Tis the season for jolly decorations! Ever since I was little I remember helping my mom decorate the house for Christmas right after Thanksgiving, and it is the best feeling. The creative juices flow while you throw greenery and holly berries everywhere, and cover the tree in all manner of ornaments. Now, I know that Christmas decorating can be stressful, and challenging, much of the time, so I thought I might show you what we have done with the house this Christmas, and give a few tips along the way.
The greens! Ah, so important! Don’t let the only greenery in your house be the tree, as there is so much more that can be done with the pine boughs. Since moving to the country, it’s been rather a tradition for us to trudge out into the woods and collect greens. I even took out a couple of small pine trees and went all Kevin McCallister on the top half of a spruce. Worth it. Now we have little Christmas trees all over the house, plunked into crocks and vases filled with wet florist foam to keep them fresh. If you don’t have easy access to fresh greens, and don’t want to pay the fortune some places charge for them, there are many very real looking fake greens out there, and if you can mix them with a few real ones, no one can tell the difference (I definitely still do this!).
This year I have slowly but surely been working on making over my brother’s old room into my bedroom, and I was very excited for the chance to decorate it for Christmas for the first time. I cut some holly and mixed it with Eastern Hemlock, and wired them all together, as randomly and organically as I could (I think keeping things simple and not too perfect keeps an effortless look to the decor), and then I tied it all to the top of the hunt print that is above my bed. It is fairly wild and uneven looking, but I rather like how it came out.
When we lived in California, we always used to have a fake garland wound around our staircase railing every December. Looking back I think it worked well in our 1960s SoCal house, but when we moved to the New Hampshire countryside in a much more traditional, colonial layout house, we decided to try something new. Fresh greens sounded a bit intimidating, especially considering that we came from CA, where it’s always dry. We thought perhaps a real garland would shrivel up, turn brown, and loose all its needles within a few days of putting it up, but they actually hold up much better than you would expect! We normally put it up around the beginning of the month, and while you have to avoid touching it come the 25th as they do become brittle, it still looks pretty good, even almost a month later! I like adding plaid ribbon to the corners of the stair railing, and we put some micro Christmas lights on wire for a delicate and magical effect. (Also, a staircase is a great place to hang stockings if you don’t have a fireplace, and if you have neither staircase nor fireplace, try the bedposts…very British and special to wake up to Christmas morning!)
The grand centerpiece of the house, the focal point of the decorations, and the thing you gather around on Christmas day! Everyone has their own ideas of what the perfect tree looks like, but after many years of decorating, I have found what I love! I prefer a variety of all different ornaments that have been discovered and collected for years. Nearly every trip my family goes on, we pick up some Christmas ornaments, my grandma has painted many over the years, and my nieces and nephews have also created little ornaments…the result is a tree filled with all kinds of unique and interesting ornaments. It draws people in and makes them want to study the tree.
A few years back my mom also had the brilliant idea of buying little frames and putting old photos of ancestors and relatives in them to hang all over the tree. My great-great Aunt Ruth and her perfect finger waves…my great-great-great Uncle Clyde and his distinctive mustache…my great-grandparents on their wedding day…and my great-grandpa, Gramps, on his trusty horse, Gorgie, in California in the 1940s…they all look down on us from our tree, and it makes the whole thing that much more special to our family. My tip, always, is to collect as many unique and interesting looking ornaments as you can throughout the years, the vacations, and the antique shops, so that your tree always looks like “you”, and completely different than any other tree that anyone else has. Make it special.
What are your favorite ways to decorate your home for the Holidays, and why? I’d love to everyone’s thoughts on Christmas decor!