10 Tips for Holiday Decorating That’s Festive, NOT Overwhelming

Getting ready to celebrate the first holiday since Mom moved out of her house? What can you do with overflowing boxes of decorations now stored in your basement?

(Hint: You have everything you need to decorate Mom’s new home. Just pick and choose wisely. We’ve got a new Pinterest board to inspire you.)

1. Start with just one special thing

The best designers begin decorating small spaces by selecting a focal point.

Is Mom proud of the flair she had for trimming a tree? Honor that. Decorate a beautiful miniature tree. Display a strand of twinkling lights or gleaming garland. Create a small display of shiny ornaments.

If Mom loved baking, tie cinnamon sticks, gingerbread men or cookie cutters to a wreath.

Trigger her memories with the sights and sounds of the season. Remember: Someone coping with Alzheimer’s appreciates their sensory experiences in small doses. Avoid the busy and the blaring. Let them concentrate on one thing at a time.

2. Focus on memories, not decorations

If you could relive any holiday memory with Mom, which would you choose?

  • Did she teach you how to glide across an icy pond or build the perfect snowman? Feature mittens or skates in your holiday décor.
  • Did you enjoy caroling together? Play a CD or iPod loaded with seasonal music when you visit.
  • Don’t forget to find space for framed pictures that capture your special moments together.
  • Leave a note for caregivers to explain especially important memories. Attach labels to the backs of pictures so they can guide a conversation about the people and places in them.

3. Build to scale

When decorating small spaces, go for a big impact – without crowding. For example, don’t smother the windows and walls of a cozy room with garlands.

  • Surround the frame of a round dresser mirror with artificial greenery, to form a wreath. Leave the center open for a clear view. OR
  • Highlight a single beaded garland. Drape it, shimmering, over a rod in the window – out of the way of moving curtains and shades.

4. Display heirlooms a new way

image-1Mom’s treasures might include an assortment of holiday photos, ornaments or cross-stitched handkerchiefs. Create a wall display of the best, arranged in the shape of a wreath or tree.

Was her pride & joy a collection of Santas, nutcrackers or holiday houses? Put out one or two. Take pictures of the rest for a brag book she can share.

5. Find a new favorite

If Mom’s holiday favorites are delicate or oversized, it’s time to make a substitution. To replace a fragile Nativity, try

  • Buying a small set made of composite material, built to withstand rough handling, OR
  • Exploring stores that feature unique yet inexpensive crafts from around the world.

Look for an intriguing, compact crèche. It might become Mom’s new bedside treasure.

6. Keep it user-friendly

When decorating small spaces, it’s tempting to display holiday greetings with ribbons or clips. Be careful.

Your clever display might frustrate Mom’s attempts to sort and study cards and photos. Keep them in a special basket instead.

Add photos of families, friends and holidays past (scanned copies of valuable originals).

Exploring the basket could become a favorite winter pastime. If it does, be sure to add new pictures from time to time.

7. Make it easy to maintain

Caregivers have a lot to do, keeping Mom warm, healthy, safe and calm during the holidays. Don’t distract them from her care by asking them to maintain your decorations. More importantly, don’t create tripping, fire and other safety hazards.

  • Choose small, artificial trees that don’t tip, shed or need water.
  • Use shatterproof ornaments.
  • Select lights that are cool to the touch (and turn on with the simple flip of a switch).
  • Avoid open flame; opt for battery-operated candles.
  • Don’t expect Mom to use special seasonal linens or appear in holiday outfits every time you visit.

8. Less is more

Mom has lots of ornaments, but only a few are truly special. Highlight three of them atop candlesticks on a table.

Mom once loved holiday lights, but now she’s disturbed by large, flashing displays. Hang a small marquee in the shape of an angel or other holiday design on her wall, and turn it off if it bothers her.

9. Create more memorable moments

Decorating small spaces offers a huge opportunity to work together. Side by side, you can create a blizzard of snowflakes for the window. Make an advent countdown chain for the wall, or an army of gingerbread men to march around a wreath.

Keep plans simple. You’re enjoying the company of someone coping with Alzheimer’s – not attempting to create an award-winning design.

10. Respect others’ traditions

Ask permission before decorating the common spaces of Mom’s new home. As you choose decorations, be sensitive to other residents’ tastes and traditions. If you place an advent candle on the mantle, leave room for a menorah or kinara. Use colors shared by many different faith traditions: silver, gold, white, blue.

Everyone can celebrate a winter season filled with snowflakes, snowmen, candles, cookies and stars. Those decorations can last till Valentine’s Day!

Visit Us on Pinterest

Care Haven Homes is on Pinterest this holiday season.
We display pictures of the season’s best ideas for decorating small spaces.
Look there for your inspiration!