Friday, November 25, 2011

The Christmas Season Comes to "This Gay Relationship"

Something a little lighter today.  

This past Tuesday, I finished decorating the main level of our house for the upcoming Christmas holidays.  For the most part, I'm happy with how everything turned out--unlike most years--and don't anticipate making any changes prior to the big day.  That said, Chris knows me better; he thinks, as usual, I'll keep tinkering with everything right up to December 25th.     

Those of you who read "How I Got Christmas Spirit (No More Bah-Humbug)" know I really enjoy the holidays now, and, as a result, I put a lot of thought and effort into decorating.  Not only do I want our home to look good for Chris and me to enjoy, but also I want to add a little seasonal magic to the lives of those who visit us, either for dinner, an afternoon or evening dessert, or whatever the case may be.  

We always begin with a color scheme.  Sometimes, we look at the decorations we already have--as we did last year, when we had renovations done on the house prior to Christmas and couldn't afford much new--and match them in a complementary combination.  We had lots of red, silver, and white ornaments, so we decided to go with that.  I think our total decorating expenses were just over $100.

This year, we went all out.  In early November, Chris and I paid attention to the flyers we received in local newspapers (showing the different color combinations of ornaments), visited several stores to see what was available, and chose gold and blue.  It was not a difficult choice to make: we found the most beautiful and ornate set of glass ornaments in those colors and couldn't resist them.

Year round, I keep my thinking cap on in terms of coming up with new and creative ways to decorate the house for the holidays (for example, the idea of what to do with the insert above the fireplace, which you'll see below, came to me in August).  When I was growing up, our family used the same decorations, in the same places, every year.  To me, that's not decorating.  Why bother?

Because Chris and I have had the same decorating routine for years, I have a pretty good sense of how much we'll need of any one item for the displays I have in mind, to ensure the color scheme is continuous throughout the main floor of the house.  Generally, I use everything we buy; otherwise, I return it for a refund.  Christmas is expensive enough without holding on to something you don't need.

Every display throughout the house must have examples of all the colors selected.  So if, for example,  red and gold are the colors, every arrangement, including the tree, a wreath, a large bowl, a clear glass vase, or what have you, must have something that is red and gold.  That way, the theme remains consistent.  It's a challenge to come up with ideas sometimes, but what else is the imagination for?

Below, I've included a few pictures showing how we decorated the house this year.  I've also provided a brief explanation of what we did in each of five instances.  If you have a question about anything you see, or would like clarification, please leave a comment or send me an email.  I'd be happy to help in any way I can.  (FYI, I really think I should have been a designer.)

The tree is decorated with forty-eight ornate gold and blue ornaments of different sizes and shapes (from Home Outfitters).  Wrapped around the tree are nearly three rolls of glittery gold and see-thru ribbon (Michaels).  The tree is six feet tall, we used two sets of one hundred clear light blubs, and it's topped by a gold metal star we bought at a small gift shop in Sidney, BC., when we lived in Victoria.    

For the fireplace insert, I wrapped twelve boxes of different sizes and shapes (obtained free of charge from the dairy department at Save-On Foods, when we did our weekly shopping) in blue foil, gold foil, and flat gold (the same shades as the decorations, Michaels).  I then set a faux evergreen spray atop most of the boxes (bought at Chintz & Co. years ago), and placed a glass ball (again from Home Outfitters), the opposite color of the paper behind it, in each spray. A small gold bead was added beside each larger glass ball.  Finally, in front is a long faux evergreen garland (matches the sprays and the tree, Chintz & Co.), with gold and blue balls, as well as gold beads, laid inside.  (FYI, to save on wrapping paper expenses, I covered only the areas of the boxes that were visible.)   

In the dining room, I stood a small tree in a plastic (looks like stone) pot Chris and I use on the back deck during the summer to house annuals.  The tree is a matching, smaller version of the bigger tree beside the fireplace (Chintz & Co.).  The ornaments consist of eight, small, blue balls from a set we bought years ago (Chintz & Co.) that, coincidentally, matched the shade of blue this year (use everything you have in storage that works).  Along with those are small gold glass beads (Home Outfitters), which came without loops to fasten them to the branches.  To hang them, I pulled off the loops (in matching gold) from comparably sized red beads we already had and inserted them.  A string of 50 clear lights was used, and, to set it all off, a thin, sparkly blue ribbon (same shade of blue) was looped loosely around the tree.

At the far end of the bookcase is a simple, tall, clear glass cylinder (Liberty) filled to the brim with more of the simple blue and gold glass balls used in the fireplace display.  The ornaments from this set were used around the house to extend the holiday colors throughout.    

Above the cupboards in the kitchen, I kept the usual items displayed throughout the year (a clear glass hurricane with a lid, a framed picture, an urn, a vase, a garden lantern, and a large old-fashioned clock, with a string of glass lights draped over them), and I added five more faux presents (like those above the fireplace), wrapped in the same blue and gold paper.  In front of each present, I placed a faux evergreen spray (like those on the fireplace), with a glass ornament the opposite color of the paper, along with gold beads.      

For the powder room, I bought a plain, eighteen-inch wreath (Michaels) and decorated it with the following:  five small blue ornaments that look like jewels, in the same shade of blue (bought years ago when our color scheme was blue and brown) and the same small gold beads used throughout the house, loops inserted and fastened tightly to the branches with green twist ties (from the produce department at Save-On Foods); several pine cones I found in a park years ago, simply inserted into the greenery; two tiny square "presents" covered in gold foil (which adorned the Norfolk Island pine I wrote about in "How I Got Christmas Spirit"); and a gold-covered wire with small gold stars sticking out of it (don't remember where I got it), which I looped loosely in and out of the greenery several times around.  The wreath is hung in front of the window with a short piece of the same ribbon in the large tree in the living room, fed around the metal frame of the wreath, flattened, and affixed to the top of the window frame with two thumb tacks no one can see.

The centrepiece on the dining table consists of a clear glass cake tray (Pier 1); three candles of varying heights (Ikea) set in the middle; an ornate gold garland with blue, green, gold, and clear beads and baubles (Pier 1), bent into a circle and rested on the perimeter of the cake tray; gold and blue balls, and gold beads, placed around the candles to fill out the display; and gold and blue balls set on the table against the tray stand.  The twisted garland was fluffed up a bit and makes the centrepiece look like a swirl of colorful spray.

If you celebrate Christmas, may your home be a magical place this holiday season.

(Single click on the pictures to see them up close.)


  1. Lovely, Rick, it looks wonderful! You definitely have a second career waiting if you ever want!

  2. Thanks so much, Sarah.

    I don't want this piece to be about bragging how good my decorating ability is; that's not my intention. Rather, I want it to be about inspiring readers to look at Christmas decorating differently, to see how truly creative and magical it can be, and to provide practical, everyday ideas they can try in their own homes. Think of it as an article in a seasonal home decorating magazine.

    Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to reinvigorate our homes for a brief period every year, complete with all the things we're usually too busy or too cynical to give much thought or consideration to. Let's use it to bring warmth and enchantment to our families, friends, and lives. How much fun is that?

    I appreciate your comment, Sarah. Happy holiday decorating.

  3. Looking festive, Rick! I'm not there yet. (Some years I don't get there at all.) Now that my house is finally back on the market, it's all I can do to frantically straighten up things at 5:30 each morning before the dog and I make a run for the ferry.

    I don't think I will have any visitors this season. That ferry continues to be a deterrent for people. The dog doesn't understand why I would bring a tree inside and then insist that he keep away from it.

    If the Christmas spirit does kick in, it will happen after my annual viewing of "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer." I think I may write a blog post about the significance of that Christmas classic...

    Your home does look cosy and cheerful. I am sure that you and Chris feel warm and even more together each time you notice the thoughtful touches you've added for the season.


  4. I am very impressed! I love how organized you are and that you develop a theme. You also made me pause and think with your comment about changing it up every year. That is so true! It's not always so easy when you have kids though. They seem to like "tradition", and if we did something one year, we have to do it next year. Merry Christmas!

  5. @Rural Gay: Such sweet words, Greg. And another reason why I know you're a sweet guy? Because you love watching "Rudolph," and you let it get to you, giving you Christmas spirit. That says a lot.

    I know you don't mean your words to do this, but I feel sad for you. Sounds like it's going to be just you and your dog spending the holidays together. Do you have a guest room at your house so people could visit and stay overnight? I'm not sure you know anyone you'd like to stay for a day or so, but it's an option. Could be a wonderful getaway for him or her, too.

    So here's an idea. What about--as Chris bought one of our first Christmases together--a small live tree you could keep indoors, with a few decorations on it, and plant outside in the spring? It's none of my business, but I'd feel better knowing a little Christmas magic will find its way to your home and your heart this year. Just a suggestion.

    I especially appreciate your last paragraph. I feel close to Chris year round, of course, but, at Christmas, with our home decorated, somehow, I feel even more connected to him than usual. That's all part of the magic, isn't it? Funny how just a few decorations can do that.

    I'm sure we'll exchange comments back and forth between now and December 25, but let me wish you the very best this holiday season and in 2012. I hope all your plans come together and work perfectly, just the way you want them to. (Oh, and I look forward to the post about watching "Rudolph" and its significance.)

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

    @JustAMike: You don't know the half of it as far as being organized is concerned. All of our decorations are stored, by color, in ten huge matching bins with lids. And I have an inventory of every Christmas decoration we have, even bits of ribbon, again, indexed by color.

    Yes, I know, I have too much time on my hands. But I don't like clutter or disorganization. This way, I know what I have without looking in the bins, and I can find everything easily enough. (I don't like wasting time if I don't have to, either.)

    A suggestion on what you can do to get the kids used to change: Do something different with your decorations the first year, just something small. Everything else can be the same as the kids are used to, except for one thing. The following year, do two different things, and so on. Eventually, I suspect the kids will look forward to whatever is new and even expect it. Just an idea.

    Thanks so much for your kind words. I see you've become a Follower. I hope you stop by often and find something of value here.

    All the very best this holiday season to you and yours.

  6. wow.. ur home looks so lovely.. hohoho..
    i agree with sarah,, i think u are gifted with such a good interior designing skill..

  7. Thanks, Aries Boy. I loved the hohoho part. It made me laugh.
    I appreciate your sweetness and your kind words.