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4 Weeks 'Til Christmas!

Simple Christmas decorating ideas that won't break the bank.

Woot - It's the final countdown people! only 4 weeks - 28 days - to go! Given the lack of snow, I'll be decorating early this year - I've already dragged out a couple of rugs and, of all things, a magnetic penguin for the friedge (the things you collect when you have kids!).

What are you doing to decorate this year? Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
  • Bring the outside in - an easy, and pretty inexpensive, way to decorate is with twigs and pine cones you find outside - beautiful at any time, but particularly fitting during the holiday season. Pretty twigs can be placed in lieu of flowers in a vase (au natural or sprayed silver or gold to match your holiday decor) - hang ornaments or pine cones from them if you desire. Pine cones also look nice collected in a basket or shallow bowl, tied with ribbon and hung from a mantle, or dusted with glitter and hung from the tree. If you have mistletoe in your garden, snip some for your mantle.... if not, use those extra boughs from your tree to line it - they make a great backdrop for some candlesticks, big, bright ornaments or a trio of angels! Tree boughs are also a pretty way to decorate door frames and stair/deck rails outside.
  • Have Fun with the Tree - whatever kind of tree and decorations you choose, make sure they represent you, and the mood you want to create. For a crafty look, engage your children to help you make pinwheel decorations from yarn and Popsicle sticks, hand print Santa's, cotton ball snowmen, quited-Styrofoam balls, chain-link garland from construction paper, etc. Or, chose a colour or combination you love - traditional combinations like red, green or white with gold, or all silver, or a combination of your own favourites (I like blues, particularly paler ones, combined with a rose red and olive green - gorgeous!). If you have multiple trees, decorate them to suit the room they are in - we've put "Happy Meal" toys on the tree in the family room - great fun for old and young (I did this as a kid too, so some of mine are from Happy Meals in the 80's); you could use ornate ornaments in the living room; or string popcorn & cranberries for one in the dining room/kitchen and decorate it with bundles of cinnamon sticks (even add spare cutlery for some silvery sparkle if you dare!). For a vintage look, you could cut up last year's cards and string with ribbon as ornaments; use scraps of gift wrap to make paper cones, string beads (or old necklace pieces) to make mini-wreaths that sparkle and shine.
  • Wreaths - Everything works as a wreath for your front door or porch! A traditional round one in pine boughs or other greenery, or pine cones and berries, is beautiful, as are sparkly ones made from non-breakable ornaments (perhaps in the same colour scheme as your tree?). Just buy or make a base out of Styrofoam (Styrofoam insulation works too if you have some), paint it to match & blend in with your decorations, arrange your pine cones, ornaments, etc. as desired (snap a digital picture when you have it the way you like it - makes the placement that much easier once you do glue), then hot glue on. Tie with a ribbon and voila - easy-peasy! If that doesn't appeal to you, perhaps you have a bulky ornate frame lying around (yes, even a square or rectangle), that can be sprayed a shimmery red, silver or gold & hung from a wide, satin ribbon - tres chic!
  • Bring out everything red & green that you have: pillow covers, cosy blankets, table cloths - use what you have to get that festive air. Even go outside the box - a Christmasy quilt can double as a tablecloth and will really add some warmth to your dining room; a teddy bear with a red ribbon is a sweet way to welcome visitors. Books with green covers will look seasonal on your coffee table, fire engines & red cars look festive placed under the tree. Red dishes, even just a red bowl for the fruit on your table, dress up the kitchen..... the possibilities are endless!
  • Speaking of fruit - don't forget about food! Red & green apples or pears look pretty in a bowl, or stick some cloves in an orange (use a washable kids marker to map out a design, and a thumbtack to make tiny holes, then just push the cloves in). You can even slice apples or oranges very thinly, dry then=m out at a very low temp in the oven, then hang from ribbons in your window....
Lots of websites and magazines have wonderful, easy decorating ideas this time of year. Browse through Chatelaine, Better Homes & Gardens, Woman's Day, Canadian Living, Family Circle, Style At Home, Martha Stewart Living - among others - for a ton of great ideas or visit their sites online. Most of all though, have fun - decorating isn't meant to add stress to your Season - it is for the pleasure you get in creating the mood and seeing the finished product :-)

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