It’s that time of year once again…the
dreaded holidays. If you’re like me, the feelings of yuletide carols are quickly replaced with the reality of tangled holiday lights, crowded shopping malls and spoiled children’s toy lists.
(Diva Christmas Stocking gift from my buddy, Sandy.)
What’s worse is being one who is a
disaster diva with a sewing machine–we are held to a higher standard when it comes to handmade gifts–the Styrofoam snowmen just don’t cut it. Not to mention, we’re also expected to be experts at gift wrapping, tree trimming and other holiday decorations. I’ll tell you, it’s just not fair.
Most of the recipients on my gift list would much prefer a tulle dress over a
slutty Bratz™ Barbie™ doll or custom flannel pajamas over some useless guy gadget. Unless I started sewing up these Christmas gifts in July, there would be a slim chance I would be finished by Christmas morning.
Instead, I now opt for simpler “handmade” items such as purchased Christmas stockings, shirts, towels, bibs and other “blanks” which I can machine embroider with the recipient’s name or some cute saying. Which reminds me–my lovely SIL wants monogrammed bath towels (Yippee! Another thing to add to my never-ending To Do List). If you don’t have an embroidery machine, you can simply Embellish a purchased gift!
Gift wrapping is a major task here at the Diva’s. I make sure I wrap each night as new purchases come into my home. It helps to have a “gift wrapping station” set up in your home…a simple table with all the supplies you need to wrap gifts. My station has several holiday gift papers on rolls which are contained in a Rubbermaid™ Gift Wrap Holder.
I keep several rolls of fancy gold and ivory ribbon, tulle, my handy dandy Bowdabra™ (the Diva’s bow-making secret), place cards (used as gift tags), scotch tape (on the big rolls in the office dispenser), plain white boxes, tons of gold gift bags, and gold markers. Each gift, no matter, how small, is wrapped to perfection and is adorned with a six-loop bow. Stuck in the center of the bow are simple “holiday picks” such as greenery, faux sugar plums or paper mache angels. Year after year, my sisters fight over my bows as gifts are unwrapped. They reuse them the following year to make their gifts “sparkle.”
Nothing puts you in the holiday mood more than the smell of Christmas. Since Christmas scents are usually limited to
Pine-Sol™ pine, sugar cookie and country kitchen apple scents, I started making my own. Combine the following:
1 sliced orange
1 sliced lemon
1 tablespoon Allspice
3 cinnamon sticks
Add two cups of water and simmer (low flame) on your stovetop. The smell fills your house! Occasionally add more water as it evaporates.
Here’s a few other simmering potpourri recipes on the Web:
Well then comes the major task…the Christmas Tree! My is by far my favorite thing to do during the holidays. Last year, I finally splurged on one of those giant pre-lit trees which snap together in minutes…no more trying to figure out which branch goes where and which miniature light bulb is burnt out among the 2,000 lights on the tree. No more stringing lights…woo hoo!
My tree is first “stuffed” with tulle–pink, of course (6” width purchased on rolls of 25 yards). The tulle softens the lights in the center of the tree and fills in any “bald spots.” Purchase some inexpensive pine cones, eucalyptus, baby’s breath or some other type of dried flower filler and “stuff” the tree once again. Instead of standard garland, tulle and vintage Venetian lace is then draped all around the tree. Next, string cheap large faux pearls around the outside branches of the tree (purchased on rolls of 30 yards). It is less expensive to use the pearls on the rolls than the 9 foot “garland” pearls—it takes at least 6 sets of the 9 foot pearl garlands to do an average tree! Or perhaps you’d prefer to use ribbon as garland. If so, get over to one of the discount warehouse stores such as Costco and purchase wired holiday ribbon in 50 yard rolls for a mere $7.99! Best of all, you can make bows with the extra ribbon to adorn your tree like I do.
I then have inexpensive pears I place throughout the tree. My prized possessions…my hand painted Angel ornaments are carefully placed on the tree–thankfully I painted them back in the day when
my children weren’t driving me crazy yet I had a lot more leisure time. Finally, an antique Angel Topper given to me by my mother-in-law adorns the top of the tree (it’s more than 50 years old!).…Christmas Tree Diva Style!
If you have the time to do it, why not make some Handmade Christmas Ornaments?
I love to decorate each and every room in my home for the holidays. Most windows are flanked with faux blue spruce garland adorned with Christmas ribbon, tulle and lights. Try adding some tulle, ornaments and bows to your chandeliers!
Simple items can be adorned to reflect the Christmas spirit. Take some paper mache boxes or chests and spray paint them gold or silver (or whatever color matches your Christmas color scheme). Add glass Christmas balls or other ornaments and pearls…instant Christmas!
Every mirror and large picture frame in my home gets an 8-loop bow! Tulle gets wound around anything and everything (yes, the Diva does have an obsession with tulle…haven’t you noticed?). You can even make tulle garland. Just feed a 6″ roll of tulle through your serger (differential feed at the highest setting, long needle stitch length) and gather. You could also use your ruffler or gathering foot on your sewing machine and stitch up the center of the tulle. I’m thinking perhaps next year I’ll cut the tulle roll in half to make two 3 inch rolls…yep, that’s what I’ll do…LOL.
When I set the dining room table for Christmas, I like to have it “sparkle.” A diva can never have enough candlelight (even makes 80-year-old Aunt Bertha look charming!) I use simple ivory organza placemats with gold organza trim and simple white china with gold accents for the table setting. The good old goldware (silverware, but in gold…hehe!) comes out and folded within the gold organza napkins…which, of course, is tied with gold organza ribbon. One can never have enough organza or ribbon during the holidays! Large candlesticks are placed on the table and lit only when dinner is served. Small votives are scattered around the table.
While you’re at it, you might as well sew up some holiday Chair Covers. If you’re lazy like me, simply make a bow swag and hang it on the back of the chair.
The Diva must credit her decorating idol, Christopher Lowell (Discovery Channel) for his many inspirations. With such a large crowd (minimum 40 people upwards of over 200 people depending on the holiday/event), the Diva knows better than to have a sit down dinner. I take three large buffet tables and set them up in my garden room which is right outside my kitchen. I drape the tables with ivory and gold fabric and let it “billow” to the floor. Scattered miniature white lights and more tulle top the tables. No candles are used on the buffet so we don’t have to share our holiday meal with the NYC Fire Department again.
I add several Pedestals (risers) to raise food trays to different levels. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, all trays are clearly marked with the name of the dish on simple white place cards in gold Calligraphy. Buffet…Diva Style!
If you’re on a budget, just get some different plastic cubes or cardboard boxes and then cover entire table/buffet with fabric or a tablecloth hiding the cubes/boxes.
The Diva likes to be unique…it’s part of my trademark! Unlike my less ambitious neighbors, the Diva has more than 40,000 holiday lights, 15 life-size amber-lit wicker reindeers, a full size sleigh and a host of other oversized decorations. Ask anyone in my community about the “reindeers” and they quickly mention the Diva’s house. And then they mention the pink and purple lights (it’s amazing Mr. Diva tolerates this!). Front windows are filled with 2-foot ceramic choir girls and handmade Santas.
During the first week of December, several “men” arrive to detangle and test the many lights. Within three days, these talented men light up the Diva’s house and traffic soon begins to build on the once quiet street. Just a few years ago, the Diva’s house was shown on the national TV news program, 20/20 with Barbara Walters! It was the only house that could be seen during that year’s snowstorm. Unfortunately, I have yet to get my holiday lights up this year–the weather has not been cooperating!
Now, you are probably wondering why the Diva goes through this much trouble to go “over the top.” See, it’s all about the twinkle in that little kid’s eye…the wonder of the season.
The Diva remembers how she spent her daughter, Marielle’s, first Christmas in a children’s hospital awaiting a life-saving liver transplant. Her husband reminds her how the fire department warned her to disconnect the Christmas lights on her daughter’s hospital crib or else, get a summons (fine). She laughs…she remembers the sparkle in her daughter’s eyes when she saw the twinkling lights on her crib. Now, beat that Martha Stewart!