Tis the season of sparkling lights, hot cocoa and cozy evenings around the campfire. Whether you’re a fulltime traveler, a stationary RVer, or simply hitting the road for the holidays, don’t let the lack of storage space kill your jollies.
Downsizing from a house to a home-on-wheels has obvious advantages, but during the holidays, it can leave some of us scratching our heads. How can I decorate a 150-square-foot space? Where will I fit the Christmas tree? How will I store everything come January? Luckily, in regard to being creative, there is plenty of room to overcome these obstacles.
For a little inspiration… here are 10 RV decorating tips YULE love!
O’ Christmas Tree, O’ Christmas Tree
Let’s face it — the tree is the quintessential Christmas decoration. Can you even have a Christmas without a Christmas tree? Sure, but for many of us, it just wouldn’t be the same. But hey, if Santa can squeeze down the chimney, surely you can fit a tree in your camper!
For those who prefer artificial trees, a “pencil-shaped” Christmas tree can fit into tight corners and won’t obstruct your walking space. If you’re pining for a real tree, make it a family affair by purchasing a $5 tree cutting permit from the National Forest Service. For folks who own a compact trailer like a Shasta or an R-Pod, you might not have the room for a full-size tree. In this case, take it from Charlie Brown — size doesn’t matter. Tabletop trees are the perfect addition to your dinette or countertop. Whether it’s store-bought or a clipping from the woods, a little Christmas tree can add plenty of cheer to your RV.
A great way to feel cozy and warm this Christmas is adding holiday-themed pillows and throws into the mix. Adorning the couch with a festive blanket and adding a couple of pillows sets the mood and can instantly brighten the room. To avoid taking up extra space, consider trading out cases rather than buying new pillows; that way, you can easily fold them up and store them later. If you plan on decorating your bedroom, this can also be done with duvet covers.
Pick a Theme That Soots You
When you’re mulling over how to decorate, choosing a theme can be the best place to start. A unified style, color scheme, or pattern can really make the place feel like home for the holidays. For those who enjoy the vintage camper look, thrift stores and Etsy are chock-full of unique heirloom finds, from little knickknacks to lights and ornaments for your aluminum tree. If you want to up your Kitschmas game, get out the hot glue gun and make a wreath out of colorful baubles and tacky Christmas ornaments you find at Goodwill. For trailers with a cabin-chic feel, go rustic with flannel, burlap, pinecones and natural bark candles.
When it comes to color schemes, there are so many to choose from. Of course, you can always go the classic route with red and green, a traditional Christmas color scheme never goes wrong! If you want to freshen up the space, a modern take with white and silver can light up the room. For those who aren’t afraid of color, make the place extra merry with a retro multicolor scheme that’ll brighten up those gray winter days.
Patterns like plaid and stripes bring even more joy indoors this season, while shapes like stars and snowflakes can be hung on the walls or found in fabrics, ribbon and bunting.
If you’re traveling fulltime in your RV, having a ton of Christmas decorations lying around might not make sense. There’s an eco-friendly alternative to buying cheap plastic decorations that are likely to be discarded after the holidays. Use natural options you find around you. Foraging your Christmas decor is an excellent way to save storage space while simultaneously cutting costs and will land you on Mother Nature’s Nice List. While out on a hike, collect fallen pinecones, evergreen sprigs, Magnolia leaves and wild berries. But whenever picking up loose wood, make sure you heed local regulations. Back at camp, enjoy some mulled wine and have a craft day.
Dreaming of a Minimalist Christmas
Whether you’re on the road or just prefer keeping things simple for the holidays, you can make a little bit go a long way. A few bows here and there, a Christmas wreath on the door, and a red or green light bulb for the doorway are some festive options for campers on-the-go. If you’re wishing for an effortless light display at the RV Park, consider purchasing a Star Shower, a projected laser light display. The best part of all — you won’t even have to climb a ladder!
Baby, it’s Bold Outside
Sleighing the outdoor decorating game involves a lot of time and effort, but the end results sure pay off! For the Clark Griswold’s of the world, we get so much joy decking out our place for the holidays. For me, this means covering as much surface area as possible. For some, the Christmas decorations become a larger display spreading throughout the campsite. From a synchronized light show to a campsite adorned with Disney inflatables, you’re bound to have your presents known!
Get Lit This Christmas
Transform your home-on-wheels into a winter wonderland by adding some dazzling Christmas lights. Before you break out the lights, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you won’t exceed your available wattage. To conserve energy, LED bulbs use 90 percent less energy than their incandescent counterparts. They also last longer, partly due to the fact the bulbs are made of plastic and not glass, which tend to break more easily. If you plan on being off-the-grid during the holidays, a generator or solar panel can power your lights. Another option is to skip the standard electrical lights and go battery-powered with rechargeable batteries.
Indoors, lights can be hung around your windows and doorways or along your countertops and ceiling. While decorating the exterior, there are many routes you can take. Some ideas include lighting the contours of the trailer by creating a silhouette, hanging the lights along the canopy, or illuminating the walkway with some glowing candy canes or rope light. When it comes to attaching the lights, consider suction cups, magnetic clips, command strips and hooks.
Deck the Walls with Garland
For those who decide to skip a tree or simply want to add an extra dose of merriment to their camper, garlands are the perfect pick. Though most RVs have limited floor space, there are many opportunities for wall hangings. Garland can be attached to the ceiling, placed along a mantle or countertop, or hung around a door or window. If you want to add garland outdoors, they can be draped along fencing or hung from a canopy.
You can buy freshly cut garland from the store, or if you’re crafty- grab some free trimmings from Lowes, or forage from the woods and create your own. For those who prefer artificial garland, they can be bought pre-lit, or you can add your own lights. If you want to mix it up this Christmas, Michaels along with several other craft retailers offer colorful alternative garlands to hang for the holidays.
Put a Wreath on It
Hark! The herald of Christmas is undoubtedly the wreath. It’s simple, charming and it makes a home feel inviting during the holidays. Whether it’s hung on a door, over the mantle, or placed on the front of the trailer, it helps bring warmth to the coldest months of the year.
These days, you can find an assortment of creative wreaths on the market or by researching DIY tutorials online. Other than the classic evergreen wreath, you can find some made with bows and baubles, sequined appliques and ribbon, pinecones and burlap, or to be extra on-point this season, miniature Christmas trees and vintage campers.
Who said it has to be a White Christmas anyways? If your plans are taking you south this winter, embrace the warm weather decorations, too. Trade out the Christmas tree for a cactus or palm tree. If you still want the traditional tree, consider decorating it with a beach or desert theme. Beachy ornaments add a nice touch, and when you’re dashing through the sand, keep your eyes out for driftwood or shells that can be made into a tabletop tree. In the Southwest, luminaires can brighten up the porch, while poinsettias can add an extra splash of color. Last but not least, don’t forget the RV world’s favorite animal mascot, the pink flamingo!
Author, photographer and artist Cate Battles travels the country full time with her husband, Chad, in their renovated, mural-painted 1976 Airstream Argosy. The couple’s travel blog, Argosy Odyssey, chronicles their adventures as they tour North America with their pet goat and dog. You can read more of Cate’s dispatches for Trailer Life here and follow the Battles on Instagram and Facebook.