Design Family Holiday Home Decor

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…….

December 24, 2016

And all though the house… Well , of course not many people were stirring because we are empty nesters, but we bribed our son who is local to come and stay with us and help put out the Christmas treats for Santa.  He’s 25 so he only said OK so as not to hurt our feelings. And I secretly think he’s afraid of getting coal in his stocking 🙂

And speaking of stockings….






I add  a bow and fresh greens to ours.


Christmas is very low key at our house. You might look at my decorations and think otherwise but I only decorate three rooms – my foyer, family room (where I have one tree) and dining room. We are not extravagant, we buy each other one gift, add a few sweet treats to our stockings, my husband makes an awesome brunch which we usually try to eat at our coffee table in front of the fireplace, and then I make dinner which consists of homemade pizzas.  We are almost always joined by my daughter’s best friend Becky, who is part of our family.

There are a few important reasons for our laid back Christmas day.  On December 12, 2011, I had a heart attack. Due to some major complications, I ended up in critical care for four days.  I came home to a different way of life.  I had not shopped; had not planned anything. I used to have Christmas dinner for 13-14 people every year. Trying to get everything done on time and make everyone happy had just about taken over this holiday. I will not go into the details on this post but needless to say, we made a change in our lives because of this. That year, we did nothing. We had virtually no gifts because as the one who does the shopping I was home bound healing for a few weeks.  The kids were home from college (of course Becky was here too) and we made homemade pizzas, listened to music, and played games.  It was totally awesome. That year we vowed to never make Christmas Day any different.  At first it was very hard for me because I felt tremendous guilt for not having everything perfect.  But the important part of what happened was how it affected my family – in the most positive way possible.  I am so thankful for the tremendous support from my husband and kids.

So on to my very first Christmas House Tour!  My favorite thing to decorate is my foyer.  I put out my vintage Santas and bottle brush trees that I have been collecting for almost two decades.


The painted brick above that acts as a doorstop was made by my son in preschool.  It’s one of my favorite Christmas decorations and I leave it out all year long.


I purchased most of my trees and Santas from eBay. I have a few that are mainly primary colors but I don’t get them out and will be selling them soon in my Etsy store.







I like to add minimal decorations in my dining room – a nice table centerpiece, and preserved boxwood wreaths tied to the back of the dining room chairs with a pink ribbon.









I like to dress up my vintage ironstone pitchers by adding santa hats.



The one thing I like most about my dining room is no matter what decor I have, it looks different every day. The light changes, the view changes. That’s the appeal of good home design and decor.



Next on to the Family room where I have my Christmas Tree with a zillion lights.  Yes, a zillion.  You can feel the heat from the tree. It takes about three days to put up and decorate.




These photos are from our family brunch last year.









View from the kitchen.

I try to add a bit of cheer to the small things in our home.






This year, I wanted to find a way to celebrate our daughter Julia who is deployed on the USS Makin Island and will not be home for Christmas. So first I hung her ice skates from when she was 7 years old on my favorite cabinet adorned with a bow and fresh greens.

Then I decided to make Gingerbread ornaments in the shape of an anchor, to celebrate ALL of our sailors who are at sea during this holiday season.



They smell amazing!  I will be posting a tutorial later on how to make these amazing ornaments (in any shape you want).


And of course the best part of the season, spending each day with this cutie pie.


Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukkah. And never forget this wise saying (which is my favorite):



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  • Reply Yolanda Thomas December 24, 2016 at 2:18 am

    Love this blog post and love you!

    • Reply GayVanBeek December 24, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      Love you right back gf!

  • Reply Kris @ Junk Chic Cottage December 24, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Hello Gay. I was so excited to see your post pop up in my email tonight. Love seeing a post from you. Your home is beautifully decorated and I love your attitude on Christmas. Sharing and caring and being with family is what it is all about. Loved that you shared your health issue story with us. Something like that does put life in perspective. Wishing you love, happiness, and great health in the new year. Merry Christmas. We have a low key Christmas too and I love it.

    • Reply GayVanBeek December 24, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      Thanks so much Kris! I wish the very same for you and your family! Hugs to all.

  • Reply Nana Diana December 24, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Gay, I think I first found you when I did a little blurb on my blog about something you did for Romantic Homes. However I found you it was my lucky moment. This post brought a lump to my throat. I think sometimes in blogland we only see what is beautiful on the surface. This post reaches beyond that beauty to the true person behind all the loveliness. Many of us never realize what is behind a flat picture on our screen. We see it and yearn for that much beauty in our lives, too, and never see the heartaches, illnesses & angst that lies under the surface.

    We experienced much of what you did this past year when John was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer the day after Thanskgiving in 2015; He was in the hospital and came home the day before Christmas Eve. We fully expected that would be our last Christmas with him as a husband and father. We barely celebrated Christmas because I, like you, did it ALL…and ALL was not done because I sat in the hospital for days on end. But, through the grace of God and the miracles of modern medicine he is cancer free this Christmas. There are long-lasting, irreversible side effects but he is alive, working part timea s a chaplain again and is in good spirits.

    We are taking it easy on Christmas this year, too. We will celebrate at my daughter’s house and I will take part of the meal and everyone will pitch in to do the rest. We cut back on a lot of the gifts and are doing more meaningful things-exchanges from-the-heart.

    I love that you have such beauty in your home and that you share it with us- however, I feel the true beauty in your home is you and the spirit that is part of you. Merry Christmas and God bless you. Love to you- xo Diana

    • Reply GayVanBeek January 4, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      Diana, I cannot tell you how happy I am to hear that your Christmas was better this year! Thank you so much for sharing this with me, I totally feel for you and understand, although I think my issues pale compared to what you went through. I think you are a wonderful person and friend, and I am so glad to know you!

  • Reply Donna December 24, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Your home is simply enchanting! So many beautiful things to look at but a couple of my favorites are the anchor ornaments and that gorgeous, gorgeous tree! Do you wrap lights around the trunk and then radiate out with the lights? You definitely have the right idea about celebrating the holidays. I hope your health has been good since then. That’s quite a wake-up call! Happy Christmas to you and yours. xoxo

    • Reply GayVanBeek December 24, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Thank you Donna! I do wrap each bramch with lights as well as wrap lights around the base. Takes awhile but I love the look. Thank you for your very kind comments. Merry Christmas!

  • Reply Mindy December 27, 2016 at 5:01 am

    love, love, love! Wishing all the Van Beeks a happy and healthy holiday season.

  • Reply Amy Clark December 27, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    This is so stunning! and your precious dog! oh I can hardly take it!
    Happy New Year!

    • Reply GayVanBeek December 27, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Thank you Amy!

  • Reply Annette Blakely December 28, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    Everything is absolutely beautiful

    • Reply GayVanBeek January 10, 2022 at 3:13 pm


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