By Jane Abbott
Has your outdoor Christmas lighting ever come close to shutting down the grid? (We know you’re out there, Griswold family!) Maybe December is when you get your craft on and show Martha Stewart how it’s done? Or does tinsel give you an instant headache?
Christmas decorating doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach, but it can polarise people (especially in the North. Sorry, little Christmas joke there!). The good thing is there is enough room for all decorating styles to shine at Christmas time. Whether you embrace it with open arms on December 1 or find yourself on Christmas Eve scrounging through the $2 shop, use this celebration as a chance to make your home the warm and welcoming place you want it to be. Choose the styles you like and add your own flavour to the mix for some festive fun.
1. Rustic meets shabby-chic
This approach requires equal parts of vintage, white and evergreen, with a touch of gilt and sparkle. In this display, carefully chosen pieces create a stunning vignette. The objects highlight family memories, nature and the domestic (the jugs could be old or new). Sparkly letters highlight the season and the gilt ampersand adds a touch of whimsy.
This sweet setting uses an array of small pieces with the chalkboard as a focal point. The versatile board allows a changing array of holiday messages. For example: “Peace on Earth” when the kids are fighting is apt; “Gifts For Me..” when your hints are falling on deaf ears; and “Angels Needed in the Kitchen” when the load needs sharing.
2. Less is more
There’s a lot to be said for this decorating style. Firstly, you save a lot of money. One carefully chosen mercury glass pine cone hung in a window looks sophisticated, while the tiny glass bell shows you enjoy Christmas cheer in small doses. The solitary deer suggests you told the rest of Santa’s helpers that there was no room for them at this inn, but that’s okay, he can join the rest of his herd later.
Placing some pretty natives in a vase and a string of doily bunting on the wall fulfils the less is more approach.
3. Take it outside
For some, the decorations will always be better outside than in. Inexpensive baubles that are weatherproof can be hung from awnings and instantly glamourise your porch or verandah. Adding ornaments to modestly-sized trees is an easy way to festoon your foliage. Adding ornaments to large trees will require ladders or scaffolding. Don’t do anything silly!
This house has subtle touches to make it festive. JOY fits perfectly in a trio of windows and lets everyone know that Christmas is here, folks! The pops of red in the garden and outdoor chair are just a touch of sweet, giving a visual lift.
4. Au naturel
If brown paper packages tied up with string really are your favourite things, then this look is for you. Offset by greenery, hessian and metallic ribbon, brown paper can be used in a multitude of ways. Think gift wrapping, bunting, garlands and ornaments. The ‘Happy Holidays’ paper garland wraps the tree with festive cheer.
5. Crafty creative
Not wanting to cause panic here, but serious crafters started beavering away way back in August.
The first time I realised I was not a serious crafter was while perusing a Martha Stewart holiday issue where she had made individual velvet cases for acorns to be hung off a tablecloth. If you can’t imagine ever doing that either, then these red snowflakes made using red ice block sticks might be just your thing. Better still, get the kids to do it!
Homemade ornaments can be fashioned from all sorts of everyday things with a little imagination (a hot glue gun also comes in handy!). Sometimes the simplest things are the sweetest thing…
Jam jars repurposed as tealight holders make a nostalgic lighting display. By wrapping wire around the rim to make a handle, and hung with a star, they speak of simpler times, maybe when life wasn’t so busy. Look in your garage for an old ladder to add rustic charm.
6. Lights, camera, Christmas!
There’s often a Chevy Chase in every suburb. Sometimes in every street. Fairy lights make everything look better. Even just a few strands will make the most run-of-the-mill house more appealing. If you are prepared to go all the way, be prepared for busloads of people stopping outside. And don’t forget earmuffs – the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ may be deafening.