A New Take on Holiday Decorating


Before you break out the tinsel, elves or maybe that menorah, spend a few minutes reflecting on what would be a calm environment for you and your family this holiday season.  It might be more than you think—or it could be a lot less.

What Is Feng Shui?
Often referred to as the Chinese art of placement, feng shui is a system for the positioning of objects in a living or work environment to promote energy flow to affect how you feel, your health and success.

We turned to feng shui expert Kathryn Weber, publisher of the Red Lotus Letter feng shui e-zine and author of Living Space, a nationally syndicated newspaper DIY column, for insights into decorating, or not, for calmful holidays.

Decorating for a calm holiday home environment is a two-step process, Weber says.
Step one: create a calm retreat for the occupants of the home.
Here’s how: Equate your house to a hotel room by creating a clean, uncluttered space.

The first thing to do is remove visual clutter—small appliances on the kitchen counter, crowded bottles on the bathroom vanity, or the mini library atop the nightstand, and so on.  The more clear horizontal space available, the more relaxing it is to our eyes and bodies, and this is the easiest and fastest way to create a calm, serene space.  With clutter under control, it’s time to decorate. Weber offers these tips to create a calm environment during holiday parties and get-togethers.

Add Light
Light is an essential element of feng shui, and it helps to lift energy and create a calming effect at the same time. That means lots of pretty white candles scattered around the house to create a soothing mood.  Even if you only decorate with candles, just having that beautiful candlelight will bring about a festive yet calm holiday feeling.

Go Red and Gold
Red and gold are the two colors in feng shui that create relationship harmony. These two colors can help soothe friction that can sometimes come up when lots of family members are in one space. Forgo the hot pink Christmas tree and go with a natural tree with gold and red colors. Carry this color scheme to your other decorations as well.

Rearrange Seating
If you have a fireplace or TV that’s prominent, avoid arranging a sofa to face it directly.  Instead, pull furniture out into the room and place it conversationally, such as putting a sofa opposite the loveseat or chairs with a cocktail table in between. Many times seating is placed in an L-shape, and this literally puts people at odds with each other by placing them 45 degrees apart. The conversational arrangement also allows energy to move through the room in a more relaxed and enjoyable way, and is more calming than furniture placed up against the walls.

Create Views
See if you can make the corner of the room opposite the entry door into a view. This a decorator’s trick that makes the room feel bigger and more appealing. Place your Christmas tree, a tall plant, or even a chair and lamp in this corner to create a view that draws you in and feels relaxing. In feng shui this is called the lucky corner, and in addition to lifting the energy of your room, it’s also a way to lift your personal energy.

Unplug
One of the ways you can bring instant calm and relaxation to your home is merely to turn off the television. This is especially helpful with holiday gatherings that can go from sounding festive to creating an outright din from the television. Consider moving the TV out of the living room—to take it from a watching room and turn it truly into a living room.

Add Red Colors
Whether you use red candles, a red tablecloth or red flowers, red acts as a way to reduce family tempers that can sometimes flare at holiday time. Families are represented by wood, and excess wood in feng shui (like too many family members in one room) is associated with anger and bickering. The red colors can help to “burn up” the excess wood so that family members are more cordial and less likely to squabble. Candles are also helpful on the table where testiness can occur.

Practice Restraint
During the holidays, less truly is more—more time to yourself, less time spent trying to make the house look like something out of a magazine, and more calm. Work to cut your holiday preparations by 50 percent: try to cut in half by buying fewer presents, fewer wrapping papers, fewer decorations, and by baking fewer cookies. The great part?  Like items you put into storage, you’ll never miss the other 50 percent you didn’t do.  More importantly, you won’t miss the holidays because you were so busy.

Download the Calmful Holidays eBook here


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