EST. May 2000 (AD)


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Deck Your Ding Dong Halls: Holiday Decorating for the Inept and Apathetic

by Allison Boye

Everyone feels the pressures of the holiday season: the desire to give the perfect gift, cook the perfect turkey, throw the perfect soiree. Among these pressures is certainly the need to create a magical winter wonderland out of your mundane, workaday home. And yet many balk at the prospect of untangling the hideous ganglion cyst-like ball of twinkle lights stored in the attic or wrestling with the barbed needles of the Christmas tree that will only litter your carpet, clog your vacuum, and choke your cat. Unlike a certain felonious celebrity chef, designer, corporate mogul, and reality television star, most of us do not have a battalion of domestic elves with broken spirits to help us pour our own cinnamon spice candles or fashion topiaries out of hand-smelted jingle bells and twigs from the back yard. But there are a few inexpensive, everyday items that can turn your house from dreary to cheery in just a matter of minutes!

For instance, if you have always dreamed of a white Christmas, the ideal decorating material is literally at your fingertips: toilet paper. Braid or twist three sizeable lengths and you've got a charming - and light as a feather - garland for your mantle or banister. Or tape the ends together and draw on some berries with a red marker and you have turned your garland into an economical and enchanting wreath. Just be sure that it stays out of wet weather or you will be left with a soggy pile on your front doorstep. Not a nice welcome mat for your cocktail party guests! No time or motivation for braiding and tape? Simply tear up a few sheets of your toilet paper, scatter the shreds on any surface in your home, and voila! A soft and surprisingly absorbent snow scene your family will love.

There is certainly no greater holiday headache than assembling the Christmas tree, real or artificial. This year, skip the headache; why not a Christmas ficus? Any potted plant, bush, or floral arrangement from your house will do, and fewer branches mean less effort. And those empty toilet paper tubes left over from your garlands and wreaths make handy, hook-free ornaments. The severely brown-thumbed can be even more creative; the sky is the limit - imagine the practical beauty of a Christmas coat rack (sturdy "branches!"), a Christmas floor lamp (pre-lit!), or a Christmas laundry hamper (just hide the gifts inside!). Virtually anything can be draped with popcorn and cranberry swags and surrounded with packages. With a little imagination you will save yourself some time-consuming work, some precious living space and money, and the trouble of rolling the yuletide fire hazard out to the curb.

Finally, the holiday table centerpiece is probably the last item on your decorating checklist, and yet its importance cannot be overlooked when it comes to presenting your family and friends with a truly memorable Christmas feast. And while nobody could possibly enjoy any holiday meal from a naked table, who has the energy to order or put together an arrangement that will likely end up in the garbage or rotting on your buffet a week later? This season, make your centerpiece both stunning and functional: take all of your bottles of alcohol from the bar, group them together in the middle of your dining table, and encircle them with some glittery ribbon and tinsel. Bourbon and sherry will provide a warm, amber glow, vodka and gin will offer an elegant sparkle, and green glass beer, wine, or champagne bottles will tie in nicely with your other holiday décor. For a touch of whimsy and contrast, include those tiny bottles of alcohol you've secretly hoarded from airplanes and hotel minibars. Adorable! Not only will the lights reflect off of the glass like glimmering stars, but you will also be able to drown out your nagging relatives and screaming children in mere seconds, without the need to make embarrassing excuses for the omnipresent liquor bottles. Simply be sure to replace the bottles or add water as they empty. Happy holidays indeed!

There is no need to bend over backwards or break the bank in order to dress up your home for the holiday season. With some ingenuity and common household goods, you and your family can finally enjoy a reduced-stress Christmas and a somewhat happier New Year.

©2005 Allison Boye


Allison Boye holds an incredibly useful and valuable Ph.D. in English, having won numerous scholarly awards and membership in the esteemed Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. She currently lives in Florida with her husband Jim and her dog Chloe, and she has absolutely no plans for holiday decorating this year.