I created a totally false timeline for decorating: anything unembellished by Sunday at 5:00 pm would not be completed. I made it- all but the clean up. And the house, if not as overloaded as in years past, is a shimmery jewel. I am content. I have packed away the tools of Christmas creation- pipe cleaners, cup hooks, hammers and small nails (do not tell Steve) Scotch removable hangers, wire, lights, electric candleabra, ornaments, garland, voile fabric, extra timers and cube taps for multi plugs. Now at 8:00 a.m. my house lights itself up, and I am greeted by shine and glimmer. I always feel compelled to apologize for being a glitter wench. I prefer holographic ornaments, because they strobe so beautifully at night. It is a dark time of year, and dazzle is where it is at. It is so cheap to come by, too. I had two rooms re-painted since last Christmas, so it was a new game plan for me. I actually determined that I would stick with red and green for the most part, and I was faithful. My house is not a big place, but I have Christmas in every corner. One year each boy had his own themed tree. I have streamlined so much….but there are twenty bins of things in my attic that are pouting at their rejection.
I bought an artificial tree without lights last year, because I always wrestle with outages. I invested in LED lights so I could overload it, and it looks like a diamond mine. I was entitled to use 27 strings, end to end. I limited myself to 17. My ornaments are mostly treasures, and then I lay fronds of glittery foliage and grapes in between the branches. In a dark room the tree reflects like crazy. If Steve was the make out type, it’d be romantic. I offer to put a tree in our bedroom for romantic purposes, and his eyes roll WAY back in his head.
I got my love of Christmas from my Mom, who found time and strength to dazzle us with decorations when we were kids. The holidays were one of the very rare occasions when we were allowed in the living room, and so the glow of her candles, ribbons, tree and village was a double treat. This year, I have annexed much of her furniture, and some of her Christmas decorations, and so turning my living room into a Christmas sanctuary was a sentimental journey. I climbed up to cover her entertainment center with garland and lights, and I decorated the mantel to match. I had to make an emergency run to Joanne Fabrics to buy the stuff for a new wreath to tie it together. That almost messed up my deadline. I have dragged her Christmas angels out of their boxes, put the Lladro Nativity she gave me up, and even set up a festive holiday bar, complete with cinnamon and peppermint schnapps just incase we get the urge to make Christmas martinis. I bought my first real wine glasses. albeit at TJ Maxx.
My kitchen window is aglow with glitter balls and a Santa, and my Santa collection is holding forth in the family room. Steve frowns on any distracting items by the 50 inch Runco, but I snuck in some Grinch trees and a reindeer Matt gave me a few years ago. So far, he is handling it. I take all my big jars and vases and stuff them with metallic tinsel, ornaments and snowflakes. Then I add a string of LED lights so they strobe a bit. I bought a terrarium lamp for that purpose as well, and I change it every month. For December, it is just full of colored glitter balls. January, a snowman and fake snow will take up residence.
My sunroom is the only room that gets any natural light, and so I put my silver tree in there, which is decorated with sequined fruit and bright colors. I have a baker’s rack I load up with my stuffed French Snow Rabbits and Snowmen. I am kind of neon and anti-traditional there. Santa hangs from the ceiling in his red VW Beetle. Even the dog bed is red back there.
My hallway is very small- just garland, ribbons and lights and a little greenery on the Grandfather clock. My dining room has my Mom’s furniture, and so I honor her Christmas mania by putting the Byers Choir on the top, of course with lights and garland. I decorate the mantel in gold and red wretched excess. We will probably not eat a meal in there this Christmas- but the view from the kitchen is sparkley and brilliant.
Steve is not an elf. He is not even a fan of the holidays. He helped me take some boxes from the attic, but his real contribution was to get scarce as I obsessed over the details. I needed to go to physical therapy for some soft tissue massage, but I can report that the pain with the new knee is far less than the bone on bone torture I dealt with last year. I am still not right, but at least I am not a cripple. Just a hobbler. And that is exponentially better.
Here are some silly tips for making the decorating easier. Most of them I forget, but I still subscribe to them.
1. Use strings of 50. The odds of an outage are smaller, and they can be thrown out without guilt. I bought 20 strings of regular lights for 1.99 each. That gives me 1000 lights to illuminate my outdoor garland, every nook and cranny. If the strings are frozen to the greenery- I will not stress. If a string dies, I can easily replace it without major hassles. I did not come close to using all of them, since I changed my tree to LEDs. But it was like insurance.
2. Get the green extension cords with outlets every 3 feet that are made for trees, and use them on mantels and in Santa displays and villages.
3. If you don’t want to use strings, use the little candles that go on at dark to illuminate collections. Use them all over. I use a raised cake plate with a cloche top on it, and I put a candle inside. At dark, the Santa is all lit up with a soft glow. Just leave a gap at the bottom for air to circulate.
4. The really transparent fabric at sewing stores makes a good base for Nativities and Villages- they often have metallic stars and threads that reflect the light, and they hide cords if you swirl them.
5. Use pipe cleaners to hang stuff on the removable Scotch hangers, and you will not scratch your walls. I also tie garland on my bannister with them, so the wood stays unharmed. They are simple to thread through ornaments if you want to secure a precious ornament on the tree. (My kids think I am the only adult to have pipe cleaners)
6. Stage things in 3’s- not by pairs. I don’t know why, but the eye likes it that way.
7. If you hang wreaths on your windows, those little candles can be put onto the circle with suction cup holders, and they will go on at dusk to make the wreath glow from outside.
8. If you are fake and artificial, as I am, find a good Christmas scent diffuser so you can kid yourself that you have real greenery. I am a big fan of the Thymes Frasier Fir candles and room sprays.
9. Loose floral sprays, especially the glittery kind, can be placed on top of tree branches here and there on your tree. They fill in bald spots, pack up flat for next year and they will overwhelm you with their reflections. They are really reduced already, and just a few sprays can be broken into lots of “ornaments.” There are holographic glitter grape floral picks at Joanne’s for 99 cents, less 60% that are blindingly beautiful. I put them all over my mantel.
10. Your bigger collections will be seen better if you put things at different heights. You can use stacked books, covered with felt or wrapping paper, overturned bowls, or cake pedestals – just be creative.
11. Use the clear plastic boxes with the intersecting red lids to store stuff. They will always have lids, they are easy to carry, they stack, and you can see what is inside. Have one big box for all the lights, a box for garland, and a box for timers and extension cords and multi plugs. Put “1” “2” “3” on the sides, and bring them down first. Then store everything else as collections, with a digital picture from this year of how and where you displayed the stuff. You think you will remember- you won’t. And if you want to save big bows- they need to be stored so they will not get smooshed- bubble wrap works, or just laying them in a zig zag way in a large bin.
Ok- I have overwhelmed you. I suppose you think I am an idiot for spending this much time. I just might be. But I am a happy idiot.
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