Decorating & Trees


 
 


 

 
Nothing creates a cheerful Christmas mood better than a beautifully decorated home. It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive to give your home that special Christmas feeling. The centerpiece is, of course, the tree, but there are dozens of other possibilities for bringing a festive spirit to your home with beautiful decorations. On this page you will find some suggestions for decorating that will spruce up your rooms and put you in a festive mode in no time!
 
 
Christmas Trees / The Great Debate

A real Christmas tree, or an artificial one?? There are valid arguments on each side. But I'm sorry, I have to come down on the side of the real trees. The smell of it alone is worth the money, even if I have to have a smaller tree, due to the expense. I admit, I have never had an artificial tree before, but that is why my childhood memories of Christmas are tinged with the piny tang of a real evergreen tree. I would rather not have a tree at all than resort to an artificial one. No offense to those on the other side of the debate, but for me, there is no choice. I know the artificial ones can be very realistic and attractive, but for me there is simply no substitute. And, they're actually ecologically superior, since it takes a lot of energy and resources to manufacture the artificial trees, and of course, the real ones are bio-degradable as well as a renewable natural resource. Go with your artificial trees if you must, but at least bring in some real greens for decorating so that you get a little of that glorious Christmasy smell!

"Ding Dong Merrily" Freeplay Music

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 Dollar Stores and discount stores are your friend, when it comes to Christmas decorating! Even on a modest budget, for example, you can put together a cute little Christmas Village to set up on a shelf, mantle or side table. Why not invest in a few pieces, such as a church, a shop and a few little people, and then just purchase one or two new pieces each year!


If you can afford it, you can buy the buildings that light up, though make sure you have a supply of extension cords to hook them together. If not, a simpler village can be just as charming. Try saving some small cardboard boxes in different sizes to use as levels, covering with the cotton blanket to make a hill. You can even find sledders to place on a little hill, and don't forget to add some trees. Christmas villages are a delight for children, who will want to help set it up and arrange and re-arrange the people.



Crèche/Manger/Nativity Scene




A display of the Christmas story is a beautiful reminder of the reason for the season! Even non-religious households can celebrate this joyful Bible story with a representation of the nativity scene. You can go as elaborate as you wish, including the Three Kings, shepherds, angels, and animals of all sorts. Or, you can keep it simple and have just the holy family themselves and an animal or two. When I was a child, my mother would put the little stable out on December 1st, and I was allowed to add one figure per day to the scene, with the baby Jesus being added only on Christmas morning.

In some parts of Italy, it is customary to build a huge and detailed Nativity scene in the home, complete with mountainous landscape of paper maché, trees, dozens of travelers making their way toward the stable, and of course all the main characters at the center of the scene. A beautiful star, often times lit, is always included above the stable. I was fortunate enough as a child to attend several dedications of the Nativity scene parties at the home of some Italian friends of my parents, and it was both a reverent and a joyful event.  Collect your manger figures and put them up, year after year. It will add a feeling of peace and a gentle reminder to family and friends who see it.




Mistletoe & Kissing!



Mistletoe is a must if you have a spouse or sweetheart who will be sharing Christmas with you. It's also fun if you're planning a party at your home. (remember; mistletoe has white berries, it's holly that has the red berries) As legend has it, the mistletoe possesses magical powers from the strength of the mighty oak tree, and those who kiss beneath it will be endowed with strength, peace, health, fertility and love.

Real mistletoe can be bought at most garden shops in sprigs that are big enough to be decorative, but small enough to hang  easily from a door frame or ceiling with a length of red ribbon. Of course, you should place it in a high traffic area of your home, so that kissing beneath it will be adequately frequent!

WARNING: Real mistletoe is quite poisonous and should not be used if you have pets or children in the home. Fortunately, there are some beautiful mistletoe ornaments that can easily be substituted, and of course, the kissing rules remain the same!

Here are a few to consider:

(click for closer look!)



Personalized Pewter Mistletoe Ornament - Christmas Ornaments







Gallerie II Mistletoe Kissing Ornament (68012)












Danforth Mistletoe & Holly Pewter Ornament














Christmas Mistletoe Ball
































 
Evergreens


Decorating the home with accents of real evergreens is a fresh and wonderful way to bring cheer to the season. It dates back to the ancient pagans, who brought evergreens into their homes at winter solstice to reassure themselves that spring lay beyond the bleak winter. You'll want a wreath on the front door, of course, but there are many places within the house that can be dressed up with evergreens as well. Plain branches of pine in varying varieties is really all you need, although holly, with its bright red berries, is a lovely touch if you can get it. (Do be careful that any holly you use is out of reach of children and pets, as the berries are not good to eat. Same goes for mistletoe!) If you don't have fresh holly or mistletoe, you can use artificial mixed in with the real evergreens.

Draping evergreens on a stairway is always charming, which can be affixed to the rail or stair rungs with bread ties or wreath making wire that you can get at a craft or hobby shop. But you don't have to do a big project like this to bring the pungent tang of evergreens into the house. A centerpiece with a pillar candle or taper in a pretty holder, surrounded by evergreen sprigs is a simple but festive touch.








(Be sure to use fresh greens, which are less flammable, and never leave candles unattended!)



Decorate with Christmas Cards

If you're fortunate enough to have friends and family who still send Christmas cards, these can be used to decorate your home! Find a pretty basket to display them in, or tape them at an angle down the sides of an entryway door from living room to dining room or kitchen. Or purchase or MAKE a card hanger as shown here.




Another simple Christmas cards decoration is to remove the bottom of a coffee can, and wind red or green yarn vertically around the can, tying the ends on the inside to secure. Then just slip the Christmas cards through the yarn loops and they will fan out around the can.



One more idea is this cool Christmas card display that you can make HERE. These card display holders can be packed away to be used, year after year too.

And don't throw them away when Christmas is over! HERE you can find some great ideas for recycling  Christmas cards from the previous season!











Add Some Quaint, Old Fashioned Christmas Carolers

Another option for a cute Christmas display is a group of caroler figurines. You can get these made from all sorts of materials, from ceramics to felt to paper maché. Just two or three carolers with perhaps a snowman or an evergreen tree placed on a side table or mantle piece adds a heartwarming little scene to your Christmas dècor. Ebay is a great resource for finding carolers, and you may luck out and find an older set that will have a lot of character! Browse, compare, and even combine pieces from different sets or from various materials. As with the villages, adding one caroler per year to your display can be a lot of fun! 




Scent Your Home with Christmas

Don't forget to find some ways to scent your home with those wonderful
Christmas smells! You can buy incense sticks or cones to burn in fragrances like balsam, frankincense and peppermint. Or, invest in some heavily scented candles to burn in sturdy, safe holders. Another option for scenting your Christmas home is to simmer some pot pourri, either on very low on your stove top, or in a small crockpot. You can buy dried pot pourri blends for this, or you can create your own by slicing lemons and
oranges and adding cranberries, sliced ginger root and cinnamon sticks to your pot. 
The steam is actually good for skin and sinuses during the cold  months, and the heavenly fragrance will transport you!  Just keep safety in mind whenever you are using a heat source of any kind. The last thing you want is for a disaster to occur to ruin your holiday, or worse!





Christmas Trees

So we arrive at the centerpiece of your Christmas decorating... the tree!  While most folks are content to decorate with a hodgepodge of  ornaments collected over the years, string some lights and drape some tinsel (all of which is just fine!), this might be the year to consider something unique and different. How about a themed tree? 
The possibilities are endless. You could go with an American folk art tree, and use only painted wooden and hand-made ornaments with strings of popcorn and cranberries. Or go in the opposite direction and create an elaborate Victorian themed tree, complete with lithograph picture ornaments and dozens of satin bows tied onto the branches! (Victorian trees used real candles on the boughs, but you can buy electric lights that look like candles in holders instead!) 
Another idea is to use only foods to decorate your tree. These can be real edibles, like the afore-mentioned strings of popcorn and cranberries, chocolates wrapped in shiny colored foils and tied on with ribbon, hard candies wrapped in crinkly cellophane, dangling from ornament hooks or lengths of embroidery thread, candy canes, home baked cookies, and any other edible you can come up with that can be affixed to the branches. You could also use store bought ornaments that look like fruits that clip on to the boughs. A tree decorated with edibles might not be the best choice with youngsters or pets around, however! 

Using a particular color combination is always fun too, and that can be carried through in the rest of your decorating around the house, if you want to get all "Martha Stewart" about it! Why not put some extra thought into your tree this year and do something different? And be sure to take lots of pictures to share with family and friends who can't see it in person! 





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