Since moving out of my parent’s house I have never once decorated for any holiday. I kid you not. It’s not that I don’t like decorating and sprucing up my home — I think it’s the temporary aspect of a holiday that discourages me. In the same vein — I am absolutely the person who doesn’t make her bed or bother to wrap a present because it’s just going to be unmade/unwrapped shortly after. So there’s the lazy reason why. On the practical side, I work a full time job plus, which means I have to pick and chose my battles for the most time, energy, and sanity preservation as possible. Having home-cooked meals 2-3 times a day, for instance, is one battle I choose to focus on. Finding the time to carve pumpkins… not so much.
Except this year I did carve pumpkins — thanks to a friend who motivated me to. Maybe that’s what started this festive spirit, or maybe it was finally being home for December for the time since 2011. All I know is that not only was I motivated this year , but I found the easiest, cheapest, and funnest way to spruce up my home. If you’re in the same boat as me, take my word for — twinkle lights are totally worth the effort. It’s really not as much trouble as it seems and you won’t even believe how much joy they bring.
It’s times like these that remind me why city living is so wonderful. Exhibit A: Several Christmas tree lots open within blocks of my house. B: Every window in San Francisco is covered in twinkle lights at this time of year, bringing out the competitive nature in me which was enough to encourage me to finally tackle decorating myself. C: The nearest hardware was having a sale on lights as I happened to walk by. All of this plus one crafty and enthusiastic friend, a bottle of rosé, home-made pumpkin bread baking in the oven, and good tunes echoing down my long hallway, equals 100% magic.
- Head to your nearest tree lot and ask them for branches. Most of them will let you pick up as many of these as you want up for no charge.
- Twine and/or ribbon, strong scissors, and good tape
Cut different sized pieces off the branches and bundle about 3 or 4 of them together. Then tape the ends together to add structure. Wrap over the tape with twine, finally tying in a knot while leaving a long tail. Hang this from wherever you please, and feel at liberty to add a bow or other festive embellishments. I hung twine between plate rails and then tied the branches in the middle of those. If your walls aren’t made of plaster like mine, nails could probably be involved which would definitely give you more options.
Pine branches start to lose their wonderful aroma pretty quickly. Mist the branches softly with a spray bottle every day or so to keep your home smelling piney fresh.
Like I said, I picked these up at my local hardware store but there’s so many options out there. If you’re an online shopper like me, amazon sells some long white lights like the ones I strung down my hallway here (I needed two sets of these because I have a 64 foot long hallway. Victorians were not into open floor plans). Here is a similar set of colored globe bulbs I hung in my kitchen, but be careful – these are really fragile. And here are a really beautiful set of copper lights I’ve since bought to add to the bedroom ceiling this weekend.
I shot all of these images with a Canon Mark II. If you’re also shooting with a manual camera you should have control over the white balance. On a Canon, if you’re under the manual setting the white balance begins at AWB, meaning auto white balance. The better the camera, the smarter the computer inside is at guessing what the white balance is, but learning how to control this feature yourself can save you a lot of time in the editing room. If the white balance is off, this can be why interior photos end up looking so yellow. You’re options for indoor shooting are tungsten light and white florescent light — although if photos are turning out too cool you go chose shady or cloudy to add some warmth to the image. For me, the tungsten option always feels too magenta. I prefer to select white florescent when shooting indoors, which cools down the photo while keeping the colors true.
But finally, if the image ends up too yellow or too much of any color, Lightroom setting allow you to pull down on the saturation of any one specific color; a tool I use frequently.
This is what I spoke about earlier — finding balance in an overwhelming life. It would have been easy to not go to this effort to decorate; to keep working on the million things up in the air right now instead, or just completely veg out with something silly on netflix (these days I either seem to be completely on or completely off). But all it really took was just taking one hour off work to get the ball rolling, and the overall process was so easy and fun (again, said crafty friend and pumpkin bread definitely didn’t hurt the energy level — never be afraid to recruit help!). While the results are definitely not perfect or anywhere near over the top — it has given me such pleasure to come home to these fairy-like lights and the smell of pine as I walk through the house.
What quick, easy and fun tricks have you found to brighten the mood, the home, and/or to keep yourself sane during the holidays? If you’ve read this far I would assume you don’t hate twinkle lights, but tell me more about what you like/dislike about the expectations on how you behave, decorate, eat, etc. this time of year. Let me hear about it in the comments, and until next time stay in touch with me over at pinterest, twitter, instagram, or facebook.