There are many ways you can style your Christmas tree. Here are some suggestions for how you can mix things up this year.
With eye-catching colors
Choose one or two bright colors to give your tree’s decor a cohesive look. Depending on the effect you want to create, you can opt for soft pastels or bold shades like fuchsia and orange. For a more traditional look, stick with red and white. Blue and silver are also a festive combination.
With elements of nature
If you want to style your tree to have an old-world look, select materials that evoke the great outdoors. Pinecones, birds, holly, deer, and feathers, for example, all make lovely ornaments. If you want to try something more daring, consider using slices of dried citrus fruit or paper flowers to add a pop of color.
With a nod to your interests
Choosing a theme based on one of your passions can make for a one-of-a-kind tree. For example, if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you could hang figurines of the characters from branches and top the tree with your own Sorting Hat. Are you a golf fanatic? Look for ornaments that resemble balls and clubs, and make snowflakes by gluing together white tees.
Remember, your Christmas tree will be the focal point of your home throughout the holidays. Don’t be afraid to make it stand out.
How to decorate the outside of your home for Christmas
If you want to decorate the outside of your home for the holiday season but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some ways to get started.
Decorate your trees
Whether you have lush evergreens or bare deciduous trees in your yard, you can dress them up for the Christmas season with ornaments or outdoor string lights.
Put up a Christmas wreath
Make a wreath or buy one from a local artisan. Hang it on your front door or lean it against a nearby wall to create a welcoming entranceway.
Embellish your stairway
If you have sufficient space, place one or more ornate flowerpots, lanterns, nutcrackers, or other decorative elements at the top or bottom of your stairway. Wrap your railing in a garland for a festive flair.
Fill vacant spaces
You can set up decorative structures if you have a large front yard. Inflatable figures and lighted characters will help bring holiday cheer to your home.
For more inspiration and to find great decorations, visit your local retailers.
Four considerations for an online Christmas party
If you can’t visit your loved ones during the holiday season, consider getting together with them online. A virtual celebration is an alternative option that simply requires a bit of preparation. Here’s what you’ll need to think about.
When picking a date and time for your online event, consider everyone’s availability. Don’t forget to factor in time zone differences, if applicable.
There are several online applications you can use to host your virtual get-together. Select the most appropriate one based on how many people will be attending as well as their computer skills and available internet access. Some platforms also allow guests to join by telephone.
Plan a few activities to make the event more fun. For example, arrange for everyone to eat a similar meal or drink the same cocktail. You can also play games that work well remotely, like trivia challenges and bingo.
Set up your computer in an appropriate location, and if you need a table or room to move around, prepare accordingly. Then, add some festive decorations to your background. Consider wearing a headset for superior sound quality.
If you’re giving gifts to your loved ones, mail them ahead of time so they can unwrap them online during the celebration.
De-Grinching Christmas by fighting inflation
Maybe the Grinch isn’t real, but as inflation continues unabated, it could feel like your Christmas has been stolen.
Happily, there are still ways to save some money.
First, it’s smart to put your holiday gift list together earlier rather than later. This way, you’ll have more time to watch for great deals and won’t make last-minute purchases in a panic. You can also use tools like CamelCamelCamel.com that will track price drops and alert you if items on your list go on sale. You can also use services like Rakuten that provide rewards and cash back when you make purchases.
And who to buy gifts for? With inflation at historic levels, you can’t really blame folks for buying gifts only for immediate family members. The fact is, pretty much everyone is being forced to tighten their belts right now. Inevitably, there are people you feel obligated to purchase for. Try buying small boxes of candy. Or bake holiday cookies or cakes to give away. A half-dozen cookies in a bright wrapper can be very welcome and festive.
Rather than super-sizing your Christmas meal this year, make only what you can eat at one meal (and maybe enough for sandwiches the next day). It’s estimated that roughly 40 percent of food ends up in the trash — and that’s like burning cash. Rather than picking up a 20-pound turkey for a six-person Christmas party, downsize to 13 pounds. Instead of pouring eggnog into a punch bowl, make a small pitcher for the fridge. There will be less waste.
Also, folks typically want brand-new products, but you can often save a ton of cash buying refurbished goods. It’s not uncommon to find refurbished gadgets on eBay and elsewhere that are selling at a steep discount and come with a warranty. And if you’re buying any gifts for yourself, consider waiting until the New Year, as many retailers will hold generous after-holiday sales to clear out stock and holiday returns.
Christmas is a mere month away. Though it may seem like you have all the time in the world, the coming weeks are sure to go by quickly. Here’s a list of things to check off your to-do list so you can cut down on last-minute tasks.
At six weeks out, we should have done the following:
• Think about your holiday decor and write down everything you need
• Take inventory of what decorations are left over from last year and determine if you need to buy anything
• Keep an eye out for sales on decorations and gifts
• Determine who you want to entertain at Christmas and send out invitations
• Make an appointment with your hairdresser or beautician
At five weeks out, did you do these:
Though you may not be hosting guests for a few weeks, it’s never too early to get the following tasks checked off your list:
• Shop for decorations
• Create a gift list for loved ones
• Buy everything you need to wrap presents, including bows and tags
• Sort through toys, clothes, and other items you no longer use and donate them to a good cause
• Organize a gift exchange
Now it’s just four weeks before Christmas
Christmas is just a short month away, and the magic of the holiday season is in the air. Get in the spirit of things by completing the following tasks:
• Decorate your home while listening to Christmas carols
• On a nice day, set up your outdoor decorations
• Start your advent calendar
• Shop for gifts you still need for friends and loved ones
• Reserve key items like a turkey or Christmas cake
• Help your children write letters to Santa
Three weeks before Christmas
There are only three short weeks until Christmas. Make your
life easier by completing the below tasks:
• Plan your Christmas meals
• Finish buying all your gifts, especially those that require delivery
• Confirm who will be attending your Christmas party
• Make sure you have enough chairs, tables, and dishes for your guests
• Plan the entertainment for your holiday get-together
Two weeks before Christmas
Christmas is fast approaching, but there are still 14 days left before the big day. If you’re wondering what to do this week, use the following list as a guide:
• Write and mail your Christmas cards to ensure they arrive on time.
• Cook foods that freeze well, like meat pies and casseroles.
• Finish your gift shopping before the stores become too crowded. Make sure to purchase one or two extra gifts in case you receive an unexpected guest.
• Wrap your gifts or have them wrapped by a local non-profit. Hide them from your children or place them directly under the tree.
• Finalize your Christmas menu while considering the dietary needs of your guests.
One week before Christmas
Time flies in December! Now, there’s only one week left before Christmas. Even if you’ve been preparing for a while, here are a few things you may still need to do in the coming days:
• Make desserts to serve at your party or enjoy in the coming days
• Clean and organize your home, so it’s ready for entertaining
• Go to the grocery store to buy fresh and perishable foods
• Take a moment for yourself to enjoy this festive and joyous time
At Thanksgiving dinner: Who will say grace?
Being chosen to say grace at a big family dinner is always an honor. Often, however, no one is chosen, though all expect and anticipate the prayer. A Thanksgiving meal prayer makes the occasion special and makes your friends and family feel blessed.
When the question is asked, “Who will say grace?” you can volunteer, even though you may not be the most “religious” person in the family (the one who is will be pleased to have you step forward).
The best prayers are those that come from the heart rather than from a prayer book. A prayer could begin with something as simple as, “For all our family and friends, we thank you, Lord.” Or “We pray your blessings on our family and friends and on those who could not be here today. We thank you for our many blessings and for this opportunity to be together. Bless this food and those who prepared it. Amen.”
A few tips: Keep it short, so the food doesn’t get cold. Keep it simple. Avoid any further philosophizing, and don’t use it as an opportunity to ask God to correct anyone’s faults. Be humble.
If it is a buffet-style dinner, offer the prayer while everyone is ready to go through the line. If it is a sit-down dinner, asking everyone to hold hands is a nice touch.
Recognizing the Plymouth Thanksgiving: How the Pilgrims became America’s forefathers
The town of Plymouth in Massachusetts has not always been well-known. The town and the Pilgrims who created it were largely forgotten for 200 years until December 22, 1820.
On that day, the great orator Daniel Webster traveled to Plymouth from Boston to take part in the bicentennial celebration of the Pilgrims’ landing. So great was his speech that it became known as the “Plymouth oration.”
Before 1,500 people seated themselves on wooden benches in the meetinghouse, he said, in part:
“We have come to this Rock to record here our homage for our Pilgrim Fathers; our sympathy in their sufferings; our gratitude for their labors, our admiration of their virtues; our veneration for their piety, and our attachment to those principles of civil and religious liberty…
“We listen to the chiefs in council … We are filled with reverence and admiration for the mild dignity of Carver and Bradford, the decisive military air of Standish, the devout Brewster, the enterprising Allerton…”
Webster’s oration started the Pilgrims’ elevation to their status as forefathers of the nation. At that time, the recently independent America needed an event and a place that rooted the country to its founding history.
They needed a founding location. Jamestown in Virginia was a candidate, as was Plymouth in Massachusetts. Jamestown had an advantage because it was founded 13 years before the Pilgrims landed. But Plymouth offered a moral authority, thanks to the words of Daniel Webster.
Though the great Thanksgiving feast occurred 401 years ago, in November of 1621, we still follow the Pilgrims’ lead in being thankful for our blessings on Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving fun facts
- Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the U.S. In a letter to his daughter, he said the bald eagle had a bad moral character.
- Minnesota produces most of the 46 million turkeys prepared at Thanksgiving in the U.S. every year.
- Green bean casserole, invented by the Campbell Soup Company, is served in 30 million households, but 24 percent of diners hate it.
- Breaking the wishbone originated with the Estruscans, an ancient Italian civilization. Birds were thought to be able to predict the future. They actually kept the bones intact to use the birds’ powers for more wishes.