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Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorations can be such a pickle (and not just the one carefully hidden on a Christmas tree)! Some folks bring out bins of the same stuff every year and minimalists do the bare minimum to avoid being a Scrooge.

“[My favorite way to decorate] varies from year to year,” says Joyce Miller-Konstantinow, owner and designer of Blooms & Rooms Design Studio in McHenry. She admits, however, “my favorite is and always has been a whimsical twist to traditional decorations. For example, this year my inspiration is ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside.’ I use red and white plaids and cable knitted pillows accented with snow, red berries, and hot chocolate ...”

Jeff Rice, owner of Décor Designs in Crystal Lake, recommends substituting traditional holiday colors with fun variations.  “Try chartreuse or olive green mixed with traditional red or perhaps use copper and bronze accents instead of silver and gold,” Rice says. “Pick a favorite wrapping paper, stocking, tree skirt or ornament and build your color story around it. Adding a neutral third color like cream or bronze will unify and balance other non-traditional, contrasting colors.”

Some people want their decorations to be sensitive to all winter holidays so they can leave them up into the New Year. Rice suggests considering decorations with more of a wintertime theme and avoiding colors traditionally associated with Christmas.  “Snowflakes, icicles, birch logs, evergreens, pinecones and the like will last well into the New Year without looking left over,” Rice says.

Miller-Konstantinow has an inspired idea for people who already have decorations and may not want to buy more. “One year I swapped two totes of ornaments with my mom, which gave her a different look and me, too. After the holiday we returned them to each other,” she says.
An inexpensive and easy decoration according to Rice is to fill glass bowls and vases with bows, ornaments, cranberries, candy canes, cinnamon sticks or anything else you associate with the holiday.

Miller-Konstantinow also has another tip to mix it up for people who love decorating as well as others who don’t feel creative.  “Host a decorating party with your best girlfriend or children. Make it special. Set up a hot chocolate bar or serve a festive beverage while decorating, order in lunch, play your favorite tunes, enjoy the experience!”

According to Miller-Konstantinow, ribbon is an easy way to add creativity. “Attach strands of ribbon to your chandelier with an ornament attached to the end, vary the heights for interest or do this from a drapery rod across a big window.”

For a dramatic change that’s budget-friendly, Miller-Konstantinow recommends striping one focal wall with red velvet or wide decorative ribbon. Use sticky dots to hold it up. “It takes a little bit of time and thought, but there’s hundreds of ways to make it work,” she says.

Rice says repurposing things that aren’t necessarily associated with the holidays is a great way to stretch your decorating budget. “Empty boxes wrapped with holiday paper, cake stands as pedestals for decorations, Mason jars as tea light holders, fireplace logs bundled with bright red ribbon, pine cones sprinkled with glitter, a martini glass filled with peppermints, or old scarves used as table runners all make the most of what you already own,” he says.

Small spaces are easier to decorate than large ones, according to Miller-Konstantinow.  
“Personalize with one favorite item in each room, even the bedroom. Purchase or add holiday décor that creates emotion, something that makes your heart sing. Change out one of your wall art pieces by wrapping it with festive paper, just for the season. Add subtle touches, but don’t be afraid to go bold if you so desire. One stunning eye-catching statement is more exciting than multiple tiny pieces,” she says.

Rice cautions that anything you associate with holidays can be used for decoration, but “keep in mind that tasteful decorating is usually purposeful and limited. Otherwise, it becomes visual clutter.”

There are ways to use flowers (live or silk) for the holidays, too. Miller-Konstantinow suggests purchasing a bouquet of (two to three dozen) beautiful open fragrant roses (fresh), cutting the stems to about 4-inches on a diagonal. Insert them into a water tube or vial, then tuck into your Christmas tree. “It’s stunning and breathtaking.”

Rice recommends tucking ornaments, holiday figurines, greenery and floral picks into bookcases and curios. “A large ornament on a shelf, or a cluster of berries and a poinsettia blossom beside books, is all the ‘holiday’ you may need in those overlooked spaces,” he says.
For the outside of your home Rice suggests that it’s not all about stringed lights. “Don’t forget to pay particular attention to the front door. Greet family and friends by guiding them to your front door with holiday décor suitable for the outdoors ... A doorway surrounded by flower pots or urns filled with evergreens and berry sprays, draped with garlands and wreaths, weather-proof ornaments, large lanterns, vintage sleds, birch branches and more make a beautiful statement of welcome well into winter,” Rice says.

Another welcoming idea for the home is to “decorate”with some of the smells people associate with the season.  “While the holidays are filled with many sights and sounds, the sense of smell triggers strong emotional responses and memories,” Rice says. “Simmer a pot filled with a quart of water, an orange peel, a teaspoon of cloves, a handful of dark raisins and an ounce of fresh cinnamon sticks on the stove. Your home will fill with a wonderful, all-natural aroma superior to any canned spray or potpourri.”

So whether it be repurposed decorations, swapping decorations with a friend or family member, or decorating with smell ... make this holiday season one to remember.

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