‘Oh why don’t you come to us for Christmas?’

Image credit: Mary Poppins

‘Oh why don’t you come to us for Christmas?’ 

Said with love and excitement on October 4th. ‘We’ve got loads of room and it’d be so great to see you all.  It’s been ages.’

Yes, we do have the room, but the room is…Oh Lord!  Shabby.

Tired old wallpaper you’ve been planning to strip and change since the turn of the century, grandma’s old candlewick bedspread looking more grubby than shabby-chic, some old toys you couldn’t bear to get rid of, that tatty straight-backed chair from Oxfam you were always going to transform with chalk paint…

In these situations the first rule comes from both Dad’s Army, and The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Don’t Panic. 

The rest is the reliable wisdom of Mary Poppins.

Leaving aside her over-stressful injunction to be ‘practically perfect in every way’ (who needs more stress?) the first thing is:

‘In every job that must be done there is an element of fun’

So what is the spoonful of sugar that’s needed to make readying the house a pleasure?  Well, for me it’s the poring through pattern books and catalogues and inspirational websites.  Sitting in a warm chair with a humming iPad and swiping through all the wonderful possibilities of papers is the most fun you can have sitting down.

Secondly, please yourself.  It’s your house and your taste and your imagination (Mary Poppins is also very keen on imagination) so remember her clear statement early on:

‘First of all, I would like to make one thing clear. I never explain anything.’

You like it.  It makes your heart sing.  End of story. 

Next you need to get practical.  This is where Mary moves from heart to head. 

‘Practically perfect people never allow sentiment to muddle their thinking.’

So, order the paper for the walls, the paint for the chair, the new duvet covers, and review our blog post on decluttering a kid’s room to deal with the old toys.  It’s good to have a special notebook for this with dates for doing each task.  Book the decorator, or the relatives to help a couple of days after the materials are due to arrive. If you want something to happen, you have to plan for it. 

If you’ve forgotten the first rule temporarily, remember Mary’s injunction that:

‘There’s nothing like a good laugh’.

Take yourself a bit lightly – they say that’s why angels can fly.

And if it all goes a bit wobbly, remember you can always improvise.  Ms Poppins was never shy of making things up:

‘If you say it loud enough you’ll always sound precocious – supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!’


And if you feel you’re a bit more SuperNanny than Mary Poppins, here it is put plainly.

  1. Choose your decorations
  2. Be confident in pleasing yourself
  3. Allocate your tasks and make sure you have firm dates
  4. Improvise if necessary
  5. Include an element of fun – it’s a place to live and be happy.  Leave the showrooms to The Ideal Homes Exhibition!


Victoria x


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