Yesterday I mentioned the value of taking photos of your Christmas decor each year. By looking back at my past photos I made a discovery. In my quest to be frugal, I’ve become a little shabby. Shabby chic that is. Looking through past years’ holiday photos I discovered my first attempts, at shabby Christmas decor. And it’s not all bad.
The photos… not so great. But the shabby Christmas decor… pretty nice (if I say so myself). You see that year, like most, I just snapped a few photos of my decor for posterity. Mostly so I’d remember what I did. It’s always been a great way for me to springboard my ideas for the new year.
It’s pretty sad, because I had just finished researching and setting up my website. I did everything right from choosing hosting, a great framework, and selecting my domain name. All was good. I was ready to be a blogger, except for just a few additions I needed to make to the blog before I launched. And then I got cold feet. Anyway, it was time to decorate for Christmas and I did what I usually do, snap a few photos. The lighting wasn’t great, the styling… what styling? …the whole snowball was mediocre. Nothing particularly blog worthy. Or so I thought.
Looking back on those photos, I realized that even though the photos aren’t great, I’ll probably never re-create that same Christmas look. And if I do choose to use those decorations again, it will be in a different home and the setting will be totally different. So…I’m laying my pride down and sharing with you the ideas and the not-so-great photos. Because you just might find them helpful. I think, overall, my shabby Christmas decor was pretty creative.
If you’ve been reading here since the beginning, you’ll remember that I despised the woodwork in my house. A year later, I painted it. What a transformation. There was a transformation of me, too. Well, maybe not. I guess what I discovered was a new-found freedom to decorate without the restraints of orange wood trim.
However, at this time, I had orange wood trim to contend with and it caused me to put on my thinking cap and look at my typical way of decorating for Christmas with new eyes.
The first thing I did was to put artificial green garlands in the window along with old plastic electric candles that I love seeing in the windows at night. Cheesy or not.
The greens were okay. But, because the windows were large and a focal point in the room, I wanted to make the faux greens look natural and fuller. Since I was on a zero spending freeze, I looked to my surroundings. We had some junipers and yews in our landscape, so my husband judiciously pruned some for me and I added them to the artificial garland. If you’ve never done that before, it’s a tremendous way to transform cheap spindly faux garland into something lush, natural looking, and beautiful.
Tim and I used to walk our little town, a lot. I never lived anywhere where the alleys were paved and named and some people actually had homes fronting the alley. It sure made my walks through town more interesting. The neighbor across the street put a pile of rhododendron at the alley. It’s a little unusual to prune rhoddies in December, but there the prunings were… waiting for me. I took them home, trimmed them, and place the whorls of leaves in my window garland and wreath. I loved the contrast of their broad smooth leaves with the evergreen. They are much smaller, yet give a similar look to the magnolia leaves that those of you in the south will often use with your greenery.
If your house is dry the rhododendron leaves will start to dry and curl. I discovered that if I placed them in a bucket of water every few days they would start to re-hydrate. And yes, it was a bit of a pain, but really worth the inconvenience. I’m sure you can Google other ways to preserve the leaves. I just wanted you to be aware of the inevitable. The other natural greens in your garland can be spritzed with water to help them keep fresh looking. But, just like any natural garland, they will dry out in time.
For my tree, garlands, and wreath, I cut natural osnaburg fabric (affiliate link) in strips and washed the strips in the washing machine. Just beware if you do this you will have a big mess to untangle from the washer. Along the way, I discovered that instead of tossing the strips into the dryer, it was better to iron them with my fingers (not an electric iron), and hang them to dry naturally. After they were dry, I stitched them together by hand and then wound them up on a spool to make it easier to hang on the tree and place in the garlands.
In the windows and on top of the china cabinet, I added twine (not jute as it’s lighter in color and has more body and substance), for additional textural interest and rustic element in the garland.
Pine cones and evergreen are always perfect together, so everything received the brown flowers of the pine trees for another natural element.
I decided that something more was needed, so I created flowers from the osnaburg fabric which I added to the garlands and tree. I don’t remember how many I made, but for some reason I did not wash the fabric first. The downside, they do look a little stiff and their edges are a little too perfect, compared to the shabby garland. In hindsight, I think maybe the flowers should have been shabbified. What do you think?
If you want to know how to make the flowers, here’s the tutorial I originally read, way back. I still use the same technique and you can see some of the flowers I’ve made, including these in my off-white wreath here. When I made these flowers, because the fabric is so much thinner than the felt in the tutorial, and because I was impatient in letting the hot glue dry, I started sewing the flowers together rather than gluing. In my world, the time exchange might have been the same, but when I was sewing the flowers I was doing something, not sitting and waiting. I’m hoping you identify so I don’t feel like the only ridiculously silly person who can’t stand to twiddle her thumbs. [wink]
The Christmas tree received my favorite embellishment. Icicles. As I look at it, there are only a quarter of the icicles that I usually put on my usual “ice” tree. I guess I was going for a more sparse look.
Instead of a tree skirt, I used a picket fence which I had made a few years prior out of cardboard, that I adore.
Remember how I hated my woodwork? I had this crazy idea that a paper garland would work in the window with the wreath, so I talked my husband into working with me one night to make it. I did all the cutting and he did all the gluing. In the end, it didn’t take a lot of time. Things really do go more than twice as fast when two work together. Yay!
The garland isn’t all that noticeable in the photos. But, you at least get the idea of it and the wreath.
I think this might be one of the few photos of this end of the room prior to adding the screens which I rescued from the curb in my neighborhood. Over the brief time I lived in that quaint community, I was blessed with several ‘found’ items. The French “screens” were the best find, hands down.
This was a completely new decorating style for me to use in my Christmas decor. Actually in any decor.
Usually, I’m pretty glitzy at Christmas time inside. What’s interesting to me, is that particular Christmas was pivotal in bringing a more natural look indoors and for incorporating some shabby Christmas decor the following Christmas. I like the look. Who knows it may make future appearances. With a twist.
What’s your Christmas decorating style?
Do you usually stick to a style or do your change things up from year to year?
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Your sweet comments make me smile.
All the best for an extraordinary Christmas!
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