The Holidays Are Upon Us

by Pat Stelzer

One of the joys of fall and winter is the chance to decorate for several holidays. Keeping in tune with these all important events helps us keep our sanity and brings color and warmth to some otherwise bleak months. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve offer the chance to celebrate for several weeks by simply adding to or changing slightly the décor within and outside of our homes. Nothing adds more of a rustic touch to decorative settings than the bounties of nature. During the fall holidays, corn shocks, Indian corn, gourds, pumpkins, fall flowers and fruits offer the perfect touches. As winter approaches, evergreen cuttings, pine cones, and poinsettias take center stage in decorating.

Halloween is the fun one. Who doesn’t love jack-o-lanterns and ghosts, witches and black cats? What seems like such a child-oriented activity is one that delights adults as well. Everyone was a “child” at some point, and many remain a “child at heart”, and Halloween is one of the easiest when it comes to decorating. A bowl of small gourds, a vase filled with mums and colored leaves, a carved pumpkin with a candle glowing through carved grins bring the spirit of the holiday inside. A witch’s broom standing in a corner or against the fireplace is a playful way to say, the witch is living here, and my personal favorite, a sign given to me by my grandsons, one that says “The Witch is In”, holds a place of honor on the door.

Outside is just as easy. Pumpkins and a few gourds grouped on the steps or porch provide a touch of country with little or no effort. Scarecrows have become symbolic of the season and offer a touch of whimsy to the setting, be it inside or outside. Potted mums sitting on a bale of straw give color to the yard, but make sure the straw stays away from the door. And remember, the straw can be used later to cover plants for winter. A grapevine wreath is one of the most useful and most easily converted outdoor decorations. For fall, simply trim the wreath with gold, deep red and burnt orange leaves. Add a few twigs of bittersweet berries and the wreath is ready to greet visitors.

Halloween decorating, if kept simple, can easily be converted to fit the Thanksgiving season. The colors are interchangeable, and the decorations can be modified. Just remove the jack-o-lantern pieces, ghosts and witches. Replace them with pilgrims, turkeys or cornucopias overflowing with autumn leaves, apples, or miniature pumpkins and your home is dressed for Thanksgiving. Exchange any wall hangings that have Halloween motifs with those having a Thanksgiving theme. Live plants do much to freshen indoors so don’t be afraid to bring the mums inside to add color. Potted mums look great sitting by a fireplace, and small pots add color to window sills. Just make sure the size of the pots and the flowers are in keeping with the space where they are to be used.

Enjoy the holidays by making them special in easy ways. Just remember, they will come before anyone is actually ready, so why not decorate inside and out the easiest ways possible. Save the real effort for the Christmas season. But that can wait for a few months. First, set out to enjoy October and November to the fullest.

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