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Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I lug out the Christmas decorations and spend the day (weekend?) decorating. Most years, it’s plenty of time to create a cozy holiday home. But the year before last? It was a disaster!

My wreath was so big that the front door wouldn’t close.

I didn’t have an angel for the nativity scene.

My son broke the snow globe, somehow managing to splash glitter and glass all over the kitchen and living room.


Finally, after accidentally knocking over the Christmas tree, I gave up. Who needs a Christmas tree, anyway?!?

Unfortunately, I host both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at my house and my mom insisted that I needed to have a Christmas tree to celebrate the holiday. Thankfully, she came and helped me set it up, but I never wanted to go through that again!

Even if your holiday decorating isn’t as awful as mine was, it’s still helpful to have a plan (or at least avoid disaster). If decorating seems scarier than Halloween, try these tips to make decorating a little easier.

How to Decorate for a Holiday Without a Disaster

Decorate without knocking over your Christmas tree this year!

Start early

Especially if you have a lot of decorations, if decorating takes you a long time, or if you have a specific deadline, like a holiday party, start decorating early.

If you’re decorating for Christmas, feel free to start as soon as November 1 (anything before might get mistaken for Halloween decorations).

If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving dinner and have a lot of fall decorations, you might want to wait until the day after your Thanksgiving celebration. Otherwise, Christmas decorations are always welcome.

By starting early, you’ll leave yourself enough time to create the look that you want. You’ll also have time to clean up the decorating aftermath (is it just me, or do all decorations seem to produce a lot of dust and mess?).

Declutter your room (or home) before you start

The Nesting Place is a great book to read about decorating your home on a budget.Think about the desired look that you want to achieve and decide on the decorations that you’ll use. Make sure that you take inventory of the decorations that you already have before buying more, though.

One of my favorite ideas in The Nesting Place is to “quiet a room.”

Once your room (or entire home, if you’re ambitious) is free of clutter, especially seasonal decorations, you can get a better idea of what you need, where to place it, and what you already have on hand to use.

Then feel free to decorate (bonus points for using decorations that you already have – repurposing decorations is a great way to save money and cut down on clutter).

Devote enough time to each task

As you’re deciding how you want to decorate and creating your decorating plan, make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time to complete each task.

This goes along with starting early.

If you have a firm deadline, like a Christmas party on December 2, you’ll need to make sure that you hang your outside decorations both before the party and before it starts to snow. If it takes two days to hang the lights, give yourself a buffer, like a week, to get the decorations placed.

Create a decorating (and cleaning) plan

Organize your home and holiday decorations with the printable Organized Holiday Planner. Download your free copy to get ready for Christmas!

In addition to deciding how you want to decorate, create a plan for how you’ll do it.

Make a list of the items that you need, where you will find them (where you’ll buy them or even where they’re currently stored in your home), and where you will place them.

If it’s going to take you more than one day to finish decorating, add an extra column for the date that you want to have each item/room finished.

Also, plan your holiday cleaning around your decorating. Especially if they’ve been stored for a long time, decorations like artificial Christmas trees can be really dusty. Garland, tinsel, and glittery ornaments add to the mess.

Use the decorating and cleaning pages in the Organized Holiday Planner (get the holiday planner for free here) to stay on track.

Be a minimalist

Repurpose dishes from one holiday to the next

In addition to decluttering your room as you’re getting ready to decorate, don’t be afraid to declutter your decorations. Think about what you actually want and use, and don’t hesitate to toss or donate the rest.

Another trick is to have as many multi-purpose decorations as possible. Think about using seasonal decorations that can be used for multiple holidays, like fall decorations that cover both Halloween and Thanksgiving. Also, repurpose your decorations, like using a star-shaped candy dish for Christmas and a Fourth of July party.

You can even take this a step further and declutter your decorating plan if it gets too overwhelming. There’s no need to spend weeks decorating for a holiday, only to spend another three weeks taking down the decorations. Simplify and enjoy the holiday!

Organize the decorations for next year

Organize your holiday decorations with ease with the Organized Holiday Planner. Keep a list of where you store your decorations, where to put them, and when you need to finish decorating.

Before, during, and after you decorate, spend some time organizing your decorations. Especially once you’ve decluttered your decorations, make sure that you store them so that you can actually find them.

Chances are if you’ve lived in your home for a long time, you’ve accumulated lots of decorations. If you can, get them all out and organize them according to season and type.

As you’re putting them away, spend some time labeling them so that you will be able to easily find them next time. I love the versatility of chalkboard labels, but my friend swears by a label maker.

Also, make a note on the Organized Decorations sheet in the Organized Holiday Planner (download your free copy here). It’ll make decorating so much easier next year.

Decorating for a holiday can be a challenge, especially when you are on a time crunch. But by starting early, decluttering your room, devoting enough time to each task, creating a plan, minimizing your decorations, and organizing for the future, you’ll be well on your way to decorating beautifully – without having a disaster!

Getting ready for a holiday party doesn't have to end in disaster with these tips! Download a free holiday planner to make cleaning and decorating even easier.