Have Yourself a Natural Little Christmas

December 3, 2009

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Christmas offers a golden opportunity to go green -- and save a little green -- when decorating your home.
"The idea is to focus on going local and natural with decor and to emphasize family togetherness," said Dr. Suzy Weems, chair of the department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Baylor University.
Some suggestions:
? There are "live" Christmas trees, and then there are LIVE live trees. Consider purchasing a potted Christmas tree rather than using an artificial one or even one from a tree farm. You won't have to cope with brown needles dropping, and thus cut down on fire hazard. What's more, the tree can be a practical legacy for future Christmases. Simply plant it in your yard after the holidays, and string lights on it in future years to share a festive view with neighbors and passersby. "I brought in a 5-foot-tall native pine several years ago, and it grew to 10 feet tall," Weems said.
? Incorporate the ghosts of Christmas past. Specifically, set aside two or three hours for your family to gather and string strands of popcorn or cranberry for the tree as families did in yesteryear. The decoration is inexpensive, and "the time with your family will give you more of the value of Christmas," Weems said. Intimidated by your lack of skill with needle and thread? Just use good-sized needles (introduce your young ones to thimbles), and use monofilament fishing line. It not only is strong, but it also comes in colors as well as clear -- among them white, green, blue and fluorescent.
? Go native, capitalizing on the natural beauties of your part of the country. For example, those who live in tumbleweed terrain can set tumbleweeds aglow by stringing them with small lights and using them as accents or centerpieces. Meanwhile, coastal residents - or beach lovers who collect shells on their treks to the ocean -- can turn some of their seaside treasures into lasting ornaments. Simply loop your favorite ribbon, hot-glue the ends together, then hot-glue the "hanger" to the shell. Save the starfish for the top of the tree! Simply attach with thin wire.
? Try a fragrant, traditional and natural touch by decorating oranges with cloves. Decorate with holly sprigs from shrubs, or check out area trees for mistletoe to hang above doorways. But do your research to be certain decorations that are poisonous are out of reach of pets and children.
? Have any Halloween or Thanksgiving pumpkins or gourds left? Try painting them white and stacking them by size into "snowmen" (or women).
? Fashion some Christmas angels from cornhusks. "Historically, that was a way of using what didn't get eaten," Weems said.
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