Entertaining

Christmas Decorations and Gift Wrapping

For many of us, getting into the Christmas spirit starts with pulling out the decorations and putting up the tree. Making it look like it’s close to Christmas gets us thinking about spending time with family, entertaining and bringing everyone together around a roasted turkey and all the trimmings. Here, we’ve gathered together advice and ideas for how to decorate your tree and around the house, along with tips for keeping that poinsettia looking great throughout the holiday season and creative ideas for wrapping gifts.

  • The Christmas Tree

    There are songs about it, we search to find the perfect oneand it’s the gathering place on Christmas Day. There’s no doubt, the Christmas tree is a key part of holiday decorating. Some of us lovingly use the same decorations year after year, enjoying the tradition. Others like trying something new, decorating with differentballs and baubles for a fresh approach.

    No matter what yourstyle, consider layering ornaments throughout the tree, including along the branches closer to the trunk; this adds depth and interest –not to mention giving you more room if you have a lot of ornaments.

    Here are some ideas for freshways to decorate your tree.


    The Collector's Tree

    Your collection of treasures doesn’t have to be relegated to the shelves or put away during the holidays. Make them part of your tree decorating. Any small item that can be set on tree branches or hung with a hook or ribbon can be added to the boughs, from coffee spoonsand antique jewelry to toy cars or tiny carpenter’s tools.


    The Country Christmas Tree

    Give your tree a country feel with items from the kitchen. String up a popcorn garland and hang candy canes,bunches of cinnamon sticks you’ve tied with gingham ribbonand a few gingerbread men. Brighten it all with large, multi-coloured tree lights.

     

    The Elegant Tree

    For a sophisticated look, use silver, gold and white ornaments. Drape matching or contrasting ribbon in and over branches.

     

    The Family Tree

    Along with handmade ornaments and those collected over the years, set small school pictures or family photos in simple frames and nestle them among the boughs.

     

    The First Christmas Tree

    A tight budget is inevitable when you’re first starting out on your own, but that doesn’t mean your decorating options are limited. Remember the fun of being a child doing Christmas crafts to get inspired. String popcorn garlands with some fresh cranberries for colour, cut paper snowflakes, bake up some gingerbread men and make a paper doll chain to wind around the boughs. Get some ideas from the other suggestions above and below to see what else you can add. The trick is simply to have enough on the tree that it looks fully decorated. Top it all off with a charming star made from aluminum foil.

     

    The Masculine Tree

    A selection of simple balls in bold colours with a matte finish will give your tree a masculine feel. Tuck a wide ribbon in plaidor a single colour through the branches to complete the look.

     

    The Nostalgic Antique Tree

    Your tree will echo of years gone by when decorated with small lace or tulle pouches filled with lavender and tied with satin ribbon. Add in bunches of dried baby’s breath, silk roses and frosted tree balls to really give it a nostalgic feel.

     

    The Upscale Metallic Tree

    Embrace a metallic look with bronze, pewter or copper ornaments. Then, continue that theme by winding through a silver or copper garland. Glass or mirror accents will amplify the overall look.

  • The Christmas Table

    For the big feast, all eyes are on the table –and the food on top of it. Here are our best tips for determining how big a table you need, how to take care of your tablecloth and how to make it all look great. 

    An inviting table puts your family and friendsin a festive mood. These are some of our favourite, simple ways to decorate it.

    • Long pieces of wide Christmas ribbon are great as table runners on a solid-coloured tablecloth. You can either drape them over the length of the table or have them go across, so they disappear under the dinner plates. 
    • Tie simple bows of Christmas ribbon around napkins and the stems of wine or water glasses.
    • For a special centerpiece, spray a few pomegranates with gold paint and set them on top of pine cones in a pretty, shallow bowl.
    • Wrap bunches of cinnamon sticks with Christmas ribbon and press whole cloves into several oranges. Arrange them all in a shallow basket, tucking in a few pine or cedar trimmings to add a green touch. 
    • Place small, festive candles at each place setting.
    • Give your guests a little holidaygift by placing a simple tree ornament at each place setting and inviting them to take it home. 

     

    Tablecloth 101

    • A tablecloth looks best when it’s hanging evenly all on sides. You want to let it hang over the edge of your table by at least 10 inches. 
    • Using a silence cloth (or a sheet or light-weight blanket folded to the size of the table) will protect your table’s finish, quiet the sound of dishes or cutlery and create a soft effect.
    • Treat stains as soon as possible. Don’t wash your tablecloth until you’ve completely removed the stains, otherwise they will set permanently. 
    • Linen or damask tablecloths need to be ironed while damp. Remove permanent press ones as soon as they are dry to keep them from building static electricity. Fold them right away to keep them from wrinkling.
    • You can hang your tableclothsover a padded hanger to keep them from wrinkling between uses. 
    • To determine how big a table you need to get everyone seated comfortably around it, follow this chart:
    Table Size Seats Tablecloth Size

    28” x 28” to 40” x 40”

    4

    54” x 54” square

    28”x 46” to 40” x 58”

    4-6

    52” x 70” rectangle

    36” x 60” to 40” x 72”

    6-8

    60” x 84” rectangle or oval

    36” x 78” to 48” x 90”

    6-10

    60” x 102” rectangle or oval

    36” x 96” to 48” x 108”

    8-12

    60” x 120” rectangle

    36” to 48” diameter

    4-6

    60” round

    48” to 60” diameter

    6-8

    70” round

  • Decorating Around the House

    Christmas decorating isn’t limited to the tree. You can make your whole house feel festive with a few simple ideas.Even everyday items can be transformed into holiday decorations with the smallest of effort. 

    Here are some of our favourite suggestions:

    • Fill a glass pitcher, clear vase or interesting jar with any one of the following:
      • Cinnamon sticks tied together in bunches with ribbon
      • Dried fruit, such as lemon, orange or apple slices
      • Gingerbread men
      • Leftover scraps of ribbon from wrapping gifts
      • Nuts in their shells
      • Pine conesoRibbon candy or candy canes
      • Shiny tree balls or other small ornaments
    • Gently fill a glass or crystal bowl or vase with a string of mini lights.
    • Wrap throw pillows with inexpensive craft ribbon so they look like gifts. Set them on the top of a couch or on a comfortable chair.
    • Decorate a silk plant with indoor mini lights.
    • Place a few pieces of cedar, pine or spruce trimmings on a mantle instead of a garland. Tuck bright tree balls or favourite family ornaments into the greenery.
    • Spray a mixture of pine cones and unshelled nuts with gold paint and use them to fill a glass serving bowl. Place a tall pillar candle in the centre of the bowl, if desired. 
    • Using pretty ribbon or lightweight fishing line, hang pretty tree ornaments at varying heights from a dining room light fixture. 
    • Spell out festive words like Noel or Peace on a fireplace mantle using children’sbuilding blocks.
    • Fill a toy truck with festive candies or nuts.
    • Hang a Christmas stocking from a doorknob using a bit of Christmas ribbon.

     

    A Christmas Swag

    Not round like a wreath or ribbon-like as a garland, a Christmas swag is a decoration built from evergreen branches that is perfect for hanging on your front door or the railings of a staircase. Even better, it’s a festive way to use up your tree trimmings.

    Here’s how we make ours:

    • Gather up the branches trimmed from your Christmas tree and start the swag with the longest ones at the back.
    • Layer over shorter branches and pieces over, keeping the cut ends together and facing the same way. Save the shortest pieces for the top, turning some of them upside-down, if desired, tohide the cut ends. Tie all the branch ends together using several pipe cleaners, florist wire or heavy string.
    • Fill in bare spots and make it more festive by using a glue gun to attach holly, eucalyptus or pine cones.
    • Give the swag a finished look by tying on a large bow of Christmas ribbon; this is also a great way to cover the pipe cleaners or string.
    • Hang the swag on a door orfrom a staircase railing.

     

    A Christmas Basket

    Not all decorations need to be hung. Spruce up a centerpiece or a room with thisidea for a Christmas basket filled with plants and greens.

    • Grab a large wicker basket –with or without a handle –and place several small glass jars in it. These will hold cedar, pine or spruce boughs.Next to the jars, nestle small poinsettias for a splash of colour. 
    • Arrange the branches so they hide the jars and hang over the edge of the basket.
    • Tuck large pine cones, artificial berriesor holly in and around the greenery, if desired. 
    • Use as a table centerpiece, place in your entryway or your living room. Set a smaller version –with a few cinnamon sticks slipped in –on your bathroom counter.

     

    Caring for a Poinsettia

    Poinsettias, with their festive leaves of red, green or white, are a favourite Christmas plant. Keep it healthy and colourful throughoutthe holiday season with a few simple tips.

    • Keep your plant away from drafts.
    • A poinsettia will hold its leaves better and stay lush and green if the soil is slightly moist.
    • Should a stem accidentally break off, trimthe stem and dip the bottominch of it into boiling water for five seconds. Place it in a vase of cool water; it will look bright and fresh for another week or two.

     

    Wrap it Up

    Gift bags and rolls of wrapping paper make it easy to hide presents until Christmas morning. But that’s not the only way we like to wrap our gifts. Here are some of our favourite –and inexpensive –ways to wrap it all up. 

    • Those weekend comics aren’t just good for a laugh; use them as inexpensive gift wrap. Or searchout a foreign newspaper or colourful magazine to use.Tie the presents with Christmas ribbon.
    • Use brown paper or crumpled tissue paper for a casual look, adding just a band of Christmas paper around the middle –as wide as you’d like. Tie with raffia or thin twine and make a simple bow.
    • Cut photographs into small cards for personalized gift tags. 
    • Find gold or silver thread at fabric outlets and use it to tie on gift tags or in place of ribbons on small gifts.