Monday, October 10, 2016

Holiday Decorating Guide 2016

The ritual of decorating one's home for the Christmas holiday is a highly anticipated tradition for most people. Homeowners and apartment dwellers find comfort in decking the halls and inviting friends and family to join them for parties, meals, gift swapping, and other cheerful holiday activities.

There are so many different kinds of Christmas decorations available that many folks fall into the traps of either overdoing it or giving up. There are countless types of Christmas figurines, wreaths, garlands, and stockings designed to adorn a home. And just about anything used in a home comes in a Christmas version, from dishtowels to bath soap to bed linens. Loading up on the holiday motifs can be overkill, but Christmas seems somewhat gray without a few decorations around. Buyers can spend some time reviewing the types of collectible Christmas decorations available and formulate a game plan to add just the right festive touch to each room.

Types of Christmas Decorations
Some Christmas decorations come in the form of collectibles, have perceived value because of the company that makes them. Many artists and artisans start out selling their popular collectibles as decorative works of art and then go on to make useful items for the home that bear their recognizable motifs and signature style, or vice versa.

Christmas decorations can also refer to items that are purchased once, kept, and used year after year, not just collector's items in the artistic sense. Some examples would be artificial trees, lights, and garlands.

The types of decorations available are many; following are a few major categories and some famous names associated with each.

The ringing of bells is a welcome and comforting sound at Christmas, especially since most people remember hearing that "every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings" in the holiday classic film "It's a Wonderful Life." Some collectible bells look much like regular porcelain figurines, while others are formed in a traditional bell shape with Christmas colors and accents. These bells are small works of art that are beautiful to look at and make beautiful music.

Also common at Christmas are jingle bells or sleigh bells, the small metallic bells that are normally seen in clusters. People like to hang these on doors so that they make a merry tinkling sound each time the door is opened and closed.

Setting out Christmas figurines is a pleasing routine in many households. Byers ' Choice is one brand that focuses on Christmas figurines with its line of holiday carolers. However, other companies that make general figurines, such as Precious Moments, Willow Tree, and Hummel, also make Christmas figurines. Christmas figurines do not necessarily need to be made from porcelain or ceramic materials. Some figurines are made of cloth, metal, wood, or other products.

Nativity Scenes
The nativity set is one of the most popular Christmas decorations. The first nativity scene was a live one arranged by St. Francis of Assisi in Italy, almost 800 years ago. Today, live nativities can still be found, but individual homes either decorate with statuettes on their front lawns or small figurine-type sets inside the home.

A nativity set, also known as a crèche, may include just the basic characters: Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus in a manger. Other sets are quite elaborate and include the three wise men or magi, shepherds, angels, animals, and a stable for display. Some nativities expand so much that they become completely inaccurate, with figures of Adam and Eve or the twelve disciples in attendance and even other buildings appearing. In fact, this is how the tradition of setting up a Christmas village, sans nativity, was started.

Christmas Villages
Christmas villages are fun for families. The buildings are often collected individually over a number of years, which makes each season an exciting time to look forward to adding the newest piece. Children and adults alike enjoy creating a small old-fashioned village that lies perpetually in the Christmas season. Some people display village pieces along with a train set, artificial snow, or pine branches.

Nutcrackers in the form of people have been made for at least 500 years, having first appeared in Germany, like so many other Christmas traditions. Originally intended for actual use to crack nuts, they are mostly displayed for decorative purposes now. Nutcrackers are often created in the shape of soldiers, knights, and palace guards, although today there are all sorts of novelty nutcrackers, from Elvis Presley to professional football players. The most well-known nutcracker brand is Steinbach.

Christmas tree ornaments are very popular collectibles. Not only for trees, ornaments can be hung from hooks, door knobs, and cabinet handles anywhere in the home. Many ornaments are made by makers of other collectibles, but there are a few specialty makers who focus exclusively on Christmas items.

Setting out Christmas collector plates is a common practice in many households, whether they are for display only or used when eating desserts, treats, or hors d'oeuvres. Some of the top makers of holiday plates are those companies who are known for producing fine porcelain or china, such as Spode, Limoges, Royal Doulton, Royal Copenhagen, and Lenox. Many of these plates feature winter scenes and can be displayed throughout the cold season or all year. Plates are relatively affordable but can increase in value, particularly if they are fired in limited quantities. Decorative plates also take up little room and are fairly easy to store. They can be displayed on the wall in special hangers or stood up on flat surfaces in special stands.

It is not known exactly when people started hanging socks or stockings over the fireplace in anticipation of receiving gifts. It is likely that people hung their wet stockings by the fireplace to dry and found that Santa had filled them in the morning. In some households, the stocking was where all the gifts and goodies were left; the fillers were usually food treats like oranges, nuts, and chocolates, with perhaps a doll or a few coins thrown in.

Today, Christmas stockings are considered a minor accessory, with the term "stocking stuffer" referring to small, inexpensive gifts. Still, people do hang them, primarily for decoration. Normally, each member of the family has a personalized stocking, and the same ones are used year after year. Stockings come in all colors, prints, fabrics, and sizes, although a red stocking with a white cuff is considered the traditional standard.

Tree Toppers
Tree toppers are sometimes found listed under Christmas tree ornaments but are a distinct type of ornament. Only one is needed to set on top of the tree, and most toppers are angels or stars, though there are other versions such as Santas, snowmen, and purely abstract designs  Most current tree toppers light up along with the strings of lights around the body of the Christmas tree.

A Christmas wreath on the main door of the home is a celebration of the Christmas season and a sign of welcome. Traditional wreaths are usually made from evergreen branches and have religious significance. Current wreaths are usually intended as more of a decoration than a religious symbol and come in silvery or white colors. Wreaths can also be made out of poinsettias, Christmas balls, jingle bells, fabric, twigs, or straw.

Styles of Christmas Decorations
Just as important as the types of decorations chosen is the style of decorations. There are many different looks to Christmas items, and combining them can look as unsightly as clashing patterns or colors in an outfit. Christmas ornaments and decorations have distinct styles, just like home decor and accessories. One can take an elegant, country, modern, retro, or Victorian approach, just to name a few examples. Mixing bright, shiny glass ornaments with Tartan plaids and an elegant Limoges nativity scene is more chaotic than peaceful. Shoppers should always try to be consistent with the overall look of Christmas decorations.

How to Buy Christmas Decorations
Retailers typically set up lavish displays when they start selling Christmas decorations each year. These items are fairly easy to find after Halloween and impossible to miss after Thanksgiving. You will see Christmas decorations at almost every retailer you visit, from high-end department stores to the corner gas station. Christmas is a huge industry, and most businesses want to profit somehow during the holiday season.

Pre-owned Christmas decorations are ideal if you are on a budget, just starting out in your own household, or environmentally conscious. Because Christmas items generally get very light use, as long as they have been stored carefully, most should be in very good condition.

The key thing to remember when purchasing decorations is to follow a consistent theme. Displaying a pastel Precious moments nativity scene, a blue-and-silver Christmas tree, and red-and-green Spode Christmas dishes does not convey the restful, cozy image that most people want to achieve for the holidays.

Christmas decorations bring a great deal of joy to people around the holidays. Selecting the right ones can be difficult with so many choices available. Christmas decorations include tree ornaments and toppers, wreaths, and garland to figurines, plates, and nutcrackers. By taking time to review the different types of Christmas decorations and which decorations share a similar look that will give the finished house a uniform appeal, buyers can choose the best items for their home.