When decking your own halls, consider these charming touches. Classic in inspiration and modern in execution, they bring cheer to nearly every room in the house and are as easy to implement as one, two ... tree.
1. CUE THE CONIFERS
Make your mantel look amazing with a colorful assortment of vintage and inexpensive evergreens. The bottle-brush variety are readily available online and at crafts stores; the miniature ones were plucked from a model-train set. Votives make the snow-dusted landscape sparkle.
Source: Bag-O-Frosted topiaries, $13, department56.com.
2. JINGLE ALL THE WAY
To make comings and goings much more festive, gather a variety of crafts-store bells (these are red, gold and silver), and string them onto two loops of wire.
Mold them into a cluster shape, twist the ends of the loops together and tie on a big bow. Hang the ornament from a doorknob with a piece of cord.
Source: Creatology jingle bells, 16 mm, 20 mm and 30 mm, from $4.50 a bag, michaels.com.
3. FAKE A FLAME
Enjoy candlelight without the fire hazard by placing LED votives on windowsills, mantels and stairs.
Sources: Pottery Barn flameless plastic votive candles, $20 for 4, potterybarn.com. Everlasting votive candles, $15 for 10, bedbathandbeyond.com.
4. STOCK UP ON STOCKINGS
Nope, they’re not just for kids. These John Robshaw beauties add texture and color to any space — and can be put to new use: Fill sachets with fallen pine needles, tuck them inside the stockings and perfume your home in a stealth way.
Source: John Robshaw Wana and Tuwan stockings, $99 each, johnrobshaw.com.
5. GO OUT WITH A BANG
Christmas crackers — prettily wrapped cylinders that hold tiny gifts and emit a loud pop when pulled apart — date back to mid-19th-century Britain. Place a pile in a bowl by your front door, and send guests home with a jolly fun party favor.
Source: Olde English crackers, from $24 for 6, oldenglishcrackers.com.
6. SPREAD THE LOVE
Rather than tucking mistletoe in a doorway, make family meals warm and fuzzy with an overhead centerpiece. Wrap a wreath frame with fresh eucalyptus and faux mistletoe (toxins in the real berries can harm kids and pets), and attach ornaments with floral wire.
Sources: Ashland wire wreath frame, 18 inches, $4, michaels.com. Artificial mistletoe spray, 3 inches by 30 inches, $5, factorydirectcraft.com.
Tip: Follow your nose beyond cinnamon sticks and baked apples, and scent your home with this wintry mix: In a pot filled halfway with water, simmer pine sprigs, eucalyptus leaves and fresh sage or rosemary; or pine sprigs, bay leaves and ground nutmeg.
7. LIGHT THE WAY
To set up this modern menorah, arrange eight bud vases in a row, with a taller one in the middle, and place tapers inside. For added stability, put a bit of candle glue in the bottom of each vase. Post-holiday, repurpose the vessels for greenery or small garden clippings.
Sources: Stick-Um candle adhesive, $11, amazon.com. Jamali Garden glass crystal bud vases, $10 for 5 inches, $13 for 7 inches, jamaligarden.com. Metallic taper candles, 12 inches, in silver, $17 for 12, candles4less.com.
8. STRIKE A TUNE
Play music that’s happy, not sappy. These albums are mainstays and under-the-radar gems:
A Charlie Brown Christmas, Vince Guaraldi Trio; Songs for Christmas, Sufjan Stevens; Christmas in the Heart, Bob Dylan; Santa’s Funk & Soul Christmas Party Vol. I, Various Artists; A Merry Christmas With Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters; A Very She & Him Christmas, She & Him and Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas, Kenny Burrell
9. COUNT DOWN TO CHRISTMAS
This whimsical Advent calendar comes together in a few basic steps.
First, paint a 2-by-4 foot pegboard slat; let dry overnight. Using stencils, craft paint and a brush or sponge, paint the numbers 1 through 24 on muslin gift bags; let dry overnight.
The next day, evenly space 24 small wooden pegs in the board; fill the bags with little toys, candy and handwritten messages, and hang the bags in order.
Then just place it on a console table or ledge, lean it against the wall (or mount it, if you have small children) and let the anticipation build.
Sources: White pegboard, 3/16 inches by 2 feet by 4 feet, $8, homedepot.com. Cotton muslin pouches, 4 inches by 6 inches, $18 for 25, snugglymonkey.com. Krylon ColorMaster gloss enamel, in Banner Red, $7 for 12 ounces; Lara’s Crafts wood axle pegs, 1 3/8 inches, $4 for 31; Craftsmart stencils, in Western Alphabet, from $7; and Martha Stewart Crafts multisurface satin acrylic craft paint, in Habanero, from $2.50 for 2 ounces, michaels.com.
Address questions to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036. Or go to www.marthastewart.com/contact-us-form. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number.
Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate