Tony's Top Ten Tips to Dodge December Decorating Disasters
Holidays are supposed to be memorable, but memories can conjure up delight or disaster! Every family has at least one tale about holiday decorating gone terribly wrong. These debacles may provoke gales of riotous laughter in the retelling years later. If even one of the tips below prevents an epic holiday horror story for someone perhaps this is worth the read!
1) Every fresh tree species (Balsam, Canaan, Concolor, Frasier, Nordmann fir, White, Scotch pine, etc.) has its own unique advantages. That’s why so many great choices exist. If your family puts their tree up at Thanksgiving and needs it to be the stunning focal point for a New Year’s Day party, DON’T buy a balsam. While their fragrance is “woodsy wonderful” their needle retention won’t go that distance no matter how fresh it started and how cool your room is. Go Concolor, Nordmann or Frasier instead.
2) Regardless of your fresh tree, wreath or roping choice use an antidessicant spray (ex: Wilt-Pruf). Apply this to the underside of leaves (junior high science refresher alert – Remember stomates, stomata?). Wilt-Pruf acts as a sealant reducing water loss, extending freshness and life expectancy, indoors or out.
3) “Have you heard the one about the Christmas tree doing a “T-I-M-B-E-R” fall during Christmas Eve dinner, breaking thousands of dollars in heirloom ornaments, and spending the rest of the holidays wired to a wall?” I have. People weep openly and they aren’t tears of joy. This is not an isolated occurrence. Takeaway- Make sure your stand is the correct size for this year’s tree. Don’t make tree set-up a wood-working project. Whittling a 6” diameter trunk to a pencil point so it threads through the 4” ring of your stand is far less romantic than it sounds. Stable is safe!!!!
4) Don’t make the 10:00 news with a tree fire in your home. Never let your tree stand run out of water. Make a fresh cut right before placing in the stand. Fill the stand with warm water immediately. Check the water reservoir at least twice daily the first few days when the tree is rehydrating. Once you notice water uptake slowing, a daily inspection should be sufficient.
5) Always test your lights before stringing them. Few things are more infuriating than weaving them artistically through branches and the plug-in reveals they’re not live. Young children in proximity to that holiday exercise are delighted to employ the naughty words Daddy just added to their holiday vocabularies. Won’t Grandma be impressed?
6) Save and use cardboard paper towel tubes to store individual light sets after the holidays. Only cats and masochists enjoy playing with tangled light sets.
7) Read and observe lighting manufacturers’ recommendations for limits on how many strands can be strung in continuous sequence. Those instructions aren’t just for the manufacturers’ amusement. Failing to heed these instructions may result in blown fuses, kicked circuit breakers, or worse… You don’t want worse.
8) Use acrylic “grabbers” to attach fresh or permanent garland to banisters and mantles. While the wabi-sabi school of décor appreciates the character missing paint and nail holes impart in the life of an object, I find bruises, dings and dents happen easily enough that you don’t have to purposely inflict imperfections?
9) Ask if the permanent (syn. artificial) berries and green stems you’re buying to use outdoors are manufactured for that purpose. If not, dyes may bleed and stain surfaces. Colored berries and podded stems (that are artificial) may crack in cold and give you a popcorn-like mix with lots of white interior showing. Generally, not the “Martha S.” look you were after.
10) Always make sure the fireplace damper is open before lighting the fire. Smoke-filled air is best reserved for campfires and marshmallows.