Sensory Impact

A lovely acorn dangles from my dining room chandelier

     What is decorating?  Well, one thing– it is a process that engages the senses.  For example, we add elements to an empty room hoping to stimulate our senses.  Sight is an obvious one, but don’t forget the others.  Hearing, touch, smell and taste are all beneficiaries, or not, of our decorating attempts.  

     I love to decorate, but I don’t like to fuss.  Fussing, especially at Christmas time, is unnecessarily time-consuming.  I decorate for impact.  The impact need not be loud–in a sensory way–but it should be noticed by one of the senses or it is a misuse of valuable time.  I try to achieve my decorating with a minimum of time-wasting fussiness.  What does this mean?  If I can create a tableau with 3 elements instead of 7, I do so, because it is quicker to arrange fewer things.  As a result, I often use larger elements.  I choose to work with physically bigger things because I need fewer of them to make a visual impact. 

     You know those decorating shows that encourage you to hang ornaments from the light fixture over your dining room table?  Well, forget the dozen small things dangling from the chandelier.  I use one large ornament.  I have the impact I want, and it took me less time to achieve it.  Are  you thinking that my solution is going to look gauche?  Or be terribly expensive to pull off?  On the contrary, there are beautiful, inexpensive, and lightweight ornaments that would look fantastic dangling from a chandelier.

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Sequin-shedding decoration

     Do you have a decoration that continually sheds?  What I mean is–do you have something that leaves sequins, beads, or glitter behind when it is touched or moved?  If the decoration is not particularly expensive and does not have a smooth surface, I have a hint for you.  Use spray adhesive to secure the decorative particles.   Make sure that the adhesive dries clear.  Also, make sure that you apply it in light coats. 

     I use a large cardboard box as a makeshift “painting booth.”  That way, I protect the surrounding area.  Follow the directions on the adhesive spray can and use sweeping motions when you spray.  (This process also works for spray painting. )

     I sprayed two coats of adhesive on a tree top decoration because sequins were continually falling off.  The picture at the top was taken before the spray treatment and the picture below was taken after.  This treatment did not affect the appearance, but shedding was less of a problem after the spray. 

Same decoration after 2 coats of spray adhesive.

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Outside at Nightfall

     Remember when I said, “No rules?”  Well, I want to qualify that.  Nothing is set is stone.  I don’t think you should limit your horizons when you are expressing yourself through your decor.  However, there are some basic principals that can save valuable time and effort. 

     I think that considering proportions is one of them.  When I create a wreath, I consider proportions.  For example, the wreath is normally larger than the bow.  That difference is one of the reasons I find the wreath interesting and appealing.  

     Remember the photo I took of the front of my shop before I began decorating?  The photo at the top of the page depicts what it looks like today.  ( I know that one of the overhead lights is burned out, but I could not find a new bulb to fix it tonight)  I will probably add a couple more things tomorrow.  I consider decorating a “building process”, sometimes accomplished in stages over the passage of time. 

    So that’s the outside of the door.  Walk through it and you have a wide expanse on the inside of the door.  I have a wreath on the outside and on the inside I have a bow. 



 It is beautiful, but then I thought about adding a wreath.  On the outside of the door is a wreath with a bow.  On the inside is a bow with a wreath. 

A bow with a wreath


A difference from the outside to the inside, but the proportions between the elements of each decoration are similar.  On the outside of the door is the traditional wreath with a bow on it.  On the inside is a large bow with a small wreath on it.  Both are attractive and interesting.

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Step-By Step–Build a Pot

In the Beginning.....

Not very interesting, is it?  This is the front of my shop.  Like I said before, the beauty is on the other side of the door.  But notice the pot in the corner.  That is where we are starting.

Put a smaller container inside the urn.  It should be watertight  Depending upon what will be added to the urn, use a container filled with water or use floral foam that has been thoroughly saturated with water.                       

The first steps...


Want to add something that really makes the pot, or in this case, more accurately, the urn,  pop?  Place an undecorated wreath around the opening.  In this case, the wreath I used is made of white pine boughs.  I sprayed it lightly with white paint and put in on top of the urn.  Then I added lights.  Notice something different about them?  I used icicle lights.  I draped the string around the opening–on top of the wreath– and let the “icicles” drop off the side. 

The tree top...


Then I added a tree top.  This is an actual top of a scotch pine.  It works beautifully in a pot.  No fussing trying to arrange a bunch of boughs or spruce tips.  Just plop a tree top into the pot.  Before you add the tree top or the branches, however, re-cut the ends.  They will drink water more easily if you do this and your pot will look fresher longer. 

Then I added some plug-in candy canes. Then I added some plug-in lighted candy canes. (I decided to work with a candy cane theme. ) I played around with the candy canes, not really knowing which way I wanted them to face. Many times, I don't know exactly what I want to do with a decoration. I just know that once I begin, I will eventually finish and be happy with the results. It's a method I would encourage you to try. More often than not, it works. Try not to be too critical. Leave yourself open to a new perspective and don't hurry. Do things in stages if you must. Play with it until you are pleased with the results. Wrapping lights...

Remember, I laid the icicle lights on top of the wreath, letting the icicles drop around the sides?  Now I wrap the remaining lights around each of the branches in the tree top.  See the lights going out to the branch tip?   I would not do this if I were just using boughs–too much effort and because most boughs aren’t strong enough to support the and disguise the light strands, the results are not particularly satisfying.  If I were using just boughs, I would cluster the lights and lay them among the branches.  Now the snow.

Now the snow.

I turned the candy canes toward each other to form a heart shape and added some very large snowflakes.  Marilyn, a very dear friend and sometime shop helper, commented that the snowflakes were too large, but I reminded her that this is an outdoor decoration.  It is meant to be seen from a distance.  I want customers to be aware of this pot from the far side of the parking lot.  I want the snowflakes to really show–so I chose large ones.  If you are designing a pot for the front of your house, consider using large components.  If someone is driving or walking by your house, you want them to notice your decoration–from the street. 

Then the bow

I secured the candy canes to the tree top in two places with a narrow red ribbon and added a very large bow to them. I chose this particular ribbon for its fuzziness.  The texture is wonderful.  So we have the different textures in the greens, the huge snowflakes and candy canes and the beautiful bow.  And of course the lights, those lovely icicle lights.  Those are going to give this urn an unusual and  beautiful effect when night falls.
Next, I added smaller snowflakes to the ends of the “icicles.”

I twisted the ends of the icicle lights onto smaller snowflakes.  This adds interest and helps weight the light strands so that they don’t blow around as much in the wind.  I attached the strands to the flakes with short pieces of red cord tied into small bows.  


As the day ends, you can see how much interest the icicle lights add.

 The  beauty of the icicle lights really shine as the light fades.  I also added  3 sparkling sprays of lime green and 5 loops of a shiny red mesh ribbon for more daytime interest.  What do you think?

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Building a Pot

     Check out the blog tonight.  I am going to give you, step-by-step,  the method I used to “build” the pot by the front door of my shop.  I will take pictures throughout the process so you can see how it was created.

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Inside the Shoppe

     Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I just wanted to give you an idea of what you can see at the Christmas Shoppe.

Just inside the door.

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No Rules

I had intended to upload some photos tonight, but of course, forgot my camera. Will put some photos up tomorrow. Anyway, wanted to give you another tip. There are many activities in your life governed by specific rules. I don’t think decorating should be one of them. That’s not to say that rules are somehow bad. Let’s just say that decorating is a personal endeavor and because it is personal, it should first and foremost, please that person. If she (or for that matter he) is confused as to what is personally pleasing, follow this advice. Begin. Put your best foot forward and start. I bet that after one or two false starts, you will discover a pattern, color, or texture that pleases you.

So, I don’t plan to give you rules. I hope to give you some tips, suggestions, and some shortcuts that make you life a little easier and unleash your inner decorator.

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