I love getting maximum bang for my Christmas buck. I'd rather spend the bucks on a nice bottle of cognac to sip while enjoying the holidays than expend hundreds of dollars on things that are ephemeral to say the least. In otherwords, when January one rolls around I want this stuff out of my life for another year.
Decorating idea: leave your tree up until February and hang hearts on it.
I have never been one of those people who have a tree still up in February, its poor little skeleton shedding needles like a bad dandruff commercial. At least hang a few hearts on it and go for the Valentine's day thing. My granpa was Scottish-Irish, which probably explains a great deal about me, but he had a few notions that have stuck to all of us. One is the first footer, the first person who comes to your house on the New Year brings your luck for the year so you'd better hope its not a bill collector.
Another familial quirk is the superstition–but is it superstition? hmmmm…..that however your house looks on New Year's day is how it will look for the rest of the year. This resulted in insane cleaning frenzies the week after Christmas in my family of origin during my youth. I have relaxed from that stern Methodist stance, but the tree is down, the decorations are packed and the house is clean on New Year's day. I guess I can't escape my genes but I can modify 'em. I am not cleaning closets and cupboards like my ma used to do, you can only stretch crazy so far before it snaps.
Which brings me to another of the so-called Scot's traits. Cheapitude, thrift, I prefer to call it clever myself. I love, love, love Christmas lights. I have clear lights on my horrible but wonderful Kiwi hedge year round. Think kudzu vines for the northwest to visualize our ongoing struggle with control over the hedge. I keep clear fairy lights on it because they remind me of fireflies in the summer– and this way I don't have to undecorate that part of my world. I just replace the lights once a year–when everyone is clearing out lights after Christmas I go buy a whole ton of them and rathole them until a net burns out. Net lights, the light fairy's gift to me. I love those things.
Bring the Christmas lights inside the easy way
Here's a quick idea to bring colored lights into the house that is fun, bright, quick and easy. Joanne's , Michael's, Wal Mart, anywhere you buy your Christmas lights has little bitty strings of lights for a little bitty price. I buy a bunch of them and save them all year long. They are only about two bucks for a string of 20. Get out your favorite vases, pitchers, empty wine bottles, any container that lets light shine through. Pop a string of lights in the container, plug it in and you have instant Christmas color. Put 2,3, or more together and you have a festive arrangement.
For anyone who is trying to figure out what the heck the thing in the middle is–I have collected sheep statues forever. Two of them date to my childhood in Germany, one I picked up in France, and so on. At any rate, I just took a cookie sheet covered it with moss, lots of that in the Pacific Northwest, and plopped the sheep on top, shepherds abiding in their fields, etc. Terry is making me a gigantic metal star out of our tin ceiling stash to go on the wall behind the sheep.
In the summertime, put your lights in wine bottles and put them in a group for party lights. You can usually plug 3 strings in one on top of the other and then into your extension cord, surmounting the only drawback, which is the short cord from the neck of your container. Tip: don't leave them out in the rain to fill up with water unless you intend to toss your light strings after use, don't even ask how I know this….
Glittery dried hydrangea
If you are a gardener or have access to hydrangeas, some of them dry beautifully. Cut them in the summer when they are at their best and hang the bunch upside down where its breezy and dry. I hang mine from the ceiling of the studio and just leave them there. This Christmas I pulled the bunch down, sprayed the heads with good old Aleene's spray glue, and glitter queen that I am, doused them in clear glitter. They are gorgeous tucked into the tree and look frosty and sparkly.
You can do the same thing with those cheesy 'silk' flowers we all refuse to toss out. We know they should be useful for something. Try roses or lilies or cheap poinsettias glued and glittered. Even silk ivy is beautiful. Transformational! I wouldn't suggest daisies or things that are too glaringly spring-like, there is something way too odd about snow covered daisies. We all know I like odd, but snowy daisies is one glitter bottle over the line kids.
I'm off to the studio to glitter more snowballs, good old tennis balls wrapped in batting and tied up with bows, and I'll lead some little snow globe glasses; this time for my tree and gifts for friends instead of the tree that ate Cleveland. I have some for sale too, that part is fun!
Note to self: go buy some really nice cognac today…