last minute holiday decorating

if you're like me, even if you started decorating for Christmas back in late November, you still find little projects you want to add in, or tiny tweaks to make to what you've already done. i'm trying to restrain myself and focus on baking cookies and preparing the holiday meals, rather than continue to spend time on decorating, but i wanted to share a few tips (and some tutorials i referenced this year) with you in case you're still doing a little decorating.


one of the easiest ways to add a little holiday cheer (and scent) is using fresh greenery, especially in less expected places. many grocery stores (mine came from trader joe's) offer mixed bunches of greenery in their floral department. choose your favorite vessels (just make sure they'll hold water), make a small arrangement of greens, and you're done. this year i used greenery in the kitchen and bathroom as a simple way to dress up some rooms that are often forgotten.

use objects you already have in new ways.

whenever i'm preparing for holiday decorating i like to look around the house and decide if any of the items that i use or display the rest of the year might make festive holiday decorations. have a plaid scarf in holiday colors? tie it around something or use it to hang a wreath. is anything you collect shaped like a tree? group them together for an unexpected forest. are there holiday dishes that you usually only use for a special meal? use the plates to display candles, or the cups as vases.

add in some Christmas linens.

my earliest adventures in decorating my own home (well, the houses i shared with lots of roommates) usually involved changing the linens out. i had Christmas bath linens and New Year's linens and many holiday kitchen towels. eventually i mostly shifted away from that strategy, but i do still like to add in some special linens at the holidays. this year i wanted the overall feel of the Christmas decor to be cozy and cabin like so i started with a festive colored plaid throw i found on Etsy and went from there. i always love to have touches of Christmas in the kitchen and my old Martha Stewart dish towels are looking a bit tired so i opted for some great options from Oh Little Rabbit (you might remember me mentioning them last summer- i'm obsessed with their designs and they're some of the nicest people you'll meet). i also changed up the throw pillows in the living room slightly, adding in a red and white checked round pillow and bringing the round green pillow out of retirement. you may just need to combine the linens you already have in new ways!

wrap those gifts!

an easy, and useful, way to bring some more Christmas into your home is to wrap up some gifts. i always like to pick a limited color palette or stick with certain textures or materials when i wrap gifts for under our tree. this year i used this great stacked log paper from Ikea, along with a red and white faux bois paper from the Mara Mi holiday line (available at Target and The Container Store), and some simple brown parcel paper. we used red and white bakers twine, along with washi tape, and an assortment of tags, including metal rimmed keys tags and some great tags made out of real pieces of wood that i picked up at work. whatever your personal taste is, try to stick with a few colors and textures to really make your gifts a part of the overall decor of your home.

a personal message.

i love using type in my decor, and Christmas is no exception. some of my favorite ways to include type are using simple things i already have on hand. one of my best kept (until now) supply secrets is Probe game cards. the font is simple and you can usually find the game at thrift stores or garage sales for less than a dollar! another easy way to add a special message to your decor is chalk. don't have a chalk board? most office supply stores have smaller boards for under $15, or you can use chalk board paint to transform something into a chalkboard. i've even seen chalkboard paper at scrapbook supply stores! pick a sentiment you love and write it in your fanciest handwriting (or ask your mister to do it like i did). even a store bought banner can bring some added charm (mine is vintage, but i've seen many great new options this year, like this one from Paper Source).

make a centerpiece before the holiday dinner.

i know the centerpiece is often the last thing people think of when planning the holiday meals, but i like to start with the centerpiece and choose elements that will last more than a day so that i can dress the table up well ahead of the big meal. this is another place where simple greens can be a great addition. i choose a simple and low wooden box, then added some pine branches and mason jars with large tea lights (from Ikea). to make things extra festive on Christmas Eve i'll probably add in some branches with red berries clipped from a bush in our yard. do you prefer flowers for your table? choose a variety that lasts longer like simple mini carnations (i know, carnations get a bad rap, but i find them to be simply beautiful, they last for weeks, and even have a spicy scent. just stay away from the weird dyed ones in unnatural colors), white spider mums, or even roses (as long as they're spray or garden roses, or open really wide- tightly closed blooms tend to look a bit cheesy. they also look best in short arrangements).

make something!

this year might very well be my most crafty Christmas to date. in order to get that cozy feel i wanted i chose to fore go some of my vintage holiday decorations in lieu of some simple, handmade pieces- mostly made from soft yarn.

inspired by this wreath at Anthropologie, i created my own version using a Styrofoam wreath form (when will they start making those with a more eco friendly material?), wrapped it with the lofty wool blend yarn from Martha Stewart's line for Lion Yarns, and then made a whole bunch of pom poms with the roving wool from the same line (all available at Joann's). as i often do, i made mine up as i went, but here is a great tutorial on making pom poms from Prudent Baby, and another on making a similar wreath from one of my new California blogger pals Cali Katrina. i used a holiday scarf to hang mine on the front door, but you can use ribbon, or even more yarn. 

last year when the Paper Zone stores in Seattle all closed i stocked up on holiday scrapbook paper. this year i put it to use covering an inexpensive, but kind of ugly tray from Ikea. we keep a tray on top of the misters cajon, or drum box, to protect it because we don't have room to store it so we use it as a side table. other easy ways to use holiday papers are lining the back of book shelves, covering the inside of a crate or wood box, or even using it as a faux mat behind framed photographs to add a little Christmas touch. i also like using paper as a runner on the table- it looks great and if something gets spilled you can just cut off the stained part and recycle the rest! 

one of my craziest projects this year was probably this little strand of lights. in my work at Anthro, one of the projects i was assigned was covering the cords of several strands of patio lights. my only instructions were to finger crochet something around the cords so that the green casing wasn't showing. it took me a few attempts to find the right technique, but i eventually found something that worked and spent close to 2 full days working on that project. at home, i decided to recreate the look, on a slightly smaller scale. using the roving wool i also used for the pom poms and a short strand of lights, i created a braid around the light cord, using the cord itself as the middle strand. i planned to do a tutorial for this project, but it didn't quite work out, so i don't have step by step instructions, but if you want to try it, i bet you can figure it out. if not, i'll have a tutorial up nice and early next year. i love the way this looks- it's almost a garland and lights in one!

my final tip is to add simple crafty projects anywhere you want a little extra festiveness. since i was already in pom pom making mode, i made some extras and turned them into garlands that we hung around the house. even simple projects like making a popcorn string or paper chain, or displaying the cards you receive in a special way, can add a nice touch, simply and inexpensively. whatever brings you joy- do that.

i hope this was helpful! i'd love to see how you've decorated your home this holiday season- feel free to leave links to your own blog in the comments! this will be my last official post of 2012 (if you want to keep up with me in the meantime, i'm always posting on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook). i hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with peace, joy, and love and i'll see you in 2013!