It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like A Custom Alley Christmas


Outside lights hung, check; Snowbabies collection display up, check; lighted garlands draped on banisters, check. Now, on to phase two of decorating my home for Christmas.

Recently, I read a blog about trimming down bins and bins full of decorations. The blogger used the mantra “be ruthless not sentimental” and edited 20 bins by nearly a third. When I went into the attic for my phase two decorations, I thought, “I wish I had been ruthless last year.” LOL. Maybe in January. The good news: I am picking and choosing this year, which is a great baby-step to “ruthlessness” for me. But for now, sentimental wins.

With my bins waiting to be opened, I move around the house clearing table tops, replacing tablecloths and refilling bowls with anything that is red, white and sparkly. I change the candles in my hurricanes and the shells in my truffle bowl. I also replace the plates in my plate rack and tie a bow on it; instantly transforming three spaces for Christmas.

I keep a lot of tins in my kitchen and I do a lot of baking, about 50 dozen assorted cookies, during the Christmas season. These will be boxed up later, given as gifts to friends and hostesses presents (I told you – lots of tradition). In the meantime, the cookie tins do double-duty as a place to store the cookies and part of the kitchen Christmas decorations. Another double-duty item in the kitchen are bowls, plates, and trays.

Some of the decorating is easy; like hanging knitted stockings my Nana made for my family in the same style she knitted for my sisters and I when we were children. Hang on the upstairs banister, this decoration takes less than five minutes and has a big impact for guests as they come into the heart of the home – the kitchen.

As a teenager, my mom (who crossed over many years ago now) gave us Christmas decorations. One of my prize possessions is a small metal wreath adorned with the 12 Days of Christmas. I’ve decided to put it in a more prominent place by adding it to a green wreath and hanging it from my front door. Now, it greets all of those who enter.

Ok, on to the biggest part of my phase two decorating – my Dept. 56 North Pole houses (I have about 30 and at least that many accessories). These collectibles were gifted to me over many years. I love taking them out, seeing their intricacies and creating “Santa’s big scene” as I layer them on table tops. Santa’s “Lookout Tower” stands atop a snowy mountain, complete with elves who “Plot Santa’s Course,” and icicle trees. Near the Reindeer Barn, all of Santa’s reindeer are groomed for their big flight; Rudolph is even practicing his flying.

I won’t lie; setting these scenes does take me a few hours but it’s so worth it. Over time, I’ve parred down how many of these collectibles are displayed and where I put them but it wouldn’t be Christmas without them so I do schedule the time to set the scenes for them.

Filled with eye candy and lit for a warm, cozy feeling, my house is starting to feel a lot like Christmas. The only remaining decoration is the tree, a real one we will select and put up this weekend. I’ve invited a few friends for an afternoon of tree trimming and baking. I’ll mix up the doughs this week (they can keep in the fridge up to two weeks) so all we’ll have to do is slice, drop, bake and eat.

If you’re up for one more week of Christmas at my house, I’ll share tips for tree trimming and baking (maybe even a favorite Christmas cookie recipe). With my tree done, I’ll be able to focus on getting ready for the parties I am planning this season.

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