Christmas is a joyous time of year with lots of decorations, shopping, gift wrapping, baking and parties. But it is also a lot of work. All of the elements that give pleasure to ourselves and our loved ones need to be accomplished by someone.
So, in an effort to bring added excitement and a fun spark to those coordinating the decor and to make sure this year's Christmas photos and memories are not identical to those of previous years, many people try to "change it up" and add at least something new to their traditions each holiday season.
"It is important to people that their Christmas decor is stylish, but unique. They don't want their home to look like anyone else's home," said Laurie Kane, owner of Treetime Christmas Creations in Lake Barrington.
Despite homeowners' desire to be unique, they do want to be cognizant of current trends and stylish colors. For instance, the Christmas pinks that were so popular in the '90s will date your Christmas decorations as surely as shag wall-to-wall carpeting would date your home.
Popular looks for Christmas this year, according to Kane, include plaids (incorporating red, green, black and sometimes gold), rich-colored velvets, and a sophisticated natural look using flowers, leaves and greens. The whimsical look with bright greens and stylized elves and other characters also remains strong, Kane said.
"The Ralph Lauren-ish look using plaid bows is very popular this year," she said. "And velvet is back in a big way in women's fashions and for bows, ribbons and pillows in the home. We are seeing it in burgundys, forest and emerald greens, golds and reds. The lime green that was so popular a few years ago is being phased out, except when used with the whimsical decor."
The third very popular look is reminiscent of colonial Williamsburg in that it uses magnolias, vines, leaves and other natural materials to give a sophisticated, natural look to centerpieces, mantles, doorways and even trees, Kane said.
"This is not a country or rustic look. It is very sophisticated and contemporary feeling," she stressed.
And the whimsical look is still with us in homes with young children, in particular.
"For those who want an eclectic tree that includes ornaments their children have made and ornaments they have collected on trips and others, many people are now choosing a focal point or one cohesive element to tie the tree together. Many are using 6- to 18-inch floral picks of roses or poinsettias, flocked branches with frosted berries and bells or even pine cones that are tucked strategically into the branches of the trees to add pops of color and give a uniform look to the tree, and then they are surrounding them with their traditional ornaments," Kane said.
"Others are placing an impressive Santa figurine in their tree or a number of lanterns as focal points. Ribbon loops, bows and drapes are also popular as unifying features," she added.
"Because many baby boomers are trying to re-create their youths, flocked trees, feather trees, multicolored lights, vintage ornaments and silvery tinsel are all coming back," Kane said.
Flocked trees now come in many different sizes and types of flocking, from a very cool frost-kissed flocking that shows just a hint of white to the heavier applications of white and, Kane said, the flocking has been vastly improved so it actually stays on the tree and doesn't make a mess of your house.
"It seems that every year the decorations in local homes only get more and more elaborate," she said. "Homeowners want to see little touches of Christmas throughout their homes."
So, they are creating themed trees of all sizes and shapes in many rooms of their house. There are slim trees in the corners, small trees in the children's rooms, potted trees near the front door and even small potted trees along the banisters on the staircase, on the buffet and in front of the hearth. Gone are the days when there was only one tree per house." Themes are popular on such secondary trees.
The vast array of artificial and pre-lit artificial Christmas trees that are now available also help homeowners periodically change the look of their holiday decor. Some trees are dense and some are sparse. Some are skinny and some are fat. Some are flocked and some are natural, Kane said.
There is no such thing anymore as a typical Christmas tree. Between the tree itself and the decorations each homeowner chooses, each tree is wildly, refreshingly unique.
Mantles and hearths are another focal point for holiday decorating and often for religious touches like Nativity scenes and angels.
"The pine garland is the heart of every mantle," Kane said, "and most of them are lit. Then we usually weave a soft cascade of ribbon through it and accent the garland with picks of something to coordinate with the rest of the room like berries or fruit or (gift) packages or whatever. We often also put potted trees on the floor on either side of the hearth and a large wreath above the mantle."
Doorways, particularly exterior doorways, are also often festooned with pine garlands and wreaths.
Treetime Christmas Creations is located at 22102 N. Pepper Road, Lake Barrington. The store can be reached at (847) 527-8880 or by visiting www.treetime.com.