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Warm Up Your Home’s Outdoors This Holiday Season

December 10, 2009

Why should the interior of your home get all the attention this holiday season?  The great outdoors deserve to be celebrated, too, with beautiful festive touches guaranteed to make your home appear warm and inviting from the very first glance.

(Source: HGTV.ca by Marissa Ponikowski)

 We’ve put together a list of eight gorgeous ideas for decking your home’s exterior with seasonal flair. Check them out, try a few and don’t be surprised if your home is the most fabulous looking one on the block this year.

Front Door Folly

The front door is the very place to start when creating a sense of outdoor merriment. Wreaths are a natural choice, and these days they sure don’t make ’em like the used to. Search the shops for twig and berry wreaths, or modish confections constructed from feathers. The crafty among us can create wreaths from practically anything: try twigs out of the yard or forest, berries, nuts and dried flowers. Dress them up with satin bows. To give your door even more elegance, don’t settle for just one wreath – a new trend is to hang three wreaths on a door, top to bottom. If you just love the wreath look, adorn the windows of your house with them as well. Doors and windows can also be decorated with swags of greenery affixed to tin decorations. Frame archways with foliage, lights and ribbons. Bright bows, garlands and weatherproof ribbons are other musts for day to night front door cheer.

Porch Pizzazz

Especially when expecting guests, create a warm and welcoming entranceway using lanterns, plants and homespun decorations on your porch. Create or purchase sparkling tin can lanterns to hang by the doorway, brighten up the snowy world with several potted poinsettias (fake ones work well if it’s just to cold for the plants to survive a few hours) or gift wrap empty boxes weighted with bricks and arrange in a pile near your front door. String lit garlands along railings and place votive candles in hurricane lamps along the front steps. If you have a bench on your porch, dress it up with lights, greenery and berries. And don’t forget to pick up a festive door mat the next time you’re out shopping – these are available at most department stores and make for a truly convivial front porch addition.

Lighting it Up

Outdoor lights have undergone a real makeover in the past few years. No more tangled, frustrating strands of hard to put up bulbs. Instead, new styles feature ultra simple clips that make it easy to affix them to banisters, rain gutters, door frames and even along walkways. Fiber-optic trees and pre-lit garlands have also hit the market, making outdoor holiday decorating a breeze.

A few tips:

  • Enlist a helper, rather than climbing up on that ladder all by yourself.
  • Test each strand of lights before you hang it and measure the distance you need your light strands to cover instead of ending up on an emergency trip to the store.
  • Don’t overdo it! You don’t want your home to resemble the Griswold’s.
  • Do remember to take the lights down at some point in January – any later is just bad form.

Tree Time

Trees represent a new frontier in outdoor decorating options. Instead of simply spangling them with lights, think of creative ways to jazz up your vegetation. Smaller, potted trees and bushes can be dressed in bright bows and ornaments and placed in sleighs or decorated wheelbarrows. Find sturdy tin stars and affix them to tree tops. If you choose to hang lights, pick soft ice blues and muted clears or whites rather than harsh blinking reds and greens. Faux outdoor candles can also be attached to tree branches for an old fashioned look. Also try placing ornaments and gazing globes at the bases of trees or wrapping lights around trunks and placing reflective ornaments in boughs.

Windows to the Soul

Use your windows as a frame to the jovial holiday atmosphere within your house. Be sure to place your tree near a window for all to see, and take special care to decorate the window it is viewed through. Use faux outdoor candles along window sills or adorn your windows with strings of soft lights. Don’t use bright, garish blinkers around windows. Not only are they tacky, but they’ll likely start to bother you when you’re curled up on the couch, reading a favourite holiday tale. Windows can be framed with swags of foliage and garlands of berries, too. Use your window boxes in the winter as well by filling them with evergreen boughs, berries, holly, pinecones and subtle lights.

Path Perfection

The path or walkway leading up to your home can be accented using lanterns, lights and candles. This serves a double purpose: not only does it look rather lovely, it also lights the way for guests and family during those dark winter evenings. Use a strand of clear holiday lights affixed to plastic stakes. If the ground is frozen, employ a screwdriver or hammer to force through a hole for the stake. Cover stakes and exposed cord with garland. Be sure to test your lights and measure carefully. Walkways and stairs can be lit with tall pillar candles in tin buckets or sturdy, clear glass containers as well. For a medieval look, hang lanterns or lamps on long stakes or poles.

Ice Time

Porches, walkways, windowsills and planters can be decorated with stunning yet simple ice lanterns. The bonus is that you needn’t worry about these breaking or blowing away! There are many ways to create ice lanterns but the most simple is to fill a balloon with water and place it in a bowl in your freezer. Once it has partially frozen, remove from the freezer, carefully peel away the balloon, poke a hole in the top big enough for a votive to fit through, and pour out any excess water. Drop a votive through the hole and light it with a barbecue lighter, or use a stick or skewer lit with a match.

You can also make a lantern using a small plastic bucket, plastic cup and small pieces of evergreen branches, cut up citrus fruits, small bunches of grapes, and berries. Line the sides and bottoms of the bucket with the greens and fruit and place the plastic cup in the middle. Secure the cup close to the top of the bucket with duct tape so it doesn’t float around and fill the area between the bucket and cup with water. Next, simply place the entire kit and caboodle outside or in the freezer overnight. Once your creation is frozen solid, set the bucket in a sink filled with warm water. Loosen and remove the ice lantern and place a votive candle in the hole created by the cup. Presto – you’ve got a gorgeous lantern to place outdoors!

For the Birds

Let those hardy birds who stick around for the winter in on some of your seasonal cheer, too! There are many ways to attractively transform your yard into a holiday buffet designed just for nature’s carolers. Try cutting a bagel in two and spreading peanut butter on both halves. Next, place it face down on a plate covered with nuts, seeds and berries. Hang the bagels in your trees using brightly coloured ribbon. The same can be done by rolling pine cones in peanut butter and nuts and seeds, too. Bird baths and birdhouses can also be dressed up for the holidays. Use weatherproof ribbons and evergreen garlands – but avoid nuts and berries, unless you want these decorative touches to be eaten, too!

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