Decorating for the holidays began the first week of December in my house. It was amazing to watch my mother transform the house into a Christmas wonderland.
These days you can buy just about any kind of decoration. But some of the best ones are so simple to make, and mean so much more.
My mother made all of our Christmas stockings. She began this tradition when she got married. When my brother and I were born she made each of us one, when we both got married, she made one for each of our partners. And now that she has seven grand children, she's busier than ever (two sets of twins in one year - she was a busy woman!).
For each stocking she chose items that characterised that person. My nana's had cards to represent her love of Bridge, her black cat Samantha, a cook book and mixing bowl showing her love of baking. My husband's has a silver sequined hammer on it because he's a builder as well as an All Black's jersey and a fern koru. Each stocking is truly unique and a special treasure for each one of us.
Light up your night
My son loves to drive through neighbourhoods at night during the holidays. He gets so excited to see all the houses with their twinkling lights and glowing reindeer on the front lawns. Many areas have holiday light contests these days. So why not get your neighbours together and light up your street?
I've seen some homes with impressive outdoor displays, where almost every house on one street has outdoor lights and decorations. If no one in your neighbourhood is up for it, load the family into the car and drive through an area that is decorated. It's a nice way to end the day.
Bubbles and baubles
Decorating the Christmas tree (not to mention the house) can seem like a daunting task. We've come up with a solution in my family. As we hang that first ornament on the tree, you the cork pops on the first bottle of bubbly. It's a treat I look forward to every year and it puts everyone in a festive mood.
An idea Yule love
Usually the weather is pretty warm during the Christmas holidays, so a traditional Yule log is out of the question. But you can revive that tradition by making your own decorative Yule log.
Find a log that you like (either one that is already split or a smaller one that still has the bark on it). Lie it down to see if it has a flat side so it doesn't roll. You may need to trim off a bit to make a flat side. Drill three holes in the top, just wide enough to insert candles. Add a few decorations such as pine, holly, ribbon, etc. Place it in your fireplace or anywhere else you choose for some instant festive charm.
Traditionally, the Yule log should be lit using a piece of last year's Yule log. This is believed to bring good fortune to that house. You can remain faithful to this tradition by saving one of the candles for use the following year.