Article and Photo Courtesy of Organized Christmas
It's a race!
Watching our neighborhood over the past weekend, I had to smile. First one, then three, then an even dozen of our neighbors mounted their entries for the year's holiday light show.
Fads and fashions come and go. Last year, a few "early adopters" outlined their houses with the newest lighting fad, strings of light that race along the trim and roofline--and the year also saw the arrival of giant inflatable snowmen, Santas and reindeer on neighborhood front lawns.
What will be this year's holiday decor must-have?
One family plants red plastic poinsettias over their landscape lights for a unique touch. Another household leaves the job up to professionals--creating so much light outside that one can read a book by them!
Dr. Steve and I, great believers in the art of the understatement, are left behind in the dust, adding only small window candlesticks and a front-door wreath to the blaze of holiday glory.
On this weekend, our neighborhood resembles just that: a neighborhood. Neighbors call from lawn to lawn and lend a hand as lights come out to be tested, hung and lit. Teenagers scramble up and down ladders. Children run about, frisky with cool weather and the festival feeling.
Each evening, groups of family members survey the job from the center of the street. Enough? Too much? Just right? Our normally quiet street comes alive with the holiday feeling.
Amazing, isn't it, what can happen when you put a little light into your life?
To Do Today
Print the 2 forms:
Inventory holiday decorations
Up into the attic. Down into the basement. Around the corner into the storage shed. What will you find when you unearth your holiday decorations?
If you're like most of us, you're going to find a mess. Bulging boxes, bags and stacks. Tangled strands of lights. Tattered tinsel garlands. Ornaments packed willy-nilly. Fresh new bags from after-Christmas sales containing duplicates of the items you already have. It's as if you left a joke present to yourself from Christmas Past. Surprise!
This year, we'll do better. When we put away Christmas, we'll take time to protect, preserve and organize holiday decor items. We'll tuck special items away with care and thought, breaking the chain of holiday disorganization.
For now? It's enough to know what you have. Today's assignment, to inspect and inventory decorations, will create a record for your Christmas notebook.
Armed with this list, you'll shop the post-holiday clearance sales intelligently, store your decorations efficiently, and be able to retrieve specific decor items without having to tear through six or seven choked boxes.
Ready? Let's get organized ... for no more storage surprises!
To Read Today
A lovely holiday home ... on a budget? Get our best frugal strategies for a beautiful home:
Save on Decor: Frugal Holiday Decorating Tips
Nothing says "Christmas!" like a beautifully decorated home. Fragrant greens, twinkling lights, holiday centerpieces all set the stage for a merry holiday season.
But at what cost?
If you believe catalog vendors, department stores and florists, be prepared to lay down a bundle to create that holiday home. Each year sees a set of new colors, new images, new trends, all designed to part you from your holiday dollars.
Take heart! There's no need to break the bank to decorate your house for the holidays. Simple strategies and a dash of creativity can go a long, long way when it comes to decorating. Try these ideas for the festive--yet frugal--home.
Use what you have
Before you dash out to the craft store or trim-a-tree shop, pay a visit to the attic or storage room. Memories fade from year to year, so refresh yours with a quick inventory of the holiday decorations you already have on hand. Keep them firmly in mind as you read Christmas magazines or check out the Festival of Trees displays. Can you update your decor with a few simple additions?
Wherever you live, look to the natural world for a source of inexpensive decorations. I've piled gold-tipped pine cones into bowls in Georgia, threaded dried apple slices into wreaths in Apple Country, and even wound twinkle lights into spray-painted tumbleweeds in arid Nevada.
Look around you for inspiration, and bring Mother Nature inside for the holidays. Her price is right!
Fly your own colors
Each year, designers and stylists promote a new, hot color scheme for holiday decorating, hoping to spur improved sales through color obsolescence. One year, holiday colors will trend bright, primary and inspired by the 1960s. The next, "retro" schemes are back, with rich reds and dense, dark green taking center stage.
The best defense against the annual hot-color changeover is to claim a personal decorating strategy: choose a color, a texture and a metallic and stick to it for life.
For your personal color, choose any color except green--green is a Christmas neutral. For texture, think plaid, or satin, or velvet, or calico; a personal choice of the finish you want to display. Metallic? Silver or gold: pick one.
How does it work? Say you've chosen the color deep red, the texture velvet, and gold as your metallic. So long as a new decor item contains at least two of your three personal choices, it'll work.
Bright-blue velvet ornaments will fit in as long as last year's red ornaments are also velvet-textured. If calico is your texture choice, color is up for grabs, so long as every new item sports a calico texture. Or, vary the textures, so long as the colors stay in the same deep-red family, and all metallic tones are the same.
Forming a personal decorating strategy is a smart move. Shopping the after-Christmas sales is much easier when you know to grab every red velvet anything on that sales table.
Display collections and souvenirs
Rout out all those teapots! Unpack Auntie's salt-and-pepper shaker collection! Holiday decorating dovetails nicely with displaying collections. Group grandmother's demitasse cups and saucers around a teapot on a tray, and add holly branches for an instant centerpiece.
Don't ignore the mundane! I got big, wide smiles from my poker-playing husband when I decorated a tiny tree with playing cards and bow-clad bottles of airline drinks. Mini-pretzels threaded on a ribbon completed the Doctor's Playroom Tree, and it was amply admired by every male who passed through the house.
Those who travel do well to think "Christmas!" when it comes to souvenirs. Souvenir Christmas ornaments are widely available, pack well, and make a wonderful decorating splash.
If you have collected enough ornaments, consider creating a travel tree: a small tree displaying souvenirs, postcards and ornaments. It's a great conversation piece at holiday parties.
Think theme--and spread the word
Choosing a personal theme for Christmas decor not only makes decorating meaningful and fun, but gives others a head-start on gift-giving. Building a stock of holiday decor around a theme is easy when you spread the word!
My mother, Texas-born, decorates her home in a Southwestern motif. Finding a Christmas gift for Mom is as easy as buying a string of chili-pepper lights or tiny bottle of Tabasco.
(And for Mother's Day, who can forget the garage-sale find of a lighted Lone Star Beer sign? Don't laugh--she loves it!)
Whether it's angels or Santa or gingerbread or your home town football team, choosing a theme can simplify decorating decisions. Tell the world, and you'll find your decor given to you!
Don't neglect local craft fairs or holiday bazaars as a source of inexpensive Christmas decorations. Most items are reasonably priced, and generally, the proceeds go to a good cause. Support your local crafters and save!
Look to the kitchen
Food and decor intersect at Christmas time--and never more happily than when the whole family gets in on the fun. Build a gingerbread house with the children. No matter how crooked the walls or droopy the roof, you?ll have created a centerpiece--and memories.
Use a soda straw to punch holes in cookies; string a ribbon through the holes and hang your creations on the tree. Even such simple touches as a bowl of nuts on the table serves the holiday decor scheme
Holiday decorating. It can be beautiful, lively and fun--and frugal. Practice these frugal decor strategies . . . and save money on holiday decorating!
blizzard bites gift in a jar recipe
A seasonal treat with the taste of Christmas: Blizzard Bites!
A crunchy snack mix with a seasonal zing, Blizzard Bites make a wonderful layered jar gift.
Printable gift tags spark this gift in a jar, making it perfect for teacher gifts or Secret Santa exchanges.
Crunchy and sweet, this no-bake snack mix in a jar is easy to make and fun to give.
To make Blizzard Bites, you'll layer crunchy cereal, pretzels and peanuts with tangy dried cranberries and candied pineapple in a Mason jar or canning jar, then add meltable white-chocolate chips.
To make Blizzard Bites snack mix, recipients melt white chocolate chips and coat the snack mixture with a sweet holiday topping. It's simple ... and sweet!
A great gift for teachers, Secret Santa exchanges or 12 Days of Christmas activities. Make it easy with free printable gift tags!
1 cupRice Chex-brand cereal
1 cuppretzel twists, small
1⁄2 cupdry-roasted peanuts
1⁄3 cupsweetened dried cranberries (craisins)
1⁄3 cupdried pineapple, coarsely chopped
1 cupwhite chocolate chips
1 canning jar, quart-size with lid and ring
1 food storage bag, small
Layer cereal, pretzel twists, peanuts, cranberries and dried pineapple in a quart-sized canning jar.
Place white chocolate chips inside food storage bag, and place on top of layered ingredients.
Seal jar, and attach printable gift tag. Or, hand-write tag using the recipe below.
Makes 3 1/2 cups snack mix.
Blizzard Bites Recipe
Remove white chocolate chips from jar. Empty remaining jar contents into a large mixing bowl, and mix thoroughly.
Place white chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Melt white chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir until melted. If additional time is needed, check at 15 second intervals. (You may add 1 teaspoon solid shortening to thin chocolate mixture, if necessary.)
Pour melted white chocolate chips over snack mixture. Stir until snack mixture is evenly coated. Spread mixture in a single layer over waxed paper, and allow to cool completely.
Break mix into smaller pieces, and store in zipper food storage bags or an air-tight storage container.