STEP 1: Make yourself a cup of tea, make a wish list, cut it in half (only keep the essentials), then get to work. You can always add more later.
STEP 2: Pick three areas of focus. Suggestion: the Front Door, Living Area, Dining Area.
STEP 3: Drive to the grocery store (no speeding). Purchase a simple store-bought wreath & a few boxes of ethnic votive candles or tea lights, garland (fresh is always better), real ribbon if available. Try not to be tempted buy pre-made plastic decorations.
STEP 4: Back home: grab your garden clippers & head outside into your garden, back yard, & roadside for material. Clip any dusty miller, holly, juniper, cedar, pine, boxwood, just about anything you can find that looks green or might have interesting berries and/or color & texture. Pine cones are always a treasure. If you live in the South, magnolia leaves are great! If you live up north, rhododendron clusters work beautifully.
STEP 5: Living Area: If you have a mantle, drape the garland over it or under it & add fresh greens, & votives. Save some of that garland for the Dining Table. Glass vases of various sizes with candles inside will look great if clustered together on the mantle; votives work nicely. If you live by the sea, you might have a collection of stones, shells or driftwood to add to the display. Dining Area: If country is your style, find an old, colorful quilt to use as a tablecloth. If elegant is more you, a white linen spread is perfect. Greens can be spread bare-naked in the center of the table. Arrange the garland mixed with greens & garden finds on your table. HINT: Try to keep the same theme throughout the house. Add votives & candles with items in keeping with your theme. If fruit is your thing, add limes, oranges, lemons, pears, apples, etc. Make sure you change the fruit out with fresh or everlasting if you plan on using the same decorations an entire month. Try to keep with just a few colors such as limes and lemons or just oranges (with cloves..another day).
STEP 6: Front Door: Insert fresh greens & finds from outside into the store-bought wreath. You can use a glue gun to make sure the loose sprigs are more secure or wire them in. Make it interesting. Don’t be afraid to take a risk! Keep with your theme. You may not wish to accent with a ribbon, but if you find some beautiful ribbon on your hunt, it can make a wonderful statement. Hang the wreath from a ribbon-sling with a bow on top instead of attaching it to the wreath for a change. If you are the whimsical type, add several Christmas ornaments you might have. Don’t forget to add similar ornaments to your other accent areas.
STEP 7: Step back and admire your work! You can put the tree up & continue decorating another day if you choose. Remember, it doesn’t have to all be done in a day. You have a good start!
HINT: For those who insist on cleaning everything & clearing out year-round accents throughout the house prior to decorating (like my good friend Carol)…remember, this adds additional stress. Everything is going to get dirty while your decorating anyway. Clean as you go!