Decking New Halls.

A lot of things go into picking the right new house – location, room sizes, neighbors, layout, etc. For me and my sister Heather, it’s all about where the Christmas tree will go. According to our theory, if you can walk into a house and instantly know where your tree will go, then it’s the right house. In the case of The Duckling, I knew it would probably go either in the corner of the living room or in front of the living room picture window.

Aside from that critical decision I had no idea how else we’d decorate this house for the holidays. That’s the hard thing about moving into a new place, all of your usual spots for your Christmas decorations aren’t there any longer. But it’s also the fun thing about moving into a new place – opening those boxes and pulling out your decorations is like Christmas itself because you get to look at all of your things through a new lens and with a new perspective on whether you want to use them or not.

So as we pulled the boxes out of the basement and started to think about where we’d put things, we pared down our decorations significantly and did our best to keep things simple. So here’s a photo tour of our holidays at The Duckling 2013.

mantle 1

It all starts with the mantle. The mantle (in my humble opinion) is the face of the holidays. It’s the place in your home that always draws the most attention. In our case, we were particularly challenged by the mantle in this house for three reasons. First, it’s not the most robust mantle – at only about five inches wide, it creates a significant challenge to find things that will fit on the mantle and not fall off. Second, the mantle sits less than a foot from the fire place screen, so there’s no way that we could easily hang all of our stockings. And third, we had yet to find the right piece to hang above the mantle permanently.

mantle 2

roses in vase

We solved these issues by finding the retro mirrored piece at our local HomeGoods – score! We knew exactly what we were looking for and despite scouring online, we weren’t finding anything that was reasonable priced. I wasn’t about to spend $250 on something that was “just ok.” Instead we took a chance at HomeGoods and found this beauty for less than $50! Don’t you just love when that happens? For the rest of the mantle, we used our much beloved faux red berries – they look good and don’t make a mess – best of both worlds! And then our reindeer to match. Finally, we placed a clear vase in the center – it served both the purpose of holding lovely flowers and also kept the berry garland from falling off the narrow mantle. Love when form and function come together for an awesome purpose.

photo (1)

Next on the tour of new holiday decor is the tree. Our tree didn’t change, but in addition to our beloved collection of family ornaments from both sides of our family, we added some shiny, silver, sparkly star garland this year and invested in a new star topper. The tree has been with us for five years (ever since our dog Finley was a puppy and tried to eat the live tree – not such a good plan!). This is probably the last year for this tree as it’s not exactly standing straight in its stand any longer and it’s gotten pretty beat up. But you can’t tell by looking at it – either in person or in photos – so it lives another year!


Since our piddly mantle is not capable of holding our stockings, we improvised with the stockings on the banister this year – which we really like. It was a simple, but tasteful way to continue the holiday decor into our entry hallway. I had contemplated adding a garland of greens, but it would have been to heavy in a relatively small space. So instead we dressed it up a bit with the red and gold ribbon. I’ve already got some thoughts on what else I might do next year to beef it up a bit, but for now, I’m happy with what we’ve got going on.



No matter the house we’re living in, there will always be a couple of staple decorations that I put out each year. The first are the Mr. and Mrs. Claus that were part of my parent’s decor every year. They probably date back to the 60’s and every year they get a little more mangy looking, but they were the very favorite decoration of my childhood, so they stay! The second is the mini tree standing next to them. Patrick made this in college and it’s something that he requires be put out every year and every year it also looks more mangy than the year before, but we fluff it up and bring it back to life. The third is a ceramic Santa statue that my friend Lee gave me one year for Christmas. Each of these is special for different reasons and as such, they will always have a home in our home.



One of the last decor items that we always put out are our holiday pillows. It’s probably one of the easiest things we do because we simply swap out the pillows that are out already or add pillows where none were. The dutch family pillows came from IKEA last year and were the last four that were in the store and were all display items. So we ended up getting them (including the feather inserts) at a huge discount – instead of spending what would have been $25 per pillow with insert, the awesome guy in the clearance counter made the executive decision to give them to us for $5 a piece. It made the mad dash that we made around the store all worth while! Then the snowman pillow matches our stockings and was purchased at one  of our favorite local stores, Brickhouse Antiques, located in the Village of Bellefonte.


And last – but never least – is the flower of the season. The poinsettia is always in our house, usually courtesy of our Auntie Susie and Cousins Chris and Jeff out in San Diego. And this year was no exception! The plant arrived the weekend before Christmas and has been a gorgeous addition to the center of our table. We’ll do our best to keep it alive and well through the winter, although that can always be a challenge when the heat is kicking!

So that’s the story of how The Duckling has been decked out for the holidays this year! I’m happy with how it turned out this year, but I’ve already got some ideas for next year. So I look forward to seeing how things progress in years to come!

Until then…


6 thoughts on “Decking New Halls.

  1. Beautiful! I love seeing what you have done. 12 years later in this house and our decorations are minimal. But maybe we’ll spruce them up next year. Happy New Year Carrie!!

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