All Around the House
In many houses, the Christmas tree is the focal point of the decorations, but it’s certainly not alone. Depending on your decorating style, available time, and budget, you can decorate the whole house, a single room, or just the main living area. You can even theme the areas, with a child-friendly style in the playroom, for example, and a more sophisticated look in the living room.
Virtually every surface of the home has potential for decorating. Your usual wall art can be switched with special art that you only display at Christmas; you can add garland swags to stair rails and mantels; even china, glassware, and cutlery can be switched for festive fare. Nativity scenes and Christmas villages can be added to each year (which makes for a great gift idea, too).
Cards, of course, can be placed on tables and shelves, but they can also form part of the décor: Try hanging them by their folds over a piece of string that’s pinned to a wall or ceiling (choose a place that won’t show the pinhole when the cards come down). Cards can also be taped one beneath the other, with the top card pinned or taped to the wall, to create a cascade of cards down the wall.
Sometimes it's the littlest touches that make a big difference. You could, for example, tie up cinnamon sticks with a holiday bow and place them on the stovetop or on the mantel. Their fragrance is lovely, and the look is one of old-fashioned charm.
Candles are always welcome at the holidays, but do keep safety in mind. Never put them where they could catch an item such as curtains alight, and never leave them unattended. They look very welcoming in windows, but it’s best to use battery-operated electric candles there: The effect is almost the same, but it’s much safer.
Keep in mind that less can be more when it comes to decorating. If you feel like indulging your inner Christmas diva, then go for it, but don’t be afraid to stick with something simple. Remember: This is all about what makes you happiest when you step inside your home.
Take Christmas Outside
Thanks to the availability of lighted outdoor ornaments — life-sized, head-nodding deer, inflatable snowmen and Santas — you can easily turn your yard into the Christmas grotto of your dreams. Or, you could stick with something simple and classic: Either way, planning is essential, especially if you live in a cold climate where December will have you freezing your fingers as you try to manage clips and lights that are brittle with the cold.
If you’re stringing lights, it really is best to get them up when you have a spell of decent weather. You don’t have to turn them on right away; just get them up while you can still climb a ladder in relative comfort. Other items, such as lawn ornaments, are easier to add later, whatever the weather.
Consider the security of your outdoor decorations, especially if they might be easy-and appealing-to steal (stranger things have happened, unfortunately). If you can fasten them somehow, that would be best; otherwise, consider the display's value. If it has great sentimental value and you can't secure it, you may want to think twice about putting it out front.
If ladders and lights don’t appeal to you, don’t feel obligated by the season to string up those house lights. Green garlands and red bows—even a single, huge red bow wrapped around the trunk of a big tree in your front yard—can make just as pretty an outdoor package for the season.
Another idea to try includes wrapping doors and mailboxes with Christmas paper or fabric and ribbons so they look like gifts (without, of course, interfering with the operation of whatever it is that you’ve wrapped).