December 9, 2012

Christmas decor: ornaments, colors and trees galore


---- — PLATTSBURGH — With the countless varieties and colors of Christmas ornaments that are available these days, deciding which to display on one’s Christmas tree can be overwhelming.

To simplify the ornament-selection process, said Beverly Chamberlain, “it’s good to have a theme.”


As a sales associate at the General Trading Company in Plattsburgh, Chamberlain helps to decorate the shop’s many Christmas trees, each depicting a different theme with its ornaments.

The shop’s bird tree, for example, is adorned with owl, cardinal and white-bird figures, as well as complimentary wooden birdhouses, red berries, pine cones and long twigs wound together to make garland.

And ornaments made to look like frosted holiday cookies, along with candy-shaped decorations and more red berries, make up the Trading Company’s gingerbread tree.

But Christmas tree ornaments don’t have to depict the traditional holiday images, according to Elizabeth Ward, owner of Plattsburgh’s Cook and Gardener shop.

“Holiday decor is just to enjoy whatever you enjoy,” she said.

Cook and Gardener’s garden-themed tree, complete with handmade wheelbarrow and watering-can ornaments, as well as General Trading’s wine-inspired tree, demonstrate how one’s hobbies or interests can inspire Christmas decorations.


Cook and Gardener also features a peacock-themed tree, which is adorned with peacock feathers and matching cobalt blue, lime green and purple ornaments.

In fact, lime green and other bold colors like hot pink and purple have become very popular for the holidays, according to Dianne Miller, owner of Country Expression Flowers & Gifts in Plattsburgh.

Of course, the traditional Christmas red and green never seem to go out of style, Chamberlain said, and silver and gold are trendy, as well.

When decorating one’s tree in a specific color scheme, however, it’s important to use more than just one color, she noted.

For example, using solely white ornaments, Chamberlain said, will likely look boring, but when combined with decorations done in gold and a third color, such as red, purple or royal blue, the white will pop.

“In order for one color to stand out, you need to put other colors,” she said.


In addition, Ward said people shouldn’t be afraid to put non-ornament decorations on their Christmas trees.

Teddy bears, she said, are one of her favorite items to add.

And Ward’s shop features an animal-themed tree adorned with life-size squirrel and hedgehog figures.

The best way to incorporate larger items, she said, is to place or fasten them with wire to the outermost part of a tree’s branches and place lighter, brighter ornaments further back on surrounding branches. 


Those who prefer not to go with a themed Christmas tree, Miller said, might consider having each member of the family pick out a few ornaments they like and add them to the tree.

“It’s nice to have everybody’s taste,” she said.

And for people who simply don’t have the space for a traditional Christmas tree, there are always the artificial wall and upside-down trees.

The wall tree, one of which Miller has on display in her shop, is just a few feet tall and has branches on its front for decorations and lights. The back of the tree, however, hangs flat against the wall, freeing up floor space below.

And upside-down trees, such as the ones Ward sells at Cook and Gardner, are made to look as if their trunks are hanging from the ceiling. What would normally be the top of the tree is fastened into a base, which can sit on a floor or tabletop, depending on the tree’s height. The largest part of the tree, its would-be bottom, towers above the ground.

Dangling ornaments, such as those shaped like icicles and snowflakes, don’t get tangled in the branches of upside-down trees the way they might on a right-side-up tree.

“It works to show ornaments in a different way,” Ward said.

In addition, small, tabletop Christmas trees, both real and artificial, she said, seem to be popular among people who are looking to spend less time and money on holiday decorating.

With a tabletop tree, Ward noted, “you can just bring out your favorite ornaments if you’re looking to cut back.”


Of course, Christmas trees aren’t the only way to bring the holiday spirit into a home.

Garland decorated with ribbons, holly berries, pine cones or colored balls and strewn on a mantle or banister, Miller said, can be very festive in a home.

“I think garland is beautiful,” she said.

And Christmas flowers like poinsettias are another way to bring holiday cheer to one’s abode.

“With poinsettias, there’s a whole range of colors,” Ward said.

In addition to the traditional solid red or white versions of the plant, there’s the “glitter red” poinsettia, with its red, speckled petals; the “Monet,” which has coral-colored flowers; the “sparkling punch,” featuring white and pink hues; and the burgundy poinsettia.

“The burgundy has been popular for people who don’t want bright red,” Ward said.

Cyclamen, she added, are another winter flower that make for fine holiday decor and also come in a number of colors, including white, various shades of pink and pink with white trim.


While Christmas lights are a classic holiday decorating element and are always popular this time of year, ice lanterns provide another way to light up both the exterior and interior of one’s home.

Ice lanterns, Ward explained, are hollowed out globes made of ice with openings on their undersides in which a flameless candle can be placed.

They can be made using kits, which Ward sells at her shop, and may be used to illuminate such areas as one’s front stoop, yard or walkway.

In addition, she said, the lanterns are supposed to stay intact for about 10 hours indoors and could be used as a table centerpiece for a dinner party or even a wine chiller.

Though there’s still time before Christmas to get into the holiday spirit, both Ward and Miller noted that many North Country residents have already begun stocking up on their seasonal decor.

“People really seem to be getting into it early this year,” Ward said.

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