It’s no secret that not all rentals are equal. Your last PCS may have been a smooth ride, or you could have hit a snag or two. And now it’s your first holiday season in your new rental except, it doesn’t feel like home yet. Jennifer Farlin, military spouse, mother of two boys and owner of Bella Home Staging says, “Home should rise up to greet you regardless of the address.”

PCSgrades asked Jennifer what a military family can do when they just don’t feel the holiday spirit in a strange rental and what she came back with is really very simple.

Just do it

By Jennifer Farlin

Home is where the military sends you is kind of what we do as military families, isn’t it?

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.


Kids came, and so did the inevitable deployments. It 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. I’ve learned to carefully leave a bad attitude and unrealistic expectations in storage with the rest of my unneeded stuff.

But the needed stuff? Well, not to make the Grinch’s message look bad 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.”

Bring on the Stuff!

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 inside of it? 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. Of course, the people help, but that’s another post!

Go Tinsel!

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!

I’m in a rental this year too. Here’s my tree. Homey? Yes!

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!”