butler's pantry

Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention.

Wasn’t that a School House Rock song?

I remember when Better Homes and Gardens came to photograph the house for their Christmas edition.  I was nervous and excited and running around the house trying to make sure everything was perfect and that every available surface was covered with fresh evergreens.

And then the crew arrived.


They were gracious and kind and surveyed the rooms and the evergreens and the trees and the decorations and the drfitwood stars on top of the tree and told me they loved it all…..

….but did I have any wrapped presents?

And did I ever use collections to decorate with for Christmas?

On the outside I smiled and nodded and point to some boxes and wrapping paper and said, “Of course I decorate with collections for Christmas.  Always.  Every year.”

But inside?

Inside I panicked and spent the next five minutes nervously glancing around the room, frantically trying to find some semblance of a collection I could decorate with.


I had nothing.

Thistlewood Farms - Christmas Tree - Bingo Cards

And then my eyes lit on a stack of vintage Bingo cards in a basket on the shelf….

….and inspiration struck.

I grabbed the stack of cards and randomly started stuffing them in the tree and clipping them on branches with clothespins.

And when I finished, I turned with a brilliant smile and pointed to the tree.

“Bingo cards,” I said proudly.  “It’s a family tradition.  We like to decorate with vintage collections from around the house and bingo cards are one of our favorites.”

Bingo Cards

photo credit: RTM Connect

They loved it.

They told me it was creative and fun and unusual and a simple, inexpensive Christmas decorating idea.


The bingo cards were a hit and made page 78 of the magazine.

And the moral of the story?

Decorating with collections is fun and easy and a great way to bring a little bit of the unusual to the holidays. And never underestimate the magazine for a family tradition….

….you started five minutes ago. 🙂


Here are some of my favorite tips for decorating with collections:

1.  Anything can be a collection.  Just find something that makes you smile.  I’ve collected teapots and frogs (the floral decorating kind) and baskets and blue and white plates and milk glass and license plates.

Everything looks better when there’s more than one.

2.  Look around your house.  You may have a collection and not even know it.

scrabble letters with wooden blocks

3.  I like to group all the collection together.

You can display them on a tray (like these wooden blocks) or in a bowl (like these scrabble tiles).

4.  Think outside the box.  Sometimes it seems like everyone is collecting the same thing.  That always makes whatever that “thing” is expensive.  Be a trendsetter and your collection will be more affordable.

5.  And lastly, don’t be afraid to show a collection the door.   Sometimes the fun of a collection is in the treasure hunt…in the finding of what you are collecting.  But years later?  As amazing and exciting as that collection is, sometimes you get tired of it.

So donate it.

Or give it away.

Or maybe use it to decorate in a new way…..

….like on a family tradition Christmas tree. 🙂

diy tips and tricks

 And now here’s some more tips on decorating with collections from some of my favorite bloggers.

unnamed (1)




how to decorate with collections on sutton place (1)


Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Peg Peg

    I agree, collections are fun...and the hunt is even more fun!! I showed a collection of rabbits the door, everyone was gifting them to me and it got out of control! When I down-sized, (empty nest) they were donated. I know have only a treasured few that come out this time of year. It's so nice to live with less. Happy Easter~ : )

  2. Image for Wendy from OldLakeGeorge.com Wendy from OldLakeGeorge.com

    I have a collection of wait for it......miniature turtles. Don't ask, but it makes me smile. Instead of sitting them beside each other on a shelf, I put them in a carved wooden bowl as if they are all playing in the water together. :)

  3. Image for Sherry@Thrift My House Sherry@Thrift My House

    I'm so glad you made it clear to us about the frog collection... you being the country girl that you are.... LOL! I love collections in decorating! Love your bingo cards and the story too! Have a happy day!

  4. Image for Stephanie Brown Stephanie Brown

    Love your quick thinking gal! I love blue and white dishes, pitchers, mason jars and sounds silly cream and sugar bowls! I do not even drink coffee! But still trying to be good like you and drink water instead of My beloved diet dr peppers!! Enjoy the sun and sounds like the stars!!:) oh I Am so Nosey n waiting!!

  5. Image for Rondell Rondell

    How neat everything is, the tree sigh! We just got done painting my kitchen and you gave some very good ideas to decorate with!

  6. Image for Jillynn Jillynn

    I absolutely LOVE this post!!!! I have some collections going (who doesn't right:) and I just haven't thought of great ways to display them. Thanks for this!!! Jill

  7. Image for Michelle Mortensen Michelle Mortensen

    You are SO clever! It looks great. I love collecting - but I often am stumped on the best way to display the collectibles. Thanks for some of your tips and inspiration. Best, Michelle from simplysantabarbara.blogspot.com

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