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You've just finished moving in, and you'd rather spend time figuring out where the torchieres and silverware go, not the trees and Santas. Or maybe you're like me, and you're getting ready to move soon after the holidays. Either way, give yourself a break this holiday season, as well as fewer boxes to contend with.

However, most of us don't want a house entirely devoid of decoration. So try a few of these ideas to spruce up your home for the holidays without all the fuss.

Spreading Outdoor Cheer

  • Santa may need eight reindeer, but you don't. Skip the lawn ornaments. Instead, put one large, lighted wreath on the peak of the house and another on the front door (battery-operated lights make this easy). My Cape Cod home has three dormer windows in front, and we usually put a lighted wreath in each one. Because we didn't want to run the extension cords through the gutters and risk them being stuck there until the spring thaw, we opted for a wreath on the door and one on the side of our house that faces a well-traveled street.
  • Festoon the fence with a well-placed garland. Another elegant look: hanging simple wreaths with red bows every few feet.
  • Take advantage of a streetside mailbox, lamp post or big tree in your front yard. Wrap it with a garland or red ribbon and you're done. I've wrapped a thick ribbon around the "No Parking on This Side of the Street" sign that's near my front walkway.
  • Skip stringing lights on every eave and bush. Focus on just a couple of key areas such as the entry to your home and the perimeter hedges in front. We've made life easier by draping net-style lights (all in red) on the shrubs that flank our front door.
  • Find a single focus. We illuminate our white-bark birch tree with wraparound, net-style white lights, topped with a luminescent red ribbon. You could use a single, large, lighted lawn decoration (my favorite is a kitschy plastic snowman). If you have a spectacular tree in your front yard, aim two colorful spotlights toward its trunk and branches. Or, for the ultimate simplicity: If your front door wreath isn't lighted, shine a couple of spotlights on it.
  • Confine your spirit to the front door. This is best for people who want to do a lot because you can do a considerable amount of decorating in this small space. Flank the door with two small, lighted pine or rosemary trees, put a wreath on the door, and lean a big sled topped with a bow next to your entry.

    Making the Indoors Festive

  • Be selective. If you want to dress up a woman's outfit, you don't wear every piece of jewelry and every shade of makeup. A few choice pieces make all the difference. Your house is no different. The simpler you keep it, the stronger the message.
  • One interior decorator says the "Garanimals of Christmas" -- a tree, a mantelpiece and a wreath -- are all you really need. Tie them together visually: If you have a red ribbon on your wreath, use red ribboning on your tree and mantel, too.
  • Stick with a theme. Using just teddy bears or just nutcrackers makes decorating more simple. It helps you eliminate the other decorations without pain.
  • Cut the tree down to size. Instead of a towering tree, choose a small tabletop one. Or put baskets of presents around a skirted table with a crèche or other focal point on top.
  • For a quick centerpiece, group several different-size candles together. Intriguing votive holders are especially popular now -- and they're often inexpensive. Scented candles can add holiday spirit all by themselves.
  • Add lights. Tuck some lights in unexpected places: along the line of your window swag or atop the mirrored medicine cabinet in the power room.
  • You've got mail? Use it. Drape a thin, faux garland on a bare wall or over a room entry, and clip Christmas cards along it as they arrive. Or tie a red bow around a pretty basket, display it on your coffee table, and fill it with incoming holiday greetings.
  • Cook your decorations. Leave your boxes in the basement. Bake sugar cookies and use a straw to poke a hole at the top before baking. When they're done, use a pretty ribbon to tie them onto the tree or around the house. Bonus: If you have kids or grandkids, you won't have to worry if they grab one.
  • Finally, consider leaving. Some of us can't bear to skip the all-out holiday extravaganza. If it's too hard to go with simple decor, spend the holidays at a relative's house so you won't worry about yours being bare.
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