Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Deck the Halls

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! It's cold out (there's even snow!), Christmas music is on the radio and shoppers are starting to swarm the mall.  The holidays are upon us.
I grew up in a home that, like many American families, always decorated the entire house for Christmas.  There were Christmas tree hand towels in the guest bathroom, gingerbread man oven mitts in the kitchen, garland along the staircase banister and lights hung on every edge of the roof.  Well, now that I have my own little home, I have to start collecting the Christmas decorations that will adorn our living room, kitchen, bathroom, etc. for years to come!
I inherited several decorations from my grandmother (which I cherish because of all of the fond memories of Christmas time at her house) and began putting them up at my apartment in college.  Unfortunately, that box didn't make it when we moved up to Illinois, so we had to pretty much start from scratch.  This is where the crafts come in!

There are several that I made last year for mine and Robert's first Christmas, but I never posted about them.  Sorry.  Ornaments were my biggest project. 
Two years ago, the Christmas we were engaged, we were helping my in-laws decorate their tree after Thanksgiving, and we ran across some old, fragile ornaments that sort of looked like sugar cookies.  My mother-in-law explained that they didn't have the extra cash to buy ornaments their first Christmas, so they made those.  How neat is that? Twenty something years later, the ornaments they made were still intact! So, we decided to make our own for our first Christmas in hopes that they'll survive just as long. 
Here's the recipe:
-1 cup flour
-1/2 cup salt
-1/2 cup warm water

Mix ingredients together and knead until smooth (add a little more flour if it's too sticky). 
Roll out with a rolling pin.
Use Christmas cookie cutters to cut out the shapes. 
Don't forget to poke holes at the top so you can hang them!
Bake for an hour at 200 degrees F.
Paint with acrylic paint.  I mixed mine with Mod Podge to make the consistency a little thicker, sort of like frosting.  Then coat in a protective spray like Shellac to make them last. 
Thread with a ribbon and hang! Ta Da!
Another ornament I like are pine cones.  I love the rustic feel they have and growing up in the Piney Woods of East Texas, they make me feel at home.  A little Mod Podge or Elmer's glue brushed on and then sprinkled with glitter gives them a festive and whimsical flair.  Hot glue ribbons to hang them on your tree, or just add them to existing shelf décor.

I also made some super cute hot glue snowflakes!  They're so simple, but you have to take your time so they don't look sloppy.
So the first one I made looks pretty generic, but the more you experiment, the more fun snowflakes you create.  Don't be afraid to play with shapes and be creative.  Every snowflake is unique!


Other cool ornament ideas:

Drop a little paint into a clear ornament and shake it up for a swirl effect

Write with paint pens onto solid colored ornaments. Sic 'em.

Tie ribbon to jingle bells

Hang mini candy canes on the tree
AND every front door needs a wreath.  Here's what mine looks like:
Simple, cheap wreath from a craft store.
And some pretty sparkling ribbon!
Hot glue some ornaments and décor.
Make a big ribbon for the top (with a loop to hang it from) and voila!
Christmas time is also known as the season of lights.  So, some beautiful candles make great holiday decoration.  I found these cool glass candle holders and decided to add some sparkle.
Clean the glass.
Apply the Mod Podge.
Roll in glitter.
Wipe it to get a clean edge.
So pretty.
Find a great spot and fill with candles.

Happy holidays! 
Another great candle idea I've seen is the peppermint candle.  I, however, am not so great at making candles.  I tried once at summer camp, and it turned out like a rainbow blob.  Oh well.  Here is an option for all of the non-chandlers (that's a candle-maker, folks) out there. 
Red cinnamon scented candles. Candy canes with the hooks cut off.  Hot glue gun.

Bam. Christmas magic.
(What did I do with the tops of the candy canes, you ask? Crush them up, bake them into chocolate chip cookies. Delicious peppermint chocolate chip cookies for Santa. Or me.)


There is something magical about a home filled to the brim with Christmas cheer.  It makes me happy and warm, and even though I am across the country from my family, seeing the shimmer of red and gold and green in the candlelight reminds me of all the things I have to be thankful for.  I am truly blessed, and I pray you also have a wonderful holiday.
Merry Christmas, y'all!

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