December with the Downs: Christmas decorating on a budget

CoffeeCatDogKid | Christmas decorating on a budgetDecember brings a lot of joy to the Down home: Alec’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, and Christmas, all in the space of a few short weeks.

Last year every ounce of our attention went to planning the wedding and our subsequent disastrous cross-country trek. By the time Christmas rolled around a few days later, we had managed to cling to just enough energy for a breakfast at IHOP and a horrific Chinese takeout dinner—and nothing more.

We loved that first Christmas because we were finally together and newly married. But Alec takes Christmas very seriously. (“Christmas trumps everything,” he recently told me as he changed the radio station from his absolute favorite pop song to a boring Christmas carol.) And so we’ve set higher standards for this year’s Yuletide.

While I spent Thanksgiving in New Harmony, Utah, Alec set up the tree we had ordered from Target. The night I came home we turned on a Christmas playlist, pulled out the ornaments, and decorated the tree together.

See all those boxes? Well, only about half of them actually contain presents. Between the two of us we just won’t have enough gifts to really fill up the space under the tree, so we wrapped a few empty boxes and placed them as strategic fillers. Alec bought a bundle of firewood, too, and we stacked a few logs around the base.

I had bleached some pinecones back in October to use for fall decorations, but they also work pretty well for Christmas! I added a couple of leftover ornaments to this display for a pop of color.

Alec strung up the extra lights over our archway. At night before we sit down to watch Masterchef Junior I always make sure to turn off the overhead light and plug in the all the string lights. The soft yellow glow feels so cozy.

Not pictured: Alec’s chocolate advent calendar on the bookshelf, the Spongebob tree-topper Alec improvised without my approval, and our hoard of yummy holiday treats—apparently in England everyone does a big Christmas shopping trip to stock up on sweets, and then they pile them around the fireplace for easy access throughout the season. We don’t have a fireplace, so we just filled up a shelf on the bookcase!

Every day we each learn more about the other’s family Christmas traditions. Deciding which traditions to continue and which to tweak has brought so much excitement to my heart this Christmas season. I love being one half of the Downs!

—Kelsey

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