In my bathrobe no less~
I am very straight forward about my blog...I share snippets of my life, a little bit of my loves which include cooking, gardening, reading and a myriad of so many other interests. I never wanted to be blog which had titles such as, "How to...". For my newspaper I have a different approach and it suits what I want to share and in the way I want to share it. Please note the difference and similarities. I write for a huge community of people from all walks of life. I strive to reach each and every person who reads this newspaper.
So enjoy. You may see photos you've seen before...sometimes bits and pieces from my blog. It's all relative to me. Let me know how you feel in your comments. ;-D
Ho Ho Ho, Neighbors! By now I bet most of you are caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love everything about it...making shopping lists, planning menus, decorating and everything merry-making. In the afternoon I have Christmas music playing whether it's on my iPad or TV music channels, and in the evenings I love Hallmark and TCM holiday movies. I can't help it, I just get a little sappy at this time of year. My hot mug of cocoa is half full. :)
It's hard for so many of us to get through the commercialism of Christmas. It seems to start earlier and earlier. Our stores are filled with holiday items as soon as the Halloween merchandise is cleared off the shelves. Our mailboxes are stuffed with catalogs and our email inboxes are full of ads, 'ideas' for gift giving and flash sales. Every magazine is filled with an overabundance of articles on decorating and recipes and features on people who live in homes we can't help but envy, decorated beyond what we have the time or budget to do. I really do not spend a lot of thought or worry about any of these issues, I have learned how to make them work to my advantage.
I really do love the excitement and anticipation of the holidays, just as I did when I was a little girl. We are still sometimes overwhelmed with too much way too early. But I make my lists and peruse those magazines, ripping out pages with ideas and decorating tips and recipes I may want to try. Store and window displays always make me smile and sometimes you simply can't beat shopping early. Some people are super good about shopping for gifts all year long, not so much me. I love the holiday atmosphere; the music, the Salvation Army volunteers. All of it makes me feel very warm and fuzzy inside. So I suggest that rather than getting frustrated, grab hold of the reins and go for it. Check off some boxes on your To Do list and enjoy some hot cocoa and sugar cookies while you're at it!
I like to get organized to keep everything moving smoothly as I prepare for what I want to be THE best Christmas ever! I think the little bit of time you invest in getting your ducks in a row saves you an enormous amount of time and energy later in the game. I have a tendency to jump into gift shopping and then I have a menagerie of unsorted bags piled high in a spare room. Nothing makes sense. My Tip #1, put your presents in the appropriate gift box (that I hope you have already purchased ahead of time). Make sure you enclose the gift receipt if you have one, or keep all of your receipts in a folder or envelope. Then write the name of the recipient on the box and stack them away until you are ready to start the fun of wrapping gifts---and yes, I said fun!
My Tip #2. Get yourself a box or bin, it doesn't have to be fancy. A little basket or plastic container, something large enough to hold all of your gift wrapping needs: a few rolls of Scotch tape, scissors, some felt tip markers in red and green, ribbon or jute twine, gift tags and bows. You can keep this container in the area you like to wrap gifts (I do mine on my kitchen island). When you are ready to call it a day, everything goes back into the bin and you can tuck it in a closet or under a bed, whatever works for you. My Tip #3. Keep your rolls of wrapping paper in a small hamper, tall basket or even a plastic bucket, anything that can hold several rolls upright to help you see what you have at a glance. I guess you can call this a tip of it's own but it's just so simple. To keep those rolls of wrapping paper neat, secure and unwrinkled, take the cardboard roll from a used up roll of toilet paper or paper towels. Cut a slit all the way through the roll lengthwise, like a little cuff. When you are finished gift wrapping and still have more paper to use, slide this cuff over the middle. It will keep the paper neat and ready for your next use. No sticky tape to peel off which always tears away precious paper.
Tip #4. Wrapping paper can be expensive. And wrapping packages takes time. I love using gift bags when I can but forget the ones you see in the stores. I go to a Dollar Store and buy up as many plain white gift bags as I can. I a have few Christmas themed rubber stamps and three little pads of ink in red, green and brown. I stamp my little brain out on these bags to hold smaller gifts. Some inexpensive tissue also jazzes everything up and if you have one or more items in the bag, loosely enfold those in tissue, maybe even winding some twine or ribbon around--it makes the recipient feel like they are getting an abundance of love and thought. And they are! To keep my enthusiasm up I often wrap gifts and then at another time add cute tags, ribbon and bows. The first part is about doing a neat job, the second about creativity. By having a breather in-between, you will be much more inclined to put your personal touch on the package.
One last thought on this subject and My Tip #5. Use your wrapped presents as part of your holiday decor. After all, by now you have carefully selected cute and festive paper and have lovingly added your sweet touch...it's not the time to hide things away (the exception being those for young kiddos, then you have to tuck them away from their prying little fingers!). I actually have to do this with my daughters well into their 20's. lol! So, have a pile of gifts on the hearth, some small packages on a cabinet or shelf or on a non-essential stool or chair in the kitchen or dining room. They will be an added festive touch and brighten any room.
In my photos of holidays past, I'm sharing some little spaces I've decorated for Christmas. I like to make little vignettes, or groupings that don't take up a lot of room but make a statement. For a long time I simply took what I had: candles, figurines, and many a snowman, of which I have a big collection, and scattered them on every available surface. When things are spread out in a room, or worse, throughout the house, you lose the visual impact. My Tip #6. Make little arrangements on anywhere you have the space. I like something cute on my dining table, coffee table a corner of my kitchen countertop, even a window sill. Whether you do this sparingly or go all out, mix things up; a sparkly candle with a basket of pinecones and potpourri, or a simple collection of angels nested on a bed of greenery. It catches attention this way. Grouping in odd numbers always look a bit more attractive as well, not sure why.
I have to say something about themes. My tree ornaments are a mish mash of treasures my husband and I found in the very early days of our marriage...nothing fancy. Then we added handmade gifts that our four children made from their little handprints stamped on construction paper to small wreaths made of shredded wheat cereal and tons of glue! We've added ornaments from places we have travelled to and of course, as our taste has changed, I've gone from homespun to blingy to nature inspired. Still, I enjoy hanging each and every ornament and the memories they bring back. My personal favorites are the old and traditional glass ornaments that were passed on to me when I lost my parents. Many are older than I am. They are precious to me.
I think it's very special when we can use nature to decorate our homes. We love flowers from our garden in summer bouquets so why not take a walk around your garden and gather up pinecones, acorns, evergreen sprigs and branches. Display them in a pretty dish or on a tray. And that's My Tip #7. I have a friend who gathers long sticks on her walks, spray paints them white to resemble birch and pokes them into her outdoor planters that also include evergreen and berries that have been given a little sprinkling of silver glitter.
Inside the house I love using what I can find at the grocery store. For My Tip #8: I might poke some cloves into oranges and limes to make a fragrant fruit bowl. Throw in some cinnamon sticks for added natural fragrance. Potpourri is very inexpensive and much better for your health than air sprays. You can take the idea a little further by making an arrangement of seasonal fruits like apples, pears, pomegranates, and interesting squash. Place them in a basket or on a large platter with greenery as a little nest. Add a candle or two and you have a lovely table centerpiece. Use your imagination and perhaps what you have right outside your door. And have fun while you save money!
I hope you enjoy this post---the first time I've ever done this. Be back in real time in the next few days.