By Peggi McDonald
'Tis the holiday season, and you plan to go motorhoming.
It’s exciting to experience a change of scenery, perhaps warmer scenery, this time of year. But what about the beautiful tree and decorations that usually adorn your home? It’s not easy leaving behind the holiday traditions you've learned to love.
You don't have to. It's so easy to transform your home on wheels into a Christmas wonderland. Nothing can compare to the enjoyment of holiday decorating dressed in shorts and Ts while basking in warm sunshine.
Snowbird RV Parks in the sunny south decorate big-time for the holidays. They string lights and add angels, inflatable snowmen, animated Santas and so much more. Many RVers put in a similar effort.
If you’re a Christmas decorating junkie like me, it's one of the most fantastic seasons. I love rolling out all the stops so much so that I've won contests for the best decorated motorhome.
My husband, John, and I devote two of our smaller storage pods in our Luxor motorhome to stow our mega amount of lightweight Christmas highlights. In reality, my décor simply occupies space that would go unused. In our first, smaller RV, we stored all of this stuff in an auxiliary roof pod.
Many parks in the south host a busy month of celebrations throughout December that generally include a prize for the best creatively decorated unit. In the past few years I have been honored to receive a second and a third prize, and this is in competition with permanent park models.
A few winters ago, I sent a photo of our Christmas decorations to the Canada's CBC Worldnet TV program and they posted it on the morning news program. I included a photo of my Direcway satellite tripod Dish dressed as Mrs. Santa. Her attire included flowers around her neck and a huge pretty bow highlighting her bright red skirt.
Depending on the wind intensity at the location of where you are situated, you can secure your motorhome's awnings in the out position – maybe even add sunscreens -- and decorate them to your heart's content.
In one park in Texas, each campsite included a covered patio, mainly because the wind can be so intense that awnings can’t be extended. So, I strung icicle lights everywhere I could find on that patio. I also surrounded the lower portion of all four-sides of our coach with similar icicles lights.
We have adorned the tops of the windows with lights twisted on garlands. I keep everything in place with the help of large suction cups attached at various intervals to the RV skin. You can also use suction cups to attach bows, wreaths and stockings to the sides of your coach.
On the front of our motorhome, I string a luxurious thick pine-style garland twisted with several strings of lights from mirror to mirror and supported by the wiper blades. A separate, swag-style string of lights also highlights the front of the coach.
Our friends have three large animated blow-up caricatures adorning their RV campsite space. Several years ago, another friend outlined his entire motorhome with chaser lights. That was impressive.
In our home on wheels, three multi-plug power bars make it easy to keep everything glowing Sometimes, depending on where we are located, we connect one power bar to the 15-amp receptacle through a regular extension cord. Most RVers pay for power at snowbird parks, so stringing as many lights as we wish is not a park concern – and since these parks usually provide a 30- or 50-amp connection along with a 15-amp receptacle – we always have ample power to keep the décor brilliant.
We have also been in RV parks where the management provides luminaries (paper bags with candles in them) along each roadway to highlight the Christmas Eve wagon ride. Many RVers also add electric luminaries to the front pathways of their units.
Even if it’s not for a contest, it's such fun to add lights and trim a tree in the warm weather. And it's so enjoyable to host a Happy Hour under the twinkle of Christmas lights.
The decorating doesn’t have to stop outdoors. Christmas trees are now available in small to medium sizes that fit well in RVs. Some are even animated to play music in time with variegated lighting flashing on and off.
I add an inside delicate touch by pinning lengthy strings of pearls to many of my valences along with several small handcrafted angels. The S-style drapery hooks are super to attach items to valences. Small suction cups easily hold decorations on windows and mirrors. For instance, crocheted starched snowflakes adorn my windshield to complement my elaborate nativity scene I bought in Mexico.
Several of our friends add tiny decorative lights around the windows and along the ceiling. Another neighbor filled his dash with stuffed Christmas toys, which are abundantly available the week after Christmas, at half price or less.
Anything that provides a festive touch – without a too-heavy appearance – will work. Several years ago, when we had a previous coach, I gathered a string of lights into a bunch to represent a chandelier. These lighted creations adorned each window – suspended from the valence. Adding a pretty narrow ribbon and some garland or string pearls transformed these simple lights into outstanding and inexpensive décor. The list of decorating suggestions is only limited by your imagination.
During our early travels, when we were on the move almost every day over the holidays, we decorated our motor coach while spending a week at our timeshare condo. We wired each decoration in place – on the roof rack, the ladder, the mirrors, the awning arms. It was so much fun responding to the honks we received along the highway. The majority highly approved of our Santa sleigh.
If this is the year for you to spend Christmas in the motorhome, be sure to pack your decorations along with your can’t-leave-behind belongings.
After you have your motorhome all decorated up, why not host a simple Happy Hour to entertain all your family, newfound friends and neighbors during the lead-up to December 25. It's so much fun to socialize outside, basking in the sun during Christmas festivities. It’s time to begin accumulating a new set of holiday memories.
Merry Christmas to all, and safe travels.
Longtime FMCA members Peggi and John McDonald are RV lifestyle consultants with 24 years of full-timing experience. Peggi is the author of RV Living in the 21st Century, the E-book RV Travel to Canada 2006, as well the three-in-one E-book RV Packing Tips, RV Life Lessons, and Easy Living Hints. For more information, visit the McDonalds’ Web site, http://www.rvliving.net/.
A version of this story first appeared in Canada's RV gazette (www.rvgazette.com).