Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quick and Easy Holiday Decorating

Here at Ladybug Farm Annex, decorating for the holidays has always been a very big deal. There’s just something about the big old sprawling house with its Victorian details that cries out for a tree in every room and miles of garland decking the halls. In the early days I did the place justice, and it took a crew of six four days to string all the lights, decorate all the trees, and hang all the wreaths. As my crew of helpers has gradually diminished over the years to just one– me– I find myself going more for quality, not quantity, and taking shortcuts wherever I can find them.

One of my favorite shortcuts is the use of live greenery– everywhere! I’m lucky enough to have two giant hemlocks as well as a gorgeous holly tree, and they keep me supplied with holiday greenery year after year. Here in the mountains there is no shortage of pine trees, and I’ve often used native rhododendron and mountain laurel to line a mantel or a holiday table, or to place around serving dishes. In the southern part of the state, magnolia leaves are used much in the same way. And if you don’t have evergreens growing in your yard, use the trimmings from your live Christmas tree– I’ve done that too!

Some people suggest spraying evergreen boughs with clear floor wax to keep them fresh looking, or soaking them overnight in a pail of water to which a few ounces of glycerin has been added. I have tried both methods and they will, in fact, keep your greenery supple throughout the month of December. However, I’ve also used completely untreated green boughs and found they worked just fine if I don’t leave them out more than a week or two.

So here is my trick for making my house look like a winter wonderland with very little effort and almost no expense. The night before my holiday guests arrive, I place evergreen boughs on every flat surface– the mantle, the sofa table, the serving buffet, the stair rail, the bathroom vanity and tub surround, the coffee table. I tuck springs of greenery beneath the chargers or plates at each place setting and lay boughs down the center of the dining table. I generously scatter colorful glass ornament balls throughout the greenery, and tuck clear mini-lights inside the greenery on the dining table, the buffet and the mantle. When the lights are turned on, the Christmas balls pick up the reflection and turn the centerpieces into an enchanted forest. The whole thing takes about half an hour to lay out, and less than ten minutes to clean up. And best of all, assuming you already have the lights and glass ornaments left over from your Christmas tree, it’s free!

A bouquet of red carnations from the grocery store for less than ten dollars can fill three or four vases when supplemented with evergreen from your yard. Place the overfilled vases in strategic places throughout your house and it will look as though you went to a great deal of trouble and expense for your party. Carnations are notoriously long-lived, and with almost no care at all, your evergreen arrangements should last throughout the holiday season. I have also tucked red carnations (or, occasionally, roses) into the evergreen on my dining table or other surfaces, but keep in mind these will have to be tossed out after the party is over.

Here’s a fun idea I came up with this year. Rather than flatten and dispose of all the boxes that various things arrive in throughout the season, I saved them and wrapped them for an outdoor Christmas display. I used Christmas fabric for the ones that are out in the weather, but the packages under the cover of the front porch are covered in gift wrap leftover from last year. At the end of the season, the boxes will be crushed and recycled, so there’s nothing to store throughout the year. And the cost is next to nothing!


  © 2008 'Ladybird' by

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