Here are some great tips, ideas and helps to make your home festive and merry for Christmas this year. Included are many great craft ideas. Crafts ideas are in red, to make it easy to locate them.
*Change the everyday into the special…remove all regular pictures, knick-knacks, plants, etc. to make way for all your holiday pictures, treasures & decorations.
*Add magic and sparkle to the inside of your home by putting strands of white or colored lights on the ceiling, windows, mirrors, pictures, shelves and the mantel. Be sure to put an extra amount of lights on the tree so it is the main focal point.
*Speaking of trees, don’t stop with just one. Put smaller, extra trees in the kitchen, bedrooms and even bathroom. In the kid’s bedroom, let them have fun decorating their own tree. They can even make their own ornaments. It will keep them busy so you can have time to do your own holiday preparations.
*To build your collection of decorations, ornaments, lights and trims, don’t miss the after-Christmas sales when everything is half price (or even better). Also, try garage sales, thrift stores and estate sales throughout the year. Also, you and your family may enjoy making your own hand-made decorations.
*As part of your decorations, display quilts and afghans on couches, chairs & beds. It really adds that homey look. It’s especially good if they have a lot of green, red and white, though it’s not necessary.
*Get out all your children’s Christmas books, your Christmas craft books and holiday magazines and display them on coffee tables, shelves, in bathrooms, etc.
*Take extra care in gift-wrapping and give special thought to how they are placed under, and around, the tree. They are a wonderful holiday decorating addition for the time before the actual day they are opened, besides being a present to a loved one.
*Use garland on more than just the tree. Try them on windows, over doorways, draped over mirrors, mantels and pictures. You can also wrap it around banisters, loop it along the ceiling, or most anywhere. There are a lot of different varieties of garlands: tinsel, paper chains, greenery, foil links, beads, ribbon, and the string-your-own garlands of cranberries, popcorn or marshmallows.
*Turn your home into a winter wonderland with lacy looking snowflakes that you and your kids can make. Tape them, in groups of two to five-depending on size, to doors, windows, kitchen cabinets, etc. They are fun and easy to make with any white paper. They look especially nice against a dark color background (like a dark wood door). To make a paper snowflake: Cut white paper into an exact square (any size). Fold by half, twice, forming a square. Then fold corner to corner, once, forming a triangle (leaving one long side of the triangle with all the loose sides and the other long side as one single fold). Cut along all sides, leaving enough places uncut to hold the snowflake together. Be sure to make at least a few cuts deep into the center of the triangle. After it’s cut, unfold the snowflake to see what you have made. Store them flat (unfolded) in a single pile, until you are ready to put them up. If it will be a while, you may want to place them into a flat folder or book. Snowflakes are generally used only one year because they are difficult to remove in one piece. Besides, half the fun is making the snowflakes. You will find, too, that the more you make them the better and more intricate they become, so each year’s snowflakes will be better and better.
*Get the whole family together to create a holiday picture. Use poster board, or large paper, and combining scenes cut from Christmas cards, wrapping paper, catalogs and magazines sketch, draw and color to blend them together, making a panorama holiday scene to put on the wall as part of your decorations.
*Decorating for the holidays isn’t limited to things you can see. Christmas is a time of wonderful smells and memory-evoking aromas. To fill your home with a wonderful scent, make this easy simmering potpourri: Combine orange peel, cinnamon, and whole cloves in a small pan, half-filled with water. Simmer on low heat, refilling water as needed. One pan of fresh potpourri will last an entire day, perhaps two, but should be made fresh each day if possible.
*Get out your special holiday centerpiece and leave it on your table for your family to enjoy at each meal from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Make it festive every day!
*Make your welcome merry and don’t skip the front door in your decorating. Besides wreaths, you can decorate the front door decorating it with holiday welcome mats, garlands, etc. Another eye-catching decorating idea for the front door is to make it look like a wrapped Christmas present. To do this, use red plastic outdoor ribbon once vertically, and once horizontally. Make sure a large bow is in the cross point of the two. Also, you can add a big ‘tag’ with the words ‘Welcome’ or ‘Merry Christmas’.
*Toys are a wonderful addition to your seasonal decorations. Displayed on shelves, mantels, on beds, around the tree, on or near the television, or in groupings in corners in hallways, or wherever you would like. Dolls, teddy bears, trains, rocking horses, antique toys, wooden blocks (neatly arranged), drums, horns etc. can all fill even the grumpiest heart with thoughts of childhood and of dreams come true.
*While dreaming of sugarplums, let your children (as well as yourself), sleep between special holiday sheets. You can purchase ones ready made, or make your own with fabric crayons, (non-puffy) fabric paint, or iron-on transfers.
*Ribbons, ribbons everywhere. Little touches of ribbon make all the difference in the overall effect, and to individual displays. Use red, green, white, or holiday print ribbon to decorate and embellish lamps, chairs, pictures, mirrors, tied around throw pillows and even on the branches of your tree.
*Do not forget the bathrooms in your home. Put out Christmas hand towels, red or green bathmats/throw rugs, Christmas magazines, lights around the mirror, even a tiny tree or poinsettia. Try adding an extra festive touch by wrapping the lid of the toilet seat with a ribbon, and tying it with a big bow. I have done this and it is always commented on and enjoyed by guests.
*If you have a tree outside your window, turn the window into a festive holiday picture. Put dabs of peanut butter sprinkled with sunflower seeds or bird seed, randomly placed on the branches, then drape strings of popcorn or cranberries around it. The birds will come to enjoy the feast you prepared for them, creating a very beautiful tree with live ‘ornaments’.
*Pictures add so much to the decorations in a room. If you don’t have any, and can’t afford to purchase pictures that will be used such a short time of the year, consider making a few. These will become family treasures. You can embroider, quilt, cross-stitch or paint or draw a holiday picture to frame. You can frame pictures from old calendars from the month of December. Often the month of December (and sometimes even January) offers wonderful pictures on many calendars. I have saved my favorites every year, and they make very nice Christmas pictures when framed. Even old Christmas cards are pretty pictures, when placed in small frames or decoupaged onto wood. Another idea, which is a fun craft to do, is to make an ‘All the Glitters’ picture. To do this, collect old, broken jewelry, single earrings, broken necklaces, beads, jewelry you have that you don’t like to wear, etc. After you have gathered a large amount (you may want to make this a yearlong project, to allow time to gather the jewelry), cover a rectangle of thin plywood or very heavy cardboard with red, green, white, black or holiday print fabric. The nicest I have seen was a dark green velveteen fabric. Then make an outline of a tree with glue, sticking either green glitter, green sequins, green beads, or green yarn to the glue all along the tree-shape. Fill in the space that is to be the tree with your gems and jewelry. Use sequins or green glitter to fill any holes that there may be. For beads or necklaces, use them as you would use garlands on a tree. It is really quite pretty when it is all done.
*Fill baskets with pinecones, candy canes, small gifts, cookies, oranges stuck with cloves, greenery, apples, holly or glass ornaments. Tie with a bow and display around your home.
*Turn over bedspreads, comforters or throw rugs that have a plain white, green or red reverse side.
*Display photos of home, family and friends during past Christmases as decorations.
*Along with this year’s crop of Christmas cards, hang or display your favorite cards from past years with them. Other ideas for old cards: frame the very best ones to use as yearly decorations, let your children use them to make ornaments or mobiles, use as gift tags, make a bell-pull by attaching three or four to a vertical strip of felt, or decoupage onto a wood plaque.
*Your Christmas tree can always use more ornaments. Try hanging special objects, souvenirs, heirlooms, and momentos on your tree. Just some ideas are: baby shoes, photos, jewelry, toys, etc.
*Decorate all the corners, nooks and crannies of your home. To fill a small, narrow space on your wall try a bell-pull. An easy-to-make yarn bell-pull is one kind. To make one you simply braid about 15 strands of red or green yarn, using any kind of ring at the top (to hang the bell-pull) and tying the bottom of the braided yarn with a simple yarn bow. It should be about 1 ½ feet long. Then get four or five scraps of holiday colored fabric and cut into 5 to 8 inch circles (all the same size). Place a small amount of cotton, batting, tissue, paper, rice, uncooked hard beans, potpourri or a small bouncing ball in the center of each fabric circle. Gather the fabric closed around the stuffing and tie each one closed, while attaching it to the bell-pull, with a piece of ribbon or yarn.
*Another wall decoration idea is ‘Fabric Silhouettes’. Fabric Silhouettes look very festive, and these country/Victorian looking ‘pictures’ are a fun craft idea. To make, cover a square, circle or rectangle piece of cardboard with holiday colored (or holiday print) fabric, or put a piece of holiday fabric in an embroidery hoop. This is your background. Surround this with lace, fabric ruffle or ribbon as desired. Then cut out a holiday shape (tree, snowman, bell, star, gingerbread man, candy cane, etc.), using cardboard. You can use cookie cutters, stencils, or draw the shape freehand on the cardboard-but keep it simple. Trace the cardboard shape onto quilt batting and then cut the batting shape out. Glue the batting to the cardboard shape. Cover this with a holiday fabric that is different than the fabric you used on the background. It you want you can surround the shape with lace, or adorn with ribbon (for example: if you have the shape of a bell, you might like to use ribbon or lace across the middle for the band, and place a bow at the top). You can also use sequins, beads, glitter or fabric paint to the top, if appropriate, though plain shapes are nice as well. Glue the finished shape to the background. Use ribbon to make a loop to hang it with, being careful to place the loop in the exact center.
Have fun decorating and have a very merry Christmas!
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