Archive for Christmas ideas

DIY Christmas Ornament Ideas

Happy Holidays, from our living room to yours! I have some easy DIY Christmas ideas for you today. Great for your own tree, or a heart felt DIY gift to people on your Christmas gift list. And for those of you who are last minute shoppers, these might save you a trip to the mall.

As many of you know I used to have a craft business, and sold to many of the local gift shops, in craft shows, through designers, and to a few large retail chains. My favorite was always the craft shows because you get to see who your creations end up with, and which things get the most comments. Here are a few of my favorites from over the years. Hope you will give a few of these a try-

These tiny pots were always one of my favorites. Here I painted them to give them some age, glued in a couple of pieces of vine as a hanger, added some moss, and glued in a “mushroom” cardinal. These always sold as fast as I could put them out for display! The fun thing is you could switch these up in so many ways, instead of the natural look, they could be painted gold and filled with berries, dried flowers, or anything else you could come with. Guaranteed to put a smile on the face of anyone who receives it!
If you are like me and have lots of little bits of lace and trims left over from larger projects, this is a really pretty way to use them up. Take any Christmas ball, and wrap or glue the bits of trim on them for a one of a kind original.

Speaking of trim, these old fashioned cornucopias are easy to do. Just cut out a triangle of fabric or lace, and sew or glue the seam on the back, add a ribbon for hanging, and fill it with dried flowers, candy, or tiny toys.
This is a great little use for lots of buttons from the button jar! For this snowman, I just stacked up some white buttons in graduating sizes for the body, then a red one where the scarf would go, and a few more white ones for the head, a large black one for the brim of the hat, a red one for some detail,and a few small black ones for the stovepipe part of the hat. I used hot glue between each button, and a ribbon for hanging glued in under the last button. These are fun, and you can create so many other Christmas oriented ornaments the same way. I’ve made Christmas trees with green and brown buttons, Santas with red, black and white buttons- sky’s the limit!
This elegant pearl snowball was done with some leftover strings of pearls glued onto a satin ball, and a ribbon added for a hanger. Super easy, and you could use any kind of strand of beads for this.
This is a wreath I made for my Mother in Law a few years ago. She had decided to downsize from a big tree to a tabletop top tree, and had lots of extra ornaments. I took each ornament and glued the little hanger on securely to the top of each one, so they wouldn’t come loose and break. Then wired each ornament onto a wire wreath frame, again, as securely as possible, added some bead garland, and it is a show stopper! This is a great use of all those extra Christmas balls, and It can be made in any size. It is equally beautiful with a candle in the center to use as a centerpiece as it is hanging on a wall or door.

I hope you will try making some of these. And most of all—Merry Christmas to each and every one!

Decorating The Christmas Tree – From Start to Finish!

I am a self proclaimed Christmas tree fanatic! I look forward to decorating mine each and every year. Each ornament has special meaning to me, and it’s like greeting old friends when I pull them out of storage. It seems everyone has a different method, but here’s my process for the Christmas tree, from storage to fully decorated.

I have the type of tree where all the branches fold up for storage, so it takes up very little floor space in the storage room. I leave it in the stand, and covered in a plastic drop cloth to keep it dust free.

The next step is unwrapping it from the drop cloth, and opening the branches. This is really the most important step, “fluffing”, “zhuzhing”, and lighting- no shortcuts here!

Take the time to fluff out each little branch. I like to get them pointed in all different directions. It fills out the tree and gives it a natural appearance.
Next up are the lights! I prefer to use strings of lights, instead of a pre-lit tree. A tip for how many lights to use is 100 lights for every foot of tree, for an amazing glowing tree. In my case that is 800 lights. For a beautiful effect, wind them in and out the length of each branch. Follow safety tips, and don’t plug more than 4 strings of lights together. Now we’re ready for the ornaments, although I love the look even with just the lights! To make turning the lights on easy, we use a power cord with a toggle switch. An even easier method is a remote controlled plug.
When it comes to ornaments, I have to confess, I’m a more is more kind of girl. I love them all! To me, they represent many different generations and are symbolic of every aspect of the holiday. I could look at friends’ trees all day long and listen to stories behind the ornaments. It’s a wonderful time of the year for reflecting on the past, and remembering those who aren’t with us anymore. It brings them close again.

With that, I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy new year!

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-


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!


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