Sunday, December 6, 2009

Deck the Halls- Easy and Inexpensive Holiday Decorating

This week I was asked to speak at our women's meeting about easy and inexpensive ways to transform your home for the holidays. I decided that it wouldn't work to just tell them, I had to show them, so I put together a slide show, and since all of you couldn't be there that evening, I thought I would share some of it here on OA!

First of all, my very favorite Christmas decorating tip is twofold - Greenery and Ribbon - lots and lots and lots of it!

Above is my chandelier in my entryway. It is festooned with some ratty old green garland that I have had since forever. It is wrapped with pretty gold ribbon, though, and just looks terrific! (Oh, and don't forget the kissing ball or mistletoe in the entryway if you like a good smooch!)

My advice was to go to Sam's or Costco and buy a few big bolts of ribbon that would look great in your home. They have like 25 yards and cost only around $8 each! What a deal!

Then be generous with your ribbon. Use it everywhere!!!

Pair your ribbon with greenery - either fresh greenery from outside, or (if you are a desert dweller like me and don't care deck your halls with boughs of tumbleweeds) artificial greenery. Even the cheap stuff can look terrific when wrapped with sumptuous ribbon. On top of the china hutch above I just piled some branches from a old broken artificial tree we had years ago. I saved some of the branches, and use them every year. I just piled them up there, stuck a big bow on top with the ribbons curling around and stuck some cheap dollar store poinsettias it the greenery here and there.

I tossed some gold cording and tassels on the ceiling fan, to draw the eye up and make things even more festive.

More ribbon and tassels and garland on the clock, and a big ornament hanging from the spindle on top. The wired ribbon is just loosely curled and tucked around.

My favorite place to use lots of ribbon is the Christmas tree. If you ever feel like your tree "needs something", add a ton of ribbon and it will pull it all together. I hang ribbon in big loops around and around my tree before I put the ornaments on, tucking it into the branches. Then, once the tree is decorated, I hang 8 or 10 big swirls of ribbon flowing down from the top of the tree in big curls like ribbons on a Maypole.

Find ribbon that matches your decor. I used a fun candy-striped ribbon over the windows in the family room, and simple wide red grosgrain and a bit of green tucked into the ceiling fans above.

Use greenery and ribbon over windows, doorways, topping cupboards and mantles. If I had a stairway, I'd wrap it all around the banister. Use it generously and everywhere!
Here are some other things you can do with your ribbon. Tie it around your throw pillows or around a stack of folded towels in the bathrooms to look like presents. Use it to hang pretty ornaments on a screen or over a mirror. Several glass balls hanging on ribbons lined up across a mirror or window would look terrific.

That brings us to the next idea - ornaments! Ornaments are not just for the tree. I love my big glass apothecary jars filled with vintage glass balls and ornaments, (P.S. a day after the presentation my boys were chasing each other like houligans in the house and destroyed all 3 pretty jars with the vintage gold ornaments and silver ornaments above -top left. So sad. Sniff sniff. At least I still have the pictures) but they would looks just as pretty filled with new ones. I saw very pretty ornaments at the dollar store - 7 or 8 for a buck. You can fill other dishes, baskets, and bowls with more ornaments. Tuck in some sprigs of dollar store holly and a bit more ribbon.

Other cheap and easy ideas :

Spray paint - of course! Shiny gold, silver, red! Spray pine cones, leaves, branches, and tired and out-of-date Christmas decorations that need a new identity. You can transform any ho-hum thing with a bit of spray paint.

Candy canes and candy. Candy canes are graphic and fun. Use a rubber band to hold them in place surrounding a cylinder vase or pillar candle, and hide the rubber band with a pretty ribbon. Hang candy canes on the tree - they don't even need a hook, or just set them in a jar. The candy garland above is simple stapled together. How fun! And you don't have to store them after Christmas (except, maybe, on your thighs.)

Cranberries. Colorful and cheap this time of year. Sprinkle them around the base of candles on a tray, or float them in water with some floating candles. String them up or use stick pins to pin them to a foam cone for a centerpiece.

Candles. Nothing brings the holiday feel like flickering candlelight. The candles above are decorated simple with pretty push-pins.

Some of my favorite ideas are dining chair covers made out of table runners (two chairs from one runner) and framing old family Christmas photos (you can even just use the frames already setting out - just swap out the pictures for the season.)

Another idea to make decorating work better is to display things in collections. I display all my various trees on the piano, and hang all my vintage stockings together. My collection of snowmen always peak out from the cupboard among my milk glass collection that acts as snow for them.
Also, try creating little vignettes here and there by bringing objects together that tell a story. Three wise men, a mirrored star, and a sign that says "Wise Men Still Seek Him", or an old sled, old wood skies, and my dad's old ice skates drying by the fireplace.

One thing that costs nothing and makes everything easier is to have a theme, or several, to work with. In my family room there is a lodge feel at Christmas. My kitchen is decked out in retro Christmas with vintage ornaments, and retro tablecloths, aprons, and stockings. My living room is all gold and glitz!

I also have two Christmas trees. One is all decked out and fancified in gold and the other smaller one is filled with all the homemade ornaments that my friend have made me over the years and the ornaments my kids have made and collected, and everything else! I love both trees equally, and any ornament I get will work perfectly on one of the two trees.

Finally, when it comes to Christmas decorating, my first priority is to bring the Spirit of the Season into my home, and the best way to do that is to remind my family and guests why were are celebrating - the birth of Jesus Christ. Be sure that you have a nativity set and that it is displayed prominently. I have collected nativities for years, some grand and some small, but all of them very loved. Most I have found at garage sales for only a few dollars, and many come from all over the world. My favorites are the ones that are handmade by people I love. I have over 20 nativities and I display them all together in my entryway so that they are the first things you see when you walk through the front door.

That was my presentation. I hope you got an idea or two that you can implement in your own home.

Now get some ribbon right now!


And happy holiday hall-decking from my house to yours!

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