Festive Holiday Home
Crafty for Christmas:
Scents, Sounds, and Seasonal Surroundings
There is no denying that “There’s no place like home,” resonates with each of us not only as a sentimental reminder of our beloved Dorothy but also in the true statement of serenity espoused in our safe and sleepy castles, our abode, our special and personal space - testament of who we are and what we wish to express to our friends, families, ourselves. Opening the door to home after a long day at the office and shimmering into a savory room of cinnamon-scented aromas, green garlands, and cozy, soft Holiday accessory trappings guide one into a peaceful existence as into a warm bath, or cocktail, perhaps both. Sound like an ideal moment? It does to me, too, and there are several other additives and allurements to turn any nook into a ready retreat this season.
Make your own or buy them. Candle making saves a lot of money over time, and materials are simple and affordable: soy, beeswax, or paraffin (take your pick), dye chips, some cinnamon or apple fragrance, and Wa-La! There you have it. I collect Oui yogurt jars for handy receptacles to decorate as gifts or for the bath...
White string lights
Classic white lights on the stairwell banister, along the deck railing, or along the windows is simple and suitable for warm Holiday appeal and just feels well, serene. One can never underestimate the effect of mood lighting. Plus, it complements other decorations without drowning them out.
Almost every grocery and home store have these beautifully seasonal accessories out front and in assorted sizes. A half-dozen ensemble along the mantle or throughout the homestead adds a festive ambience perfect for parties or gatherings, and they can be parting gifts for your favorite aunt or coworker.
This year’s corporate Holiday luncheon left me with a hand-crafted wreath and candle set, a red lantern housing a large white candle amidst tastefully-decorated greenery; the effect was perfectly ideal. Now my table centerpiece, this and several more like it may be reasonably expected to grace a cherry buffet, side tables, bedroom dressers, or even a bathroom or two. Lit candles (contained for safety), it can scarcely be argued, really tie a room together.
What is peace and joy and serenity without an opportunity to feed our deserving faces I ask? Eating and opportunities to eat are one of the best things about the Holidays, whether it be hot rolls from a local bakery, apple cider (spiked? Yes, please), or homemade treats like grandma used to put together from memory; I think we can all agree on this one. Crystal serving bowls are not only elegant and masterfully appropriate for company, but make homemade sweets, dips, or Hors d’Oveuvres present delectably on the table in front of the fire. Hot buttered rum, spritzers, and champagne bourbon cocktails also help the Holiday spirit with or without company and go down even more smoothly with appropriate stemware.
The aroma of a real Evergreen tree is sensational and brings spiritual energy to a space that simply cannot be understated. However, if time, money, space, or all three make this traditional addition less practical, there are exquisite tabletop and not-so-table-top trees available now that make the real thing suspect. What’s more, they can be folded up with or without ornaments and accouterments and stored away conveniently for the following year. Some of our more creative brethren go so far as to keep them up year-round, dressing them with ornaments ranging from summer splendor to nautical accessories (Maryland and the Chesapeake), and even simple blues and whites years round.
Fire in the Fireplace
I saved the best for last for one obvious reason: One simply cannot dispute the loveliness and ambience of a fire.
“What is more cheerful, now, in the fall of the year, than an open-wood-fire?” – Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Small bundles are available for a not-so-small price around town, but ‘tis best to buy ahead of time by the cord or half-cord. A room is simply a warmer, more congenial place with a live-fire; so don’t overlook this incredibly sultry and romantic detail!