Give your Christ­mas tree a mod­ern makeover

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Bar­bara Ballinger

YOU did the “rus­tic ski lodge” tree. You had to have the “Nordic ice ex­trav­a­ganza” tree. As for your “Santa’s candy­land” phase... well, some hol­i­day mem­o­ries are best left to fade. But we do have a sug­ges­tion about this year’s tree: Make it your mas­ter­piece. How? By skip­ping the big boxes of big-box ornaments in favour of ev­ery­day stuff you love, reimag­ined. En­ter Car­rie Brown, owner of the Jim­town Store in Healds­burg, Calif., a stylish coun­try-store-gone-cool. Brown’s new book, The New Christ­mas Tree (Ar­ti­san, 2015), shows how to use house­hold items — from pret­zels to bike re­flec­tors — as dec­o­ra­tions that don’t scream “theme-of-the-mo­ment” and don’t have to be stored in your base­ment for all eter­nity, ei­ther. Here’s her ad­vice on get­ting a smarter, more stylish tree this year: Em­brace a new style: Ev­ery­thing goes in and out of fash­ion. There are new styles in food, cloth­ing and in­te­rior de­sign. So why not have the tree evolve, too? Have fun, be play­ful and whim­si­cal. You want to add de­light and won­der this time of year. Definitely theme it: You’ll have a bet­ter chance of making a suc­cess­ful, co­he­sive de­sign state­ment, and it’s more fun. If you go willy-nilly, it won’t have the same de­gree of charm. Think about colour — maybe, ev­ery­thing in blue around the house. When you and oth­ers can pick out the ob­jects on a tree it adds to the fun. Make it all yours: I think there are many young peo­ple who re­ject how com­mer­cial­ized Christ­mas has be­come. This is a way to avoid that and make a state­ment by choos­ing some­thing that means some­thing spe­cial to you. If you love na­ture, cel­e­brate it by bring­ing at­ten­tion to the honey­bee. Or, if you love to re­cy­cle, re­pur­pose ob­jects you have. Make your tree rel­e­vant to you and anti-com­mer­cial. Ditch the or­na­ment aisle: Look around your house first. Then, go to the gro­cery store and buy all kinds of won­der­ful ed­i­bles such as dried pasta for gar­lands, le­mons you stud with cloves, and wal­nuts you paint sil­ver or gold. I also love shop­ping hard­ware stores, walk­ing the aisles, and find­ing cop­per and cork tub­ing and wiring and all sorts of other ob­jects. Skip the skirt: You can use an old cash­mere shawl to wrap around the tree stand rather than one of those aw­ful tree skirts. It will be more beau­ti­ful and el­e­gant. And you don’t have to hem the edges; just tuck them un­der. Stop your­self: Avoid think­ing about rules such as string­ing up lights ac­cord­ing to the height of the tree. Re­mem­ber that less is more, and a few twin­kling lights are far more el­e­gant and re­fined.

ERIC RISBERG / AP PHOTO

Car­rie Brown, au­thor of The New Christ­mas Tree, ad­justs a pop­corn, peanut, pret­zel and pickle tree fea­tured in her book.

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