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Christmas Decorating Tips by Barbara Jennings

More than at any other time of year, the holiday season seems to give us the perfect reasons for throwing a real bash - to celebrate a special event, to express our love and affection, to draw us closer to family and friends, to celebrate old traditions. There is something very warm and endearing about sharing a Christmas treat by the fire at night.

Holidays, however, present unique twists to achieve the right decorating goals and atmosphere. At this time of year, especially, preplanning is essential, as is keeping your sense of humor.

No matter what color scheme you are using, you always want to make your home feel warm and inviting. The tree can be trimmed in the traditional colors of red, green and white or bathed all in one color for more unity. There are literally millions of ways you can go. Ornaments can be store bought or homemade. Look for ways to vary your decorating from one year to the next. Even though Christmas only comes once a year, you always want your home to look fresh and new.

Perhaps one year the tree and rooms can be decorated with homemade ornaments. Then the next year you could use ornaments and decorations you bought from your favourite stores. The following year you could introduce a special theme, like the Twelve Days of Christmas or Christmas in Different Countries of the World or something else. Be creative. Involve your family as much as possible. Kids usually love to be included at this time of year. Make it special.

Look for different places to decorate. Pick out a different place in the room to highlight each year. Maybe one year it is the mantel. Perhaps the next year it is the entry. The next year it is the tree. Put the tree in different rooms: one year put it in the living room. The next year put it in the family room. The next year consider a tree in each room.

One year make the decorations multi-colored. The next year, use a monocromatic color scheme. Change it up. Your family will love it.

One year make the tree very formal and elegant. The next year, make it very casual and informal. Buy ornaments AFTER Christmas is over when the stores sell them for 50-75% off. You can acquire a host of ornaments very inexpensively this way and just save them to use the following year. Every year I add more ornaments to my collection so that I can vary my decorations.

I have tons of ribbon. Ribbon is a great way to really give pizazz to your ornaments and have something that flows throughout a large arrangement to give it unity. Ribbon is relatively inexpensive too, so it's a great tool to use in your decorating. Be sure to keep fresh garlands and ribbon well away from open fires and fireplaces. I love to decorate the mantel, but always remember that mantel place trimmings can be a fire hazard, so select them wisely.

Try to have a separate table that is shorter in height for the kid's table. Be sure to decorate it too so that the kids still feel part of the holiday festivities. The kids will have more fun and so should the adults if there is a slight separation of the age groups.

When picking out a Christmas tree, shake it at the store. If the needles fall off, don't buy it. It is not a fresh tree and will not last. Make sure all electrical wires are grounded, especially on the tree. Most holiday fires are caused by the Christmas tree. You may from time to time see pictures in books or magazines of Christmas trees with lit candles on the branches. Don't do this. This is a very dangerous way to decorate.

Photos Courtesy of "A Passion for Parties".

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(2004-05 Copyright Barbara Jennings)

Barbara Jennings
is the West Coast Pioneer in Redesign, author of 7 decorating books, a published artist, corporate art consultant, and furniture arrangement consultant. For training in professional furniture and accessory arrangement, or to start your own redesign or art consulting business, please visit:

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