Archive for Christmas ideas

Packing up Christmas

There is a winter storm on the way, and it is forecasted to be of historic proportions.

It was a beautiful Christmas, but now it's time to put it all away-

It was a beautiful Christmas, but now it’s time to put it all away.

I am scrambling to get the last of my Christmas decorations and greenery taken down and stored away so I can focus on snow shoveling when Mother Nature is finished giving us a frosty layer of the white stuff. Possibly 2 to 3 feet of it.

As you know, I love my Christmas things and have some really good tips for storing them so they will last for years and years. I have also come up with some space saving ways of storing them and will share a few of those tips as well. For me, I feel like so many of the ornaments remind me of long ago Christmases, friends and family members, and so keeping them preserved and safe is very important.

These trunk sized bins are great for storing away long items, like garlands.

These trunk sized bins are great for storing away long items, like garlands.

I have purchased plastic bins over the last few years, and I highly recommend using them. They are stackable, moisture proof and with a little bit of thought you can find the perfect size for almost every item. Here are some of my favorite storage ideas:

For the garlands, I like the 3 foot long, trunk sized bins. Most garlands are either 6 feet or 9 feet long, so if you coil them back and forth you only need to bend them once or twice. You can pile 6 or 8 of them in each bin, depending on how thick the garland is. I have three of this style bin for my garlands. They are also good for storing Christmas trees, if you have an artificial tree that comes apart in sections. For my trees, which fold up umbrella style, I just wrap them in a plastic drop cloth and store them standing up.

I like to use the boxes that my ornaments came in to store them safely. Egg cartons work great, too!

I like to use the boxes that my ornaments came in to store them safely. Egg cartons work great, too!

For my ornaments, especially the glass ones, I recommend saving the boxes that they came in. I find that they perfectly stack in the smaller sized 2 foot long bins. (I think mine are 18 gallon size.) For ornaments which have no box, I reuse egg cartons, and even plastic berry containers to store them in. I have also found that shoe boxes work great for larger things — nutcrackers and candles for example. Also, I like to put one or two of the little silica pouches that come in shoe boxes with the fabric ornaments, to keep moisture away.

If you flatten wreaths out before storing them, they take up WAY less space.

If you flatten wreaths out before storing them, they take up WAY less space.

For the wreaths, I usually remove the bows and decorations before storing. I coil up the ribbon and store it with other fabric items. By doing that, it flattens itself out and doesn’t need to be ironed before using it again. (I will do almost anything to not have to iron!) I like to flatten out the wreaths and stack them. It takes only a half a minute to rake your fingers through the greenery to each side to flatten them, and they take up only a fraction of the amount of storage space that way. I can store 25 wreaths in the same space as 6!

I store the trees wrapped in plastic tarps in the closet. Saves time on reassembly next year!

I store the trees wrapped in plastic tarps in the closet. Saves time on reassembly next year!

I really like to store all of this together inside the house, instead of up in my attic, where temps can be well into the 100′s in the summer months. The heat can fade and even melt some things, so be careful what you store in your attic. This closet in the basement works perfectly, so now it’s so long to Christmas decorations until next December.

Still trying to think up a good storage idea for this pinecone tree. There's always something-

Still trying to think up a good storage idea for this pine cone tree. There’s always something…

The only thing I haven’t come up with a good storage solution for yet is this pinecone tree I made years ago. It’s fairly large and heavy, so I might have to make a crate on my own. For now, I wrap it in plastic bubble wrap.

Now that that’s packed away I’m going to use some lemon oil on all my tabletops. Wow, what a difference! Happy Winter everyone!

 

Merry Christmas to one and all-

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Countdown to Christmas

It seems that this Christmas season I have been playing a little too much catch up with the leaf raking. I feel like taking a moment to relax and sharing a few photos of Christmas this year at our home. Much like years past, I used lots of fruit in the Williamsburg style. There are candles and wreaths in each window, and garlands with cranberry chains around the door, stair railings and candle post. It is simple, but fitting to the history of the colonial style of architecture in this area of the east coast. And of course, I love it!

I hope each and everyone of my cherished readers has a warm and happy Christmas, and a healthy new year!  I’m looking forward to next year’s gardening, and planning for some interesting new plants to try. May you enjoy each and every new day in 2016!

The front door at night, with a Williamsburg style this year.

The front door at night, with a Williamsburg style this year. Lots of fruit and cranberry chains.

The living room tree all aglow!

The living room tree all aglow!

Here it is in a daytime shot so you can see the ornaments a little better. And this year my tree is celebrating it's 21st birthday!

Here is the tree in a daytime shot so you can see the ornaments a little better. And this year my tree is celebrating its 21st birthday!

The entry foyer with amaryllis flowers and my favorite Santa and angel chimes.

The entry foyer with amaryllis flowers,  my favorite Santa and angel chimes.

And to me the crowning touch is always Christmas bows!

And — to me — the crowning touch is always Christmas bows!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

 

Decorating at Christmas – Some Tricks of the Trade from My Home to Yours

For the perfectly lit tree, use 100 lights per foot of height, winding them back and forth the length of each branch. This will create a wonderful glow from within.

This time of the year is one of my most favorite. I love to make the outdoors look as festive as the indoors. I have always loved making wreaths and garlands with greenery from my own yard, but I recommend using artificial greens as well. It may sound funny that I use artificial greens, considering how much I love plants, but there are many good reasons why I do. I  embellish them with natural greens, berries and pine cones, and of course beautiful ribbons. I like the artificial greens because  they are stronger, fireproof, and you can keep them up for as long as you want.

Add real greenery to artificial wreaths and garlands to create a full and elegant look. Here real magnolia branches and white pine boughs are mixed with garlands, roping and musical instruments.

 

 

Being a florist has its advantages – one being access to floral wholesale warehouses, where the quality is superior to retail craft stores. With a few tricks of the trade, your greenery will look just as terrific! Here are some easy ones.

 

First – shop when items have gone on sales for 50-60% off. (These days that can be right after Halloween.) You’ll want to purchase three times as many garlands as you need. I will explain this later in the blog.

Using multiple types of greenery in a garland creates a more natural look, especially when embellished with pine cones or pods. I also added bows, grapevine and cranberry strings.

 

Next, select garlands with different kinds of artificial foliage and varying branch lengths. This will make your garland full and much more realistic.

 

 

Last, look for the best color of green. Multiple shades of green on the needles will give you the most realistic look.

 

Now that you have everything you need to create the best garland, lay them all out, and “fluff” out the individual branches. Take three garlands, (ideally one of each branch length — short, medium and long) and twist them together. This will result in one beautifully full, florist-quality garland. Next, embellish to your heart’s content.

The chadelier get a Christmas makeover with a wreath adorned in fruit.

The chandelier gets a Christmas makeover with a wreath adorned in fruit.

 

For wreaths, I also combine two of types of foliage, or add picks of real greenery into the artificial base. The end result is full and strong. I also attach the wreaths with wire to the hook, this will keep them in place no matter how hard the wind blows.

 

I love the look of Christmas lights done right.  I try to not use too many lights, but always put a candle in each window, and a spotlight on the front door.  My father was a master with the Christmas lights, and always loved putting them in the trees and bushes. He taught me, and I here pass on one of his best his tips: When lighting trees or bushes, start the string of lights from the trunk and wrap each branch, back and forth, all the way to the top. This will make your job look very professional. Do your best to hide all the wires with in the branches, and plan for approximately 100 lights per foot of height on your tree.

 

My updated tip: Put lights on timers or remote control, so that you don’t even need to brave the weather to turn them on and off.

Paperwhite bulbs about to bloom. I like to dress mine up with pine cones around the base for the holidays.

 

 

For a beautiful interior touch, start paperwhite bulbs the week of Thanksgiving in containers. They will start to bloom in 3 to 6 weeks, so you will have them for Christmas. This also makes a great gift!

Add greenery to lamp posts and mailboxes.

 

 

Lamp posts and mailboxes are also fun to embellish, just be sure not to obscure the address numbers or the outgoing mail flag.

 

Now the only thing left to do is to take in the beauty of the season, and to wish my readers a very Merry Christmas!