Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Contained Christmas Decorating

The snow has finally made an appearance here on PEI and from my contacts with people across Canada, it seems to be everywhere and all at once. Canada, winter, the two go hand in hand. Except Vancouver, we had a sales rep in the store today who just got back and said the weather on the other side of the coast was wonderful.

I have to say I'm like most people and not a big fan of cold weather. In fact, I caught myself saying, out loud today, that I hate winter. It was so cold and windy here today, minus minus minus. How cold did it get? I'm not sure but let me check the weather channel. ... TV on, select channel. (does your tv say hello to your when you turn it on?) Ok, it says minus 7 but I'm not buying it. It has to be minus 20... brrrr

The one thing about this kind of weather is it really gets people in the mood for Christmas, decorating, shopping and entertaining. I had the opportunity to do a seminar on Christmas decorating a couple of weeks ago , which was really fun. I thought I would share some of my ideas with you.

Here are a few tips and things that I like to do with containers, glassware, dishes and bowls to keep things simple and stress free.

Glassware: It isn't just for flowers. I love and I mean love using glass vessels, whether they be vases, hurricane lanterns or bowls and filling them with Christmas ornaments. This is so easy to do. Take any vase and just load it up with colourful balls, shiny, matte or glossy, they just look good. Other things I like to do. Load up your vases with pinecones and perhaps a ball or 3 and again, voila instant arrangement. How about a taper candles tied with a pretty ribbon and just laid inside or on top of a glass dish. I also like to pour some sand inside and then add a pillar candle and a wee tiny ornament for colour. Has anyone ever used epson salts inside vases. It looks like crystals of snow and again just add a candle as above and you get another new look.

Cranberries: Don't just save them for turkey dinner. Cranberries placed in vessels with or without water and a candle makes a nice colourful arrangement. Amazingly they last for weeks. One of my favorite cranberry recipes goes like this... Get a tall open mouthed vase out of the cupboard, add some cranberries, then some water so they float, add a bunch of willow branches in the center and finish off by adding 3 stems (or more) of white lilies. I'm no florist but hey, I can pull this one off in my sleep. The lilies give you beautiful fragrance and the berries add a nice splash of colour. Depending on how fresh you can get your flowers this should last about a week. Once the flowers have seen better days throw them out, change the water and replace the lilies. A word on lilies. The stamens need to be picked off just as they begin to open. If you do this regularly you will not end up with the orangey stains they can leave behind on anything which touches up against them. I usually put a kleenex in my hand and pick them off with this as they stain like crazy.

Candles: Everyone loves candlelight. Flat dishes, trays or flat bottomed bowls are great for making terrific looking candle arrangements. Pillars set on flat surfaces surrounded with cones, sand, salts, little ornaments or balls set the mood. To get a nice burn trim your wicks to about half of their original height. Design tip: Use candles in odd numbers, 3, 5 or 7 etc... and either use all the same height or stagger them with varying heights.

Flowers: Spring bulbs aren't just for spring. Pick up spring bulbs from the garden center in the fall. Instead of putting them in the ground in the fall place them in your fridges crisper. Leave them there for at least 8 weeks and make sure they have holes in the bag so they don't go moldy. After 8 weeks take them out and plant them in a container as follows; Add some river rock to the bottom of your container then fill with water just up to the level of the rocks. Place your bulb or multiple bulbs with the root sides down. Now place them in a bright location for another few weeks and after that a sunny spot. Keep on with the water just to the root level. Within a few weeks the roots will sprout and then the flowers will explode. This is actually a very simple thing to do to have flowers throughout the dreary winter days. Bulbs that work best include, paperwhites, amarylis, hyacinths and muscari. They also smell terrific!

Fruit: So good for you to eat and so good to decorate with. Citrus colours are in. The bright yellow of lemon, the warmth of orange or the bright green in limes look stunning in glass bowls. Vitamin C never looked so good. Granny Smith or Red Delicious Apples in ample amounts set about in bowls add to the feast of Christmas. Go for real or go for faux, fill a bowl and add instant colour.

I could likely write on and on but these ideas are hopefully a good start to easy Christmas decorating with everyday items.


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