http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2012/11/23/make-your-decorations-special-this-year


Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - November 23, 2012

Make your decorations special this year

Reflect your personal taste and style on your tree, mantle and more

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Where does one begin to decorate for the holidays when we have so many choices at our fingertips? Not only do downtown specialty shops and department stores offer Santas, snowmen, stars, trees and all the glitters and glistens, even grocery stores and gas station shops have something to offer.

Maybe this year it's time to take advantage of the wide range of selections and do something different. If you usually just decorate a tree with your beloved old ornaments, try changing it up, or add decorations to the mantle, the coffee table or elsewhere. Although traditions are important at this time of year, it's also the time to try something new -- if it works, make it a tradition, too.

Holiday decorations don't just arrive on the scene via Santa and his elves. Merchandizers comb the world all year for new tips and techniques to deck the halls and trim the perfect tree.

"So many people settle for simply hanging ornaments on their trees, but there is so much more you can do by adding fillers that really reflect your own personal taste and style," said John Griffith, a merchandiser for Replacements Ltd. "Mixing in ribbon, fabrics, florals, feathers and other natural elements create flair and personality. Adding extra flourishes in the right places can make the difference between a pretty tree and an extraordinary tree."

Griffith says the hot colors for holiday 2012 range from soft pastels to rich jewel tones. Popular ornaments this season reflect the Victorian era, with glittering gemstones and rhinestones being extremely popular.

Don't be afraid to forgo the traditional tree topper, he advises. Instead, consider using twigs or other natural elements arranged out of the top of your tree. Griffith has even strategically placed a tree beneath a chandelier for extra glow.

If you want to add another, smaller tree, try a corner tree or the flatter profile tree. Or, Griffith suggests, you may want to go in an entirely different direction.

"I am into repurposing and recycling, so I took the branches of an old artificial tree and wired them together to create swags, and then decorated those with combinations of fabrics, bows and ornaments," he said. "You can hang swags on a mantel or place them on top of a door frame. They're a fun family project, and you can even create them with different color stories or themes for each room in your home."

Tree ornaments are a subject in themselves, and the options are endless. Many people collect their ornaments for years, and viewing their trees is a trip down memory lane. Some friends have annual ornament exchanges, resulting in eclectic collections.

Ornaments can be gathered around the world to reflect different cultures; a tree's decorations may stick to materials such as all wood, colors such as red or gold, or a theme such as angels or snowmen or even animals of Africa.

In the 1950s it was de rigueur for Christmas trees to be decorated with fragile red balls, fat teardrop-shaped colored lights and silvery icicles to reflect it all. The next trend was to provide illumination with a spotlight with a color wheel trained on the tree. Then along came flocked trees, and those with metal branches. Now, most popular for their ease and practicality, are the artificial trees with build-in lights that fold up like umbrellas.

From olde worlde decorations to sleek and modern, the important thing is to have fun with the season and make your home comfortably festive in a way that fits yourself and your family.

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