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It’s beginning to look a lot like holiday decorating season. Soon your street will be filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas–illuminated snowmen, inflatable reindeer and infinite strands of garland–and that’s just your house! Extreme holiday decorating can get competitive as fellow homeowners unleash their inner Clark Griswold to deck the halls, doors, roofs and, yes, even the deck. Want to get your home into holiday mode without going over the top this year? Before you start replacing all the lawn gnomes with elves, consider these dazzling decorating tips.


1. Go Minimal

Put away the staple gun–instead of spending hours hanging lights, set up a few colored spotlights in the front yard and direct them at the house. Use specialty projectors to cast festive holiday graphics onto a plain surface, like the garage door, or limit your lights to flameless candle sticks in the windows.


2. Choose a Theme

If you still want to stage an amazing spectacle in your front yard, refine your  decor from a random assortment of Christmas scenes, and focus on one holiday theme or color scheme. As fun as it is to see three wise men hanging out with Santa’s elves, it might confuse passersby and young neighbors. Transform your lawn into a winter wonderland or a Christmas village, not both.


3. Deconstruct Your Decorations

Leave last year’s light strands tangled. Place them inside clear boxes and wrap with burlap bows to create twinkling Christmas presents. Or, just place your strands in plain glass boxes, large vases or decorative lanterns to use as centerpieces and mantle decorations. Make use of those outdoor ornaments, silver bells and styrofoam snowballs with the same idea. Line your front path and porch railings with them for a spirited walk way.


4. Choose Meaningful Decorations

Take a page from “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and, when picking this season’s decorations, ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” Why put things on display simply because you have them? Instead, choose decorations that represent your family and your home. Don’t put something out that doesn’t make a difference. You won’t want to feel like you put extra effort into a scene you can’t even enjoy.


5. Go Natural

Stand out from the rest of your block with rustic Christmas decor. Trade inflatable Rudolph and friends for characters constructed from twigs. Wrap your columns and railings with greenery, flank your front door with festive fir topiaries or place giant wreaths in every window. You can still go all out with decorations while keeping things classic.


Stop trying to keep up with The Clauses. The best part about the holidays is being able to trade the nonsense of unnecessary tasks for feeling relaxed with the family. While the rest of your neighbors fumble with ladders, lights and 11 lords a-leaping on the roof, enjoy the holiday season doing what matters most—eating all the stuff you can fit on your plate.

How do you decorate for the holidays? Share your own tricks for a festive home in the comments.

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