In­ex­pen­sive CHRIST­MAS Dec­o­rat­ing

The Freeman - - LIFESTYLE - By Mi­la­gros Alferes

“And so this is Christ­mas…,” the Christ­mas song goes. It’s that time of the year once more. The merry vibe is now fill­ing the air.

The Christ­mas vibe, how­ever, does not just hap­pen. Peo­ple cre­ate it. The merry feel­ing is brought about by the Christ­mas songs peo­ple play dur­ing the sea­son, and by the col­or­ful dec­o­ra­tions set up at es­tab­lish­ments and homes ev­ery­where.

“Noth­ing says ‘Christ­mas!’ quite like a beau­ti­fully dec­o­rated home,” writes Cyn­thia Ewer, in an ar­ti­cle at www.christ­mas.or­ga­nized­home.com. The merry tunes, the twin­kling lights, and the ar­ti­fi­cial snow that are seen in trop­i­cal re­gions (like the Philip­pines) at Christ­mas all sum­mon the much an­tic­i­pated char­ac­ter­is­tic feel­ing of the hol­i­days.

It is a cher­ished tra­di­tion in most Filipino homes to dec­o­rate for Christ­mas. “But,” Ewer asks in her ar­ti­cle, “at what cost?” It can cost some for­tune to cre­ate that feel­ing of hol­i­day at home – es­pe­cially if the fam­ily starts their dec­o­rat­ing from scratch every year.

Ewer shares sim­ple strate­gies and ideas for cre­at­ing a fes­tive – yet fru­gal – home for Christ­mas:

Use what you have.

Be­fore you dash out to the craft store or a Christ­mas tree shop, visit your at­tic or stor­age room. Mem­o­ries fade from year to year, so re­fresh yours with a quick in­ven­tory of the hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions you al­ready have on hand. Keep them firmly in mind as you read Christ­mas mag­a­zines or check out Christ­mas tree dis­plays. Per­haps you can up­date your decor with a few sim­ple ad­di­tions.

Think lo­cal.

Look to the nat­u­ral world for a source of in­ex­pen­sive dec­o­ra­tions. The fully grown stem of maguey flower can be made into a beau­ti­ful Christ­mas tree. There are many other na­tive bushes that are good Christ­mas tree ma­te­rial, as well. Look around you for in­spi­ra­tion, and bring Mother Na­ture in­side for the hol­i­days. It may not cost you any­thing but thought and lit­tle ef­fort.

Fly your own col­ors.

Each year, de­sign­ers and stylists pro­mote a new, hot color scheme for hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing, hop­ing to spur im­proved sales through color ob­so­les­cence. One year, hol­i­day col­ors will trend bright, pri­mary and in­spired by the 1960s. The next, “retro” schemes are back, with rich reds and dense, dark green tak­ing cen­ter stage.

The best de­fense against the an­nual hot-color changeover is to claim a per­sonal dec­o­rat­ing strat­egy: choose a color, a tex­ture and a metal­lic (gold or sil­ver) flair, and stick to it for life.

Dis­play col­lec­tions and sou­venirs.

Rout out all those teapots! Un­pack Aun­tie’s salt-and-pep­per shaker col­lec­tion! Hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing dove­tails nicely with dis­play­ing col­lec­tions. Group grand­mother’s demi­tasse cups and saucers around a teapot on a tray, and add holly branches for an in­stant cen­ter­piece.

Don’t ig­nore the mun­dane!

Dec­o­rate a tiny tree with play­ing cards and bow-clad bot­tles of air­line drinks. Minipret­zels threaded on a rib­bon may com­plete the Play­room Tree, and it is likely to earn ad­mi­ra­tion from any­one.

Those who travel do well to think “Christ­mas!” when it comes to sou­venirs. Sou­venir Christ­mas or­na­ments are widely avail­able, pack well and make a won­der­ful dec­o­rat­ing splash. If you have col­lected enough or­na­ments, con­sider cre­at­ing a travel tree: a small tree dis­play­ing sou­venirs, post­cards and or­na­ments. It’s a great con­ver­sa­tion piece at hol­i­day par­ties.

Think theme – and spread the word.

Choos­ing a per­sonal theme for Christ­mas decor not only makes dec­o­rat­ing mean­ing­ful and fun, but gives oth­ers a head-start on gift-giv­ing. Build­ing a stock of hol­i­day decor around a theme is easy when

It’s bazaar.

you spread the word! And, say, a dear aunt dec­o­rates her home in a cer­tain mo­tif; it can be a clue of what Christ­mas gift to give her.

Don’t ne­glect lo­cal craft fairs or hol­i­day bazaars as a source of in­ex­pen­sive Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions. Most items are rea­son­ably priced, and, gen­er­ally, the pro­ceeds go to a good cause. Sup­port your lo­cal crafters and save at the same time!

Look to the kitchen.

Food and decor in­ter­sect at Christ­mas time – and never more hap­pily than when the whole fam­ily gets in on the fun. Build a gin­ger­bread house with the chil­dren. No mat­ter how crooked the walls or droopy the roof, you’ll have cre­ated a cen­ter­piece, and mem­o­ries.

Use a soda straw to punch holes in cook­ies; string a rib­bon through the holes and hang your cre­ations on the tree. Even such sim­ple touches as a bowl of nuts on the ta­ble serves the hol­i­day decor scheme.

Hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing can be beau­ti­ful, lively and fun and fru­gal, Ewer em­pha­sizes. And, yes, her fru­gal dec­o­rat­ing strate­gies can re­ally save money.

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