I love our Christmas tree! Imperfect, too tall, too wide, too sparse, it’s a “wild” tree. Chopped from the woods, it was free, which totally works with my budget. I’ve been posting (and will be continuing to post) some of my homemade Christmas gift ideas–because everyone on my gift list is getting something homemade. Living way out in the boonies, an hour from a mall, tends to distance a person from the commercialism of the holiday season. Having little money widens the gap even further, and in fact, makes the gap into a friend. And decorating my tree with store-bought decorations suddenly seems completely undesirable. (Even ones I already own.) Shiny balls from Wal-Mart and yes, even lovely Hallmark ornaments are out of place and out of my sync with my Christmas.
There is no commercialism in my Christmas. No store-bought gifts, no store-bought decorations, no store-bought tree. I could call it a big fat bummer and be depressed. Or I could call it a blessing and, with the temptation of spending money removed, make the most of the opportunity to fully experience Christmas in a more organic way. What is most amazing to me about this immersion in an organic Christmas is that my kids aren’t even asking for anything. Which isn’t to say they won’t get any Christmas presents–they will. Family will send gifts, and at the last minute I’ll count up my available cash and give them what I can so they can do what teenagers enjoy most–their own shopping. And they will have filled stockings with their favorite candies and fresh decks of playing cards. But they are so removed from the hullabaloo of Christmas lights and store displays that they don’t expect anything. They aren’t caught up in the holiday madness because they just aren’t exposed to it. I think it’s one of the most amazing things about moving out into the country. The materialistic atmosphere just evaporates somewhere about halfway down our rock-dirt road and something else, something freeing, seeps into your soul. We don’t need all that stuff here. And that feels good.
So I’m decorating my Christmas tree in sugar cookie cutouts, gingerbread men, dried oranges, garlands of popcorn and cranberries, mixed only with what ornaments I have that are handmade and/or vintage family hand-me-downs. Combined with the scent of the white pine tree, my house smells incredible.
I’ve been keeping busy this week, a little at a time between work and life, prepping ornaments. It’s quite a production.
I like things to be simple, so for the home-baked ornaments, I’m using only sugar cookie stars and gingerbread men. Simple makes a statement when it’s in quantity, and boy am I making quantity.
The sugar cookie stars are sprinkled in a variety of colors (everything I had on hand).
You can see my sugar cookie recipe here.
To use sugar cookie cutouts and gingerbread men as ornaments (and gift tags), poke a hole with a toothpick into the cookies while they’re still fresh from the oven. Then use a needle to poke ribbon through the hole to make an ornament hanger.
I love gingerbread men. They are so much fun! (I still have a lot of gingerbread men decorating to do.)
You can see my gingerbread cookie recipe here.
To prepare the fruit, I slice oranges thinly and bake at a low temperature (about 200-degrees) for three to four hours, then let sit a few days to finish drying. I stick cloves in the oranges (before drying) to make them pretty and it also adds to the fragrance.
Popcorn garlands take a long time to make. It’s a good thing to do late at night while you’re watching TV or talking. Stringing popcorn is kind of like snapping beans. It seems like it takes forever but it’s worth it. I love the look of popcorn garlands.
I strung about ten pieces of popcorn then one cranberry as my pattern. Not that I was really counting…..
I’m still working on my tree, but I’ll post a pic when it’s all decorated, along with some closeups of some of the handmade and vintage ornaments that are going up as well. Now tell me about your tree! What do you like to put on that’s home-baked or handmade?