Following on from my post about Advent Calendars, in the second in my Christmas prep series, I’m looking at decorations. With a bit of planning, imagination, careful investment and foraging, it’s possible to decorate the house for Christmas without breaking the bank or creating huge amounts of waste.
In our house, we get the Christmas box down from the loft at the start of December, never ever in November. One of our traditions is to create a Christmas corner on our back window sill with our nativity scene. This is always the first thing we do. My husband made our stable when the children were little and my stepmum bought the nativity figures for the children when they were younger. We’ve kept the original packaging, so that they’re more likely to make it through each year unscathed.
Alongside the nativity scene, the children collect up all the Christmas-themed stories and DVDs and add them to the corner. Whenever we feel like watching or reading something Christmassy, it’s all in one place. Our eldest is now 12, but she still loves this tradition and hunts out Shirley Hughes’ ‘Angel Mae’ and ‘The Christmas Eve Ghost’, Diana Hendry’s ‘The Very Snowy Christmas’, Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’ and ‘Father Christmas’ and other classics with her little brother and sister.
The aforementioned Advent calendar also starts on December 1st and adds to the Christmas decorations. This hangs in the hall.
The kitchen table usually gets a centrepiece for the festive season too. Some years I’ve used our glass cake stands, some foraged greenery and a few baubles to create a display. Other years, I’ve piled up baubles and greenery on a brass tray and added candles in glass holders. When the candlelight flickers off the baubles and the tray, it looks so lovely. My mother-in-law makes me some dried orange slices every year, which I just love. The scent is so Christmassy. These nestle amongst the greenery like jewels or are piled in a dish.
The children love to get involved in making decorations too. We try to use materials we have lying around the house or things that would otherwise we thrown away. Last year, they made these cute reindeer from toilet roll inners. A couple of years ago, we festooned our living room in paper chains made from scrap paper. These went in the fire basket after Christmas to be used for lighting the fire, so they didn’t go to waste. All the Christmas crafts the children make at school are hung up around the house too, on door handles, picture frames and the stairs.
The mantelpiece in the living room also gets a festive makeover with candle holders, pictures, clove oranges and decorations. All these things have been picked up second hand or gifted to us over the years and live in the Christmas box in the loft to be reused every year. In the picture below, left to right, we have:
- a jar candle holder made by our eldest at school a few years ago,
- a vintage Russian postcard given to me by my sister-in-law,
- some beautiful vintage wooden block stamps – a birthday present from a good friend,
- a gorgeous candle – a birthday present from another good friend (we’ve reused the holder for other candles),
- a wooden postcard with a Christmas scene from a Molly Brett book, one of my favourite children’s book illustrators – a present from my mum and stepdad,
- a bowl full of dried oranges and cinnamon sticks,
- and a hand-drawn birthday card by my mother-in-law from my husband’s family. I should mention that my birthday is two weeks before Christmas, so I always have lovely birthday things around at this time of year too.
We like to head out for some winter walks to forage for natural decorations for our home. Sprigs of holly, pine cones, lichen covered branches, feathery larch twigs are all things we bring home to decorate our picture frames and create Christmas displays. In the past, people celebrated this season by bringing the outside in to their homes and a lot of symbolism was attached to the greenery they chose.
We have a fake wreath for our front door that we reuse every year. It’s just quite a basic wreath base, so we add some of our foraged greenery to it every year.
The biggest Christmas decoration of all is the tree. We buy a real tree, so we get it quite close to Christmas and I’ll be covering this in another Christmas prep guide. Here’s a sneak peek though of our cat enjoying having his very own tree indoors!
There you have it. Christmas decorations in the Spot of Earth household. We find the key is in mixing and matching, but you have to choose your own style. We have some pieces that stand the test of time so we can bring them out year after year, like our candle holders and nativity scene. Some of our displays utilise our every day possessions like our brass tray, glass cake stands and dishes. As a family with young children, we like to see their influence on the decorations; their school- and home-made decorations and cards. The winter greenery adds a final touch, reminding us of Christmas long past when the world was a simpler place with a slower pace.
Do you have some favourite decorations that you like to bring out every year? What traditions do you have in your household or culture? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.