Monday, December 3, 2007

Naturally Christmas

When we first moved to the mountains, we didn't have a lot of money for Christmas decorations. But we were (and still are) surrounded by materials to make our own.

For example:

My favorite door decoration is a simple bunch of pine tied with a red ribbon. When we have a live tree we use the trimmed branches to make the swags, or go into the woods and cut a few. These bunches of pine are great for hanging along stair rails, too.

Bare branches can be painted gold or white, or left natural, and placed in a bucket, crock or basket and trimmed with tiny white lights. These arrangements can be as big or as small as you want to make them.

Running pine--look on the forest floor for tufts of green that look like little evergreen umbrellas.

Running pine is a wild evergreen vine that can be found in many eastern forests. It twines beautifully to make wreaths. We use wire coathangers--we bend the coathanger into a circle for the base of the wreath and bend the top "hanger" part of the wire to make a loop for hanging the wreath. Then we wind the punning pine around the wire until the wreath is full enough for our taste, and decorate it with Christmas balls, tiny boxes wrapped as packages, or other Christmas items. One year I collected wild berries for wreath decorations--the red dogwood berries and wild rose hips, the yellow horsenettle berries, dark blue greenbrier berries, and orange bittersweet. The wreaths were stunning, and practically free. Running pine can also be wound together to make garlands, or combined with tinsel into garlands.

Holly and mixed evergreens in jugs of water make beautiful centerpieces or accent pieces. Grapevine wreaths can be decorated with bits of greenery tucked into them or left plain and wound with tiny lights for a pretty effect.

My mother's Yule log was one of my favorite holiday traditions. Dad would use a piece of pine log for this. He'd drill small holes to hold greenery and decorations, and three larger holes to hold candles. He'd place small pegs to hold the log upright and stable, and we'd decorate it. It was always so pretty. Traditionally the yule log was made with a piece of the trunk of the last year's Christmas tree.

Baskets of pine cones decorated with red and gold ribbons are quick and easy accents, and pine cones can also be decorated with paint or glitter to hang on the tree.

Pretty, simple, natural and almost free. Those are the best kinds of decorations! I'd love to hear any other suggestions for natural ornaments and crafts for the holidays.

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