decorating for Christmas in a “new ” house

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Decorating, Holiday, Winter | 35 comments

When I was in high school, we moved into a newly-built house the day after Christmas.  It was a little strange, but it felt like a part of Christmas.  My new room was the best gift of the year and a place to put my new clothes and CD player.  We moved into this house in mid-September, but it feels like we just moved in.  We’re still getting organized and settled.  There are still so many projects to do, a few boxes to unpack, and things to be organized.  The Christmas season, while welcome, feels like a bit of a disruption.  On top of stripping wallpaper and painting trim, I need to put up and decorate a tree, buy and wrap gifts, and do advent stockings (Calvin sent me a text this morning reminding me of that!)

It’s exciting and my favorite time of year, but it feels a little overwhelming.  So, I’m just doing what I can this season and taking it one step at a time knowing that it will be more fun in future years when more of the house is finished.

I talked the guys into setting up the tree for me over the long weekend.  My 8′ tree is skimming our 8′ ceilings, but we can make it work.  We had removed the pre-lit lights from the tree in January since all buy one strand wasn’t working.  I wrote a post about this last year and you can read it HERE.  Suffice it to say that I love this tree and it was worth the work, but I will never buy a pre-lit tree again.  Taking the lights off left the branches all wonky, though, since we had to go branch by branch and cut off each strand of lights.

decorating for christmas in a new house | miss mustard seed

It took a while and gave my shoulders a good workout, but I was able to get the tree fluffed and looking beautiful.  Other than the fact that the shape is a little too perfect, it really does look so real.

decorating for christmas in a new house | miss mustard seed

I strung new lights on it and added a few dried orange slices.  I’m going to get out more ornaments today and put more batteries in my collection of clip-on candle lights.

I decided to put it in this corner so we wouldn’t lose any seating.  Since the dining room is in flux, we just moved the dresser into the dining room.  Ideally, I would probably take the plates and such off the wall, but I just put them there and I’m not ready to take them down!

decorating for christmas in a new house | miss mustard seed

I put a little tabletop tree in my studio and will add a few simple decorations to that.

decorating for christmas in a new house | miss mustard seed

decorating for christmas in a new house | miss mustard seed

You can see I still need to finish painting the walls and trim.  We’ll get there!

decorating for christmas in a new house | miss mustard seed

And, when I felt a little paralyzed yesterday, I made a test batch of salt dough ornaments.  I made most of them too thin so they curled up a bit as they were baking.  I’m going to try another batch of them to get it right, but I am loving the new molds.

salt dough ornaments | miss mustard seed

While most of these turned out a bit too thin, it still felt good to make things.

salt dough ornaments | miss mustard seed

The wreaths are a particular favorite even if they aren’t specifically Christmas.

salt dough ornaments | miss mustard seed

I don’t know what this season feels like for you.  Maybe you are in your stride and all of the decorating and gifting feels easy and is springing out of an abundance of excitement.  Or maybe you’re sapped, drained, and overwhelmed and you’re just doing the best you can, whatever that looks like.  If you’re at one end of the spectrum, the other, or somewhere in between, I hope you give yourself heaps of grace.  Just pile it on, spread it on thick, wrap up in it, and wear it.  Enjoy the moments you enjoy.  Be thankful when the energy surges, even if only for a minute.  Celebrate whatever you accomplish whether it’s impressive to anyone else or not

And I’ll try to do the same.

salt dough ornaments | miss mustard seed


  1. Laurie Mo

    I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been where you are and I understand some of how you are feeling.

    I was always one of those people that made a BIG deal over EVERYTHING to do with CHRISTmas. I had trees in just about every room, including my son’s rooms and my sons grew up only knowing things one way, but then we decided to build a new home.

    We put our house on the market and to our surprise we sold within 24 hours to the first people that toured it, so after living there for 14 years, we were suddenly faced with having ONLY had 45 days to pack, move ALL of our things into storage and move into our small temporary rental.

    Since we were building a house, there was a 6 month delay in actually moving into our new home. At that time, 25 years ago, we didn’t have things like PODS and even storage units were few are far between, so we packed and stored things all over the county. Sadly since things were moving so fast, I lost control of what and where everything was going.

    We FINALLY moved into our new home on Thanksgiving day and over that long weekend, but somehow we seemed to have “lost” our CHRISTmas boxes. So while I was frantically unpacking and putting things away as I searched for the important CHRISTmas boxes, every day my sons would come home from school asking if we found them. My youngest son told me his “psyche was being damaged” with the sad drama that only an almost 13 year old can muster.

    So seven days before CHRISTmas and still no CHRISTmas boxes, I went to Walmart and bought the ONLY tree they had left and the few string lights they had. It was a skimpy $11 tree, but I took it home and put it up and decorated it with little McDonald happy meal toys, popcorn strings and red velvet bows. Everyone thought it was adorable, except my sons.

    We finally found the CHRISTmas boxes the day before their last day of school, so I feverishly worked all day long to put the “REAL” tree up and the “REAL” ornaments up, so when they got home that day, they felt better.

    It wasn’t the same that first year, but you are right, the next year, we were settled in and CHRISTmas was so much more fun and normal, even if it was still relatively new due to the different surroundings. So yes, cover yourself in grace, keep moving forward and realize that while you’ll bring some of your old traditions with you, you’ll also start some new traditions that you’ll actually enjoy and keep too.

    For what its worth, while I know it’s not the way you want it yet, your home is already beautiful, homey and cozy and with each passing day and each completed project, it’s only getting better, so I think you are doing a fabulous job, especially considering the obstacles like your healing foot and the flu in there too, so don’t forget to take time to truly enjoy and appreciate your hard work as your view just how far you HAVE gotten, even if it’s not finished.

    May God’s grace and favor continue to bless you with joys, happiness and prosperity as you move forward into your new home and life adventures. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Victoria

    The landlords will likely want our rental back in the new year so I’m battling the overwhelm to move again less than a year after the last move, and in a terrible market. But we’re buying our Christmas tree tomorrow and I want to make the most of the house while we have it.

    I particularly love the wreaths you made, they’re very pretty.

  3. Linda

    I love the salt water ornaments ! You have accomplished so much in such a short time ! You are a very peaceful stop for me on a daily basis ! Thank you !

  4. Kim

    Yes, we all need reminders to slow the pace, take it easy, don’t worry, and enjoy each moment as it comes. The whole of December is full of small gifts!

  5. Janine

    Yes, I can totally relate to your task of taking the pre-lit lights off your tree. I did the same & what a mess! And the tree was definitely “wonky” after & never quite the same! I’m enjoying your adventures as you make your new house your home. Thank you for your creativity, humor & honesty! Choose Joy everyday! ❤️

  6. Betsy

    I so appreciate your comment on giving oneself some grace. I was trying to wrap gifts, make a pot of soup and do laundry. I had gifts stored in many places since we have a small house, it was like a scavenger hunt. Somehow the soup base evaporated and the vegetables started to burn. My immediate reaction was to get really upset but then I felt instantly relief after telling myself I was doing the best I could.

  7. Babs

    The molds for the ornaments are stunning! Such clear detail and so well done…

    We no longer put up a tree so I gave away all my ornaments with the exception of the old family ones which I passed on to my daughter. I never thought I would not put up a Christmas tree, yet, here I am. It’s just too much. We have a woodstove which heats most of the house since we have an open floor plan. We have no room for a tree. For years we hoisted a fake fully decorated tree up and hung it from the railing but even that is too much now. We have a cut out masonite tree which dates to the 1950’s which now hangs from the balcony. It has lights and is fun and cheerful.

    Not ready to be a total Grinch…not yet, anyway.

  8. Jenni

    I am so glad that you point out things like unfinished painting jobs and peeling wallpaper. It makes me feel better about our own home which we began renovating last summer while we were living in it. It is a blessing to be able to renovate, but a challenge when you are living there and homeschooling and DIY’ing significant parts of it. We are closing in on the finish line, but there are still baseboards to install, trim to add, and more. I feel somewhat like a failure at times because I thought we would be done a year ago – but I try to remind myself that my kids are happy and we are making progress each day.

  9. Dianne

    Thank you for the continued encouragement and inspiration. It seems like a big push and mess for a while. I have to remind myself to enjoy the process and have fun. How did I accumulate 24 storage Christmas boxes??? Always a little surprised to open each one. The decorating is never the same. Each year new ideas come. Remembering that love of God, family, friends and community is the real reason for the season. Merry Christmas ?

  10. Norma

    Hi Marian, I love your Christmas tree especially with all the lights and the orange slices. Thank you for the instructions on drying the slices. Although, I have done many Christmas crafts, but not the orange slices. Thanks again.

  11. Sheila

    I’m Jewish and Sweet Husband is Methodist so we have ALL the holidays in our house. Unfortunately, we will not be putting up a tree this year. My BIL passed away this summer from a massive heart attack and we are still reeling. I’m still buying gifts and have a wreath for the door, plus my menorah for Hanukkah but that’s about it. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely home and the warmth from your family. Hug your loved ones and tell them you love them at every opportunity.

    • Sue

      I am so sorry for your loss. Wishing you peace and calm this season. Cherish your memories of your brother-in-law.

  12. Kathleen

    You have done an amazing job since moving into your new home . I especially love the salt dough ornaments
    Do you remember where you bought the beautiful molds ??? I would love to copy your idea. Also the orange slices dried are very beautiful & homey too!

  13. Donna

    Everything already looks so beautiful!!! You have inspired me to try the salt dough ornaments – they are stunning. Merry Christmas

  14. Anne

    Marion…you are the BEST ! Thanks for all you do for us ! ? Anne

  15. Colleen T

    Needed to hear that. Just got over rsv right before Thanksgiving and now have pink eye and still have to take care of my grands. But need to count my blessings. Decorating is done and mostly done shopping for gifts. Also a beautiful centerpiece from a customer was waiting on the porch when I got home after 2 hrs at urgent care. After having 4 sons and wanting a daughter I have 4 grandsons and finally got a granddaughter though she came with a twin brother so how can I complain.

  16. beverlee

    Those lights are much prettier and more full than the ones original to this tree. Beautiful job.
    A different Christmas for me, but I am sure enjoying yours Thank you for always bringing us along.
    I am so happy to hear that your boys are into the spirit of traditions. Merry Christmas.

  17. Susie L

    Aaaaah. Thank you for the sigh of relief. We are ‘roughing it’ in a tiny, old rustic farmhouse until we can move back outside when it gets warm again. The goal is DIY renovation, which is so much easier when 6 of us aren’t trying to live in the house. For now we’re taking one day, and one project at a time. To try to create a memorable Christmas for my family in this temporary, and not ideal situation is hard!!

  18. Cheryl

    Thank You!!

  19. Valerie

    Your tree is beautiful even with the few lights and ornaments. Is the small desk top tree artificial or real? It’s lovely also.

  20. Kari

    Marion, you give us true beauty with the real, four days a week! I give thanks for you and your blog, a Christmas treats all the year round.

  21. Kari

    Marion, you give us true beauty with the real, four days a week! I give thanks for you and your blog, a Christmas treat all the year round.

  22. Carolyn Dietrich

    I moved in October in 2020 and it was hard to do Christmas when we just barely got settled in, so I know how hard it is. Your ornaments are beautiful and I think the plates on the wall by the Christmas tree look just fine. You’re making good progress! I hope you relax and enjoy the holiday and give yourself grace.

  23. Valeri

    We don’t bother to remove the burned out lights that came on the tree. We just string new ones as needed and amazingly once it’s decorated you cannot find the old non working ones. They were really integrated into the tree so well I think it would tear the tree up to remove them.

  24. Susan

    I would just forget about doing anything to the house until after Christmas. Just enjoy Christmas and your family. It’ll keep. ?

  25. Kathy

    Thank you for your last paragraph! I intend to print it and hang it on my mirror to help me get through this month.

  26. Nancy @ Adams and Elm Home

    What a great post! You create such beautiful spaces, it’s nice to know, like the rest of us, you can feel paralyzed. I just finished all the decorating in my house and am in the process of photographing it. Do you know what made it easier this year? I stopped comparing or pressuring myself. I also am no longer on social media. This year, I’m doing what I LOVE in my home without comparing to what everyone else is doing. It’s refreshing!
    I always love that you tap in to what is “Marion”. Keep doing that and give yourself grace. We love what you do.

  27. Jen C

    Well said! I can relate as so many others have said. Thank you. Your tree looks great along with the orange slices and salt dough ornaments. After having a pre lit tree with lights that eventually went out at different times our next tree was not pre lit and we love it.

  28. Krista

    Beautiful, genuine, heartfelt post, which I really needed to hear. In this crazy world anymore, I think we’re all yearning for the beauty and calm of a peaceful & simple Christmas at home with less commercial stuff and more family, friends and simple traditions.

  29. Teresa

    I’m feeling a lot like you this Christmas. We had minor flooding in our house in August 2021. (I use the word minor loosely, because the rest of the story has not been minor at all.) After 15 months, we are still living in limbo, without the comforts of a kitchen. Hopefully the end is near, though. Finally. Last Thanksgiving and Christmas, we could not even enter the house. Once again, this Thanksgiving we were not able to host our kids and grandkids. Hopefully we are FINALLY on the home stretch, with our kitchen cabinets being installed this week and next. We are both “seniors” and it has been a very tough year. I could write a book about all the things we’ve experienced, Half of our “things” are still packed up (in boxes to the ceiling in the guest room,) and the other half is likely to be in some random place if you’re looking for it. I feel as if I just moved in, too, even though I’ve lived in this house about half of my life. Last year we had a (borrowed) tiny tree in a hotel room, so this year I am excited that we MIGHT get to have our real tree…and decorations (if only I can FIND them, lol!) We are looking forward to having Christmas at home this year, whatever that may look like. I had to laugh when you talked about clipping off the lights of your pre-lit tree! Yes, I have been there, done that! Like you, I love our little tree, so I’ve tried to make it last. At first I just added more lights to the pre-lit ones that were not working. Then I decided one day to just cut the pre-lit lights off because they had all died. What a MESS and what a JOB! But I finally got it done and it was worth it! Glad to know I’m not the only one who has done that! lol Wishing your family a very Merry Christmas. Bet it will turn out to be very special!

  30. Karen

    Your last paragraph made me cry.
    And I am going to do it!
    I feel better already.
    Thank you, dear sweet friend.
    You are a gift.

  31. Lynette

    I haven’t moved a lot of times, but enough to realize that no new place feels like home until you’ve had a few of your loved ones visit and had family experiences in it. To me, it’s those experiences, much like breaking in a new shoe, that make a house a home. It’s coming!

  32. Lorie Pirtle

    Like you I sometimes have to step away from the everyday chores and just do something creative. I find it helps me refocus. We moved just before Christmas last year so things looked decidedly different than I would have liked. However I find the older I get the easier it gets for me to roll with the punches. And to paraphrase the Grinch ” Christmas still came”, and it was wonderful, even without all the decorations I would have normally put out. In fact I decided to scale back this year as well, using only the things that are truly special to me and my family. Hope you and your family have a Very Merry Christmas in your new home.

  33. Betty M Bashaw

    Enjoy your time with your family. This is the most important thing!


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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