#029 - Celebrate a Christmas of enoughness - part 2

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Hi & welcome back to part 2 of my little guide on how to celebrate enoughness during the holiday season. 

In this episode I want to talk about 3 points:

  • The fact that the real life exp of Christmas can actually really suck and how not to be the sources of a sucking experience

  • A link between enoughness and gratitude we often tend to forget 

  • And finally a simple design rule to decorating with enoughness in mind so that your home looks sophisticated and neither too little or too over the top…. But just well-balanced.


Last week I invited you to try on the idea of essentialism - do as little as possible but as much as needed to make your celebrations memorable.

 and my two main filters are significance and activation. 

What would bring you and your loved ones the most emotional satisfaction?


How can we make this easy, fast and pleasurable to start and implement?


And if we talk about emotional satisfaction then more, more more is a great & easy place to start, but leaves us disappointed and craving depth if it’s the only thing we do because even though you might have had moments of personal bedazzlement - having Purely More physical sensations doesn’t bring us closer to other people - which is what we really care about during the holidays.


So last week I introduced you to the 4 quality filters our human brain uses to decide whether or not an experience/ a moment is worth spending storage space on. Is it memorable? Those filters are elevation, pride, insight and connection. If you want more info on them go back one episode.


Then I moved on to offering you to see your holidays as an event, that has a process and that can be prepared And organized. And because we’re exploring essentialism I told you about the 3 cornerstones you should focus on to make the event manageable and easy to handle. If you focus only on those 3, and chose any pairing of 2 (or more) of the 4 quality filters - you’ll be golden. Chances are more than good that your people AND you yourself will end up feeling really good about this time.


But did you see what I did just there?


I named these two episodes “celebrating enoughness” and what I did was give you a lesson in what we could also call: process optimization. Now isn’t that a sterile way to put this?

Celebrating enoughness is about embracing who you are and having the courage and be OK with not adding any fake glitter just to be able to show up. Celebrating enoughness is about accepting Flaws and all, and still unapologetically loving yourself and showing up as such. I’m enough.


Drafting and recording this episode I did not feel enough myself. I only stuck to the knowledge I have learned from others, where there is research to back it up and that I have tested myself and have let others test and give me feedback on. I stayed pretty safe.


Now there is nothing wrong with staying safe. This podcast, is in fact part of my business and as such it function is to prove to you that I know my shit. This podacst is a performance act  - not in the sense that it’s fake, or that I am presenting myself differently than I actually am - but it is, literally edited. It’s drafted, practiced, then re- scripted and then finally edited to give you the best listening experience I can give you.


long story short, what I’m trying to say here is: 

I was Talking about celebrating enoughness yet didn’t feel good enough to give you the unpolished version of myself.

So, I want you to know that the holidays are a huge trigger for me, many things are still super overwhelming. I love dec.1-23 and then 26. To Jan 3rd but I dread Dec. 24/25th. It gives me anxiety, I’m tense, I’m stressed I have big emotional Trauma tied to those dates and i really have to focus to keep my shit together during that time.

But that’s OK.

I’m home, I’m safe, I know my limits, I have my boundaries in place and I do not have to  perform or podcast on that day.


Which brings me to one of my personal truths I have learned in life, & that I hear confirmed with every person I talk to  when it comes to emotional stressful situations. Let me share and see if you have made the same observation:


We get stressed internally by the things we want to do to make Christmas memorable but have actually no or little practice doing - doing the things we do rarely stresses us. But we tend to explode (outwardly) and loose our shit around the things we already do regularly but fall short to provide on the special occasion. So we do not get to be great at doing the things we’re already really good at.


That’s because: The things we’re already good at - our strengths is what feels ‘basic’ to us when we plan for the holidays that we want to be special. So we don’t pay as close attention to detail, to preparation or time needed to get it done. And if we delegate them then we often don’t explain enough to the person we delegate the task to. We forget that our strength is not their strength and our ease of skill might not be their sweet spot.


So I gave you the example of me being a good cook in the last episode. There have been Christmasses in the past where I was so focussed to be the perfect hostess for my husband's French family and I did all the things, except cooking. My husband is a good cook, but not as good as I am. I had left him with the ingredients and the recipes in the kitchen and then took his family on a perfectly planned Christmas walk around town, playing tour guide. I came home stressed and exhausted from people pleasing and playing perfect daughter in law whilst still trying to smile it all away and then surprise-surprise  I broke out in tears because the duck my husband cooked was OK, but not perfect. The veggies were slightly, not much, but still overcooked and the potato puree… Well, let me put it this way: the French know about fries, but not about Kartoffelpüree.


Think back on your Christmases that didn’t go according to plan. Where you , or someone you love lost it over stuff that did not seem like such a big thing. Could it be because the stress was built up doing things you or they usually don’t do, but then exploded around something you or they are usually known to be good at?

Such an explosion seems excessive but is understandable: We want to please others but get side-tracked by all the shiny things we could do but have no practice doing. And then the tension releases when we don’t get to please and serve and shine around the things we usually do really well.


Now THAT is why I recorded last week's episode.

Yes, it’s about designing fancier moments. Yes it’s all about process optimization presented as bad-assery. And yes it’s an edited monologue of me chirping away on the stuff I know really well: design and human behavior. 

But it’s not meant as high-fashion, haute-coutire event management. It’s about you tapping into you, doing as much as needed, but as little as possible to cut out the shiny but shitty bits.



Speaking about shitty bits:

Yes i’m a designer. Yes I love the pretty stuff. Yes I love me the glitz and glamour of the season… because I’m so good at it. Elevation is my jam.


but boy do I get frustrated when people feel defeated by this elevation part of the holidays. boosting the sensory appeal  and making what is your ordinary home during the year extraordinary through festive decoration should be fun - not stress, or disillution of “Yeah, year, whatever I’ll put up a tree so noone can say I didn’t try - but actually: I don’t even try .”


I honestly believe that commerce and it’s ads and over the top decor are not helpful. They’re not seducing us to buy more stuff, they’re bullying us into buying. Instead of getting us motivated to decorate, they cause even more disappointment because of what I like to call the buffet-effect.


Let me explain: Have you ever been on vacation where your hotel offered continental style breakfast? It’s this huge buffet where you are presented with literally everything one can have for breakfast. Cereal, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages cheese, bread charcuterie, yogurt, fruit salad, coffee, tea juice… you get the gist. Utter decadence and indulgence. It’s fun whilst you’re staying there.

But once you come home and all you have is just bread, or just cereals…. It feels sad.


You can’t help but wish you’d be back there. And I think it’s sad that we feel sad about being back home.


The same happens during the Christmas holiday season: Wherever you look there are buffets of what a rich, luscious christmas home could look like…. And then you come home and your home looks… well, less than what you saw out there.


So what helped me to get over the urge to ravage buffets at hotels whilst on vacation was the info that those buffets are highly wasteful and by over-indulging I become part of this unsustainable cycle of over-consumption, food waste and killing the planet.

If you’re anything like me, then knowing about my personal consequences - that I shouldn’t over-eat during my stay at the hotel has little effect on my conscience. Yes, if I overeat I’ll be coming home with x amount of kilos more on the scale and feel shitty and bloated for a week or so but hey - yolo. You only live once. 

Reminding me how I am part of a global problem though and actively participating at the destruction of the planet, when it’s so easy to act smarter… that gets to me.


So, let me do the same for you when it comes to Christmas decorations: 

If you’re struggling every year with over-buying junk you don’t need or already have in a slightly different version then you’re being an ungrateful little brat.


You don’t have to be religious in order to crave and care for a deeper meaning of the end of the year - I’m not religious myself. But I assume, since you’re listening to this and stopped your search at a title that contains the words enoughness that you’re someone who actually has it quite good in life and struggling rather with mental and emotional overload rather than economically speaking not having enough.


And if that is true, then you heard others say this before: the simplest way to feel better about what is happening in your life, is to practice gratitude.


So if overspending and yearly buying stuff you already have is a thing you do: try on the thought that buying more, even though you have the means is not a kind thing you do to yourself. Buying each year more junk is the opposite of gratitude. You don’t need it, you don’t really want it and it will not make the holiday experience any better than last year. It will just add more stuff to look at, to manage and store away. More is not better - it’s just more.


Try it on - see if this way of thinking fts your style. If not: leave it.


Which brings me to my final point I want to make:

Never mind what I said before. Getting your home ready IS fun and can build up the good kind of anticipation if we go about it mindfully and keep essentialism in mind. So I want to offer to you to try a very simple rule to decorate on a budget, whilst not giving up on pizazz.


Take it from me, someone with a natural talent as well as  formal education in visual bedazzlement of people:

My no1 tip on how to add more WOW and still be in alignment with essentialism is the 3-2-1 rule.


See, style and sophistication don’t come from doing or adding more, but doing less and adding the right pieces that make the WOW difference.

Sophistication is the ability to recognize, make and enjoy finer distinctions. Or in other words it’s about being pickier, more exclusive, drawing lines and saying more often than not decisively NO!


Then, when you do find things, or people that still do make the cut it’s about saying decisively YES. It’s about going all in, about not being shy and about being dramatic - which means nothing else but: aim for the heightened emotion, not the average, “yeah that’s nice”. “Nice” doesn’t WOW anyone - least of all you.


So when it’s about decorating your home for Christmas and you want it to be easy but still good looking you don’t need each and every item to be a highlight or statement piece but you need to build up an orchestra of items that can build a crescendo.


It’s like in any good movie: there is one or 2 main actors that drive the story. There is a small group of people in supporting roles and then there are a whole lot of background actors that help to create an atmosphere but nobody actively pays attention to. 


Let me explain the rule by taking color as an example:

3 out of 6 parts, so 50% should be the most neutral you have - it’s your canvas background on which you play and that will set the mood.

2 out of 6 parts so roughly 35% slound be a stronger more intense color. Those a re your supporting actors in your decor movie.

1 out of 6 parts and no more than 15% should be the bling-bling, full on glitz or shine wow or big ass statement pieces.


3-2-1 you can do that with color, glitz, size of items, amount of items… have fun with it.

My home base color is creamy beige - the color pistachio shells have. My supporting color is milk chocolate brown so decor pieces in leather, brown kraft paper, pine cones or ginger bread - literally all these inexpensive things (except the leather)

My main actors are gold, some matte, some shiny, a few full on glitz or luminous. Remember: not more than 15%.


3-2-1 is the rule you want to run with if essentialism speaks to you and you want a harmonious, calm and settled looking home with just the right amount of strategic sophistication.


So let me recap this episode for you.


Christmas is not just joyous amazement and commercially promotable WOW-ness. Yes, We love the cheesy Christmas movies because they give us an emotionally sugar-coated hiding place for an hour or two of what is in real life more fucked up than pretty or romantic.

No amount of glitter, sugar and perfume (literally and figuratively speaking) in the world will make the holidays great for you if life just sucks and you don’t feel good, or strong or loved enough during this time. 

So the idea of designing a better Christmas is ridiculous if you think of it as haute-couture, high-fashion, unless that’s your aspiration of course.
For the rest of us, who crave to do as little as possible whilst still experiencing all the depth we crave for and who want to confidently say: What I did to make this season memorable is enough. 

Well, feel into what usually triggers you - do the things you’re already good at, don’t get tempted to do the shiny but shitty bits you have no practice doing, say no waaay more often than yes and when you say yes - don’t be shy about it - just think of the 3-2-1 rule. Remember that our brain has 4 quality filters and that you only have to pay attention to 3 cornerstones in order to make your holiday event a pleasure to remember.


Ah… c'est tout. C'est bon. 


Oh, one more thing: I will host in February a bootcamp that is all about designing a beautiful essentialism embracing space and teaching you how to re- discover the love for  the items you already own, arrange them beautifully and love the junk that doesn't add beauty and value confidently out of your home. No, you won’t be buying new stuff. It’s the Love the shit out of your home bootcamp. Sounds good to you? Sign up to get on the waitlist and then make enoughness a theme for 2022.


Alright, If today's episode resonated with you - if you found value in it, please leave me a review , this truly makes a difference in getting found by the right people.

And if you feel gracious, please consider this episode worth sharing the AHWH podcast with your friends, or that one person you feel would profit from it most.

As for now, I stay your humble designer friend at A H W H, talk to you soon again,


I wish you enough, A bientot,