Celebrating Authentically

November 30, 2016 § Leave a comment

wreathAfter years of using fake greenery around and on my front door in a futile attempt to make holiday decorating easy and inexpensive (true confessions — you’ve heard of the cobbler’s children having no shoes?), well my big, beautifully-adorned-with-more-fakery wreath fell apart onto the closet floor.

That single event made quite an impact, literally and figuratively, of course. I am SO fed up with fake everything: plastic wreaths, plastic lights, plastic balls, plastic blow-up Santas, plastic reindeer in the yard. For me this year, after quite a year, I am settling down to a visually simple, quiet, authentic holiday season.

I don’t mind others’ decorations at all — the lights, the colors, the flashing sleigh on the roof, and everything else that makes children’s jaws drop in sheer delight — don’t get me wrong. But I guess with the kids all out of the house, I don’t feel the need to create a spectacle. And it’s okay.

For those of you who share my desire for a simpler holiday, I’m here to say that it’s okay. A few special ornaments or treasures from past years displayed among some fresh greens on the dining room table or mantle can provide the essence of the season without the hassle and the clean-up on January 2. For those who adore the season of color and lights, go for it. The rest of us will appreciate all you do to make our neighborhoods sparkly and special.

ribbonedSo today I am going out to buy a big plain evergreen bough wreath. Then, I’ll tie a big light blue floral ribbon on it and hang it on the front door. Then I’ll snip some pine from the backyard and stick the branches in my big blue pot on the front porch. Maybe even put a spotlight on the door so the house looks welcoming at night. And with that done, I can focus on making the holiday special and memorable for my family and … for me.

(wreath: LLBean)

Zen Holiday Decorating: An Oasis from Mall Madness

November 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Does your beautifully decorated home brace for the onslaught of holiday decorations every year? When your artfully arranged furniture is sidelined to make space for the tree and your oh-so-subtle color scheme is squashed by the big footed Santa and his reindeer? I feel your pain… 😉

I’m here to help. But before that, if you have children, then forget about it. Do up the most spectacular Christmas you can imagine and enjoy the blinking lights and the kaleidoscope of colors for as long as your children appreciate your home’s transformation. And for the young-at-heart who still enjoy reliving this most festive time, then relax. Go ahead and hang all those old ornaments on the tree. The holidays are for celebrating and reminiscing too.

Now for those of you who would prefer a light touch to the holiday decorating and would like to create an oasis from the mall madness, this tip is for you.

Limit your holiday color scheme of ornaments, ribbons, and decorations to white. That’s it. Then, just as the photo suggests from http://www.traditionalhome.com, add the necessary sparkle with glass ornaments, silver and gold metallic objects to reflect candlelight, and simple greens. You will be amazed at how festive your home looks without even an ounce of Santa’s sleigh red.

Christmas in NYC

December 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

New York takes on a special character during the holidays: strolling down Madison Avenue, walking by Macy’s window, and being part of the busy crowds of shoppers. All of that says Christmas like nothing else. The big, the bright, and the beautiful!

One challenge to decorating NYC for the holidays is how to make what is already glitzy even more noticeable and memorable. The answer? Big oversized displays and lights — lots of them — as we see in these photos.

Another challenge to decorating NYC is the scale. One example of a large venue that usually needs little embellishment is Radio City Music Hall. With its gilded walls, it’s already dressed for the holidays. But designer Thom Filicia and his team found a way to add drama to an already-dramatic lobby. They hung a white crystal Christmas tree from the ceiling — an imposing focal element as you enter the building. He documented the project on Christmas at Radio City Music Hall (an HGTV special: http://www.hgtv.com/radio-city-holiday/show/index.html) and after seeing the program, I checked it out. Even with all the crowds milling around the lobby, the decorations make a huge statement.

The take-away from this study in light and scale is something you can use at home. Go big with your wreath and other Christmas ornamentation or if it’s small (like lights), have a lot of them. If it seems too big from the house, it’s probably perfect from the street. Here’s a tip for decorating deciduous trees: wrap the lights around each of the branches and then the trunk. You will get a much more dramatic effect than simply winding the string of lights around the outside as if it’s a typical Christmas tree.

Enjoy your holidays!

Have a Vintage Holiday

November 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Tradition is a huge part of any holiday — whether it’s Christmas, Hannukah, or any other special time of year. And carrying on the traditions of the holidays can mean digging out old family recipes, recreating family outings, and certainly decorating. These figurines, from my mother’s collection (circa 1950 at the latest) are part of our holiday decorating. Just seeing them brings back all the wonderful childhood memories surrounding Christmas.

I hope you have something old to bring to your holiday decorating this year. Although it’s fine to buy an artificial tree, cover it with twinkly lights, and install a giant blow-up Santa in the front yard (the children love all the over-the-top magic and color — go for it!), it will be nice to reach back into the past for a piece of nostalgia that will make your own holiday a richer experience.

If your family heirlooms are long-since broken or distributed to other family members, check out consignment stores and antique shops. You’ll be amazed at what treasures you can find there, particularly around the holidays. Some of the vintage items may indeed transport you decades back to your youth. Embrace them. Bring them and their character into your home. And enjoy.

Southern Style Christmas Tree

December 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

When it comes to decorating for Christmas in the South, more is better. And bigger doesn’t hurt either. The Celebrity Holiday Homes 2010 special on HGTV featured Trisha Yearwood’s home decorated with big wreaths made from cuttings from her yard, a rainbow of ornament and ribbon colors, and beautiful hydrangeas perched between the boughs of the Christmas tree! Now that’s an idea that never would have occurred to me so I decided to try it on my own Christmas tree.

I hauled out some silk bouquets I had put away in the closet and selected the reds and creams for the tree. What a terrific pop of color — similar to oversized ornament balls but more textured and interesting.  I kept all my other red glass Christmas balls and the children’s ornaments from Nana as well as the little plaid bows. But the silk hydrangeas really make the tree look special even way up here in New England. I’m hooked.

So for those of you who celebrate,  y’all have a colorful Christmas!

Color Your Spirits for the Holidays

December 12, 2008 § 3 Comments

gingerbread21 Remember when the Grinch stole Christmas? All the trees, lights, stockings, and gifts —  the trappings associated with a wonderful holiday celebration– were suddenly gone? They had vanished during the night while everyone down in Whoville slept. What happened next in this wonderful Dr. Seuss tale was even more remarkable for its simplicity. Despite losing everything, Whoville didn’t seem to care. All the Whos down in Whoville celebrated anyway.

Of course, the story has a happy ending, but for many people this year,  the heartwarming bedtime story has led to a nightmare from which they cannot awaken fast enough. This year it truly feels a little like the Grinch has been here again. With the world-wide recession, job loss, and home foreclosures, many of us around the country are struggling to find that holiday spirit that we used to have and that we desperately want our children to experience in the midst of all this mess.

If you’ve had to cut back this year from your more typical shopping, decorating, and holiday festivities, you are not alone. Keep in mind that gifts can be simple (like homemade cookies), acts of kindness can mean more to people than more stuff,  and spending time with our kids is ultimately the gift they’ll remember long past any particular disappointments on Christmas morning.

And to lift our spirits and with the festival of colors inspired by a child’s gingerbread house, let’s all go a little crazy with color this Christmas.

Dig out that snowman sweater from the back of the closet and wear it. Often. It’s going to bring a smile to somebody’s face and that’s a good thing.

String a row of colorful neckties, like garland, from one end of the wall to the other. Your kids will think you’re nuts but who cares?

Fill a big bowl with scraps of colorful ribbons and little balls of leftover yarn and a few silvery mismatched ornaments and display it in the middle of the coffee table. Now you’re getting the idea.

The holidays don’t have to be the way we knew them as kids. Times are different now. But you don’t have to spend much, if any, money at all if you dig deep into your hope chest of creativity for some colorful decorating ideas that will raise your spirits and everyone else’s too.

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