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Holiday Decorating, Naturally | Winter 2007 Out Here Magazine

Simple touches create pastoral elegance

By Brenda Hyde

Decorating for the Christmas season doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Simple touches are often the most elegant and receive the most comments.

Keeping things simple for outdoor holiday decorating just may inspire your family and neighbors to stay in the Christmas spirit throughout the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

To begin, think of green as your base color; it's soft and comforting. Best of all, you don't have to buy expensive fresh greens or garland to accomplish a festive country look. The trimmings from the bottom of your Christmas tree are perfect, and if you see "scrap" evergreen lying around the lot or farm where you buy your tree, the seller often will give it to you, just for asking.

If you live where all greens are expensive, or not available, inexpensive artificial greens look great outside, once they are decorated.

Let's go over ideas for the "scrap" greens first:

  • Fill wicker baskets with the greens, tie a holiday ribbon on the handle, and place on your porch. Do the same with large clay pots and place those along walks or on the porch steps. Fill window boxes that you aren't using during winter.
  • Many of us have old-fashioned milk cans on the porch already, and they are perfect for placing a few greens, along with small white holiday lights. Galvanized buckets work well, too.
  • Tack greens around the windows, wrap them around the porch or deck railings, decorate mailbox poles, or decorate fences on your property.

Now that we have our base all set, how do we accent?

Everyone has their favorite colors but simple accents often are the most elegant. Small white lights strung on top of your greens are beautiful, especially on porch railings and fencing. Large red bows, or bows made from red gingham for a country theme can accent the green.

Other accents you can place in your pots, window boxes, or baskets with the greens might be:

  • Pinecones or seedpods. Leave them natural or spray them with artificial snow.
  • Red berries and interesting branches, dried grasses, or wildflowers. Leave natural or spray.
  • Ornaments. Use classic red, green, or gold balls or get creative with plastic or Styrofoam(r) balls and spray paint.

Don't forget about grapevine wreaths. You can find them undecorated in all sizes for very reasonable prices, or you can use willow branches or vines to shape your own.

Tie with wire in a couple of places and set them to dry before using. A simple wreath with a few greens tucked in the vines along with a red bow is all that is necessary to add a festive touch to your home.

Place the wreaths on fences, garages, barns, or your porch.

White holiday lights are inexpensive and can be placed around windows, on a wreath, or tacked along arches on your house or outbuildings. Accent with red bows and you will turn your home into a festive Christmas wonderland.

Brenda Hyde is editor of