RedElf (Elle Fredine), photographer, published author, poet, chronic crafter, and lover of all things Christmas
Cue the Christmas Music - Fa-la-la-la-la...
Put on your favorite Christmas CD. Light a crackling fire - or, for some of us, find the fireplace log channel with 24-7 carols. Warm up the apple cider, marshmallow-laden hot cocoa, or your favorite herbal tea. Set out a plate of Christmas shortbread, and you're all set for an evening of decorating.
Or, if you're at my house, put on a fresh pot of coffee and help drag the boxes into the living room. It's going to be a long night...
I love the boughs, and the holly. I adore the sparkling lights twined among the evergreen branches of a lovely wreath that's dripping with jeweled fruit, and colorful glass balls, and crowned with an amazing velvet bow.
I celebrate the Christmas season every year by festooning my home with wreaths and garlands. The garlands look so lovely and fresh, swagged across the mantle, tied up with red bows. Gold beads and silver stars intertwine among the tiny lights that loop through the length of each garland.
In some of garlands, lovely magnolias peek out from among the gracefully drooping boughs. In others, tiny birds and poinsettias nestle among the branches. I love them all - every twinkling light, every shining star, every tiny bird and velvet ribbon.
Tree Decorating, Step One
One of the first things to go on the tree at our house was always the lights. I still recall my dad sitting cross-legged on the floor, laboriously untangling strand after strand of colored lights.
He would have loved a set of Canadiana-style lights with the little maple leaves to remind us of fall in the Gatineau woods, and call to mind the wonderful maple sugar candy we sampled at a wonderful sugaring off, or maple sugar-making we attended one year in the late spring.
If the string of lights burst forth in all its multi-colored glory, he would cheer, set it aside, and move on to the next strand. If the string didn't co-operate though, his routine changed.
Make Sure You Test the Lights First
When that happened, he would temporarily unplug the string, and mutter a few well-muffled words under his breath while he dug into the box of spare bulbs. Then he would begin the tedious job of checking each light in turn 'til he located the offender.
At that time, lights were wired in series, and when one burned out the whole string blinked off. As well, the bulbs in our strings of light were quite large - about an inch long. The bulbs of that size I use for the base of oneliving roomlamp are rated a 4 watts. I hate to think how much power those colorful strands ate up.
Nobody worried much back then about conserving power, and, anyway, there weren't a lot of options available. Nowadays, we have LED technology. Touted as environmentally friendly, the reduction of power use alone is enough to swing my vote, and the cost savings is phenomenal, making it a very attractive package.
I remember our first bubble lights. We watched fascinated as my dad gently removed them from their cardboard case, realizing we were in the presence of something completely different.
We'd never seen lights like that before - like little Aladdin's lamps, each with a pointy-ended glass tube sticking up from the middle.
He plugged in the lights, and we watched amazed as tiny bubbles began to rise in the colored fluid of each little tube. They are still my favorite of all the Christmas lights.
Moravian Star Tree Topper
I have had many trees over the years, and have had a few toppers that were beautiful arrangements of lights, or a simple star, that remind us of the star that shone over Bethlehem so many centuries ago.
This lovely 12-point Moravian star was created from Christmas music. Intended for the top of your tree, it can also be hung anywhere in the house. More pages - I cheat and use photo copies, rather than the real thing - can be rolled into scroll, tied with red bows, and ticked into the branches.
The elegant simplicity compliments almost any decor, and is perfectly at home in a traditional room or a more modern setting. I can vouch for both. My home is furnished in what used to be called late-relative/early-junk, but which we now refer to more genteelly as shabby chic. One of my sisters prefers the Ikea Modern look.
The 12 pointed paper star is a beautiful addition to both of our households' holiday decorations.
Christmas Tree Angels
I absolutely adore Christmas angels. The last thing to go on the tree every year, my angel is a baroque lady in red velvet and gold, bearing a lighted garland.
One year, the son of a friend decided the angel on the top of his family's tree should be named "Harold".
Their rather venerable angel, complete with a dove of peace, gold tinsel halo, and rather stiff blond ringlets looked nothing like a Harold to any of us so we were naturally curious how their 5 year old had come up with this idea.
I know - you're thinking this sounds like one of those apocryphal stories - the kind that are clever and funny and touching, and make you wonder if they ever really happened, but I can vouch for the truth of this particular tale, though, and we really did have trouble containing our laughter when he explained.
His family had never named their angel, and apparently their son felt the lack. As we had sung a lovely old carol in church that day, he had chosen that angel's name for his family's angel, so that she would have a proper angel's name "just like the angel in the song".
He went on to explain that their angel was a "herald angel", too. For years after that, whenever our friends unpacked the Christmas decorations, he would gleefully shout, "Hark! The herald angel!" when she appeared from amid the tissue paper.
My dad used to always put our angel on after all the other decorations were in place, and just before the tree was festooned with tinsel.
I remember how he would hoist up our little sister to put "Angel-Glo" in place.
Made of gilded and painted plastic, she had a halo that stuck out all around her - threads of stiff, clear nylon reflecting the color of the lighted bulb behind her.
We loved "Angel-Glo", named for the caption on the box in which she was purchased. The tree just wasn't finished until she was set carefully in place.
There are so many beautiful and elegant tree-toppers available now. Almost any taste or budget can be accommodated.
Some friends of mine decorate their tree entirely with bear ornaments every Christmas. I'm sure they would love Serafina Snowflake or someone just like her to preside over their tree.
Christmas garland is one of my all-time favorite Christmas decorations. Usually I buy plain evergreen garland and add my own light strands and decorations, depending on the colors and the theme.
Most often I will add clusters of holly berries and leaves, pearl or frosted Christmas tree balls, and jeweled fruit. The beads pictured at the right would add a beautiful sparkle to the finished garland.Sometimes I will include little birds in their nests, or a lovely red cardinal among clusters of high-bush cranberry leaves.
I have created some gorgeous garlands, but lack of space in my new apartment has somewhat curtailed that activity. I still enjoy making wreaths though, and can use the same stash of goodies that I have accumulated for the garlands.
Bows, Bows, Bows
...and, of course, everything is topped off with an incredible bow, the trailing ends looped and twined through the garland or wreath.
I have a box dedicated to Christmas ribbon, and whatever the wreath or garland, there is always one ribbon - velvet, gauze, figured, encrusted with jewels or sparkling gold and silver - that is absolutely the perfect final touch.
Every Wreath Needs the Perfect Bow?
Yard Art, Anyone?
For the finishing touch to your exterior decor, who could pass up these cute as a button offerings - Disney Yard Art.
I am a big fan of "The Mouse" and all his pals, but I also know a little great niece who is a princess in her own right. She would like nothing better than to have the whole house in princess dress from garret to garden.
Her older sister is a big fan of Disney's Frozen. I have a sneaking feeling that Olaf and friends might just be making an appearance in their yard this holiday season.
What ever your preference though, these great decorations are sure to brighten your yuletide as well as your yard.
My son loves Christmas, but he doesn't like all the fuss of decorating and then having to put everything away. I have always teased him about being a Grinch over the decorations, and he laughs and replies, "Bah, humbug!"
One year I decorated a pair of men's sock with holly leaves and Christmas lights that spelled out the words, "Bah" and "Humbug". He wore them once and then hung them on his wall where they remain all year round.
This year, we're buying him a Grinch for the front lawn.
RedElf (author) from Canada on December 07, 2010:
Thanks so much, eLightSpot! Glad you stopped by to comment.
eLightSpot from Enid on December 07, 2010:
I love all the options! Otherwise everyone's house would look exactly the same and what fun would that be! So many ways to make your holidays and house display beautiful!
RedElf (author) from Canada on November 16, 2009:
...and to you, David! Thanks for stopping by to comment.
David R Bradley from The Active Side of Infinity on November 16, 2009:
Merry Christmas to you!
RedElf (author) from Canada on October 23, 2009:
Hey, Enelle! If you can't make it out east for Christmas, try it in the fall after the leaves start turning. There's nothing quite so beautiful. I do seem to remember one year in Alberta when the snow was barely noticeable, LOL.
Any time, ralwus! Happy to help out! ;)
ralwus on October 23, 2009:
You have reminded me that I need to get moving on my preparations soon. OMG gee thanks
Enelle Lamb from Canada's 'California' on October 23, 2009:
I will definitely have to take a trip back east again...somehow I never make it past Alberta LOL. That's more than enough snow for me!
Great hub Red - I can just picture your dad sitting on the floor mumbling over the lights ;)
RedElf (author) from Canada on October 22, 2009:
I love this time of year, flightkeeper. I am already planning for Christmas with my son and his wife.
Thanks so much, Duchess. One of my sister's was born in ON, but it's been some years since we were back east. My folks live there now, though, and they enjoy white Christmases every year, too. My favorite Christmas Eves always involve caroling and snow.
Duchess OBlunt on October 22, 2009:
Christmas, the BEST time of the year. Here in Ontario we have a nice white one! Always best when it snows on Christmas Eve.
Nice work RedElf.
Flightkeeper from The East Coast on October 22, 2009:
Another good hub RedElf, this time of year is so much fun.
RedElf (author) from Canada on October 22, 2009:
Gus, Gus, Gus..you are indeed a lucky man! ...and, as I know you are a smart lucky mean, I am sure you are most complimentary of whatever she does, to. ;)
Gustave Kilthau from USA on October 22, 2009:
RedElf - I am lucky. I leave all of this stuff up to my wife. :-)))
RedElf (author) from Canada on October 22, 2009:
Thank you so very much, Candie! The house always smells so lovely with the scent of fresh evergreen boughs. We used the branches that we trimmed off the bottom of the tree and swagged them across the mantle with lots of holly berries and red velvet bows - they were glorious! ...and I want to see pictures ;)
Candie V from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure! on October 21, 2009:
We had a fake Christmas tree for years when we were married, then he left and my son and I chucked it! Spent a fortune on a real tree and did it up big! I loved that change! Decorating has always been a passion that I've let slide the last 2 years, but this year, we're gonna do it up again! You have a great hub and has made me want to start right away! Thanks RedElf! I adore you!!!
RedElf (author) from Canada on October 21, 2009:
Thanks, anginwu. I love all the trimmings!
anglnwu on October 21, 2009:
I love this time of the year too. Nice job on all the varous types of decorations and lights.