Adding Natural Elements to Holiday Decorations

Even if you prefer an artificial tree you can add natural features to your holiday celebrations. Pine cones, seed pods and nuts still in their shells bring the season to life.

You can add some character and even bling to a natural arrangement. Consider touching the edges of your pine cones with white paint to resemble snow, or add some glue and cover the tips of various natural pieces with glitter.

Holiday greens provide a nice addition to any tablescape. Local warehouse stores and groceries have bouquets of pine and holly and other greenery, and these will bring charm to any holiday decoration. Place small branches under holiday ornaments or treats to add a special touch.

Fresh pine wreaths and poinsettias can be picked up at those same stores, or take a trip to a florist for a larger selection of options. The smell of fresh pine when you walk into a home makes the holidays more vivid.

If you have pine trees or firs such as a juniper on your property, you can just trim off some smaller branches and create your own green decorations. Be careful with pine branches, cones and needles, however. Freshly-cut pieces often drip sap that can damage furniture. Place wax paper or foil under the edges so that the sap is safely captured.

Whole spices such as nutmegs, cinnamon sticks and star anise make a nice addition with both looks and scent for the holidays. Notice the clove-studded oranges above. Use a sharp knife first to make the holes in the orange, then stick whole cloves in to make a sweet-smelling decoration. In this case a bit of fake snow adds to the holiday mood. Even without our own snow here, we can conjure the memory of winter weather by bringing nature into our festivities.

Pick and Decorate a Designer Tree

Have you always wanted your holiday tree to look as beautiful as the ones you see in stores or designer spaces? Like anything professional, choosing and decorating a tree well is a matter of following certain steps. Here are a few tips to make your tree as lovely as you want.

Tree choice: Choose a tree which has the proportions and branches to stand up to a wealth of decorations. In Arizona, the most common live holiday trees are Douglas and Noble. Douglas firs have many branches, but they can only support the lightest of ornaments. Also, they are dense, which means that all of your lights and decorations need to be on the surface. If you want to create drama, choose a Noble fir, like the second tree on the left with the pink tag on it in the photo above. This variety of tree can support heavier ornaments and allows you to see into the tree itself, providing the opportunity to layer decorations.

Lights: There are two common errors with lights: not enough and the wrong placement. To really make a tree shine, figure on about 100 lights per foot. That’s three to four times more lights than most people use, but the difference is dramatic. Next, place the lights toward the middle of the tree, not at the ends of the branches. Don’t run them in a line. Instead, place the light strings in random patterns on and between the insides of each branch. With lights set up like this, they will appear and disappear as people walk around the tree, and the brilliance will showcase the rest of the decorations.

Garlands: These are optional, but be generous with your choices. Often today, you will see designers use large pieces of artificial foliage or feathers instead of garlands. Notice how this choice works well with the tree on the right.

Ornaments: Think in terms of balance. Put larger ornaments toward the bottom and smaller ones at the top. Distribute colors and types of ornaments evenly.

Tree skirt: Instead of a standard round tree skirt, consider a length of fabric such as a white to resemble snow or dark velvet such as the one used on this tree. Just tuck the raw edges underneath and drape the fabric gracefully.

Throughout your decorating efforts, step back regularly to check the full effect. This may take more time than a standard approach, but the extra effort is worth it in the end.

Winterize your Décor

It’s starting to get cooler at night and with the holidays coming up this is a good time to create a more wintery look in your home. Here are a few suggestions.

Bring on the sweaters: Create a wintery feel by adding a couple of throw pillows made of old sweaters. If you don’t have any of your own, shop in a thrift store for one you like. Just decide on the pillow size and sew an edge around the front of a sweater about a half-inch wider, then cut. Cut the same size from the back of the sweater to make up the back of the pillow.

Add a few holiday colors with accessories: This room to the right is filled with light neutrals, but by adding a few touches of red, it has an immediate winter holiday feel.

Once again, pillows add warmth. Look for colors that add warmth while working with your home. Consider adding a throw on your sofa to coordinate. Bookshelves are a great place to add holiday items. Small toys and accessories can be placed right in front of books.

Take most or all of your normal accessories off your coffee table before adding Christmas items. That way you are ready for the holidays without having your home look cluttered. If you keep all of your holiday items in the same color theme, they will all connect and make your home’s