13 December 2009

I'm the Julenissen

In Norway, the julenissen are little gnomes, and they help decorate for Christmas.  I wished I could import some, the winter I was pregnant with Monkey2.  I was overwhelmed, and hadn't really bothered doing much for Christmas.  We had just moved, and Monkey1 was a handful I had trouble dealing with in pregnancy-induced haze of exhaustion.  So Christmas got put on a back burner.

Then I went to my Mom's Night Out, which is hosted by our senior pastor's wife for the young mothers in our church.  And her house was beautiful (as usual), and I came home with a different perspective.

Catherine Marshall, in her novel, Christy, talks about one character whose house was decorated beautifully.  She says Miss Alice used simple things, such as a bowl of apples, but always with an eye toward enhancing their beauty and accenting the room with color and form.  And she says, "manlike," the men didn't notice these small touches of grace and beauty.  But she could see them respond to them when they entered Miss Alice's home, just the same.

I determined to be like Miss Alice.  I, too, could choose to create an atmosphere of beauty and simplicity, using what I had available, to bless my family.

It being Christmas, (but the budget being very tight) I thought about how I could add a few extra touches.  That year, I went to Big Lots and purchased a few candles and some inexpensive spools of ribbon.  Then I used some small figurines we had gotten from my husband's grandfather's house, and decorated for Christmas.   And the Mad Scientist noticed, and was blessed.

The next year, last year, I got some more ribbon, and we put up a tree.  I spread about a few more candles I had found at Goodwill, and some small oil lamps I found someplace.  And the house was beautiful, with just those simple touches.

This year, the monkeys were old enough to enjoy decorating for Christmas, too.  I determined to let them be a part of it (and not to crab at them if things didn't go the way I thought they should...no matter how hard I had to bite my tongue).  I bought to gingerbread kits at Aldi's, and during Monkey3's nap we (read: they) decorated them.  They had fun, and I didn't crab at all.  I was very proud of myself.

Then, The Nester announced she was hosting a holiday decoration house tour at her blog.  She posted a tutorial on using what you have, and linked to someone (wish I could find that link!) who made beautiful things...from dollar store stuff.  Now, THAT I can do!  So I was totally inspired.  Not only that, I also had a deadline, so I was a woman on a mission!

Thomas Edison said all you need to invent is a good imagination, and a pile of junk.  I had the Nester filling in the imagination part for me, so I hit the dollar store for my pile of junk.  This is how you make Christmas pretty on a budget.  Here's my pile of junk:

Lots of glass jars:

Lots of ornaments (I was trusting they'd look great, once they were in the jars):

I pulled out my trusty glue gun, and got to work.  Here is what I came up with.  First, I glued a big vase onto a little one, and a small vase onto a sort of glass ice cream dish-type-thing, and filled those and one apothecary jar I had with ornaments:


Those went up on the china hutch in the schoolroom, with the gingerbread houses.  The globe is stored there year-round, but I don't think it's inappropriate to include a globe in the Christmas decor.  The dining room is where I hang my art and things that have come from various places all over the world, and the globe in this season reminds us that Jesus came for the whole world:


So that is a touch of Christmas in the dining/schoolroom.  In the living room, here is the advent log I told you about in this post.  It's on a shelf over the sofa.  The ribbon is from two Christmases ago, purchased (I believe) at Big Lots.  (I learned how to make bows while working at Michael's craft store.)

On top of the bookshelf, I put the ceramic Christmas tree with the little tiny lights, which was left in our basement by the previous owner.  I love it, and so do the Monkeys.  They all helped put in the lights.

There's also a large cinnamon candle, left from my Big Lots trip two years ago.  The table by the front door got my trifle dish, plus all the shoes from St. Nicholas Day.  Also a painting that I absolutely love, of St. Nicholas worshiping the Christ Child.

And the other cinnamon candle.  I believe I got the cloth at a thrift store.  I'm going to hang a wreath on that wall, but tonight it was either make the wreath or put up the blog post.  You can tell what I chose.

The alcove just off the living room is the other room that is currently decorated.  Saturday morning we drove to a town a few miles over, to pick up a t.v. cabinet I had found on Craig's List.  No more coats looking messy on overloaded pegs, but the top was so bare!  So I dug through my fabric stash, and put some boxes and things under it to add different heights.  Then I got out the box of ceramic figurines, some more glass jars, and my oil lamps.  Also the candelabra (definitely my most expensive piece of decor) that was a gift from my mother-in-law.  I put my Peruvian Nativity set front and center.  It was super discounted at Ten Thousand Villages because Mary had been broken and then repaired, but I don't think you can tell:

You can't tell in that picture, but the fabric has little red and gold hearts all over it.  Perfectly appropriate for Christmas, and I can leave it up there for Valentine's Day!  Here's a view of the whole armoire (or at least most of it):

Oh, poor thing.  It's just crying for a tassel on that knob, but I had to make do with a beeswax angel I already had.  It smells nice, and really doesn't look bad at all.

Now, the tree.  The Nester said that a Christmas tree should have a theme.  I went with "Child-Friendly."  We used my ornaments that I got every Christmas growing up, plus a few more we've collected along the way.  We strung lights, and I helped the children make popcorn strings.  (They got tired of it before we had enough to cover the tree.  It fits right in with my theme.)  At the top I put a small bow wired onto a large bow to make a bow full enough to look decent on this rather large tree (about 8 ft.).  But before I show you the finished product,  I have one other picture to show you.  This, my friends, is what happens when you tuck your tree into a corner, and put your lights and ornaments mostly on one side:

Yes, that would be our fully decorated tree, on the floor.  Fortunately, nothing broke (except one angel wing, but I can glue it.)  Boy, that is NOT a noise you want to hear!  But we stood it back up, and I put everything back on.  (I bet I'm the only person who has decorated the same tree twice this year!)  And the finished product is quite nice, even if not completely "themed."  :-)

Note Monkey3 peering around his door, trying to see what is going on.  For a tree skirt, I used a quilt that was a gift from my mother-in-law.  I don't remember if she made it, or perhaps her grandmother pieced it.  There are a few other small touches here and there.  I still need to make the wreath, and there's a large dresser in our bedroom that I have to get cleaned off so I can put up our German Pyramid.  But for the most part, the house is decorated.  I spent $40 at the dollar store, and didn't use everything I bought so some of it will go back.  This year, I'm the Julenissen, and my family gets to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere.  They'll notice the detail, though, because I'm going to drag them around the house and point out every little thing!  :-)  This Christmas, make merry for your family and yourself with some simple decorations.  It doesn't take much time or money, but the results are beautiful!

This post is linked to Sharing Christmas at A Day With the Demos, and The Nester's holiday home tour:

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester


  1. You did a very nice job decorating. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

  2. I love it all. Too bad the tree took a fall! I am stopping in from Nester's Tour. If you would like to see my tour posts you can click on the 'Christmas 2009' tag on the left sidebar of my blog. Have a great holiday season!

  3. Thanks for linking up to Sharing Christmas - so fun to meet someone new!

    I love the idea of decorating with simple touches that draw people in without them even realizing it - just doing little things that make your home cozy!

    So many things I loved...I love that Peruvian Nativity - so cool and different. I love what you did with the jars and the ornaments - so creative to glue the glass pieces together. Also, we had a cermanic tree like yours growing up and it's one of those decorations that I remember so clearly and love!

    Too bad about the tree- good job on getting a picture of it!

    Again, nice to "meet" you and thanks for linking up. Have a Merry Christmas!

  4. What a lovely post. I love what you've done with your home. You have truly created a warm and welcoming environment. Nicely done.

    I love the bulbs in the glass jars!


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