Life & Beauty Weekly: Life & Love

By Catherine Ryan for Life & Beauty Weekly

’Tis the season to deck the halls with boughs of holly — and icicle lights, inflatable Santas, tons of ornaments and other trimmings.

In these money-tight times, decorating can put a real strain on your budget. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to overspending on decorations — and you don’t have to become as miserly as Scrooge to do it. The key is to change your expectations and pare down.

“For many people, Christmas is their favourite time of year,” says Samantha Pynn, interior designer and host of HGTV’s “The Party.” But despite people’s enthusiasm for the season, Pynn says you don’t have to go crazy with expensive decorations in order to bring some holiday cheer into your home. “There are so many easy ways to bring holiday décor to your home. Really it’s about the little things, like a couple of mini rosemary trees or potted amaryllis,” says Pynn.

Get Your Family Involved
Ask your husband and children to tell you their favourite holiday decorations. You’ll find out what really matters (cookies, a spectacular tree) and what doesn’t (perfectly wrapped presents). “The holidays are all about family, and decorating with everyone’s faves in mind will make it special for everyone,” says Pynn. “Kids especially are so creative when it comes to decorating for the holidays. My neighbour’s children cut a million snowflakes and hung them from fishing wire in their bay window. It was so stunning and sweet to look at, and the only cost was the price of the paper.”

Repurpose Household Items
Instead of buying more knickknacks that will sit in your closet the other 11 months of the year, find alternative uses for what you already have. An old quilt can become a charming tree skirt; sheets and shirts from the rag pile can be ripped and tied into rustic bows; a garden urn can hold a mini-tree; and baskets can display gifts. Think creatively.

Display Edible Decor
Arrange the season’s vibrant produce —apples, pomegranates, squash, oranges—in a crystal bowl for a stunning centrepiece. Include a few ornaments or cut flowers for extra pop. “I once produced a story for Style at Home magazine called Grocery Store Décor,” adds Pynn. “Think red and white carnations posies in drinking glasses, pillar candles nestled in peppermint pinwheel candies and a chestnut wreath.”

Shop Smart
Hit the bargain store and stock up on inexpensive candles (white ones look elegant, and leftovers can be used throughout the year), doilies (staple them to a streamer for a snow-like banner) and ribbon. Garage and estate sales also yield great deals.

Let Nature Inspire You
Mother Nature is the best decorator, so use her supplies to create a cozy, wintry atmosphere. Arrange sprigs of evergreen, holly and aromatic herbs, such as rosemary, in a vintage water pitcher. Display a pyramid of pinecones on your grandmother’s china and hang mini-bouquets of greenery on door frames. After the holidays, go green and use the foliage as compost!

Dress up Family Photos
The holidays are all about family, so honour that tradition by making your photos part of the decor. Wrap wall frames with ribbon (tie it around opposite corners so you don’t obscure the image) or top frames with pine boughs. Print out pictures of past holiday gatherings and hang them from the tree, or string them along a ribbon for a photo garland.

Limit the Lights
Stringing lights all over your house can bump up your utility bill by hundreds of dollars, so cut back this year. Frame a few street-facing windows with lights and turn them off before going to bed for energy savings that are good for your budget and the environment. Pynn recommends investing in LED lights, which use one-third less electricity and don’t burn out as quickly as conventional ones.

Now that you’re not stressing over the time, money and energy for decorating, you can focus on what’s really important this holiday season!

Catherine Ryan
is a freelance writer and editor who writes on health, nutrition, beauty and green living for such magazines as
Self, Ode and
Parents. She is a frequent contributor to

Life & Beauty Weekly.

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