Decorating with Nature – Winter Edition

Three weeks until the Winter Solstice and it’s finally starting to feel a bit like winter. Still no snow, but our family is definitely starting to feel that yearly urge to snuggle up with some popcorn and listen to holiday music (aka hibernation).

Aside from my magical trip to We Fill Good, I haven’t been inside a retail store since the summer, but I can only imagine they are decked out in their usual glitzy splendor already. All the stops come out for this season, and one could literally cover one’s entire house in all things holidays – from holiday themed hand towels to holiday themed cracker boxes to holiday themed outfits and jewelry.

Resist the urge! As I remind my children all the time when we (used to) go grocery shopping – they are only putting Santa on the box to make you want to buy it. Holidays can still be lovely, wonderful, sparkly, and homey without any of the millions of products the stores will try to sell you.

Here is New Hampshire, the outdoors is all we need to decorate our homes. Look no further than your backyard and your local Farmer’s Market for inspiration. Pine boughs, holly, pine cones, and bittersweet… the bright greens and reds are all around us (Just remember to harvest only what you need and leave the rest for our furry friends to enjoy). Even something as ordinary as a shiny apple or orange will add an old-fashioned touch to your mantle.

Live plants are also a wonderful way to bring color, life, and festivity to your home. The “Christmas flower” plant you see above was chosen by my daughter when she was three years old and has been going strong ever since. It’s wonderful to watch the leaves turn read just as the weather changes. It’s like a living advent calendar!

Locally-made beeswax candles are beautiful and festive and you can fill your home with delicious winter scents by baking pies, cookies, soups, and breads. And, of course, adding some holiday music always adds to the magic. There are lots of ways to stay cozy and festive this winter without turning up the heat.

If your family’s holiday celebrations usually include a Christmas tree, there are some really nice options that don’t include cutting down a tree, watching it die in your living room, and then trashing it or burning it (both release CO2, by the way). EcoandBeyond offers a lot of ideas and EarthFriendlyTips weighs in on the real versus artificial tree debate. Our family has been buying live potted trees for the past seven years (we didn’t have a Christmas tree until we had children) and planting them in the Spring. We love the idea of adding to the forest with our tree instead of subtracting from it.

In the words of a very wise storyteller: “Maybe, Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, in fact, means a little bit more.” (The Grinch, Dr. Suess)

Happy December, everyone!

– Hannah

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