Debbie Travis' Christmas DIY
"We tend to forget how much stuff we already have," says Debbie. She talks about sprigs and sprays, leftovers from arrangements of yore. Toss any broken bits, but keep complete ones even if they're different colours and styles—a coat of spray paint in a single colour can make those pieces seem like part of the same eclectic mix. Tie them with a piece of twine and they can be hung on the front door, or, placed in a vase, they could bring the holiday spirit to a coffee table, console or countertop.
Once you've cleaned out your collection, you should be left with decorations that have nostalgic memories. You should also be able to identify a decor theme. Over the years you may have kept and collected glass balls over fabric covered ones; transparent stars and icicles might outnumber wooden animals and elves ... so you're more modern than traditional. (Debbie's new holiday collection, available at Canadian Tire, includes 6 Christmas decor themes; you'll find your personality match in one of them.) No matter what theme evolves, now you can fill in the gaps with what you need — more greenery for a wreath or balls for the tree maybe?
"You can have fun with the season and decorating if you give yourself time," says Debbie. "Just do a project every weekend before Christmas so you don't get overwhelmed." Bingeing and purging from last year's stash might take a weekend. Try these decorating plans for three more.
Plan your centrepiece
"You want to create the wow factor for when people walk in," says Debbie, but you have to take into account how you're going to use the space. If you're having a sit-down turkey dinner for example, your centrepiece needs to be small enough not to interfere with the carving and the side dishes, or able to be moved to a sideboard when the time comes.
Debbie suggests pulling together all the glass flower vases you've accumulated over the year and buying lengths of lighted ribbon (the kind with a small battery pack and available at Canadian Tire). Group the vases together, tie the ribbon around the outside or place inside, then put pretty ornaments inside. "You don't need a lot of ornaments on the tree," says Debbie. So you may find you have more ornaments than you can use, but ones you don't want to give away. "Use them throughout the house," Debbie says. Covered glass cake plates of differing heights are also an excellent way to create a centrepiece display of treasured ornaments.Make nameplates out of ornaments
Name holders can elevate the look of your table and don't have to take much time or effort. You need a small piece of card stock, or even a gift tag, along with a thick tipped pen to write the person's name. Traditional ornaments with felt and other fabrics work best for this since they stay put better than smooth, coloured balls. Just tape the card stock to the ornament and place it beside the person's plate.
When Debbie does this, she looks for ornaments that reflect her guests' past. "I used a ballet slipper for an aunt and asked her to share stories of when she was a young girl and a member of a ballet troupe ... and how she got too tall for ballet and had to quit!" There were different age groups at Debbie's Christmas table but "it was a great story and the kids loved it," she says. (Let your guests take their name plates home as a token of your affection—less stuff for you to pack up at the end of the season and dump on the living room floor next year.)
Focus out front
"Use small, 3-foot, artificial trees to make a welcoming pathway," says Debbie. Besides the fact that artificial trees are looking more life-like every year, they're an inexpensive way to enhance your space. "But you've got to keep it symmetrical and simple," says Debbie, "don't over-do it." Debbie recommends no more than three to six trees. Most trees can be staked directly in the ground, but you could also choose identical pots to house them. A string of lights is the only accessory they need—and if you don't have an outlet outside, all-weather battery-operated strings are the answer.
Dress up the staircase
“Christmas cards are a real tradition in England, much more than they are here," says Debbie, "so I use them to decorate the banister." For a traditional look, wrap your banister in garlands and strings of lighted ribbon; for a more modern touch, use strands in a colour that matches the rest of your home, or even something in white. Debbie likes to pin her cards to the garland, but you can also hang them over the strands and watch your collection fill in over the season.
Decorate the guest room
“If you don't add a little something to each room, they look a little sparse," says Debbie. Consider decorating a small tree in this room if there's enough space. A floor-to-ceiling version isn't necessary; even a potted mini on a dresser will work. "Hang a small wreath on the inside of the door and wrap pillows in ribbon so they look like gifts or thread one beautiful ornament through them," says Debbie. They're treatments you can easily get done in a weekend and that will make a difference for your guests.