It’s pretty obvious that one of my favorite creative endeavors is writing, but in recent years I’ve come to the conclusion that much of my creativity is visual in nature. In fact, I took one of those online intelligence tests several years ago, and it turns out I’m off the charts when it comes to visual/spatial smarts; which tells me I should’ve been an architect, or a designer. Even as a kid, I was always dreaming up fun, kid-friendly house floor plans, and I loved seeing how other people lived in and decorated their own spaces.
I do feel a rush of satisfaction when I create something with my hands that is a delight to the eyes. It’s the same rush I felt when I first discovered scrapbooking. There’s an artist inside me that has never quite accepted the fact that I draw stick figures at about the level of a third grader. With no talent when it comes to drawing, I’ve had to find creative outlets in other directions.
Decorating is one of those outlets, and doing so on a budget provides an added challenge. This time of year, as visions of twinkle lights dance in my head, I make multiple trips to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby for the best deal I can find on garland and ornaments. Every year I add a few more items, and over the years I have amassed quite a collection. Add this to the Christmas decor I inherited from my parents, and it takes an entire small storage room to house all of my Christmas decor.
I’d like to share some of my favorite decorating ideas in hopes that you will be inspired. After all, most of my ideas have come from others, with a few tweaks here and there to make them my own.
My dining room table centerpiece is one of my favorites, a combination of both new and re-purposed gold and
silver blingy decor I’ve collected from HomeGoods, Hobby Lobby, and Pier 1. Just spread it out along a table runner, add some battery-operated lights, a couple snowglobes with dreamy winter scenes and voila! you have a festive centerpiece. If your table centerpiece now makes the light fixture above the table look drab, dangle ornaments from a garland draped around the chandelier. And for added warmth, forego glaring chandelier lights for a strand of battery-operated lights strung throughout the garland
You may have a tree that has collected all the kids’ homemade ornaments and all the other mismatched ornaments you’ve received over the years, the one that looks like a garage sale. Twist a big mesh ribbon around the tree from top to bottom, add a few floral picks, and your garage sale tree suddenly looks like it could be featured in the latest issue of “Good Housekeeping”.
So, last year I did splurge and bought new ornaments for a more formal, coordinated tree, one that sits in a front window in the only room in my house that remains pristine due to my strict no food, no shoes, no dog policy. And, as it’s more a library and museum filled with all the nick-knacks I inherited from my parents, it’s also the quiet place I go to regain some sanity.
I’m a big fan of snowmen, and these particular ones I’ve had around for years in various spots all over my house. But I think they’ve found a permanent home in this kitchen window, framed by the splendor of a wintry outdoor scene. The candlesticks I inherited from the previous owner of our house and, adding the red candles and cool dangly white candle rings, along with a strand of battery-operated, snowflake-shaped lights tucked underneath some white Buffalo snow fluff, I’m ready to go walking in a winter wonderland. The sparse garland hanging in the window is decked out with red, green, and white clothespins, from which I hang Christmas cards. I just have to make sure the cards don’t get too close to the candle flames!
This little tree is simple, but it’s my favorite. It has been a tradition in our family to buy a souvenir Christmas ornament wherever we go during the year. With the exception of the year we spent in Europe, when we added at least two dozen new ornaments, most years we’ve added two or three to the point that we are starting to run out of room on this little tree for additions. Most of the time we don’t want to waste our money on some junky souvenir that will just end up collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. The beauty of buying ornaments as souvenirs is that they typically cost very little, take up little room in your suitcase, and once a year provide a reminder of wonderful family memories. Even junky souvenirs can be turned into cute ornaments with a little string.
I’ve been collecting pieces of the Department 56 “Christmas in the City” series Christmas village for years, and now I have the perfect place to display it- on the top of a bookshelf in front of my basement window. Above it, from an old, rustic, reclaimed wood ladder suspended from the ceiling dangles five lanterns lit with fairy lights and candles. (Are you seeing a theme here?) It’s magical. Sometimes I wish I could miniaturize myself and go hang out in the Christmas village, returning to a simpler time when people went caroling, rode in horse-drawn sleighs, and skated on frozen ponds.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we recently remodeled our basement, giving it a more Tuscan/Italian flair (Italy being another passion of ours), along with some more practical renovations that actually keep us from shivering when we go downstairs to watch a movie or play games. One of the additions was a peninsula fireplace with a large shelf, a space on which to unleash even more creative energy. And, as our basement tends to be rustic, it made sense to continue the theme on the mantle with a cute woodland scene, complete with creatures purchased from Pier 1 and, of course, more twinkle lights and faux birch candles.
Christmas lights aren’t just for Christmas anymore. After all, why keep the magic for just one time of year? After a long deliberation on how to make our basement bar more cozy, nothing short of adding an expensive soffit over the counter would give it that warm pub feel. Even so, this was supposed to be an Italian-themed renovation, not English. It was then that I discovered the perfect solution on Pinterest: suspend an old ladder made of reclaimed wood from the ceiling, add to it some old rustic baskets I already had in my kitchen cabinets, some fake food from Hobby Lobby reminiscent of an Italian kitchen, some grape cluster lights also found at Hobby Lobby, and I had a perfect, yet inexpensive light fixture for over the bar! All my contractor had to do was add a plug-in for the lights in the ceiling, and it was good to go.
Of course, no amount of my creativity could ever come close to God’s masterpiece I see all around me. As I stroll through God’s living room, decorated with ornaments of delicate white in an unfathomable array of intricate shapes floating dreamily down from the heavens, demure swans gliding gracefully along the surface of a lake, oblivious to the cold that nips at my nose, and evergreens arrayed in wintry white, I am reminded once more that my attempts to create something of beauty is simply a reflection of His creativity in me.
Buon Natale to you and yours!