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Home for the Holidays in a Rental Home

by PCSgrades Staff - November 16th, 2022

Home for the Holidays in a Rental Home

Military families find holiday spirit wherever they are stationed. But it's challenging to feel "home for the holidays" when you've just moved and you're living in a rental. Whether you're renting off base, or just moved into a blank home on-base, PCSgrades is here to help you through the holidays.

Celebrating the holidays after a recent PCS

PCSgrades asked Jennifer Farlin, military spouse, mother of two boys, and owner of Bella Home Staging, what a military family can do when they just don’t feel the holiday spirit in a strange rental. What she came back with is really very simple. Jennifer says, “Home should rise up to greet you regardless of the address.”

Holiday traditions as a military family

In a word, our traditions have to be: flexible. Home is where the military sends you. My family has been to places where I kicked and screamed about going and to places where I thought this is too good to be true. We’ve lived in rentals with other people’s stuff where I had to cover all the furniture with sheets because I was mildly disgusted. We’ve lived in apartments where we rented furniture monthly and lived sparsely because money was tight. Our family has been stationed near and far from where we consider home– and holiday traditions have had to change accordingly because of it.

Read more about how military families handle holiday traditions in this article.

Focus on what matters

Kids came, and so did the inevitable deployments. Holidays became less about where we were stationed and more about would we even be together? And the holidays have a way of emphasizing everything that is right or wrong if you aren’t watchful. When you aren't going "home" for the holidays, but remaining in your own home, I’ve learned to carefully leave a bad attitude and unrealistic expectations in storage with the rest of my unneeded stuff. Focus on your own family, the traditions that matter to you, and the time you have together.

Yes, you should decorate!

Maybe the Grinch was wrong. He talked about the holidays coming "without ribbons, without tags, without packages, boxes, or bags!" But a little decorating can go a long way to making a rental truly feel like “home.”

How many of you have moved out of your home and when it was empty, it suddenly felt void of the life that had been lived there? Our “stuff” gets a bad rap, but it really can be the difference between turning four walls and a roof into your “home” or just a place you are stuck with for a couple of years. So go ahead, pull out your favorite holiday décor, or set up a mini tree if you're in the middle of a winter PCS move.

The moral of my story is that if you find yourself in a rental that isn’t feeling so homey this holiday season — unpack those boxes, put up a tree, light the candles, go totally tinsel!

Spread holiday joy to other families

Jennifer is no stranger to living in rentals as she is a military spouse of 16+ years. She was fortunate enough to help decorate another family’s temporary housing during the holidays—the First Family’s while in the White House. She was chosen along with about 70 others to decorate the White House for Christmas in 2013. “It was extraordinary. I heard they receive over 60,000 applications!” That’s right, you apply for the honor, and every year the requirements are a little bit different.

“I was assigned the East Room with a team of people, and let me tell you–we worked!” Jennifer spent the week prepping, creating, and decorating according to a careful plan laid out by the team leads. Days started at 7 am! She says that to pick just one highlight would be hard. But when we pressed, she said that being a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama for a Holiday Cocktail Reception as a thank you was something she would never forget. "I mean, who needs a thank you after spending a week in the White House!"

PCSgrades Staff