few house ornaments JoAnn Fabrics has: this one was it. But we've decorated it, and now it's hanging proudly on our tree. (oh, and I know it's not technically our first Christmas, but it's our first one in this house, hence the house ornament. Just focus on the cute marker work I did on those bricks!)

Well, that is about it for the tour. Thanks for coming over. Sorry there were no gifts for you to open, and now that I think about it, I didn't even offer you hot chocolate! What kind of host am I? You'll have to forgive me...this was my first year after all.

Merry Christmas!


  1. Great post Courtney! I love everything about your house, starting with the wreaths/lights outside - I think the simplicity is so elegant and classy! I love your pear bowl and your chandelier too.. I would have LOL'd about Dustin carrying the rug but I'm in bed with the laptop and Matt is asleep.

    We got our trees at Lowes too this year - can't beat that price! You can just make that your tradition...
    Thanks for sharing - I loved all your details and stories...

  2. hi there - thanks for sharing christmas with us! i loved your home, but my favorite decoration was your big lighted star in the corner. i love stars and that was awesome. nice work.

    have a wonderful christmas!

  3. Nice to meet you Courtney! I can't even believe you used the word elegant and my tree in the same sentence....I didn't even remember what the word elegant meannt until I stopped by here!!!

    This is elegant....I love those wreaths and your chandelier and the pear bowl...those are elegant.

    Great tidbits about you guys mingled in with all the pretty decorations!

    Have a wonderful holiday season!

  4. i absolutely adore your house courtney! love your decorating style - definitely looks like we would have a cozy visit if we came to see you (someday...) :)

    my family too, is pretty much just like the Griswolds and we watch Christmas vacation every year!

    Enjoy your first Christmas just you two together, and Merry Christmas to you and Dustin!!!

  5. Before we had kids my husband and I made it our "Tradition" that we always had Christmas morning the two of us at our house...I loved it. We did church on Christmas Eve with a nice dinner... Christmas morning we had cinnamon rolls, read Luke 2 and opened our gifts. Then later in the day we went to his parents for dinner and we drove the 5 hrs to my parents the next day.

    Since having kids, both sets of grandparents have come to our house Christmas morning to watch the kid and then kids open their gifts. We then have the afternoon to ourselves as a family. It's been nice!

    Enjoy your day just the two of you!

  6. i think my favorite thing is the big star on the floor, too. but i do love wreaths. it's a toss-up. :) beautiful, classic house and style. i'd come over any day!

    (i popped over from megan's. thanks for having me!)

  7. Oh Courtney, you've done a fabulous job decorating! I love it all: the new Tarjay rug, the pears in the hurricane, the lovely chandelier! just gorgeous.

    For spring, I recommend glittery eggs in that hurricane! fabulous!

    :Merry Christmas!:

    ps. I'm friends with Rachel and Jay!

  8. What a lovely Christmas decoration! I Love your Christmas tree.

  9. Courtney...are you accepting tenants? Because I would like to live at your house. GORGEOUS! And I love the rug, love it!!! And that chandelier is spectacular, so classy, so beautiful. You did a wonderful job decorating and I can feel the Christmas spirit from here in Baltimore! Thank you so much for sharing Christmas with us...and I loved how you narrated by saying "I bet you're getting cold standing outside..." Your home is beautiful inside and out...wonderful job! (Amy from the Vileation Nation...and thanks for stopping by our blog, too!)

  10. Your house is beautiful! Thanks for sharing it! I love all your decorations, especially the pear bowl centerpiece and the chandelier (sp?)! My favorite is the light too, and growing up my fam never put lights up outside, but I swore that once I had my own place and my family that I would start my own traditions. I actually do have lights around the front of my house and the railing, but I didn't take any pics of them. The best was climbing on top of my carport roof to get the icicle lights the snow and cold! What we do for Christmas!
    Have a wonderful holiday!!

  11. Courtney, to reply to your comment about the Polar Express movie, I can vouche that it is not creepy at all as I have probably watched it at least 500 times since we received it a few Christmases ago.

    It is one of my kids (okay, and mine, too) favorite movie. In fact, we listen to the soundtrack in the car year round (and yes, it does contain all Christmas music, but they love it!).

    There is just one creepy part when they land in one of the cars on the train that contains all broken toys. the boys were always frightened by that part!

    we even have a polar express board game!

    Merry Christmas