The 12 ideas of Christmas
Time is passing quickly, and the big day is just around the corner. If your home needs a little more Christmas spirit, you've come to the right place! Get your yuletide decorating off to a fast start with a dozen jolly holiday decorations and cleverly crafted displays that you can easily reproduce or readily adapt to suit your style.
1. Glass tidings
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To construct a snow globe illusion that conjures up some holiday magic, use stencils and etching cream to adorn a glass cloche with snowflakes. Arrange a miniature house, bottle-brush trees and a blanket of imitation snow atop a cake plate, and cover the scene with your newly etched cloche. As an alternative to building a village, pile pinecones, greenery, berries or clove-studded oranges on the plate before adding the cloche.
2. Holiday Hankies
Shop thrift stores and antiques shops to find handkerchiefs sporting yuletide hues or motifs. Use the colorful squares to embellish everything from tree skirts and table runners to pillows and packages. To create a one-of-a-kind tree skirt, cut a square of red felt to your desired size. Arrange the handkerchiefs (or squares cut from holiday-patterned fabrics) on top of the square in a pleasing design. Fuse the hankies to the felt with spray adhesive or paper-backed adhesive web, such as HeatnBond. (For extra staying power, stitch around the handkerchief edges with a sewing machine.) Cut a slit from the back edge of the felt to the center of the square; cut out a 5-inch circle from the skirt's center to accommodate the tree trunk.
3. Smitten with mittens
Repurpose outgrown children's winter wear to fashion a long-lasting display. Perk up a hat rack or a doorknob with a pair of tiny white mittens strung together by knit ties and holding sprigs of holly and candy canes. To ensure the sprigs stay shiny and bright, place them in water-filled plastic tubes before tucking them, along with candy canes, into the mittens. Round out the scene with equally cheery cold-weather apparel.
4. Welcome packet
Direct friends and family to their seats at the dinner table by accenting each place setting with a napkin featuring a pocket-like fold on the front designed to hold a bit of greenery and a personalized name tag. Tuck a berried sprig or a piney-needled twig into the pocket. Write each guest's name on a heavy-paper gift tag, and tie it to the stem using narrow ribbons or cords. Slide tiny ornaments into the pocket for guests to tote home.
5. Festive fillers
Make decorative items such as bowls, vases, flowerpots and candleholders merrier with the addition of inexpensive plastic or glass balls in assorted sizes and colors. Choose hues that complement your holiday decorations or that enhance your everyday decor. These urn-style candleholders contain gold and copper orbs that echo the flames flickering in the fireplace. Complete the vessels' makeover by tying on tassels or velvet bows, or by accenting the arrangements with greenery and faux or fresh flowers.
6. The grapes of wreath
Reconfigure woodsy grapevine wreaths into a bowl-like basket that you can fill with shimmering battery-powered twinkle lights and glimmering ornaments. This rustic grapevine basket, created by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, is perfect for hanging from a hook on your front porch or in the corner of a room that needs a seasonal boost.
• Two 12-inch grapevine wreaths
• 1 package brown cloth-covered stem wire, 22-gauge
• 1 roll natural jute
• 3 to 5 strands of mini deco battery lights
• Hot glue gun and glue sticks
• Christmas ornaments of choice
1. Take one of the grapevine wreaths apart by removing the spiral that holds the wreath together; set the spiral aside.
2. Pull the grapevine apart and reshape the wreath, twisting it into a basket shape. Secure the shape with wire. Curl long wires around a pencil to form tendrils.
3. Lay the other wreath on top to cap off the basket. Wire them together. If the basket droops, use additional wire vertically.
4. Cut nine 1-yard pieces of jute. Feed three pieces through the top of the grapevine and braid them. Knot the tips. Repeat for a total of three braids and knot the tops together to make a hanger.
5. Use the reserved spiral to wire around the basket's bottom so that contents won't fall out.
6. Put the battery packs in the basket. Wrap the lights around the outside. Secure them with wire.
7. Fill the basket with ornaments, hiding the battery packs inside.
7. Dangling delights
Want something lovely to look at while you're washing dishes or rolling cookie dough? Embellish your windows with see-through ornaments filled with flowers. First, remove the ornaments' hooks or metal tops. Cut a length of holiday-hued cording, and hot glue one end of the cord around the ornament's neck. Trim the cording to the desired length. Fill the ornament with a small amount of water and add flowers or greenery. Knot the unglued cord end for security, and tack it to the window trim. Repeat for remaining ornaments. Vary the look by staggering the ornaments' heights or by opting for colored balls dangling from metallic ribbons.
8. Dipper dressings
Stock up on copper scoops to use as bases for diminutive flower arrangements. To make your own bloom-filled dipper, place a small water-soaked ball of floral foam in a plastic holder. Position the holder in the scoop. Stick tiny evergreen sprigs and berried stems into the foam. Set scoops on countertops, shelves and buffet tables. Interested in hanging the accents on your pine? Switch to artificial greens and flowers that can be attached to the inside of the scoop with hot glue.
9. Christmas cascade
Taking its cue from free-flowing fountains, this statuesque tower spills over with greenery and brightly berried branches. To build a similar structure, stack terra-cotta pots on oversize saucers. Start by centering a 4-inch pot upside down on a 10-inch saucer, and then place an upright 6-inch saucer on top of the pot. Center a 3-inch pot upside down on that saucer. Top that pot with an upright 3-inch saucer. On top of this, center an upside-down 1½-inch pot. Finish the stack with an upright 1½-inch pot filled with greens and an ornament, such as a carved wood bird. Fill each saucer to the brim with greens, twigs and berries. Or, for a sweet-treat twist, set the tower on a buffet table and fill the saucers with Christmas cookies, homemade caramels and sugared pecans. If you'd like to reuse the piece next year, secure the pots and saucers together with silicone adhesive or ceramic epoxy.
10. Card corral
Instead of piling this year's Christmas cards in a bowl or a drawer, exhibit the merry-motif greetings on display racks and stands crafted from budget-friendly wire garden edging. Hang a length of 10-inch-high fencing on the wall, and fashion a freestanding screen from 18-inch-high fencing. Level the legs of the freestanding fence with a wire cutter to ensure the fence will stand upright. Fold the fencing in half, aligning the hinged sections. Wire the outer ends together; place the doubled-up fence so that it zigzags across a flat surface, such as a tabletop, a kitchen counter or a sideboard. Round out the display with greenery, ornaments and unlit candles in decorative holders.
11. Stand-by tree
Construct a space-saving Christmas tree using a vintage-style wire stand altered to suit the season. Spray paint the piece to fit your color scheme. Here, white wire showcases hot pink, deep rose and lime green packages; try a bronze or black stand and homespun trimmings for more country appeal. Place a miniature tree in a decorative pot, and set it in the top tier. Fill the bottom basket with gifts, and place larger presents on the floor around the planter's base. When a party is on tap, set this giving-tree structure near an exit to hold take-home favors or as a drop-off point for incoming secret Santa and white elephant gifts.
12. Notable Noel notes
Showcase this year's greetings or special cards from Christmases past on a wrought-iron topiary form. Display the entire card or just the card's face using curvy silver or gold ornament hooks that function like paper clips. Insert each card into the hook's curled bottom, and attach the clip's other end to the topiary. Hang tiny ornaments on the topiary between the cards. Or, use a paper punch to make a hole in each card and tie the cards to the topiary frame using yule-hued yarn, rough-woven raffia or glittery gold cords.
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