Getting Ready for the Holidays

I’m usually last-minute when it comes to holiday decorating.  But this year, (thanks to an ongoing partnership with Lowes) I have been planning and getting started earlier than usual.  This is particularly helpful since I like to bring nature inside and use it all around the house in festive ways.  Acting now, means that I can easily find materials in the woods and garden without the risk of having to dig through the snow.  So this is my four-part plan for next couple weeks.

gathered materials for winter decorations

Make Like a Squirrel and Get Gathering.

Fall is such a pretty time to enjoy the outdoors.  Not only are the colors beautiful but with the furnace starting to turn on in the house, my lungs gasp for the crisp fresh air.   A nice walk through the woods or a spin around the garden is ample opportunity to gather holiday decorations.  Look for mosses, sturdy seed heads, branches with berries, and just berries, pinecones, chestnuts, bark, nests, nuts, grass heads, succulent babies and basically anything whose texture or color appeals to you.  This is my garden palette so far, but I still need to take jaunt down the road for some winterberry and sumac and then I can really get decorating.


Refresh the backdrop

When the holiday season actually arrives in a few weeks there is little time for anything but celebrations, shopping and preparations.  If at all possible, this isn’t the time to start even the smallest house upgrade which will add to seasonal stress and mess.  Which is why I opted to freshen up our eat in kitchen area now.

This room is our epicenter, it is the coziest place in the house and our lives happen around this table.  After nearly 9 years since the last refresh, the paint is tired and we need the area to function a little better.

I hosted a group of girlfriends for a pre-holiday gathering last week and unveiled phase 1 of the upgrade – the paint.  The dingy cream and tan walls and dinged up baseboards got a fresh slick of bright modern white (the color is Chantilly Lace). I went all in for the Modern Scandinavian look I have been coveting for years and I painted out the large wood window to sleek black (this is my inspiration).  My love of woodsy decor looks so much sharper with this clean backdrop where before it was lost in all the browns. Those pillow covers are new too….I cut up a knitted blanket that I loved in to four squares to make cozy sweater cushions.

There is more to come on this project (and I am hoping to find a brighter day for the second round of photos so you can see how lovely it really is) – Phase 2 is in the works and involves a little construction — I plan to have it done in the next 2 weeks so I can share a final pre-holiday makeover with you before Thanksgiving.


Friends gathering for Lowes Pre-Holiday Party

Clean & Clear

Some prefer spring cleaning, but for me, that time is so busy with gardening prep that it just doesn’t happen.  I prefer pre-holiday cleaning with a healthy side of clutter clearing.  The closets are pared down making room for the holiday gifts to come, the winter clothes come back, everything gets a refresh in preparation for impromptu guests and all the extras go to a local charity. Everyone wins.  A little extra project I am doing this year — cleaning as many windows as I can (I am embarrassed to say many have never been done).  I tested this little Pinterest window cleaning trick that uses Jet Dry, and I can tell you it works. Exterior windows are done in a fraction of the time I would have expected. I also took the time to polish up my grandmothers silver tea service that was recently handed down to me.  The cream and sugar vessels make the best tiny vases.

Showcase Treasures


My gatherings are slowing making their way into projects.  The chestnuts are so pretty around the base of this hurricane lantern from Lowes.   Later, I can swap them out for other pretties as well.



I also have no shame about combining fake florals with real ones.  These red berries are the perfect pairing for all sorts of fresh flowers.  I started with orange Dahlias and when those were gone I swapped in chrysanthemums. I can’t wait to see what will be fresh next week for the pairing.

Tomorrow I will share with you my trick for making that Birch bark vase.

Tell me, How are you preparing for the holidays? Or are you like the normal me and wishing it to just hold off for a bit longer?

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

1 Comment

  1. Megan on November 3, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Great post! I liked it for many reasons but #1 is the image and label of Callicarpa Americana. I went to the Morton Arboretum a few weeks ago and was stunned by those purple berries. It was the first time I’d ever seen that plant…but I had no idea what it was. And here we are 🙂 thanks!

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