Growing up, it was always a family tradition to wait for decorating until after the 6th of December, Saint Nicholas Day. The first week of December became a time to rest after Thanksgiving and prepare for the festivities ahead. Now as an adult, I love viewing Thanksgiving and Christmas as two separate seasons, the first very much in autumn and the second ushering in the winter months. In my journey to live more seasonally, I have realized that it is very beautiful to enjoy the seasons for when they are and not to force them to arrive early or stay late. In a culture where many want to set up Christmas in November and take it away on the 26th of December, I am striving to live in the moment and savor each day that has been given to me.
Decorating for Christmas is always something very special. This year, moving into the cottage has forced me to minimize seasonal decor to mostly handmade natural crafts and a few special things (like my nativity) which I keep from year to year. Creating your own decor is such a festive way to begin this merry season while spending time with family, friends, or roommates.
This year we incorporated a few main elements in our decorating:
Food as decor: popcorn, cranberries, oranges
Nature as decor: pinecones, cedar garland, and holly
From Around the Cottage: neutral stacks of books, vintage baking supplies, tea kettles, etc
These three elements are what I will be photographing and discussing to inspire you to embrace a handmade Christmas
Food as Decor:
Christmas is a time of an abundance of food, drink, and festive gatherings, so it is natural for certain foods and flavors to remind us of this time of year. Seasonal foods like cranberries and oranges create the most beautiful decor because of their rich colors and pungent scents. Here is how I made garland this year, but feel free to add cinnamon, gingerbread, or whatever inspires you.
Cranberry, Orange, and Popcorn Garland:
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F and bake sliced oranges for 45 minutes to an hour.
Keep an eye on the oranges because they can brown!
You want them to be hard and dried out but not crunchy.
Use a needle to string these together on twine, or separately to create individual orange ornaments.
For the popcorn, simply pop kernels on the stovetop and use a fine-tipped needle to string onto thin kitchen twine or string.
The cranberries are the easiest of all as you can simply string them raw using a needle and twine.
Drape your homemade garland however you like around your tree, mantel, or door.
Nature as Decor:
When the local shops were out of fresh garland last week, my decision was made for me: I was going to cut and make my own. This was very simple for me because we have a few overgrown cedars in our yard just waiting to be pruned! I sawed a few long pieces to drape on the mantle and the cottage has smelled like the forest ever since. I also incorporated my small pinecone collection around the greenery of the mantle and the tree. Finally, holly from a local bush was clipped and placed to add a pop of color! There are so many more elements you can add from nature including magnolia leaves, branches of birch, fresh green pine needles, and much more!
From Around the Cottage:
Old books and funky candles are often utilized as decor for us. The Christmas mantle also showcases vintage rolling pins, a cast iron tea kettle, and a little Italian nativity. I love to use different objects from around the house to decorate in each season. I also store my beautiful green Le Creuset dutch oven on the mantle because there is no other space for it! This method displays the ordinary as extraordinary by giving it a place of prominence in our home.
I hope my simple and natural decor has inspired you to get creative this Christmas. Remember, you don’t need all the things or all the money to have a festive and beautiful home. Anything is possible with a little ingenuity and a spark to create beauty. Happy Christmas, everyone!