Outdoors, a demure subtling of color has begun.
The days of November are now leaning into the shortest days of
the year, and with the arc of the sun dropping farther to the south,
even the indoors grows gloomy.
Now comes the bleakest time of the year.
Isn't it interesting, though, just as all the beauty of nature
begins to fade, our minds and hearts turn inward also.
Now, come the holidays. A time of reconnection, a focus on things
spiritual, love of family and friends, lots of gatherings with lots
of great food.
Outside and indoors, you can set a mood or send a message to
others by your decorations. It doesn't have to be a lot, or take
lots of money, or take a lot of time to create impact.
You can minimize your efforts by shopping main stores and buying
You can save on costs by visiting thrift and antique shops. You
can also gather raw natural materials from your yard, and some even
from the countryside.
Where to start? Look around and decide where you would like to
draw attention. Choose a color scheme and decide your materials,
artificial or living.
You may even have a special interest that you would like to
incorporate, such as vintage cars, collections, sports teams,
Victorian-era design, country, glamorous or sophisticated.
This year's hottest indoor and outdoor decorating trend is the
use of LED lighting. Remember it's a dreary time of the year. So
lighting can have a big impact.
Blue lighting is dramatic, white sophisticated, and multicolored
is just plain happy.
Lighting does take electricity, but LEDs cost less to use. There
are various LED string lights available this year. They cost a
little more, so many people are simply buying a few strands each
At Ace Hardware in Lincoln, Danielle Ketcham says that the mini
lights look great in garlands, wreaths and on trellises. Minis or
larger bulbs look great on trees and can be used to outline a
window, door, garage or along gutters.
While you are out shopping, you might also pick up replacement
bulbs, timers, gutter clips, extension cords and support wires. Ace
has everything along that line, Ketcham said.
Another way to go modern, and "green" by saving energy, is to use
solar lights. At Ace, another new item is solar candy canes: a great
way to line the driveway.
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Lighting, swags, roped greenery and ribbon go a long way in
calling attention and dressing up areas outdoors. Wrap posts, shrubs
and trees with lights. Drape fences with roping and bows at the
pull-ups. Frame windows, doors, eaves, the house, garage, dog's
house -- wait, maybe not the doghouse -- with mini lights.
Take a drive through the country and collect colorful twigs; trim
wild-growing evergreens; gather chestnuts, walnuts, buckeyes, lime
green Osage orange tree fruits and pine cones. Remember, it's
hunting season. You might wear orange and try not to trespass to
avoid getting shot at.
Twigs can be stuck in planters au naturel or sprayed with
adhesive and glittered, or flocked, with a big ribbon stuck at the
base. Add lights and you have graceful elegance.
Layer a window box with greens, cones and weather-resistant
You can also bundle natural materials and make your own swags.
Add a bow and wire loop, and you're done. Hang on either side of an
entry door, garage opening or on posts.
Indoors, you can use the same kinds of material plus some littler
stuff for close-up detail. Add to your list of materials: colored
candles, ornaments, large jingle bells, long cinnamon sticks,
decorative holiday floral ribbons, narrow satin ribbons, florist
wire, adhesive spray and sparkles to simulate artificial snow.
A few special tips you might not know about using natural
Pine cones: Bake white pine cones, enjoy the fragrance and see
the white sticky resin transform to a clear gloss.
Spray other pine cones with lacquer to give them gloss. These can
be wired with thin florist wire and added to any swag, wreath or
Osage orange tree fruits, locally referred to as hedge apples:
Slice and bake. Quarter-inch-thick rounds turn glossy amber and look
great wired into wreaths and other designs. These last for years and
Or, leave these lime green fruits whole. Place on a mantel
between greens and ornaments, or in a bowl with other natural
materials such as pine cones; tuck moss here and there; sprinkle
with red cranberries; and accent with ribbons on wires poked in
A trip through any of the specialty shops, big stores or thrift
shops in Lincoln, Elkhart, Atlanta and Mount Pulaski is great
inspiration, and you are sure to find things to purchase that you
will cherish for years. You may even find a gift or two and reduce
your shopping list.