Sunday, October 21, 2007

For everything there is a season

The orange and black plastic storage bins pushed me over the edge. For some reason, that Target flyer inspired a full-fledged consumer rant from me. I'll give you the highlights.

Take a natural change of the seasons, one that people traditionally marked with homespun activities and homemade foods.

Convince us that we should celebrate with plastic decorations and plastic-wrapped candies instead. Tempt us with new and better decorations than the ones we bought last year.

Make and market plastic storage containers to hold all our seasonal stuff.

Repeat four times a year.

Bonus: upsize homes with more room for storage.

I'm wondering where I fall in all the seasonal madness. Do you have a line you refuse to cross, or is collecting holiday decorations an integral family tradition?

39 comments:

MoneyCommonSense said...

I think I may be the grinch who stole all of the holidays around here, but I really try to live minimally. So for me collecting decorations for this and that holiday just doesn't fit with that.
I have enough with the bins of clothing stored away for the seasons or for the younger children to also have to deal with binds of holiday clutter.

Anonymous said...

I have one or two beautiful seasonal items, aside from Christmas, that I keep from year to year. The rest of the time, I have the kids make things to hang or change it out with fresh flowers, plants or fruits and vegtables. Living in a smallish house, with no extra storage, forces me to be creative and not a collector.
Leslie in AZ

Kim said...

I have to really, really like something seasonal to buy it. It helps if it can be used for more than one season or is something that isn't geared toward a specific holiday. I love ideas like putting rustic fruits or decorative squashes in a lovely apothecary jar or a cake dish, or some such. You always inspire with your ideas, Meredith. Just keep wooing us away from the store junk with your innovative and creative charms. :)

Gena said...

I have to admit - I have LOTS of decorations for most of the seasons. But... most of them were either made for me, given to me or bought on sale over my 22+ years of being a mother and owning a home. If I buy anything new, it has to be on clearance or it is to replace something that is broken. My biggest weakness is Christmas. Now, though, I'm giving away some of my decorations to my older children so that they can decorate their own apartments. I'm not replacing what I give away.

I do, however, draw the line at buying more storage containers, in seasonal colors, to store stuff. If I'm out of room, it's time to get rid of something.

Alexandra said...

We seem to use the same decorations year after year. It's sentimental...many of the decorations are handmade or have special memories.

Mirissa said...

We love to decorate our house for the holidays and so, personally, I love the color-coded bins. We have a few bins for Halloween (we were married on Halloween (traditional wedding, tho), so it's special to us), lots for Christmas and one bin for Easter. A good portion of what I pull out of the bins is handmade by the kids and I love to display it at the right time of year. We also have quite a large number of sentimental objects from my husband's childhood (his parents have passed away). Having color-coded bins ensures that I pull down the right bins without having to search around. In the past we'd always miss a bin somehow. I am good about not adding to our collections, unless it's to replace something (and it's a good price). Too much is too much!

Angela said...

I have one medium sized bin of things to decorate a Christmas tree and a few Christmas decorations. I have a grapevine wreath on the door that I change the ribbon on with the seasons and stick in a few colorful things (leaves now) if I find them. For other seasons, I like to decorate naturally. Right now other than a leafy wreath, we have a variety of pumpkins we picked, and they are sitting on the nature table with leaves and a book with autumn stories. Yay for you being always a good reminder to keep things simply beautiful.

laurel said...

I just had a discussion with my five year old this week about halloween decorations. I can not stand plastic yard ornaments, and other holiday decor. For fall, I would much rather have some bare branches in a vase, with pressed leaves hung from them. Or platters full of nuts, apples, root veggies, etc. For Easter, eggs nestled in rye grass is enough for me. At Christmas, we decorate in a very audubon, woodsy way...pheasant feathers on the tree, little birds nests that we found, tucked into the tree, presents wrapped with kraft paper and grograin ribbon...pinecones and candles, etc. I don't think we can make/buy anything more beautiful than the original Creator made, so we just borrow from him :)

Anonymous said...

well i buy a few things here and there to put a smile on my kids face, but as far as black and orange totes,....i wait till they go on clearance before the red and green xmas ones come out...since my kids clothes dont really care what colour they are stored in

celina in canada

Mrs. Brigham said...

I am not big on clutter and live in a 1000 square foot apartment, so we only keep around those items that mean something special to us, and refrain from purchasing a bunch of new stuff when it comes to holiday decorations as well as everything else. We have hardly purchased a thing as far as non-naturally occurring holiday decorations go, but instead have been fortunate to receive many items from family members. My mom started a tradition of buying an ornament for my sister & I every year, and this is the bulk of our holiday decor purchasing each year, unless a special item is needed. For holidays, I have always made crafty things since I was a little girl, and intend to keep this tradition going with my daughter. I typically save the creme de la creme of these creations. We also purchase pumpkins, gourds, amaryllis, etc each year, and do gather some pinecones, acorns, leaves, and other bits of nature for yearly crafting. Or if you are my daughter, for attempting to eat. ;o)

SongBirdy said...

Oh, I am on the same page about this right now too.

I do switch up my decorations. I have a box/area in the basement with various trinkets and such and I will change my 'displays' when *I* feel the need for change.

I have some that I find work better in the fall and some I think are winter decorations. I have some I like for the spring, but usually I do forced bulbs that time of the year. Then I have some summer stuff too.

But all of it has been free. None of it commercial but usually of meaning in that it came from a family member or handed down gifts.

UGH!! We've had those bins up here for ages, green and red for christmas, ones with easter eggs on them for Easter, pink and red with hearts for Valentines day, Shamrock and clear ones for St. Paddy's day, pink and yellow for spring... you name it!

Carrien said...

HOorah we don't do this at all. Even a little tiny bit.

We keep Jewish holidays instead and aside from a minorah for hanukah and edible crafts, we don't bother with storage at all. No Christmas tree, no easter baskets. Jewish celebrations tend to center around table and home so the good silver and special dishes are quite adequate for pesach, along with fresh flowers and live centerpieces of fruit or harvest items for Rosh hashanna. I have a collection of beautiful candle sticks for the different feasts and table cloths and that is all. Which is great, because I don't have ANY storage space.

Anonymous said...

I tend to go with "kid made" decorations this time of year--carved pumpkins, paper ghosts stuck in the windows, scarecrows made with old clothes and a pumpkin head, that sort of thing. Christmas is a little fancier, with lots of family heirloom ornaments, but also many, many child-made ornaments crafted with glitter, glue, and love. My mom always had breathtaking Christmas trees, with the kids' handmade ornaments tucked in the very back against the wall. I swore as a girl that I would fill my tree with my childrens's ornaments, no matter how "tacky" others might find it. Miss Kris

Katie said...

Like many people who've posted, I don't have much time for clutter. And being military that's a good thing. We have a handful of decorations for Halloween, Easter, and Valentine's Day, all of which combined can go in one smallish cardboard box.
Christmas things take up a few boxes. Almost everything in it is stuff that has been around for a while- things I grew up with, my mother made, and some purchased things. We have two collections- ornaments and Christmas books. Eventually I suppose a larger Christmas tree will be in order!

lesley said...

The one and only thing I like about the "colored bins" is that at the end of that colored holiday the bins go on sale!! :0) If I need a bin for something, I buy it then. ;0)

Mrs. H. said...

I never thought about the colored bins going on sale...just wait until November 1st. I'm going to Target to stock up on cheap orange bins...I could care less what color they are, I label them anyway.

We have bins for seasonal clothes, and a few bins for Christmas decorations. We use a live tree each year, and most of our decorations are either handmade by the kids, or came off of dh's or my childhood trees. Our parents gave us a lot of our decorations when we married. I would like to pass down decorations when my children move out and have their own trees, but with five children, my own tree may be bare!

Karen said...

What a timely post, Meredith! I just had a similar rant last night. Fortunately, I have a loving and tolerant husband, who just nods his head understandingly.

Why, why, why do we need cheaply-produced, plastic replicas of what nature provides for free? Our dining room table is now adorned with buckeyes, miniature pinecones, and a few scented candles. Our windows are decorated with pressed leaves in wax paper, hung from ribbons. It looks beautiful and brings me joy to see it.

When the season ends, we'll put everything in the compost bin, returning it to nature where it belongs rather than cluttering up another closet. No orange & plastic plastic bins for me. Yuck!

At Christmas time, we use a snowflake theme. For those of you who might like to make some gorgeous snowflake Chrismons for your tree, try patterns from
http://www.christiancrafters.com/chrismon.html. Our Christmas tree looks very much like the one featured on the website. Simple and beautiful!

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

I absolutely refuse to buy sets of Christmas or Thanksgiving dining ware. Although last year I did buy a Christmas soap dispenser on clearance. I found it this year and am wondering if I shouldn't just put it in the garage sale pile. My storage boxes are all second hand or cardboard boxes that have been written on multiple times to tell us whats contained inside. It does tend to get too much. I do love storage containers though.. and you might find me in Target after Halloween just so I have an easy box to throw our few Halloween/Thanksgiving decorations in. I'm noticing that I'm getting more and more decor for the holidays are Big Girl begins to bring home her school crafts.

Anonymous said...

Having raised my children during the 80's years of excess, I have a shocking amount of decorations for every holiday, stored in many boxes and bins. Guess what? Every holiday I am throwing out or giving away at least two boxes full of things. What was once so important to me, is no longer. How many tole painted wooden figures does one need?! I want my own children to be content with less of everything, and go more for simple beauty. Right now my husband is making his wonderful pumpkin bread.

Ruth

Kerry said...

Why do we want to have the same decorations as everyone else?

I have a friend who has a lovely, perfectly decorated home...but everytime I go into it I am struck by the "fakeness" of it all. The delightful objects have not been collected on trips nor are they family heirlooms. The wall hangings are not chosen because they delighted, but because they were the perfect accessory. While everything is beautiful - it feels so hollow.

This is how I feel about all those decorations at stores like Target. I much prefer the hand-me-down and kid-made decorations that decorate my home (and tree).

Now sometimes I'll also purchase Christmas decorations, but I try to find ones that are not "run of the mill", but interesting and meaningful.

My line in the sand...I REFUSE to by the junky seasonal decorations that have no other purpose than to announce a holiday. (in other words must of what Target sells! hahaha!)

Anonymous said...

You have NOT lost your mind...nooo way! In my opinion, the most fun thing in the world is to decorate for the seasons with much of the same stuff, year after year. It's just a sentimental thing with me. Projects the kids made in school...even a couple things that I made in school! For Fall, if I want something new, I go outside, get a new bunch of colorful leaves, & bring those in the house. It adds just the right amount of cheer, & maybe best of all, when they're tired-looking, I put them in the compost or the to-be-burned trash pile.

Brenda

pogren said...

I do decorate for most all of the holidays.....my grandchildren (9 and 11) love to help and really "light up" when they see the finished product. One of my favorites is a small artificial pine tree that sits at the base of our stairway going to the second story of our home...In the sping I cover it with hand painted spring flowers, Easter I have little eggs and chicks, July 4h American flags, etc it is a small tree and easy to change but it provides a nice welcome in our foyer. Pam, South Bend

Amy said...

I completely agree. I also think it is ridiculous that we have to buy special storage bins for all of this stuff that we keep.

I am trying to be more creative with the things that we already have or creating my own pieces that can be used yearly. We also bring a lot of the outdoors inside to create seasonal looks in our home.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I refuse to spend $75 for a hideous blow up yard ornament!! Less is more.

Marsha said...

My holiday-centered decorations tend to be homemade by me or my kids. This time of year, we cut bats and ghosts out of paper to decorate their playroom and glitter up some jack-b-little pumpkins and acorns for our dining table. I might put out an orange pillar candle in a homemade grapevine "holder" if I'm feeling spunky. The rest of our traditions are food-related: pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, candied apples, and so on. Oh! And I have a jack-o-lantern candy dish my grandmother made sometime in the late 70s when the ceramics craze got going. That's a pretty cool thing to have.

Last year I was given this Frankenstein fiber optic thing and it just kills me. I'm too cheap to get rid of it, too sane to use it.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'll have to respectfully dissent.

We have a lot of fun with seasonal decorations ... and the lavishness is part of the fun.

This year, I bought (at the thrift stores), 2 tombstones that glow with eerie lights at the base. I also thrifted a fake cauldron that appears to have a real fire in it. (It's actually a lightbulb, small fan, and a cloth flame.) They look eerie and scary ... and they're delighting my kids and their friends. One year, DH dressed up as an ogre and sat outside to hand out candy, with our smoke machine making fake fog all down the porch. Spooky.

Yes, I moan about the clutter of several large bins of Halloween decorations and costumes. But the familly gets so much enjoyment out of our holiday decorations that I'll put up with the clutter for a few more years.

Since very few of our decorations are precious, the kids can go hog-wild and decorate for me. Last Christmas, I gave DD a $20 budget and took her round to the thrift shops. She found plenty of decorations within budget and had a terrific time setting up the living and dining rooms.

So, I'd prefer a garish living room, happily decorated by the kids with 2nd-hand finds instead of a few precious, seasonal decorations.

Jora

OH< Marsha. Don't your kids enjoy the fiberoptic Fankenstein? I think even my DH would.

Meredith said...

No need to feel like the lone dissenter, Jora. Thanks for speaking up!

I just wanted to bring up the subject--question why we feel the need to buy all this stuff--at what point does it become family tradition and not mindless buying.

{Karla} said...

awesome post!

Fortunately, because we have moved so much, I don't have much stuff like this.

I've managed to not fall into this area of trappings (though I have in others...)

Blessings,
Karla

Anonymous said...

I probably have too many Christmas decorations. It's a weakness. I love that holiday, but I've been downsizing the collection. For the Halloween/Thanksgiving holidays, I have 4 miniature, real pumpkins--2 orange and 2 white. That's it. For Easter, I have a lone bunny that sits on my dining table.

Ewokgirl said...

I only decorate for two holidays: Christmas and Halloween. We made most of our Halloween decorations, and they only took about 10 minutes to put out. I thought about carving a pumpkin this year, but I decided the porch was fine with the decorations already out there. I didn't feel the need to add to it at all.

As for Christmas, I only decorate in the living room. I don't buy new things each year. I usually try to make a new ornament for the tree each year, but that's about it. Or if I find a cool new Star Wars ornament for my husband's little Star Wars tree. Even if I wanted to add to the decor (other than ornaments) each year, we just don't have the room for it.

While I do admire those homes that have lavish holiday decor, I don't have the will (or the money) to spend the time it would require to put it all up and take it all down. I have a friend who has a Christmas village she puts out each year. It's wonderful to look at, but it takes her an entire day to set it up. I am far too impatient to do something like that.

As for the colored holiday storage bins, I can see how it would help a person to see at a glance which holiday's decorations are in each bin. However, I find that a cardboard box with "Christmas" written on it works just fine.

2boysmama said...

I like the orange bins or green/red bins because after the holiday they are on super clearance!

But I understand your point--the thinking the merchants get us into--and I find it annoying. Trying to convince us that we need to completely change our decor for every holiday. That children need "holiday" themed pjs and matching sheets. Ok, those can be fun, but we dont' *Need * them.

Karen said...

I must admit that my children do have Christmas-themed pillow cases, but they were hand-made gifts from a loving grandmother.

I think the line I won't cross is the mass-marketed, slave-labor produced, plastic stuff that comes from places like Michael's, Target, & Walmart. And, you definitely won't find a giant, blow-up, vinyl snow globe in my front yard come December, although my kids enjoy looking at the one my neighbors put out every year!

We certainly have some special items that were passed down from older family members and inspire reminisces about times past. However, we generally try to make seasonal decorations from natural items, which are precious, but not fragile for little hands.

We have rituals for each holiday, like carving pumpkins and roasting the seeds for Halloween; picking out a tree and cutting paper snowflakes for Christmas; decorating eggs and making chocolate candies for Easter; and attending a family cookout and going to see fireworks for Independence Day. None of those traditions require a huge outlay of money or large storage bins, but they mean a great deal to our family.

The Mom said...

We don't do Christmas, and every year I am gladder than I was the year before that we don't! With 14 of us, the house is pretty full already, but the thought of seasonal decorating and mega gift giving makes me shudder.

LOL I am not a miser, but there is so much hype about buying things that won't last for people who don't need them with money we don't have. . I refuse to go into big stores between November and February unless I absolutely have to.

On the other hand it is a great time of year for checking out charity/thrift stores
Love
H

Joanna said...

I don't have enough Halloween decorations to need a storage bin...but I've been thinking one of the purple ones at Target (apparently, that's a Halloween color, too) might make a good dress-up clothes storage area for my daughter -- which is something I've been looking for.

For Halloween, I'm thinking I'd like to decorate with pictures of my daughter in each year's costume. Flash Portrait Photography in our mall takes them free every year. (You just get *one* photo, though.) So far, we only have one of these pictures, because she's not that old!

We have too many Christmas tree ornaments, because my grandmother's friend's daughter --who was a teacher, and got way more than she wanted as student gifts -- gave me some years ago to "get a tree started." Now that we actually have ornaments of our own, DH still won't let me get rid of these!

carrie said...

Excellent point, Meredith. We're pretty minimalist around here with various seasonal decorations, though I do pull out more stops for the winter holidays. I rarely buy new decor items, though, unless they're a bargain and have a place and purpose.

Lynn Marie said...

At Christmas time I do love to have something in every room. After 35 years of marriage, I do have a lot but most were gifts to me over the years. I have one child who is very good finding bargans and will get me something with a snowman on it after Christmas on clearance and hold it till March (my birthday) Since I live in the North East I can still look at my snowman gift for a little while before I put the winter decorations away. Christmas is the only season that I really go all out for, the others are more seasonal for spring, fall, etc. Good thing we have a big attic!!

Jane said...

I used to get caught up in all of this. Then I got interested in Feng Shui. I am not hard core about it, but I read the book Move Your Stuff Change Your Life and it did change my life. Mostly because of the clutter busting message. I realized that this cute knick knack or that little thingy didn't really make that much overall impact on my house. So I thought about when I got the most pleasure from shopping and that was usually in the store when the thought of gradure was in my head.

For me staying out of the stores at this time of year really helps. Also, discovering Thrifting has really helped. The challenge of the hunt is so much fun and the price cant be beat!

artgirlATL said...

I'm just nuts about holiday decorations. But I use the same one every year. The decorations may get some new little friend to join them carfted by the kids or given to us by friends.

lunachick said...

I am guilty of owning the orange and black bins and the green ones for Christmas but I don't agree with the marketing of Christmas stuff before Halloween! In fact, I think our local grocery store put out the Halloween costumes just after Labor Day! We went into Michaels and guess what, two days before Halloween they were playing Christmas music! CRAZY! We wanted to leave as soon as possible! I was late putting out decorations for Halloween this year, just a little hanging pumpkin guy to accent my fall wreath on the front door. Oh, and the dying mums (because I keep forgetting to water them) really add to the spooky Halloween decor. My hubby and I really enjoy decorating our tree for Christmas and that has become a favorite tradition for us. All of the ornaments have a sentimental value and each year is a walk down memory lane. We even have his plastic apple ornament from when he was in kindergarten 22 years ago (mine cracked unfortunately)! Mostly the holidays have become more about family and less about stuff. Hopefully that will continue when we have children.