Decorating for a New Year's Eve Party – Part Two

There are plenty of banners available at party stores that you could hang near the entry way of your home or even outside the front door. You can make a banner too, if you are the artistic type. A metallic banner can match a more sophisticated theme. If you are having a party where there will be lots of kids, consider having them make the banner as well as the noise makers. All they will need to make a fun banner is a large piece of construction paper, stencils, and markers.

Centerpieces on the tables are a nice touch that can really make your decorating stand out. There is no need to buy one already put together, because there are plenty of ways you can put together a cheap centerpiece yourself that will look great. Floating candles shaped like flower blossoms in glass bowls can look great, just add some glass rocks to the bottom of the bowl in a color that matches your theme. You could also just use a simple bouquet of flowers as a centerpiece in colors that match your theme. Or, place several pillar candles on a pretty plate and fill the gaps in the plate with small clear Christmas ornaments with the hooks removed. The idea is that the clear ornaments will look like bubbles. You can vary this idea by using champagne bottles in place of the candles, or you can mix the two up.

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Decorating for a New Year's Eve Party – Part One

Hosting a New Year's Eve party often includes decorating for the night. Decorating doesn't have to be a huge deal, there are several ways you can decorate easily and quickly without having to spend too much money.

First you should pick a theme to go with. Many New Year's Eve parties are adults only, in which case you may want to choose a different theme than if the party is going to be a neighborhood party including children. Fun hats and noisemakers are pretty much a must for either type of party, since kids and adults both get a kick out of these items.
However, especially if you are going to have a lot of kids at your party, you might not want to hand out the noise makers until a few minutes before midnight unless you don't mind all of the racket kids will make with them. Another option if there are going to be lots of children at your party is to recruit them to make the noisemakers as a craft. Have them fill coffee cans with uncooked rice or change. Then they can cover the coffee cans with construction paper with designs drawn on. Hats you should hand out right away. Masks can add a sophisticated air to your party.

Balloons are a cheap way to add some color to your decorating. You can always find balloons in colors that will match your theme. Silver balloons will look classier, colorful balloons will look good for a neighborhood party.

Check back tomorrow for part two of this blog.

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Last Minute Christmas Decorations – Part Two

Greeting cards are something that you already have on hand that can easily be used for decorating. You can even use cards from past holiday seasons if you don’t have enough for decorating from this season. Display them on your mantle among sprigs of greenery. Use a hole punch in the corner of each card and string them along a wall.

Gifts that are already wrapped make great decorations. Spend a little extra time wrapping your gifts nicely, and you can use them for decorating also. Make sure to use bows and ribbon if you want to go the extra mile. Place some gifts under the tree as usual, but display others around the house in different places too.

Stack a couple of gifts on an end table, or place a few along your mantle. Place a stack of gifts near your entry way or place a few above your kitchen cabinets.

If you like the idea of decorating with gifts, but don’t have enough around, you can always wrap a few empty boxes. If you want to diversify the theme a little more, you can wrap ribbon around your throw pillows and place a bow in the center to make your pillows look like gifts.

Place a few candy canes in a simple clear glass cup or a small vase. Tie small red ribbons around the necks of the candy canes and display them on your mantle or end table.

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Last Minute Christmas Decorations – Part One

There isn’t very much time to finish decorating for Christmas. If you are hosting a Christmas get together at your house, you may want to do some speedy and cheap decorating. Never fear, there are several things you could do very quickly.

For Christmas dinner if you don’t have any Christmas plates or settings, you can use plain white plates. Use a red or white tablecloth, or use red or white place mats. Then, place one round glass ornament on each plate. This looks classier if you use just one color for all of the ornaments, and it looks more fun and happy if you use several colors. You can even use a variety of ornament types for a more sentimental look. If you want to get more elaborate, you can use small ornaments along with the large ornaments and even add seasonal greenery or colored tinsel.
Next, place a glass or silver pedestal cake stand in the center of the table and fill it with ornaments that match the ornaments you have on the plates.

If you want a more fancy centerpiece for your kitchen table, try placing cream or white colored pillar candles and tapered candles in a ceramic or metal bowl. Fill the spaces between them in the bottom half of the bowl with newspaper. On top of the newspaper place shiny ornaments in the bowl until it is overflowing with them. Silver ornaments and beads look really nice. Then, right when your guests sit down to dinner you can light the candles. Just make sure to blow them out when you’re done, since this display of candles might not be totally steady.
Check back soon for part two of this blog.

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Decorate for the Holidays Inexpensively - Part Two

Tea light candles are extremely cheap. You can find them at dollar stores easily most of the time. Use tea light candles in clean glass jars. The jars can even be recycled jars that your food items came in, such as applesauce jars or mayonnaise jars. Tie a red, silver, green, or sparkly ribbon around the neck of the jar. Group a few of these candles together on end tables or a mantle for an easy, pretty decoration.

Try looking at thrift stores or discount stores for teddy bears or other holiday animals. Put them through the wash, and most of them will look brand new. When they're dry, tie colorful ribbons around their necks. Next, collect various sizes of boxes from shoebox size down. Wrap them in colorful wrapping paper and tie pretty bows around them. Display these present boxes with the teddy bears for an adorable decorating scheme. Try gluing a box under a bear's arm, or have a bear sitting on a present.

Hang a few ornaments or a few strands of tinsel from a chandelier. You can add a few pieces of greenery too, tied on with ribbon.

Use acrylic paint and some seasonally shaped sponges that you can find in a craft store to decorate your windows. Colors like white, red, green, gold, or silver look very festive. This can be a fun project that kids might like to participate in too.

Christmas tree ornaments can be used in places other than just your tree. Try picking out several ornaments that are the same color and putting them in a small decorative bowl on your mantle or on an end table.

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Decorate for the Holidays Inexpensively - Part One

Many people do not have a lot in their budget for holiday decorating this year. But, you would be surprised how many nice decorations you can create very inexpensively. You may not end up needing to buy any full priced decorations.

Before you buy any decorations or any materials for the following ideas, or spend any time making any of these decorations, take the time to plan out your decorating theme. This can save you time and money that you might spend experimenting, so it makes sense to plan. Some people like to decorate with a more classy looking theme, consisting of a lot of white, clear, silver and shimmery decorations. Some people may find this boring and opt to decorate using more vibrant colors in a toy land theme for example. Some people like to go with a more subtle cabin or ski lodge decoration scheme that will look warm and cozy.

Use what you can for free from your back yard. Trim small branches from pine trees and gather pine cones and holly. These can all be used to make a centerpiece, or to decorate a mantle. Pine cones can be spray painted with gold, silver, or sparkley paint.
Pine tree branches can be used as an accent to almost any decoration, and they smell nice too, so be liberal when you are gathering them. If you have bird houses in your back yard that are going to waste during the cold months, bring them inside. Wash them off, and tie ribbons around them. Add a couple small pine branches, and you have a beautiful hanging decoration.

Check back soon for part two of this blog.

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Quickly Ready your Home for Guests

Getting your home ready for guests can turn into a big ordeal. Here are a few bare essentials you can take care of quickly that will make your home look plenty ready for guests during the holidays.

First, go outside and look at what your guests will see as they walk to your front door. If there are any ice patches to spread salt on or snow to be shoveled take care of that first. Maybe the front house light is burned out and in need of replacement. Set a couple of planters out front with Christmas plants in them such as poinsettias. Big red bows around your porch railing can look very festive and are quick and easy to tie.

Now, open the front door and check out the view. Often we have our favorite jackets, snow hats, and mittens hung over railings or on the counter tops. Gather these things up and put them away for now. You can easily get them all out again as soon as your company is gone.

Clear out a few coats from the coat closet so guests can hang their coats in it. Make room on the floor of your coat closet for guests to keep their shoes. This is especially handy if you have a dog who eats guests' shoes like I do.

Make sure there are plenty of chairs available for guests to sit in. Make sure your couches don't have excessive pillows decorating them that don't leave enough room for sitting.

Don't sweat the details on cleaning. Just wipe down visible surfaces and inside sinks. Make sure there is toilet paper, and clean the toilet if it looks dirty. Fluff the guest pillows and vacuum and sweep if you can see the floors are dirty.

Light candles and a fire if you have a fireplace as a final touch.
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Clothes Pin Ornaments

Old fashioned wooden clothes pins can make quite cute Santa ornaments. Make sure to get the kind pictured below, the kind with the hinges might work, but not quite as well. You’ll need red and white felt, red pipe cleaners, red, black, yellow, and peach paint, acrylic is probably the cheapest and easiest, and glue.

The clothes pins have what looks like legs already, and small torsos, so without even getting started you can imagine how the Santa will look. First glue a one to two inch piece of clothes hanger on each side of the clothes pin. If you have a drill, you can simply drill through the clothes pin and string one longer piece of pipe cleaner through for his arms.

Next, paint everything but the top part, which will be the head, red. After the paint has dried use black paint to paint the bottom sections of his legs black, like boots. Use the black paint to draw a line where his coat would be covering his pants. Draw a black belt around his waist, and draw on two small dots for his eyes. Use the yellow paint to draw a square buckle on his belt. Use the peach to make his cheeks look rosy.

Cut a small rectangle of red felt and roll it into a cone to be used as the Santa hat, then glue it in place. Glue on a bit of white felt for his beard, and use a little more white felt for trim on santa’s hat.

Using a bit of red thread and a needle, sew a loop onto the Santa hat. This will be your ornament hanger.

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Make your own picture frame ornament

There are many types of Christmas tree ornaments that you can make fairly easily and you won’t have to spend a lot of money on materials. These can be fun if you are the crafty type, and they are especially fun for kids to make. Some are as simple as baking cookies and hanging them from ribbons, but others need a bit more explanation.

Use a juice can lid to make a pretty picture frame ornament. Cut a round picture out to use in your ornament. You can choose a picture of a family member or a picture of something that makes you feel the holiday cheer, like an angel, santa, or reindeer. Glue the picture to the top of the lid. Now, you’ll need a piece of decorative cording to glue around the edge of your picture. Glue a piece of ribbon that is six to ten inches long or so to the back of the can. Glue the ribbon so it has a few inches on each side of the place where you glued it. Tie the ends together in a bow, this is how you’ll hang the ornament. Next, glue a piece of lace around the edge of the lid on the back. Your ornament should be ready to hang as soon as the glue dries.

You can be a little creative with these instructions if you prefer, instead of using cording around the picture, maybe you’d rather use a thin ribbon. Or, Use a wide sheer ribbon around the ornament instead of lace. Have fun!

Check back soon for directions on how to make a poinsettia ornament.

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Make your own poinsettia ornament

A lovely poinsettia ornament is easy to make, and what captures the holiday spirit better than a poinsettia?

You’ll need to cut a circle out of cardboard to start with. Your circle can be as big as you want the ornament to be, usually 3-4 inches across. Use the mouth of a large cup to trace around the cardboard for your cutout. Now, you’ll need a small amount of red, green and white felt. Cut two pieces of green felt out that are slightly bigger than your piece of cardboard. You’ll want to make sure that about a fourth of an inch of green felt is overhanging the cardboard cutout on all sides. Glue one circle of green felt to each side of the cardboard. Now, using a needle and some thick red thread or thin red string, sew the sides of the felt together using stitches that are about an eighth of an inch apart. When you’re done, use the thick red thread to sew a large loop of thread through for your ornament hanger, tie it together. Next, you will need to cut out diamond shapes from the red felt. Each diamond shape should be a little less wide than half of your ornament so far. Arrange the diamonds like petals of the poinsettia, gluing each one on. You’ll want them layered to look more real. The top layer looks best if it is just four diamonds. Where the diamonds come together, glue three small circles of white felt, each only about 3/8 of an inch in diameter.

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Christmas Decoration Crafts - Part Four

Put the mixture you created (see previous blog) into a paper bag along with the orange and roll the orange around inside until it is totally coated in the spices. Leave the orange in the bag in a cool dry place for about a month. Each day roll the orange in the spices again.

The orange may finish curing in as few as three weeks if you live in a very dry climate, and if you live somewhere more humid it may take up to six months. You’ll know your pomander is done when you tap it and hear a hollow sound and the orange feels light in weight. When the pomander reaches this point you’ll want to shake off any extra spices before displaying it in your home.

I find that because you need to remember to roll the orange in the mixture at least every few days for a month or more, it makes sense to make more than one of these at a time, especially since they last for years. You could even make a whole batch and give them away as holiday gifts.

Pomanders look good displayed in pairs in a decorative bowl or on a decorative plate on a bed of cloves or potpourri. If you feel like getting creative, insert the cloves into your pomander in a pattern or add ribbon to your finished product.

If your pomander starts to lose its scent you can simply mix up a batch of spice mixture and re roll the orange in the mixture.

Check back soon for the next part of this blog.

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Christmas Decoration Crafts - Part Three

Pomanders have long been used to scent homes pleasantly. Carry on this tradition by creating a few of your own. Another plus is that they can be hung with ribbon or a few can be displayed in a bowl for a pleasant holiday decorations. Another great thing about pomanders is that when made correctly, they can last for years. Pomanders are usually made using a citrus fruit, most commonly oranges, although sometimes lemons or apples. I think oranges look the best and stand up to the test of time the best.

You’ll need to poke holes in the orange where you will be pushing the cloves into the rind. A toothpick or knitting needle can be used to do this. You may want to use a thimble to do this to protect your pushing finger. You can also cover your fingers with masking tape to protect them. How far apart you space the cloves is up to you, but don’t space them further than ¼ inch apart. The closer together you place the cloves the more scented the final product will be. But, you do want to leave a little space between each clove because as your orange shrinks the cloves will be pulled closer together. Next, fill each hole with a clove. When you’ve got the whole orange studded with cloves, you’re ready to roll your pomander in a special mixture to preserve it and make it more scented.

This mixture you’ll roll your pomander in consists of several drops of sandlewood and one tablespoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. Sandlewood is a natural preservative, so make sure not to leave it out of your mixture.

Check back soon for the next part of this blog.

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Christmas Decoration Crafts - Part Two

Wreaths are commonly used for Christmas decorations. They are usually quick to make, and there is a large variety of types to choose from, many more than I’ll list here.

I think the cutest one is a wreath made with dog bones. You can hang it over your dog’s bed inside and when the season is over, you can give most of it to your dog to eat. Start with a Styrofoam or cardboard shape. Secure a piece of ribbon to it, and then wind it around the circle on a slight diagonal, like stripes on a candy cane. Make sure the ribbon totally covers the cardboard or Styrofoam. Next, you’ll tie the dog bones onto the wreath using more ribbon. Get creative with the types of dog bones you use if you want a more colorful end product. Rubber dog bones come in bright colors, it looks cute to use red and green rubber dog bones. If you want to add more to this wreath tie evergreen sprigs around it also.

This next wreath is very elegant and pretty, it looks almost like light snow gathered into a wreath. You’ll need to form a wire clothes hanger into a circle using some wire cutters and needle nose pliers. Next, you’ll need to tie plastic sandwich bags around the wire using a simple knot. Tie them around until you’ve filled the circle. Add a shimmery bow around the finished wreath.

Check back soon for the next part of this blog.

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Christmas Decoration Crafts - Part One

Now that Thanksgiving has passed it is time to take down your fall decorations and start putting up your Christmas decorations. I’m going to focus on decorations that you can make yourself for a cheap price.

One of the easiest and cheapest decorations is painting bricks to use as bookends or to display on tables throughout the home. This is a fun decoration for kids to do too. All you need are a few bricks, paint, and paintbrushes. Look online for inspiration and ideas of what to paint. Paint a snowman, Santa Clause, or a reindeer on the front of your brick.

Wrap your design around the sides of the brick too if they will be seen where you choose to display them. If you are not very good at painting, you could just paint alternating red and white stripes on a brick, or green with red polka dots, any pattern really. If you want to get more detailed, use some felt or other material to glue onto the brick as clothing for whatever character you painted. It is a good idea to glue felt on the bottom of the bricks so they don’t scratch up the furniture you choose to place them on. These cute bricks can be displayed anywhere by themselves, or in groups. They make wonderful door stops, table decorations, or mantle decorations.

Check back soon for the next part of this blog.

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