Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ideas for a Low-Key Lexington Holiday

Do you get so wrapped up in the holiday tradition that every surface of your Lexington home is adorned?
"People tend to do all these elaborate things year after year. But each year you add a new thing, each year you have a new chore," says Tracey McBride, author of "Frugal Luxuries by the Season: Celebrate the Holidays with Elegance and Simplicity."
If holiday decorating is bringing out the Grinch in you, then perhaps it's time to pare down.

Spreading the spirit outdoors
Bob Pranga, known as Dr. Christmas, the holiday decorator for Candice Bergen, Jaclyn Smith, Andy Garcia and, in years past, Madonna, says the glitterati is not known for elegant simplicity. "Very few people here are minimalists," he says of his celebrity clients.
Truth be told, neither are most non-celebrities, either. "I find the smaller the yards, the more they put in them," Pranga laughs.

Those who decorate for others, however, know that impact, not inundation, works just as well.
"I do one wreath on the peak of the house, one on the front door and two spotlights. I'm done in 15 minutes, and it looks great," says Becky Shearn of Decorating Den Interiors in West Chester, Ohio.
Instead of unpacking every last box of lights and baubles this year, give one or two of these low-key ideas a try.

Hang simple wreaths with red bows every few feet. If you have a fence in the front, a well-placed garland may be all you need, Pranga says.

Wrap a garland or red ribbon around a street-side mailbox, a lamppost or a big tree in your front yard. In North Palm Beach, Fla., Christopher James of Christopher's Creative Designs is usually exhausted after decorating homes for folks like Rush Limbaugh. At his own home, he does little more than add red ribbons around the necks of the decorative resin geese in his front yard.
Skip stringing lights on every eave and bush. McBride puts them only on the arbor in front of her house. You could just do the perimeter hedges in front of your home. If you want to light your foliage but hate the hassle, look for the new net-style lights that drape over your shrubs or wrap easily around trees.

Shine one or two colored floodlights on the branches of a tree or on a single, large decoration in your yard. Or choose a yard decoration that lights up by itself: a '50s-style plastic Santa or candles or a pair of wire reindeer pre-wrapped with mini white lights.
Confine your spirit to the front door. Flank the door with two small lighted pine or rosemary trees, or lean a big sled with a bow next to your entry.

Making the most inside
When you want to dress up a woman's outfit, you don't haul out every piece of jewelry and wear every shade of makeup. A few choice pieces make all the difference. Your Lexington house is no different.

"The simpler you keep it, the stronger the message," says Sarah Boyer Jenkins, FASID, an interior designer in Chevy Chase, Md. One or more of these ideas is all you need this year.

Consider your tree, mantelpiece and wreath as the "Garanimals of Christmas," as Pranga puts it. Match those three and "that's all you really need," he says. Tie them together visually by keeping the accessories the same. If you have a red ribbon on your wreath, use the same on your tree and mantel, too.

Stick with a theme. "If you do all white and gold or all nutcrackers, it makes it simpler because it helps you eliminate, and keeps you from getting sidetracked," McBride says.
Skip the towering tree. Use a small tabletop tree, or put baskets of presents around a skirted table with a crche or other focal point on top. Make the mantel an eye-catcher with a swag of greenery and some ornaments or pinecones placed atop. One of Shearn's favorites is a reindeer candelabra with tiny ball candles on the antlers.

Pair electrical candles with red ribbons around the pots of your existing houseplants, and you have the simplest holiday decorations ever. Or simply put electric candles in the windows. "They show inside as well as out," Jenkins says."

Cut last year's taper candles to different lengths and wrap them together with a raffia bow for an instant pillar look, James suggests. Holiday greenery and some pillar candles on a mirrored tray or pretty platter work nicely on the dining table, too.

Keep your table free for food; swag greenery on the arms of your chandelier. Dangle a few holiday balls or decorations from each arm with fishing line or sturdy thread.

Add lights. McBride adds twinkling white lights to one window treatment each year. She's also tucked lights around the mirror in her bathroom for instant holiday appeal.

Let the decorations come to you. Swag a thin faux garland on a bare wall or over a room entry, and clip Christmas cards along it as they arrive. Jenkins suggests putting a pretty basket with a red bow on your coffee table and filling it with incoming holiday greetings.

Cook your decorations. Leave your boxes in the basement, bake sugar cookies using a straw to poke a hole before baking. Tie them up on the tree or around the house. "Then you don't have to worry if your 2-year-old grabs an ornament," McBride says.

Some final thoughts
Track down a Christmas decorator, such as Dr. Christmas or Christopher James, if lack of time is the only factor. They put it all up and take it all down.

Avoid the temptation to overdo it by paring down your decorations. Have a yard sale, or take them to a consignment shop. Use the proceeds to buy presents.

Steer clear enticing stores with great Christmas ideas until after the holidays. "That way, you won't feel compelled to copy all those gorgeous displays," Jenkins says.
Leave town. "Go visit someone else's house, and let them do the work," James jokes.
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