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So many options for holiday decorating

Published 11:21am Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was busy, but great. We had a big meal on Thanksgiving Day, and then leftovers for the next couple of days. Now it’s time for my favorite time of the year – Christmas. I love celebrating the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus.

I love to decorate for Christmas. There’s just so much you can do. I remember when I was growing up there wasn’t as much variety in the Christmas decorating department, now just about anything goes!

I was amazed to find a “Noah’s Ark” decoration for Christmas. I think there are about a million different angels. There are great big oversized decorations and little bitty teeny tiny decorations. The variety of lights is phenomenal! There are tiny lights, big lights, flashing lights, constant on lights, single colored lights, multi-colored lights, curtain lights, net lights, angel lights, bulb lights, twinkle lights, rope lights, ribbons with lights, lights, lights, and more lights! There are also inflatable figures, animated figures, and so much more!

The other thing I noticed about decorations is that they are expensive! So I thought this week I would share some of the things I do to help cut the cost of decorating for Christmas.

First of all, I plan a year in advance. Well, sort of anyway. What I do is wait until after Christmas to buy new decorations for the next year. I admit it is hard to wait to buy them and then pack them all up! However, I remind myself that after Christmas I can usually get twice the amount of things for my money, than if I bought them now. For example, I love penguins. I have collected them for years. Last year, I saw some wonderful little penguin village decorations. However, I just couldn’t see spending the money on them before Christmas. I took the chance that they would go on sale after Christmas and the store would not sell out. My patience was rewarded when I got two for 50% off. If there are things that you need for this year, try checking out the craft section of your discount store first. Most of the time, I find things like ribbon and beads are much less expensive in the craft section than in the holiday section of the stores. Do you want several bows of the same type? Buy one bow, look at it carefully, then buy some of the ribbon on the spool and make your own bows!

Secondly, I try to “re-dress” what I already have. About 15 years ago, I saw the perfect wreath in a store, but could not afford it. I looked it over very carefully, and wrote down a few notes. I went to a discount craft store and bought some ribbon and close to what was on the store’s wreath. I also splurged a bit and bought some battery operated lights. When I got home, I took the decorations off our very tired ten-year-old wreath, and then I “re-dressed” it with the new decorations. My husband came home from work and frowned at the “new” wreath hanging on the door and proceeded to remind me that our budget was very tight and he didn’t think a new wreath was an appropriate expenditure — especially one that nice! He was very pleased when I told him it was not a “new” wreath. It was “new” decorations. That same wreath is currently on its sixth or seventh makeover. I’ve also re-glittered ornaments, replaced frayed ribbons, and hot glued many Christmas decorations. (I think I could practically hot glue a house together!)

Remember, I said one time that desperation is the mother of creativity? Well, it stands true for Christmas decorating, too. I was lucky enough to get a Christmas tree at a yard sale very inexpensively, but buying ornaments for it was a problem. I began to think about the “themed” trees I have seen the last few years. You know the ones that are all one color, all nativity scenes or whatever. My thoughts became, “What do I have enough of to ‘theme’ a Christmas tree?”

I decided to do a “memory” tree. To begin with, I put a couple strings of white lights on the tree. Next, I took all my kids baby booties and stuffed them with batting, tied the ribbons and strings into a knot and used them to decorate an entire 4-ft tree! I also added the baby bonnets I had leftover for decorations, as well. I even used the shoes my 15-year-old wore her first Christmas, and her first winter mittens. I put a large bow on the top with long ribbon streamers going down the sides to finish it off.

This year we’re going to have the “family tree” with all the things the kids have made and the ornaments that are “theirs”. It’s a special way to show how much their things mean to me — they have their very own tree! I’ll also have my “memory tree” and a more “formal” tree for my “very breakable please don’t touch those” ornaments. That’s assuming my kids and hubby will let me put up three trees this year.

There are many things that can be used for Christmas decorations. For example, the year we lived with my grandmother I discovered she had saved a couple handfuls of Christmas cards from over the years. I asked what she wanted to do with them and she said just throw them out. I hated to do that, many of the cards were very pretty. Well, I decided I just couldn’t trash them. I sat down and made out a pattern to make blocks. I then lined the pattern up so the prettiest parts of the cards would show; I traced my pattern, cut it, folded and glued the blocks, then added ribbon for hanging them. Many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins recognized their past Christmas cards hanging on the tree! It brought up some old memories and great stories of past Christmases!

Another year, our church in Kentucky asked that each person in the church bring a handmade decoration for the tree in our fellowship hall. All my children were fairly young so I figured I would have to do most of the “making” of the ornaments, but I wanted them to help as much as possible. I ended up making flower angels. I bought some very inexpensive flowers and cut them off their stems. I turned the flowers upside down and glued small wooden balls on the very short stems for the heads of the angels. Next, I used paint pens and painted cute faces on the heads. I glued a little bit of doll hair on the balls as well. The final step was the wings and halo. I used short pieces of ribbon to make a small bow for the back of the angel and secured it with craft wire. I left enough craft wire to hold up a halo, which was an inexpensive gold craft ring. I glued the wings with halo onto my angel along with a small loop of gold string to hang them by. I let my kids pick out the flower, hair color, and ribbon for their angels. The older kids were able to help with the making the wings and halo, too. The flower angels were a big hit.

There are many other inexpensive materials for ornaments such as Styrofoam balls that can be covered with sequins, beads, or small lengths of ribbon. Homemade dough or clay recipes are also terrific for making ornaments. Bells are inexpensive and when hung by a ribbon they look wonderful on a tree.

I hope you have a joyous (and creative) time decorating for the holidays.

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