Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Decorating

When I am daydreaming about Christmas treats, one of my favorite daydreams is that someday I will be able to hire a floral designer to decorate my whole house for Christmas. Since my hunch is that would cost my entire budget for my someday Australia trip, it is likely to remain just that, a daydream. In the meantime, I try to accomplish what I can can, leaving my house with that loving hands, done at home look, blended slightly with that chewed on by the cat look. Neither look makes it into the Christmas editions of my favorite magazines.

The cake recipe is from Southern Living. Usually my cakes don't look this pretty,
but the directions and pictures were easy to follow.

The dining room, Christmas 2004. 

One year I spent a small fortune on a matching wreath, swags, and wall hanging baskets for the front porch. The calico wreaths someone had given me for Christmas 25 years or so before had given up the ghost, several live plants had died in the wall hanging baskets, and I decided I could spend some money on decor that would last me another 25 years. The swags hung from the original front porch light fixtures. Then the light fixtures broke, and I couldn’t find replacements with quite the same configuration. That actually worked out well, because I put a swag on the back door and the other on the light fixture at the side door, and voila, the whole house looked cohesive. (“Cohesive” is a decorator term meaning the opposite of that mix of stuff you inherited from grandma, stole from mom, and found while dumpster diving.)

This year, hubby made a live wreath from the trimmings from our enormous Christmas tree, and complained about the wreath hanger making marks on the frame of the storm door. So now the live wreath is on the back door, the faux wreath is on the side door, and one swag is back in front.

The poor little Christmas cactus is hanging in there.

John's live wreath, with a purchased bow

The side door

If the outdoors looks cohesive, the indoors is a different story. The indoors looks like a moderate sized explosion took place in Hobby Lobby. The way things look in my head and they way they look in three dimensional space is laughably different.

There is, for instance, the tree. Thirty seven years ago, one of my little clients gave me a beautiful velvet ornament she and her mother had made for me. It was a turquoise color, that over the years faded to a seafoam green and now to a beige with a tinge of green, but the lace foil and synthetic pearls are still as good as ever and I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. It did, however, spark the idea to have a tree with all unique ornaments. Most of the ornament sets I have are themes: the old Sears Christmas Around the World ornaments, The Wizard of Oz ornaments, A Christmas Carol ornaments, nursery rhymes ornaments, but the ones that are duplicates are left over from another tree in another house. In someone else’s hands, that might have looked charming; in mine, it mostly looks mismatched. Since a lot of the ornaments are gifts, they are staying. I can actually remember each person who gave them to me, and part of the fun of decorating the tree is remembering each person and hoping they are doing well.

The bottom is empty because of the cats.

The Nutcracker tree in the back room

Then there are the collections, most of which are also gifts of mugs, candle holders, and ornaments too heavy to hang on the tree. There’s an angel collection, a snowman collection, and a Santa collection. This year, I added an impulse purchase to the Santa collection: a two and a half foot tall Native American inspired Father Christmas that the owner of the Native American shop in Cherokee, North Carolina let me buy for 20% off after I drooled over it for half an hour. When I put it on the bookcase with the rest of the Santas, they looked like the mismatched impulse purchases they are. Finally, I moved them across the room to the built in bookcase and distributed them among the shelves so they are still grouped together, but a little less dissonant. I think. The angels are on top of the first bookcase and the snowmen are on the desk.

I think he needs a sled.

Finally, there’s the mantle. The mantel sports faux greenery, cast iron stocking hangers, candlesticks, and this year, the Santa picture that I can never find the right spot for. There used to be a perfect spot for the Santa picture, on the wall that is now the home for the armoire. There is another suitable spot for Santa on the back wall, but that’s where we put the tree. So Santa is now hanging on the mantle, only a few inches too high, and hubby is tired of messing with it. I can’t blame him.

The stockings in the middle are handmade. The one on the left, my mom crocheted, and the one on the right, my MIL made for Neal.

So maybe someday I will hit the lottery, hire that floral designer, and have a house that will make you all green with envy. In the meantime, well, it’s Christmas. Isn’t that the time for loving hands, done at home?

Another "it seemed like a good idea at the time" purchase,
a souvenir of Branson, on the baking center in the kitchen


  1. Your Christmas decorations are great!

    As for the houses in the magazines, I usually don't feel like I would be comfortable living in them. The only exception I've found are the houses in Sunset magazine. They're pretty comfy-looking.

  2. Thanks, Glenda. I've never looked at Sunset magazine. I need to try that sometime.

    I used to work at a facility that had a children's garden. The garden was featured one year in a specialty issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. When they came for the photo shoot, the person in charge brought potted plants to fill in where needed. I'm sure they do that when they shoot pictures of houses, too: bring items to fill in and move stuff around (not to mention de-clutter). So I doubt that the pictures show how people really live. I still like to dream, though.