Holiday, Interior Design
Comments 14

Pick your own Perfect

Dear Friends,

I had so many ideas for a December blog post.  “How to Decorate the Perfect Tree”, “Recipe for a Perfect Holiday Party”, “Don’t Panic, but Your Mother-in-Law is Coming”.

And then it occurred to me that these may be the last things some of us need to hear this time of year. Enough already, right?   So I started thinking instead about how we might bring ourselves a little less stress and a little more joy during the holidays.

There is no decorating advice in this post and no pretty pictures, so if this is the only reason you’re here, feel free to stop reading now.  Consider yourself warned. : )

As for me, when December rolls around, I become a very stressed out, grumpy and not nice to be around person.  I complain endlessly.   Like if Scrooge and the Grinch had a baby together.

The to-do list is longer than what one human could ever pull off, the presents need to be conceived/purchased/wrapped, some entertaining should be done, the greeting cards must go out, blah, blah blah.  And then in January someone actually has to pay for all of this.

And to top it off, I see so many people around me who seem to REVEL in all of this holiday stuff, LOVE it, get so much JOY out of it.  How???

If I’m being totally honest,  I’d be just as happy to fast forward to January 1.  I like to blame it on the fact that we celebrate 2 holidays in our family and that it’s all just too much.  I’ve come to realize, however, it’s all about the idea of Perfect.

My realization started with this fantastic blog post from a few weeks back by Glennon at Momastery.  And then along came this amazing Ted Talk by Brene Brown.  I was really moved by both of these and I think, for me at least, they are linked together sort of like this:

Fear of not creating the “Perfect” holiday:

= only seeing the bad/overwhelming

= not welcoming your friends into your home over the holidays without major anxiety

= subjecting your family to a very unpleasant wife/mommy for 30ish days

= desire to hide under the covers until the ball drops

And when I say perfect, I don’t mean really PERFECT,  I mean things like “the house is not clean enough” “the food will not be good enough” “the gift might not be exactly right”.  I mean really silly “how could it ever be good enough so I just won’t do it”  kind of thinking.

I’m starting get the idea that (a) this really IS crazy thinking (b) I seem to be missing out on a lot of fun here and (c) maybe I need to define my own meaning of holiday Perfect.  Not what I see in a magazine, or on Pinterest (Heaven forbid) or on someone else’s Christmas card.

I’m still working on what this new Perfect will look like, but here are a few ideas so far:

My kids coming home while something, anything,  is cooking and noticing the good smells coming from the kitchen.  And this can be tacos from a box.

Inviting friends over and not worrying that my floors are not even close to being clean.  I’m toying with the idea that my friends might not care as much as I think they do about how clean my floors are.

Realizing that it all gets done in the end.  Every single time.  Just focusing on today and not freaking out about tomorrow or next week is not actually a bad thing.

And lastly:  thinking about my own Perfect holiday memories.   They are memories of all of us crammed into the tiny den at my grandparents house just hanging out, of staring at the patterns made on the ceiling by the blinking lights on the tree, of waking up in the wee hours with my sisters to see if Santa actually came.  They are of feelings of love, wonder and excitement.  Not one material thing, beautifully decorated home or grand party.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with material things, beautifully decorated homes or grand parties.  They can be amazing!  As long as these are not things that are stealing the joy from your holidays.  And if you are one of those people who can pull all of this off effortlessly and enjoy it and still be nice to your family then I envy you.  I am in awe of you.  I want to be just like you!  And I have tried and I have failed for many years in a row.

This year, after finally realizing how crazy it is to let December turn me into baby Scrinch.  After getting that it shouldn’t be about trying to make someone else’s version of Perfect holidays, I’m starting to feel kind of relaxed.  This is an odd sensation for me in December, but I’m sure I could get used to it.

So dear friends, if you’re feeling anywhere near like I’m usually feeling in December.  If you have been pretending to be jolly while really just trying to hold it all together until 12/26,   I encourage you to take some time to think about your own favorite holiday memories.   Perhaps use that as place to begin to pick your own holiday Perfect.  Take a deep breath and see if you can focus more on the good feelings and less on the super high expectations we seem to place on ourselves this time of year.

A wise friend once told me that your happiness is the best gift you can give your family.  Take a moment to think about that as a new holiday Perfect.

And for goodness sakes, whatever you do, stay off of Pinterest.

Wishing you holidays filled with love, peace and joy and your very own kind of Perfect.

image via Warner Bros

image via Warner Bros



If you need help staging your home to sell or styling your home into a place you love, contact us or visit our website at   cropped-sfs-logo-web.png

This entry was posted in: Holiday, Interior Design


Ashley and her partner Sheli Fierstine are co-owners of Staged for Style. A Northern Virginia based home staging and interior design business. When they are not staging or decorating they are busy with kids, husbands, dogs, Guinea Pigs and the like. They both believe passionately that your home should be the place you most love to be and that a well loved home is attainable for anyone.


  1. Maureen Labuda says

    I just loved your blog!!! I have a very dear friend and we first bonded over our anxiety over Christmas and our mutual dislike of those who we perceived as reveling in it.
    I remember looking forward to Christmas and I pinpoint my grumpy tendencies to when my daughter stopped believing in Santa and after all my efforts, I lost that HUGE payoff of the look of wonder on Christmas morning. It’s kind of all down hill from there.
    I look forward to putting away the last decorations and pitching any leftover Christmas cookies and congratulate myself on surviving another year.
    Guess I’ll have to wait for the ggrandchildren to recapture the magic.

    • Thank you so much Maureen! Sounds like you made a good friend there. And yes, once the Santa phase is over I think you really do miss that huge payoff. Hope all is well and here’s to some grandchildren!!

  2. Betsy says

    This was fantastic (not Perfect!) and very needed. Your writing and reminder = a gift to us all! Thanks, Ashley and Sheli!

  3. Gennifer Chenault says

    A few years ago I put together a binder of all our Christmas recipes, as well as some, um, aspirational craft projects cut from magazines. However, the first page is a quote from Bob Hope (of all people) to remind me that, “When we recall Christmases past, we usually find that the simplest things — not the great occasions — give off the greatest glow of happiness.” This was a good post, Ashley. Thanks!

  4. Diane says

    I have been saying for so many years that I would be so much happier if the secular part of the holidays were only celebrated every other year. Then, maybe we would actually look forward to the holidays, instead of dreading their arrival. Two of my happier Christmas memories as an adult are: 1) the year I was having a tough time personally and decided not to undertake Christmas cards well in advance of the holiday. I enjoyed not planning them, not photographing for them, not assembling them, and not mailing them. It was awesome! 2) the year we went away over Christmas and I planned, also well in advance, not to decorate a tree. So much fun!

    My recommendation, plan to eliminate one job of Chirstmas and enjoy every moment of not doing it.


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