Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Decorating

In addition to cleaning and organizing, I've done a bit of holiday decorating recently.  It was time to swap out the fall centerpiece - which was a store-bought wreath of twigs and berries that I placed around a candle - and after a bit of rummaging around to see what I had available to use, this is what I came up with...

I kept the pillar candle and the faceted candle holder form the fall arrangement and surrounded it with a bunch of pinecones.  The ones I used came from Walmart and were cinnamon scented.  Some of the bigger ones have glitter and the little ones are all painted gold.  Then, because I thought it needed a little something extra, I added a pair of crystal candle holders - ours are Mikasa - and pretty silvery tapers.  And that's it!  It  only took a few minutes and I didn't spend a dime (unless you count the pinecones, but I already had them on hand).  So if you don't have a lot of spare cash to spend on decorations, take a look at what you already have and try to think outside the box.

You never know - an act of penniless desperation might just become a holiday tradition.  The first Christmas we spent together was wonderful, but there was one thing missing - a tree.  We just didn't have the extra money to go and buy one.  But I was determined that we would have something to put our gifts under.  So I picked up the prettiest stick I could find in our yard, brought it in, and positioned it in a basket of pinecones.  We still have that stick, and every year, we put it up as faithfully as anyone else puts up any other tree.  

This year, I decided to put it in the sunny windowsill upstairs in what is soon to be my craft room.  I stuck a bit of Sculpy on the end to help hold it in place and put it in a small glass candleholder.  Then I added a bunch of faux pearls in shades of white, cream, and gold.  I arranged my little "tree" with some pretty white and gold candles atop some pretty, wintery fabric that I draped over the windowsill.  Today, I was gifted with my very own Charlie Brown Christmas tree, which I happily added to my little windowsill arrangement.  I think the whole thing looks quite festive.

Our holiday decor is far from tradition, but it certainly suits us.  What about you?  What sort of outside-of-the-box decorating have you done this year?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Crafts

Well, folks.  The holidays are upon us once again, and I don't know about you, but for me, this time of year is intrinsically linked with crafting.  I loved cutting out paper snowflakes, and a good portion of the ornaments on our tree were handmade - if not by me then by some friend or family member.  I made popcorn garlands with my grandma and helped Mom wrap presents, which is an art form all its own, I think.

As I grew older and craftier, I started making gifts.  One year I handmade all of my gifts - which was quite labor intensive and a bit stressful, but also very rewarding.

This year, we're making Secret Santa gifts.  After some consideration, we decided on ornaments.  One thing we always have on hand is polymer clay, so that's what we'll be using.  The recipient is fond of snowmen, so we'll be making one of those.  And because we love to pass along the fun, we'll also be making a Christmas pickle.

Like this one that I made last year:

Now, I know what you're thinking.  What on earth does a pickle have to do with Christmas?  

Honestly?  I don't know.  And neither does anyone else, it seems.  It's a bit of a mystery.  The story is that the tradition originated in Germany of hiding a pickle order somewhere amidst the branches of the Christmas tree.  On Christmas Eve, everyone would hunt for the pickle and whoever found it first would have especially good luck throughout the following year - or in some versions of the story, they would get a special gift.  

But apparently, according to a lot of actual Germans, there is no such tradition.  The whole thing may very well have been made up by some kookie person trying to sell glass pickles, for some reason.  

However it originated, hunting the pickle has been a tradition in my family since I first learned about it - and made my first pickle ornament - in the fifth grade.  Having the pickle hunt to look forward to made Christmas Eve that much more fun.  

Long story short, I love the pickle.  It's very special to me, and I look forward to passing on the fun to another family this year.  

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