Friday, November 26, 2010


Decorating your home for the holidays doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Here are 11 ideas for decking the halls simply and inexpensively this yuletide.

1 Gift-wrapped. Don’t hide Christmas gifts under the tree. Use them throughout the house as cheerful decorations. The settee in the dining room and the buffet will look fabulous stacked with packages decorated with candy-colored ribbons. The mantel looks gorgeous with multiple wrapped packages spaced across it.

2 Winter wonderland. Create a pretty wintertime scene by filling several clear glass containers with salt, then placing twigs from the yard inside. You can even throw a couple of mini ornaments in, too, so it looks like a Christmas tree with ornaments that have fallen to the snow.

3 Sweet centerpiece. Transform candy canes, peppermint drops, foil-wrapped chocolates and other colorful treats into edible décor. Fill clear vases with layers of candy and use as a colorful focal point for tables or the mantel. Old vases filled with licorice, color-coordinated candies and wrapped candy create inexpensive drama.

4 Garlands of greetings. Turn Christmas cards into a cheerful display. You can poke a hole in them and string them together like a chain of paper dolls so they make a nice, funky garland or hang it around a doorway or on your mantel. Save scraps of holiday gift wrap, and put them to work in a festive greeting-card display. Using a glue stick, coat 1 side of a clothespin; press firmly onto gift wrap. Cut around clothespin with a craft knife to trim excess paper. Repeat on other side. To hang a series of clothespins, clip them to a length of ribbon, and hang along a banister or above a mantel or entryway. Pin cards along ribbon as they arrive.

5 Winter greenery. Raid the winter garden for holly or yew clippings. Tie them with fresh cinnamon sticks onto chair backs, dining room chandeliers, door knobs, stockings or napkin rings with holiday ribbon or raffia.

6 Visions of sugarplums. Skewer fresh fruit, such as apples, lemons, limes and oranges, and attach to green garlands, using floral wire. Drape garlands above the fireplace, along the banister, or around window or door frames. To dress it up add a little sparkle with floral picks from a craft store. Paint fruit with Elmers glue and roll in sequins, place on a rack to dry. Display in a basket or clear bowl.

7 Bundle up. Layer the table with colorful wraps and scarves pulled from your closet or purchased at a thrift store. Place the fabric over upside-down Pyrex containers or stacks of books to create height variation, then top with candles in vases. If you’re decorating a buffet table, this is a great way to display platters of food.

8 Winter’s light. Consider using battery-powered candles, especially during parties, when you’d rather be visiting with guests than monitoring burning candles. They provide ambient lighting without the fear of fire during a party. Fill six drinking glasses or votive holders with colored water (dyed with food coloring), add a floating candle to each, and boom, you’re done

9 Holiday color. Dry beans, rice and colored lentils make a great base for mantel décor and centerpieces. Pour the dry goods in layers around a large pillar candle placed inside a clear glass vase. Decorating with items you can get at the grocery store saves you from running all over town.

10 Christmas plants may seem to be decorative all by themselves, but adding seasonal touches to their containers creates extra holiday spirit. Prime a plastic container (yogurt or ice cream) with white acrylic paint (two coats, if needed). Let dry. Remove the bottom layers of Christmas napkins and tear the sides to soften the straight edges. Apply decoupage glue to the container and cover it with the napkins. While the glue is still wet, highlight the decoration with glitter ,or old fashion mica flakes. Let dry. Apply textured snow paint to the top edge of the pot. Use more to add detail to the design to give a festive, wintry look. Add your favorite Christmas plant.

11 Who says you have to be at a formal event to have a beautifully decorated table? This holiday season, dress up your tablescape with inexpensive slip covers and festive ribbon sashes for your chairs. Using a 4″ thick satin ribbon, some clippings from your tree and a pine cone (faux snow frosting spray paint optional), you can make your own chairs look event-worthy. If the ribbon slips down the back of the chair use a safety pin to secure it to the fabric cover.
If you are using fat pine cones that are too thick to stay on the ribbon without any help, use floral wire or brown string to tie around the tip or bottom of the pine cone. Make a loop and string the loop onto the ribbon before tying a bow



1 (18 ounce) box chocolate cake mix
1 c. Hellmann’s™ Real or Light Mayonnaise
1 tsp ground cinnamon, optional
1 c. water
3 eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch round cake pans*; set aside.
Beat cake mix, Hellmann’s™ Real or Light Mayonnaise, cinnamon, water and eggs for 30 seconds in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed. Beat on medium speed, scraping sides occasionally, 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pans and cool completely. Sprinkle, if desired, with confectioner’s sugar, or fill and frost.
*Or prepare cake mix as above in 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan and bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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