Thursday, December 11

Christmas Decorations, Links and Ideas

Christmas decorating! Since I moved to Vancouver three years ago, every year I planned to decorate for Christmas, and every year I didn't. We do usually visit my family in New York for the holidays, but I want to bring the winter festival home, too. This year, I think it might actually happen.

Our primary challenge is that we have very little storage space in this apartment, so I don't want to use large ball-shaped ornaments, which take up extra space. I have a preference for flat or nearly flat ornaments, which will be easier to store. Recently when I was feeling frustrated over these limitations, a friend brilliantly suggested that I buy some nice basic ornaments and then give them to thrift shops when the season is over. I may yet do that, but in the meantime, I have other plans as well. I thought I'd list them all in one blog post, for anyone else's benefit, and also so that I can keep my plans straight...

For the outdoors, solar Christmas lights look pretty much the same as any other string of LED lights, but they run by solar power. Not only is this environmentally friendly and thrifty, it also means that we won't have to run an extension cord out to the porch, thus not having to leave the porch door slightly open all the time. I'd love to have some mini-lights or cafe lights indoors as well... basically a string of lights that is not LED, and provides softer light.


Since live cut trees aren't allowed in our building, we bought a small potted Norfolk Island Pine. There's actually three trees in this one pot, I'm pretty sure, to make it look fuller. Here it is in its current naked splendor, in a picture taken today with the first snow of the year in the background.

In addition to the tree, I'd really like to hang ornaments and bells on ribbon strung up about the apartment, as in this inspiring picture to the left. There's also a great idea for creating a sort of mantelpiece from which to hang stockings, by painting a large stick and hanging it with ribbon.

Solid glass raindrop and berry ornaments are small, and they're on sale too. I love these, but like the solar lights, because they don't deliver to Canada, we won't get them until after we return from our trip.

Now on to handmade ornaments. According to this interesting post on the history of Christmas ornaments, many of the earliest ornaments were food:

In the early 1800’s fruit (particularly apples) and nuts were the first Christmas ornaments used to decorate Christmas trees. Soon to follow Christmas ornaments of foil and paper streamers cut and made from the hands of family and friends were added. Among German families (who popularized the Christmas tree) they made Christmas ornaments out of gingerbread and other hard home-made cookies baked in the shape of fruit, stars, bells, angels and hearts. In other countries such as America, their first lot of Christmas ornament additions were long strands of cranberries or popcorn to circle their trees!


I would love to wrap the tree with a string of cranberries, though I haven't seen cranberries for sale yet. There's a holiday farmer's market happening this weekend, and I'm hoping to buy cranberries and wreaths there. Body + Soul magazine also had a great article on holiday decorating, including ideas on making ornaments out of fragrant spices and oranges. For that matter, cloves could probably be used too, with similar techniques used in this tutorial on making clove necklaces.

Sewing and embroidery are the easiest to improvise. However I'm currently waiting for a delivery of kapok stuffing. Until it arrives, sewn ornament plans (such as these felt star ornaments) are on hold. (I've also been dreaming of a bird hung in a wreath for awhile.)

Many of my favorite handmade ornaments posted on the internet are made of paper. I'm really excited about making kusudama flowers or balls...



...3D snowflakes and intricate snowflakes...



...origami wreaths...



...and geodesic ornaments...



Those are my plans for now. We'll see!

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