Thursday, November 13, 2008

Country Christmas Decorations

Cranberry & Popcorn GarlandWhat could be cozier than a country Christmas? I grew up in the country in a house built in 1820. It was a beautiful old cape with a huge barn, and my mom did an amazing job decorating every year with country decorations that made our house feel even more warm and welcoming than usual. Our tree was always covered with woodland creatures like mushroom birds, squirrel, bear and moose ornaments.

We also had to make a popcorn & cranberry garland each year. I didn't love doing it at the time (I pricked my fingers a little too often to enjoy it), but I feel nostalgic about making those garlands now. We put our popcorn garland on first, before adding the lights and other decorations, so that we could remove everything easily after Christmas and leave just the popcorn garland. My dad would take the tree outside and stand it in the snow next to the bird feeder. The birds would go crazy for the popcorn!

If you're thinking of decorating your home with a country style, here are a few ideas that I would recommend: a rustic Christmas centerpiece, woodland tree decorations and a popcorn & cranberry garland.

Rustic Christmas Centerpieces

Christmas Centerpieces
Making your own rustic or country Christmas centerpiece is very easy and very rewarding. Christmas centerpieces like these could cost $50-$100 each if you buy them in stores, but with a little TLC, you can make your own and wow all of your guests for a lot less!

One of my favorite ideas for a country Christmas table this year came from Better Homes & Gardens. It's easy to find rosemary "trees" in stores right now. At the Whole Foods near me they have little Christmas tree-shaped rosemary bushes for about $15 each in pretty terracotta pots. Add a plaid ribbon around the pot, and you easily have a beautiful rustic centerpiece that will last from now through Christmas and beyond. Plus, you can steal branches of rosemary from the tree to flavor your Christmas roast or your Thanksgiving turkey. It's an idea that is affordable and multi-purpose.

Woodland Christmas Decorations

Birch ReindeerWoodland critters can add a very cute rustic feel to your Christmas decorating. The woodland decorating trend is pretty big for 2008, so there are a lot of options out there for creating this look, like the birch reindeer (above) from Crate & Barrel or the Martha Stewart Everyday woodland collection at Kmart.

You can also make your own decorations by getting a few simple supplies from your local crafts store: a variety of mushroom birds, fine glitter (if you like a little sparkle), Elmer's glue, tiny eye screws, and strong red thread. Screw the tiny eye hooks into the back of the birds, just behind the head, and then tie a 5-6" bit of the thread through the eye hook for a simple woodland bird ornament. To add a little sparkle, apply a bit of Elmer's glue to the wings of the bird with a paintbrush (I save the crummy ones from Crayola watercolor kits for glue application) and then sprinkle with glitter and let them dry. Following these directions you will quickly have a beautiful little flock of birds for your country Christmas tree.

Popcorn and Cranberry Garland

Making your own popcorn and cranberry Christmas garland is very simple. Buy 2 bags of fresh cranberries, two bags of plain un-popped popcorn, and fishing line or strong thread (upholstery thread is great for this kind of project). Pop the popcorn in a pot or a popcorn machine and use as little oil as possible (1 tsp should be fine) so it isn't too greasy. Thread a large needle with the thread or fishing line without cutting the thread from the spool. Start threading the popcorn on the line. I like putting about 10 corn puffs on and then a cranberry, and then 10 more pieces of corn and a cranberry, but you can alternate the pattern however you like. You can also add other pretty dried fruits, like dehydrated orange slices, if you want to get a little fancier. Once you have a long enough chain of covered line, then you can tie off the chain.

If you put your tree outside with the garland still on it when Christmas is over, you'll have some real woodland critters in your tree in no time!

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