Making Christmas the Smart Way
When I was growing up, I looked forward to the mysterious day, sometime in the month before Christmas, when my mom would call us and everyone in the family would drop everything and "make Christmas." That's what we called putting up the decorations around the house, choosing the Christmas tree, and decorating it. That day started a whole sub-season for us, where the house would be filled with the most amazing smells and there were always cookies and candy canes and enough hot apple cider for as many cold, snowy kids as walked through the front door.
Now that I'm the adult in my house, I'm finding that making Christmas is suddenly my job. And it's expensive. ARGH! Let me tell you, it's almost been enough to send me running down the street barefooted, calling for anyone available to please (PLEASE!) make Christmas for me. But I persevered (aren't you all relieved?) and here is what I've learned.
Consider a fake tree
Until this year, even the thought of a Christmas tree that didn't waft potential allergens into my nasal passages was sacrilege. A plastic Christmas tree seemed to connote everything that's wrong with the Christmas season, like rampant consumerism and the hairy-scary hectic pace that we all seem to keep up to the holiday. Exactly how it connoted those things is still a mystery to me. What isn't a mystery is that fake trees are cheaper than real ones, especially in the long run, and ESPECIALLY when you consider the time spent dragging the tree inside, setting it up, watering it, cleaning up after those pesky needles, and then taking it all down again. Sheesh! Additionally, fake trees are better for the earth, surprisingly real-looking, and they can end up looking nicer, too, when you bend all of the branches in the right direction.
Start an ornament collection for your kids
When I just a wee little writer-ling, my mom had a fabulous idea. She informed the friends and relatives that I collected angel ornaments. Lo and behold, angel ornaments started pouring in. Seriously, I'm almsot 30 and they still show up, 1 or 2 every year. While some of them have gotten trampled/crushed/melted over the years, I have a goodly stack of ornaments that are tree-ready, and it's wonderful. Because those colored ball-things that break if you cross your eyes at them? They're expensive when you have to buy enough for a tree all at once, beside the fact that then all your ornaments are the same.
Use ribbon...for everything
Until yesterday, I was one of those girls who walked through Costco, got to the ginormous stack of every possible color of ribbon, and wondered who in the world bought it all. Now I know...I do. Ribbon is surprisingly versatile and it's especially inexpensive this time of year. You can use it as a garland for the tree, ornament hanger, something pretty to hang over the curtains, or weave it in and out of your Teddy Town houses instead of that weird snow. For the price, you can't beat it. Also, if you use it in more than one place, it ties your decorating together.
Keep your normal decor, with a twist
It's tempting to want to pull whatever you have in your house into the back rooms and put out the Christmas stuff. Resist this impulse. Your everyday stuff can be "Christmas'd up" so it fits right in. Case in point: my husband and I have a small wooden turtle carved out of wood that usually sits on one of the end tables in our living room. Most days, he's a pretty Hawaiian turtle. But when Christmas comes, he gets a ribbon (RIBBON!) around his neck and he fits right in, AND we don't have to buy something else to sit on the table and look Christmassy. It's also easy to Christmas up plants. Hang light-weight decorations from them, or wrap pots in wrapping paper or (gasp!) ribbon. The possibilities here are only limited by your imagination, and the more stuff you can make work for Christmas, the less you have to buy.
Whatever you do for Christmas, the most important thing I learned this year is that, no matter what I do, Christmas will never be in my house if it isn't in me first. Cheesy? Rather. But that doesn't mean it isn't true!
Share your ideas with me below! I'm sure there are things I haven't figured out yet, and I'd love to hear them.