by Kit Davey
Winter is upon us and it's time to create a warm holiday atmosphere in your home. By bringing nature indoors and recycling treasures you already own, you can create your own quick and easy-to-make yuletide decorations.
Door decor. Add a little spice to the traditional wreath or door greenery. Nestle a stuffed bear or a doll with a red ribbon around its neck into the pine fronds, or add several faux fruits or antique keys. Dog lovers can attach a few dog bones spray-painted in gold.
Mantel greenery. Prune your evergreens and grace your mantel with fronds of eucalyptus, magnolia, pine, juniper or pyracanthus. Amongst the branches place five or seven each of one of the following: pears spray-painted gold, fat candles dotted with gold upholstery tacks, or a row of pomegranates, pine cones, lemons, pots of paper whites, small stuffed bears or oak galls spray-painted in gold. (Your display will look best if you use one kind of greenery and one decorative element, rather than mixing several).
Mini-tree centerpiece. Purchase a foam cone from your local craft store or make your own cone shape out of cardboard. Attach camellia, magnolia or ficus leaves using gold- or pearl-topped pins. Start at the bottom of the tree and layer the leaves as if you were shingling a roof. Top the tree with a bow or star.
Potted candles. Flank your mini tree with a pair of potted candles. Spray paint two small terra-cotta pots in gold. Use modeling clay to anchor tall gold or green candles to the bottom of the pot. Surround the candle with moss or tissue paper sprayed in gold. Finish with a bright ribbon tied around the pot's mouth.
Woodsy candle holders. Look through your log pile or forage in your garden for a straight branch about 3 inches in diameter. Cut into 4- to 5-inch sections. Drill a 1-inch diameter hole about an inch deep in each section. Insert a holiday candle in your natural candlestick holder.
Place cards. Use natural pine cones, or for a more formal look, spray-paint your cones in gold. Find each cone's best sitting position. Use a saw to make a thin slot in the cone into which you place a calligraphed name card. For easy-to-make place cards, purchase a small poinsettia for each guest, glue a name card onto a toothpick and poke it into the plant's soil. Or, gift wrap a small box for each guest and write his or her name on the gift tag.
Napkin rings. Tie a length of red ribbon around a rolled-up napkin. Insert a rosemary or ivy sprig. Further enhance your table by tying a bow around the stem of each wine glass.
Festive tablecloth. Recycle a white sheet or tablecloth. Make a star- or snowflake-shaped stencil out of cardboard. Using gold fabric paint and your stencil, sponge the star shape around the border of the cloth, or randomly stencil the image onto your table cloth.
Golden leaves. Make a gold-toned leaf streamer and a leaf-adorned table cloth simultaneously. Gather several leaves with interesting shapes and flatten the leaves by placing them between the pages of a book for two weeks. Clear an outdoor area on which to lay your white sheet or table cloth. Place the leaves near the outside edge of the table cloth and lightly spray the leaves with gold paint. Lift up the leaves and white silhouettes surrounded by a gold mist remain. Turn the leaves over and place in another area on the cloth, and spray again. Repeat until the desired affect has been achieved.
Tie the gilt leaves to a length of ribbon and hang your leaf swag over a door or window frame, or on your holiday tree.
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