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Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Decorating Tips

I designed and built many a Christmas window during my stint as a display artist for two department store chains. What? You didn't know I was a display artist? LOL! I have many hidden talents. Sometimes they're even useful.

Over the years, I've incorporated a few tricks to my decorating. Here are a few of my favorites.

• Personalize your tree with little frames you can get at hobby shops. Print out photos of family, friends and pets and slip them into the frames.

• Walk through the woods and look for the survivors of winter. Large pods, nuts, moss and pine cones work great for projects. Spray paint pine cones and bare sticks, then lace them throughout your tree for a natural homespun Christmas.

• Stuck with a skimpy fake tree? Here's something I did for years that works great. Buy garland in the same shade as your tree. Before you decorate, wrap and tease out your garland in between the bare spots, going all the way around. It will look fat and lush. Once you put the decorations up, you will never be able to tell the difference.

• Most of the garlands in stores are way too skinny and sparse. Weave two strands together for a fuller, richer looking garland.

• Who says you have to have one big tree? Buy multiple tabletop or small floor trees and put one in each room. Not only does it give you a chance to decorate with different themes but you spread Christmas throughout the whole house.

• Don't waste money on those cheesy tree drapes. Go to the fabric store and scour through their remnants and buy something rich and brocade. You don't even have to sew it. Just drape it around the tree and tuck the raw edges under.

• When you create your tablescapes, go for lush. Fill the space, layering and building up as well as out. I hadn't had time to bring down all my boxes but I made a little tablescape from what I had on hand.

And to keep you in the holiday spirit, stop by and visit Passionate Critters, a group blog belonging to the lovely and popular Jennifer Shirk where they are hosting the '12 Days of E-books'. Every day they are going to post a different article on all sorts of aspects of e-books and e-publishing. You won't want to miss it, I'll even be there next week to throw in my two cents.

Ooh, and go over and catch me at LASR today where I'll tell you ten things you probably didn't know about me. Leave me a comment over there and tell me something most people don't know about you.

Now, back to our decorating discussion. Have you finished? What's left to do?

There's only one thing that makes me groan about decorating. I hate having to drag the decorations down from the attic--especially with this bum knee. I've got twelve big bins full of Christmas goodies and I only brought four boxes down so far. How about you? Where do you store your stuff?


Update: I'm sad to report I didn’t get enough votes to make it to the next round at RT Reviews. I’m not too upset though. I got what I wanted, the chance to bounce ideas off a much more seasoned writer. Besides I’m already published, so it’s not as if this was my first time up at bat. I don’t think any of the remaining finalists have any books yet, so maybe this will be their chance to get out there.

I want to thank you all for being so supportive and kind. You guys have been awesome. Don’t worry about Mistress Of The Stone. I know I’ll be able to sell that novel somewhere down the road.


Lynn Colt said...

Ooh, thanks for the tips! I like the ones about the picture frames :) My mom's decorations are in the crawl space (ick). This year we've vowed to go through them and toss all the mismatched or musty or semi-broken things that have been around for years. Then we can get new stuff!

Maria Zannini said...

Lynn: Decorating with the little frames is so cute and personal. I've done dog portrait trees and old family photos.

I had a friend who made a tree like this for her mother with Alzheimer's. The mom remembered all the people in the old photos and for once, Christmas meant something to her.

Jennifer Shirk said...

LOVE those tips--especially about getting the green garland to fill in a tree. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: It really works! It's one of the easiest ways to cure a sparse tree.

Angelina Rain said...

Great decorating ideas. (Off to buy green garland). My decorating is simple this year. Just a tree and a few scattered decorations. Last year I went overboard with Christmas, and I packed away all of the year round decorations. When the holidays were over I was too busy at work, so my husband undecorated. Only yesterday I finally found some of the year round stuff that disappeared last year.

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: OMG, that is too funny! I once stored ALL the extension cords with Christmas. When I needed one later in the year, I realized my mistake. No way was I going to hunt for them, so I bought a couple more.

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

doubling up the garlands is a GENIUS idea! I wish i had thought of that before i tacked ours up in the dining room

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: I figured this out when I was drooling over some very expensive thick garlands. I thought, wow they're so full, it's like two garlands in one. And voila, I came up with a poor man's garland for a fraction of the price.

Rula Sinara said...

Green garland is exactly what I need. Even with ornaments, you can still 'see through' my fake tree. Great idea!

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Good tips. The kids decided to string popcorn garlands for the tree this year, but they didn't get much done. We have a few short strings hung haphazardly on our fake tree. You'd cringe to see it. LOL

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I store mine in a closet, which means some wrestling to get them out and not haul everything else out as well. Getting the decorations out is usually enough exercise for a few hours before I have to put them up. ^_^

Maria Zannini said...

Rula: It's one of my easiest tricks.

Amanda: With kids, half the fun is watching them trim the tree. Who cares what it looks like as long as you did it together.

Barbara: I know what you mean. After lugging those boxes down, I needed a breather. :grin:

Mike Keyton said...

Green garlands. Wizard idea. Our tree trinkets have been slowly amassed over twenty years - each Christmas, Ron, my exchange partner sends us two beautifully handmade trinkets. We now have a colourful and diverse selection, and on putting them up an old friendship is renewed

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: That is so cool that you get handmade decorations from a friend. You have GOT to take a picture of your tree and post it on your blog. Or at least some of those decorations. I wanna see them. :)

My best friend travels the globe and she always brings me back a Christmas decoration from a part of the world I'll probably never see. And you're right, every time I put up an ornament that was given to me, it means more.

Meghan Schuessler said...

OMG that's a great idea about getting garland the same color as the fake tree! Target here I come! :)

I'm sorry you didn't make it into the second round. But, like you said, you are already published so you know your work is good. I know you will continue having lots of success!

Maria Zannini said...

Meghan: Try it and take a picture. I'd like to see it.

Ref: contest
No biggie. At this point it's all popular vote and not editorial, so my confidence isn't shaken.

Kimber Leszczuk. said...

Thank you for all the cool tips!

As for the contests - when they are popularity ones like that it doesn't matter so much if you win or lose - the exposure is great. You can still show an agent/publisher how many people did vote for you and how much attention/notice your selection received! Good luck to you. I know it will be published soon!

Cathy in AK said...

Great decorating ideas. We use a fabric remnant for our tree skirt. It's a length of white faux fur that looks like snow that doubled as our cat's bed when she was a kitten : )

We have a couple of fur-trimmed ornaments (an Eskimo and a mitten, I think) that the one cat tends to attack and pull off the tree to play with, particularly at night. It's become quite a game to see where the ornaments end up come morning.

Maria Zannini said...

Kimber: You hit the nail on the head. The biggest advantage, next to working with a mentor, was the exposure. I truly feel it might have helped sales of True Believers, so it was good timing.

Maria Zannini said...

Cathy: Ooh, fur. I wouldn't have thought of that.

You gave me an idea for a Christmas contest, but it's too late to do it now. I will definitely remember it for next year.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Thanks for the Christmas decorating tips. I used to love the Christmas window decorations at the big dept stores as a kid. Sadly, they seem to have gone out of fashion here in Australia.

Sorry to hear about the RT Reviews contest ending for you. But you're right, you're already pub'd and on your way. No stopping you now! :)

Sherri said...

Oh, so NOW you tell me!

LOL, great tips, I will hold on to them for next time.

Love your tablescape!

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: Window displays are still popular in the big cities. 80% of our budget went to Christmas alone. That's how important it was to sales.

Sherri: What? Your decorating looked great. You got nothing to worry about.

Joanna St. James said...

u know Kensington might still contact you.
And No! I did not know there was a little decorator hiding in you, how do you keep the dogs away from the tree?

Maria Zannini said...

Joanna: Believe it or not, the dogs have no interest in the trees. Not even Iko!

Thank God for little favors.

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm sorry about RT Reviews. It's a wonderful opportunity to talk to seasoned writers. Great tips and links.

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Clarissa. It's too early to tell, but I'm hoping the contest increased sales for my current book, True Believers. My Amazon numbers went up during the same time.

Jayne said...

Sorry to hear about RT Reviews, but at least you got what you wanted out of it and you are already published - hooray!

As for the decorating tips - fantastic! I used to work in a shop and did the window displays, was so much fun wrapping boxes to look like presents and dressing up the mannequins in all their Christmas finery!

Maria Zannini said...

Jayne: A sister under the skin! LOL. I've done my share of wrapping fake gifts.

I tried to avoid dressing mannequins when possible. I just didn't have the edgy fashion sense of my peers. I much preferred to tinker on the window 'sets'.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I'm too decorating challenged to comment here but I did leave a comment over on LASR.