Design a Thankful Tray
Give thanks all season long with a holiday-theme platter. To make, use an electric die-cutting machine to create a vinyl decal in your festive phrase of choice (or purchase premade cutout decals from the crafts store). Peel off the backing and carefully place the decals on top of a clean ceramic platter, pushing the letters firmly into place with your fingertips. Remove the protective film
Editor's Tip: Fill the platter with cookies for the perfect last-minute gift for teachers, the mailman, or the family next door.
(image credit: Alicia Dirago)
Enhance a Tea Light
The flicker of a pretty candle is an easy way to add cheer to your holiday table all season. Make these mini candleholders by outfitting six-point star cookie cutters around tea lights. Loop flat gold wire around a star point and curve the wire up and over the candle (giving plenty of room for the flame). Twist the end of the wire around the opposite star point to secure. Repeat two more times to create the star dome.
(image credit: Mette Jakobsen)
Cover Lightbulbs with Rope
Don't throw away your old, burnt-out lightbulbs! Instead, put them to better use throughout the entire holiday season by employing this clever trick. Use glue to add coiled rope or twine to the bottom of a lightbulb. Continue wrapping until the entire bulb is covered and no glass is showing. Finish by gluing on a real piece of twig at the top to act as a stem. Style a bunch in a bowl or as a tabletop centerpiece.
Editor's Note: Don't use fluorescent lightbulbs as these contain mercury and could be dangerous if they broke
Handpicked Thanksgiving Crafts
(image credit: Sweet Society)
Wrap Wood Veneer as Napkin Rings
Make the spirit of the holiday season last from that special family dinner in November all the way through to December 25 with DIY wooden napkin rings. Create the rings by snipping pieces of adhesive wood veneer to size -- one 6-1/2 inches long and another 8-1/2 inches. Lay the pieces' adhesive sides toward each other and iron into place (avoid the exposed edge on the 8-1/2-inch piece). Curl the exposed edge of the longer piece of veneer to meet the opposite end and gently hold it against the iron; this will create what looks like an uppercase "D" shape, which prevents the ring from rolling away. Let cool, lightly sand any raw edges, and wrap around a cotton napkin.
Custom Decor Ideas
(image credit: Jenny Batt)
Design a Whitewashed Wooden Centerpiece
As this project proves, a simple wooden box makes a perfect centerpiece. Nail together your own wooden panels, or simply purchase a plain wooden box. Brush on a diluted white paint for the first layer and follow with a coat of dry-brushed white paint. While the paint is still wet, wipe off excess until you achieve your desired finish. To fill, spray-paint pinecones gold and toss inside.
(image credit: Gretchen Holcombe)
Display New and Old Photographs
Thanksgiving marks the start of what is traditionally a time of gathering for family and friends, so when better to display a collection of photographs that's often hiding in an album or on the computer hard drive? Label the ever-changing groupings in this low-cost display -- made with clothespins and twine -- with metal scrapbooking label corners, and mount the photos onto pieces of cardstock using photo corners.
Repurpose Distinctive Ornaments
Some decorations excel at evoking the festive nature of the season, making them perfect accents for entryways, countertops, and side tables. Here, several colorful pieces hang from a branch (still clinging to a few of its autumn leaves). Secure the branch in a pitcher filled with small rocks or marbles; cover the top with moss. The piece works well on its own, or surrounded with other jars filled with colorful candy. Tip: If desired, it's simple to swap the ornaments—Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas—and candy.
Design a Sweater Wreath -- Fast!
Four supplies and three easy steps separate you from an adorable sweater wreath that spans the seasons.
Dress Up Inexpensive Ornaments
Paint and glitter can be fantastic helpers to create miniature focal points around your house. For example, classic gray paint and a dusting of glitter add contrast and sparkle to ordinary decorations. Wrap a tiny box in neutral paper and add pinecones and greenery for color.
Free! Holiday Patterns
Maintain Your Existing Decor
It's easier to ensure your decorating feels at home from holiday to holiday if you enhance rather than change what's around the rest of the year. For example, here a bit of greenery on the table and hung as a wreath offer a subtle nod to the time of year. A chain of jingle bells adds a sound effect to the decor.
Create an Artful Tree
If you want to start your display of holiday-theme trees a little early this year, try this space-saving, sculptural idea. Cut a short branch with many off-shoots; secure inside a container filled with florist's foam and cover the top with moss. Spray-paint small pinecones in three complementary hues -- here we used blue, white, and silver -- and accent with small items such as stars and a length of chiffon ribbon.
Gather Ornaments in a Bowl
It's never too early to take out a pretty collection of ornaments, especially when you have a handsome way of displaying them. Take this silver bowl: It's a lovely receptacle for ornaments. A few striped balls add just a pop of color.
Editor's Tip: Try changing the color, finish, or shape for visual variety that blends seamlessly with your nonholiday decor.
Focus on a Neutral Palette
Colors that are festive without being exclusive to one season are a great way to ensure your decorating accents remain transitional from month to month. For example, cheery silver and gold orbs add welcome textural contrast to end-of-season landscape items, such as pinecones, displayed under glass cloches.
Accent Doors and Windows with Cheery Wreaths
Simple, handmade wreaths make charming, understated touches on doors and windows. Peppermint candies supply both color and shape in this piece; simply hot-glue flat candies (about 250 for a 10-inch wreath) in close, neat rows. Fill in any gaps with small cinnamon candies, then hang from a wide ribbon.
Indoor Christmas Ideas
Bring the Outdoors In
Transitional pieces that work year-round take center stage at holiday time when paired with in-season items. Evergreens offer a rich counterpoint to these glossy white containers, one accented with chalkboard paint. Berry picks covering the soil lend a welcome pop of color. When the holidays are over and the weather warms, plant the evergreens in your yard or in a larger container outside.
Indoor Thanksgiving Ideas
Play Up Natural Holiday Elements
Tuck a small vase inside a larger glass urn and fill the space between the two with mixed nuts. Fill the small vase with water and add fresh flowers or greenery.
Outdoor Thanksgiving Decor
Showcase Special Holiday Items
One of the easiest -- and cheapest -- ways to add timeless cheer at Thanksgiving and Christmas is to take what you already have, but draw attention to it in new and unusual ways. For example, group a few of your favorite holiday figures and ornaments under a glass garden cloche, for an instant, no-cost tabletop focal point. The best part? You can change the still life from year to year (or day to day).
Use Greenery for Color
Strategically placed greenery adds warmth and welcome texture to nearly any spot in the home from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Draw the eye up by draping greenery over a cabinet, or keep the focus on a tablescape or sideboard with a similar garland.
Mismatch Glass Pieces for Your Mantel
To make your mantel holiday-ready in minutes, pair a few red-hue glasses, votives, vases, and champagne flutes together and fill with mini white candles. Tuck a few real or faux berries around the containers for a lovely interior accent that will please no matter the season.
Group Different Materials
Candles and fruit are complementary materials that allow you to easily create artful decorating accents that last from autumn through year's end. Try miniature fruits -- kumquats, clementines -- tucked in a patterned glass bowl; tuck a large pillar candle at the center. Dot shimmery votives of varying heights and widths for pretty mantelpiece glow.
Highlight Seasonal Objects in Unusual Colors
Picking up natural symbols -- leaves are a sure sign of autumn -- from one season and displaying them into the next also helps your decorating bridge the gap from holiday to holiday. Glued to a velvet ribbon, these pretty fabric leaves in unexpected (and mainly neutral) tones of white, silver, and icy blue make a lovely, draping accent on a tabletop, buffet, or mantel.
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New Ways to Display Holiday Greetings
Displaying holiday cards is a beloved tradition. Here, a collection is paired with an evergreen garland to decorate an inside doorway that leads from the living room to the kitchen. Add a few small holiday balls or ribbon for additional color.
Indoor Decor Ideas
Combine Colors and Accents
Pinecones evoke autumn, while silver and blue often call to mind winter. A deft combination of the two provides a dramatic yet easy decorating accent. Here, various shades of spray paint transform the textural beauty of pinecones.
Focus on Flexibility
To get the most use from your indoor holiday decorating accents, choose materials and ideas that can transition from day to night or from quiet family evenings to larger festive gatherings. These mini trees, wrapped in plain kraft paper and adorned with a single felt star, work just as well on their own as they do when adding holiday cheer to a nighttime dessert party. Footed ceramic platters hold bite-size appetizers and sweets that can change with the occasion.
Enhance Your Staircase with Twigs
Tie bundles of bare tree and winterberry branches to the spindles on your staircase for an autumnal look. After Thanksgiving, tie pine boughs to the branches with pretty velvet ribbon, and wire Christmas ornaments around the velvet ribbon for extra color.
Indoor Christmas Decor
Use Mini Evergreens
Planted inside transferware bowls, a series of baby Norfolk Island pines brighten up a mantel. The idea also works for shelves, bookcases, or tabletops. Choose bowls in complementary colors or plain white, whichever best suits your existing holiday decor color scheme. Cover the dirt with nuts and acorns or with a collection of mini ornaments.
Hang Baubles from Headboards
Tie holiday balls in complementary colors on lengths of ribbon, and hang them from a headboard or in window frames. Opt for plastic ornaments to avoid late-night collisions.
Mix Fruit, Greenery, and Pinecones
For decorations that smoothly transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, start with neutral basics. A beveled-edge mirror topped with simple white candles creates a classic foundation. For Thanksgiving add a simple fall garland and mini pumpkins. When Christmas draws near, replace the harvest elements with pine boughs, clementines, and pinecones (as shown).
Use Nature in Seasonal Ways
Oversize ironstone containers are perfect for this clever stair-step arrangement, which can sit either inside your home or on your front porch. Plant any dwarf or sapling evergreen in the containers (we used a trio of lacy 'Goldcrest' cypress trees). Print your message on white scrapbook paper, then cut out circles and glue the letters to a color-paper backing. Tie the letters to the containers with a thin piece of contrasting ribbon and add lengths of wider satin ribbon for accents.
Think Outside the Holiday Box
Take a second look at how you display houseplants, foliage, and flowers to create breathtaking indoor holiday focal points. Here, a spray of green cymbidium orchids fills an urn, while the single blooms from another spray float in glass teardrops (available at online home decor retailers or florist’s shops) that hang from sculptural branches. Smaller vases hold blooms that complement the orchid’s color scheme.
Start the Welcome at Your Door
This fun holiday door decoration will welcome guests with the festive scent of evergreen and a friendly message. Fold over the top of a wide burlap ribbon and cut a slit through both layers to slide over a doorknob. Use adhesive letters to spell a message, and use wire to attach bits of evergreen and pinecones.
Editor's Tip: Create a handful of these door accents in just an hour or two -- just change the message on each one and use them on guest bedroom doors or the front door.
Outdoor Christmas Inspiration
Create a Joyful Holiday Wall
For a cheery holiday decoration, embellish a set of plain plates with a fun message. Adhere vinyl or paper letters to inexpensive white plates and mount with plate hangers or removable mounting strips. Add to the display with patterned plates of different sizes, play with horizontal and vertical arrangements, or keep it simple with just the lettered plates.
Make-at-Home Simple Snow Globes
Oversize glass containers and vases offer a great see-through way to display holiday colors. Start with a large tray and a few jars and containers in various sizes. Plant evergreen saplings (we used Golden cypress) in several of the containers, and cover the soil with faux snow. For contrast, fill another jar or two with red fruits -- apples, pomegranates, or cherries -- or red ornaments. Place the collection in front of a window, at an entry, or as a centerpiece for your holiday table.
Combine Greenery and Ornaments
Trays filled with ornaments make a great holiday centerpiece. For warmth, temper the shine with small sprigs of greenery and miniature pinecones tucked between the ornaments or even inside small vases. Keep the vibe casual with a smattering of larger pinecones placed around or underneath the container.
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