Text by P. Gerbrandt
Decorating one’s house and yard for Christmas is a little like gift-wrapping – if it’s left till the last minute, it becomes a chore rather than an enjoyable part of your preparation. Worse, you can blow your budget and the resulting look might give away your lack of foresight.
Planning your outdoor, seasonal decorating project can ensure that it serves as the Christmas greeting you want to send.
First, establish your budget. There’s no point in buying more than you can afford and then having guilt diminish your enjoyment of the decorations. Factor in the costs of electricity if you are dreaming of a million-light bulb display with motorized components. Any investment requires some maintenance and inevitable replacements so be realistic.
Once you have set the financial framework, you can move ahead. Do you prefer an elegant or a rustic look? Remember that you already have some indication of that choice in your house style and interior decorating, so continue that motif in your Christmas yard décor.
You might want to establish a theme. If rustic is your choice, you may wish to focus on gardening, or birds (including amply stocked feeders to invite the most beautiful, i.e. live birds), or gingerbread figures. A more sophisticated scheme could incorporate musical instruments such as harps or trumpets, and angels. Colour and texture are also significant. More muted tones are usually used in country décor, while gold and silver, or a lot of white, tend to be associated with classic or sophisticated looks.
Take a walk outside to evaluate the street appeal of your decorations. Will snow-covered shrubbery obscure the view of half of your lighting or other display? Can the focal point of your work be enjoyed from indoors as well as from the street? Try to plan so that at least some of the outdoor decorations are visible from the main living area to maximize enjoyment.
Have you considered your neighbourhood? If all the other residences are modestly adorned, your extravagant use of large floodlights and an abundance of decorations might send a message other than cheer and goodwill to the folks closest to you. Tasteful decorations do not have to be expensive, nor do inexpensive plans have to look shabby. Be creative! Do be careful, though, to invest in quality decorations if you plan to use them year after year. Safety should be a priority when buying electric lights.
Above all, determine what you wish to convey with your decorations. Do you want to focus on whimsical figures to tell your neighbourhood you believe Christmas is a fairy-tale, or does your choice of a nativity scene announce the coming of the Prince of Peace? Trying to incorporate every possible symbol of Christmas can result in an almost overwhelming sense of clutter and busyness. Good design does not have to be elaborate. On the other hand, even large-scale decorations can be beautiful if they are well planned.
Your outdoor decorations can bring cheer to all who pass by. So, plan to share the beauty and joy of Christmas in a way that best reflects its meaning as you adorn your house and yard to serve as a huge Christmas card.