Happy almost Christmas!
It has taken all week, but I finally have almost all of the Christmas decorations up. Hallelujah! I must be getting old - it seems to take longer and longer every year...or maybe it's all the "help" I get from Hazel.
Santa came early to our house this year...do you like our new front door? I'm so excited to have a beautiful new entry (the main reason I love it), and it's no longer super drafty at the front of our house (the main reason Steve loves it). Good job Santa - how did you know what we both wanted?
Nearly everything is in its place for the annual Christmas Cookie Exchange party later on this week. I had to set up early because I'm off to NYC again at the crack of dawn tomorrow...actually before the dawn breaks - I sure hope I can sleep on that train! It's time to plug in the final colors for my first fabric line with Benartex (insert jumping jacks of joy here). I can hardly believe it's actually - finally - happening!
Now the trick will be to keep the kids from completely destroying the house in the few days I'll be gone...good luck with that, Steve! Ah, the joys of being volunteered to be a stay-at-home dad.
You'll probably recognize these decorations as renditions of the ornament tutorials I posted last month (you can find them in my left sidebar). I just put them on bamboo sticks this time instead of hanging them. The JOY ornament is double sided this time too - there is another wooden disc on the other side so it's pretty from all angles.
Do you love my red birdie lantern as much as I do? I paid $6 for it at Ross when it was a dreary grey color. The weather was too cold and windy to spray paint it, so several brush coats of red paint later, here it is now! I think the little birdie is much happier with its new red paint.
This time they're perched among the peppermint candles, watched over by James Christensen's Christmas Angel.
My garland has resumed its place above the dining room window...
...and the chandelier is back with the faux evergreen and ribbon treatment, but this time a sparkly white dove is twirling in the center.
Can't have Christmas without another version of my Wall O' Plates!
This year the top of the china hutch is bedecked with my white dishes and festive greenery. And red-ery, but that's not a word (yet), is it?
I've had a lot of you give positive comments through the years on the way I decorate, which is very nice of you - thanks! I just try to group things according to color, theme, style, and/or genre. If these containers were various colors or different patterns, the look would be spoiled. Try and group things with a unifying factor and they'll make sense together.
Think outside the box about how an object is to be used. A teapot, for example, is not very utilitarian with a bunch of decorations stuffed in it, but it sure makes whimsical eye candy.
Simple white egg cups make fantastic little pedestals for small objects, as I have done here with the pinecone and faux berries. That tiny arrangement is my favorite one (okay, besides the teapot) on the whole china hutch.
Another good tip is to think about the height, size, and scale of the objects you're trying to group together. Make sure they are placed in such a way that the eye has places to focus, travel to another area, focus again, and come full circle. Vary the heights of your objects and cluster them in smaller groups within the large display. Much of this decision making is intuitive - at least for me - so it's hard to put into words what I just instinctively do. Hopefully what I'm trying to describe will be helpful to you!
Here is another grouping, this time on the mantle in the back room. Gee, do you see a dominant color scheme here? Even though almost everything is red, the eye (hopefully) isn't bored because of all the different versions, shapes, and textures. Pattern comes into play effectively here, but on a very limited scale; everything is either red, white, or black. The real fir boughs provide the perfect counterpoint to all the "sameness" because green is the complimentary color to red, but it's as much about textural contrast as it is about color. All the sleek and glossy surfaces are broken up with the organic fir boughs, the wooden candlesticks, and the silver star.
Even though the giant star is smack dab in the center (typically a designing no-no), there is enough variation in all the other objects that it doesn't make you yawn with boredom at first sight. Do you see the repetition of objects in the arrangement? 3 red candles (at different heights), 3 plates (different sizes and patterns), 3 white vases, 2 red lanterns, 4 ceramic balls. Not everything has to be in odd numbers, but it helps if at least some dominant objects are in groups of 1, 3 or 5. Grouping objects provides a sense of visual stability and pattern even though they're not all identical. Even though there is a ton of stuff on that mantle, it doesn't look too cluttered (at least not to me!) because there are smaller sub-groups of objects within the larger grouping. If I had taken the same amount of objects that were all completely different and tried putting them on that mantle, chances are that it would have looked too cluttered and busy. The eye wouldn't be able to create any sense of pattern or order, which it likes to do even in a random arrangement.
Adding a little bit of bling, especially for the holidays, is always a good thing in my book. :-)
Back at the front door, you can see the icicles have returned to the ceiling light fixture and jingle bells are hanging on the doorknob.
My little band of nutcrackers is standing watch, just in case any mean ol' Mouse Kings get any bright ideas.
Nothing on the main floor of the house has escaped be-decking.
Yes, that's a real giant pine cone. Isn't it great? And yes, that's my version of a pear tree.
It comes complete with a partridge, of sorts...I know that real partridges are not snow white, but I didn't have time to make one and that's the best I could find.
It was either a white one, or a pheasant. Actually, the pheasant would have been a bit closer to reality, but I didn't feel like having a pheasant perched in my tree.
Oh - and if you think you see any dust on those leaves, well, I could lie and say it's just your imagination but I'm a terrible liar. What can I say - dusting trees is about as low on my priority list as going to the dentist: both things should really be done, but there are always 10 million other things to do instead.
My faithful wooden hand is kindly announcing the reason for the season.
This is a terrible picture of my Santa display, (perhaps you should click on the Christmas category in my sidebar to see it in year's past) but this time I taped scrapbook paper on the glass of my framed pictures for extra festiveness.
My stalwart little green plants (the only live plants I have in the whole house - and those hardy numbers have endured countless dry spells when I have neglected to water them for weeks at a time, bless their hearts) have sprouted red balls just in time for Christmas.
I brought home a bunch of free fir boughs when we bought our tree, and made several swags to give away to friends.
For this one, I decoupaged a wooden disc with a bit of metallic wrapping paper, then coated it with glitter and hot-glued it onto the bow I made with flocked ribbon.
This was a plain metal star that I decoupaged pieces of music-printed napkin onto, then hotglued the store-bought ornament on top. The back of the star has 2 little strips of elastic hot-glued to it, so it can be used as a tree topper if desired. The star will fit over the top of the highest branch and stay put without a cone thing attached to the bottom of the star.
Not that there's anything wrong with a cone thing! I made this star using the same metal stars from Michaels Craft Store. I epoxied the stars together and inserted a cardstock cone at the bottom of it. When the glue was dry, I decoupaged the entire thing with tissue paper to hide the gaps and seams, then painted it. When that was all dry, I brushed another layer of ModPodge over it all and sprinkled it with clear glitter. Then I hot-glued the wreath ornament on.
Hmm..now that I see this picture, I'm wondering to myself why I didn't trim off those 2 vertical branches that are so close to the star? I think I'm going to have to take care of that - it looks funny.
Here's a larger, more elaborate version I made for the tree I was asked to decorate at the DC Temple Visitor's Center for the Festival of Lights. If you scroll down a bit, you'll see my post all about that huge tree.
If you've seen the temple tree, you'll recognize this - I made several of these large signs with different phrases from Handel's Messiah. They're too large to put on my tree, but they work great draped over knobs! You can make this exact thing by clicking on the Wooden Disc Ornament tutorial in my sidebar and finding the PDF file for that phrase at the bottom of the post.
Ditto for this one. The Hallelujah chorus board is smaller than the others, and the scale is appropriate for the tree I have in my house, which you can see below:
It looks a lot like the temple tree, minus all the beautiful (and expensive) silver sparkly ornaments with musical shapes. Most of my ornaments are handmade or inexpensive ones that I have embellished, like the stars.
Do you have a favorite? I'm still trying to decide.
Even the powder room didn't escape the holiday cheer! I hung my gorgeous snowflake ornament from Pottery Barn (just about the only genuine PB thing I have in my house - everything else is too expensive!) with a red ribbon over the light fixture. Santa was very responsive to my very specific and heavy hints about that ornament last year. I'm so glad.
The silver bling vase on top of the commode got some extra sparkle as well, thanks to a bit of invisible fishing line suspending the tiny wreath at just the right height.
Okay, I know this isn't a very practical place to put lighted candles, but it works for the photo shoot anyway. Sometimes function has to take a back seat to looks, right?
Well, I do believe that's the end of my marathon Christmas post! Until it snows and I get winter wonderland shots of the house all lit up amidst a blanket of glorious white. Hopefully, though, we won't have quite as much frosty goodness as we did last year - 2 feet was a bit excessive for these parts! I'll also have shots of the cookie exchange, I'm sure, plus lots of other fun Christmas-y projects that I haven't had time to finish yet. So the show is not over, I can assure you. :-)
Until next time, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!