Christmas Tree Tips

by Valle Novak

The day before Christmas is the traditional time for many families to decorate their trees. Trees aren’t too hard to come by, but oftentimes the decorations are.If you have no ornaments but want the delight of a Christmas tree, do what the pioneers (and many of us older folks) did, and enjoy the old-fashioned tradition of making your own decorations. Cut a small, pretty tree (with permission, of course) and make a party out of its adorning.

Pop great batches of popcorn, munching on bowls of buttered and salted kernels, but stringing the rest with heavy thread into long garlands. Too, string a couple of packages of cranberries to drape on the tree interspersed with the white popcorn. Finish off with pinecones you’ve gathered – sprayed with gold paint, if desired – and top the tree with a bunch of Oregon grape with gilded leaves. You can also spray-paint peanuts, stringing them as well.

The bright old construction paper chains were neat, but it’s pretty expensive now. However, colored paper is still a viable possibility for the kids to have fun with. If you’ve saved old Christmas wrap (remember, it has to be fairly stout to hold a ring-shape) let the children cut it into strips and staple or glue into bright garlands.

Kitchen foil works well too, but doesn’t hold well with glue or tape. You can staple it into rings, or better yet, simply cut it into narrow strips and hang like icicles from the branches. Just wind the top around the branch and twist together to hold. Shiny and sparkly. Cut the hanging ends into icicle-like points if you wish.

Tissue paper is inexpensive. Get red, white and green and cut into wide strips. Then working carefully to avoid tearing, make bows with streamers, tying with string rather than trying to tie the paper itself. If you have lights, they shine beautifully through the tissue.

Or, how about a cookie-bake? Make gingerbread boys and girls or special “heavy-duty” cookies that won’t crumble (We have three recipes to choose from). Decorate with frosting with Santa or snowman faces, wreath designs or simply frost in bright colors to serve as ornaments. Use a knitting needle or metal skewer to pierce each cookie 1/4-inch from the edge after they’re slightly cooled, and pull yarn, pretty narrow satin ribbon, bright raffia ribbon, or even garden twine through to tie on branches.

Other ideas from prior years include:

  • If you’re decorating with cookies, how about hanging the cookie cutters as additional ornaments?
  • Christmas card tree – most of us have saved cards that are special to us or exceptionally pretty. Punch a hole at the corner, thread with bright yarn or even twine and adorn the tree with them.
  • Use antique jewelry or costume jewelry pieces as tree decorations. Pin or tie them to a pretty velvet bow or satin ribbon and attach to branches.
  • In lieu of ornaments, decorate your tree with bows. Bright red, gold or silver. Boxes of old wrappings generally have left-over bows or even the crinkle-type ribbon that curls and drapes beautifully. Do you have a loved one in the service? How about yellow ribbons?
  • A gardener may want to display his/her love of flowers with a tree of flocked roses, artificial flowers or poinsettias.
  • Remember that huge packages of candy canes are available at very little cost. These are ideal tree decorations, and nice to give to visiting youngsters. Tie a pretty bow to each if you wish for additional eye-appeal.

Here are three recipes for ornament cookies – two edible, the final one not.

Our last (non-baked) recipe is NOT edible, but fragrant and delightful as ornaments and wreathes.

Originally published 12/24/00 in the Bonner County Daily Bee.

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