Home & Garden

Stop all the ornament shopping – we have a smarter way to decorate

A close-up of the “pickle” tree with blown-glass pickle ornaments from various European countries. “Look for different sizes, shapes, and shades of shiny or matte green and gold,” says the author.
A close-up of the “pickle” tree with blown-glass pickle ornaments from various European countries. “Look for different sizes, shapes, and shades of shiny or matte green and gold,” says the author. TNS

You did the “rustic ski lodge” tree. You had to have the “Nordic ice extravaganza” tree. As for your “Santa’s candyland” phase … well, some holiday memories are best left to fade. But we do have a suggestion about this year’s tree: Make it your masterpiece. How? By skipping the big boxes of big-box ornaments in favor of everyday stuff you love, reimagined.

Enter Carrie Brown, owner of the Jimtown Store in Healdsburg, Calif., a stylish country-store-gone-cool. Brown’s new book, “The New Christmas Tree” (Artisan, 2015), shows how to use household items – from pretzels to bike reflectors – as decorations that don’t scream “theme-of-the-moment” and don’t have to be stored in your basement for all eternity, either. Here’s her advice on getting a smarter, more stylish tree this year:

Embrace a new style: Everything goes in and out of fashion. There are new styles in food, clothing and interior design. So why not have the tree evolve too? Have fun, be playful and whimsical. You want to add delight and wonder this time of year.

Definitely theme it: You’ll have a better chance of making a successful, cohesive design statement, and it’s more fun. If you go willy-nilly, it won’t have the same degree of charm. Think about color – maybe, everything in blue around the house. When you and others can pick out the objects on a tree it adds to the fun.

Make it all yours: I think that there are many young people who reject how commercialized Christmas has become. This is a way to avoid that and make a statement by choosing something that means something special to you. If you love nature, celebrate it by bringing attention to the honeybee. Or, if you love to recycle, repurpose objects you have. Make your tree relevant to you and anti-commercial!

Ditch the ornament aisle: Look around your house first. Then, go to the grocery store and buy all kinds of wonderful edibles such as dried pasta for garlands, lemons you stud with cloves, and walnuts you paint silver or gold. I also love shopping hardware stores, walking the aisles, and finding copper and cork tubing and wiring and all sorts of other objects.

Skip the skirt: You can use an old cashmere shawl to wrap around the tree stand rather than one of those awful tree skirts. It will be more beautiful and elegant. And you don’t have to hem the edges; just tuck them under.

Stop yourself: Avoid thinking about rules such as stringing up lights according to the height of the tree. Remember that less is more, and a few twinkling lights are far more elegant and refined.

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