Friday, December 17, 2010

Simple Christmas: Little Things Make The Difference

One of the motivations behind a simple Christmas is the fact that it shouldn't cost an arm-and-a-leg to create a beautiful experience. And beautiful it should be! This is the time we celebrate the most important event in human history aside from Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.

In addition to frugal, Christmas decor should be easy to pull together. Beauty is everywhere, including the Dollar Tree (our local $1 store). But our tendency is to over do it; to go overboard, and thus our attention is distracted from focusing on one or two things that are truly lovely and we don't really see the beauty! And in this day and age of information overload, our brains need to rest... simple beauty is food for the soul!

For example, we all like to give food gifts during the holidays. But how many of us take the time to make the package really pretty? Think of the wrappings as part of the gift to the person you love. 

This tin cost $2.50 from a drugstore. I choose it because it had a simple pattern that has always been a favorite of mine and kind of a signature design that my friends will recognize as uniquely me. I plan to fill it with some wonderful cheese wafers, a family cracker recipe with sharp cheddar cheese and herbs. (I avoid giving "sweet" gifts" since everyone needs a break from these during the holidays). The tin has snowmen inside on the bottom with a bright blue print, but it won't be seen when lined with white tissue.

Avoid the tendency to mix too may patterns. Let one pattern be your focal point. If you use a solid color tin, then consider using a beautifully patterned ribbon. But don't rule out using a solid tin and a solid ribbon. this can be just as stunning if the two are well coordinated. Play it up even further with a great tag! And did I mention my love of brown craft paper; along with the gingham, it just says 'home'

Next, I bought a a couple of rolls of white satin ribbon with a bit of soft wire in the edges. I purchased these in different widths and they will be one of the elements that tie all my decorations together for the season. A large bow at the top of the tree, my wreath, and around the narcissus when they are getting leggy and need support. This same ribbon was added to my packages so that those who visit my home feel they received a part of our actual Christmas celebration since it ties into the decor. And I love the big bow effect... it's just so... elegant. If you don't know how to tie a really good bow so that it is straight, there are books at craft stores, such as Michael's, that have instructions for bow tying. (Or click HERE). Take the time to learn because it really makes a difference!

I did make one pricy investment several years ago that has been well worth the purchase - an embosser with the phrase "Kitchen of Andrew and Amy Walker" on it. I use this year 'round when giving food gifts and it makes a lovely touch. My favorite labels are copper colored and they go with just about anything. I just emboss and stick them on anything I make. In this case, I used card stock and cut around the edge with some scissors I had in our school supplies, punched a hole (invest in a small diameter whole punch!), and tied it with kitchen string.

For a final touch, add some greenery to really make it look like Christmas, but don't use something artificial. Go out in your yard and use some herbs that you already have (rosemary is my favorite), cut a small pine twig off a tree, or perhaps some holly. If you don't have anything like this, ask a neighbor if you can cut from their yard and make a note to yourself to plant something for this purpose next year!

The front door wreath is a perfect place to simplify and yet, create a beautiful entrance. Each year, I receive a lovely fresh green pine wreath from a friend. It comes with a red bow, some pine cones, and red plastic berries. This year, I stripped it down to the greenery with the exception of the pinecones and added a white bow in keeping with my theme. Looking good.

A $2 ornament from Pottery Barn with our family initial created a focal point for the wreath and some understated bling.

It still seemed a bit bare and lacked excitement, so I went out to the yard and cut some greens: juniper and boxwood from two different varieties (one was varigated). I didn't wire these in, but I just stuck them in the wreath (very simple, indeed). Much better, but it still doesn't look finished.

A few more pinecones... Ahhh, yes! That's the best! I actually used some floral picks to insert these additional pinecones. And because several looked dull, I sprayed just a hint of glitter on them.

This year, simplify your Christmas by making it easy, natural, and in keeping with "less is more". Instead of decorating every single nook and cranny in your home, let the little things make the difference and add one or two accents that really grab your attention or subtly highlight something that is already a focal point and make it say "Christmas". It will take less time to put up, and less time to take down, which is always a welcome benefit. But it will also create a soothing environment and hopefully one that will draw your heart closer to God as you enjoy the beauty around you!


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