Are you overwhelmed by the post-Thanksgiving Christmas onslaught? Does the thought of having a snowman in a rotating-propeller-inflatable-helicopter unsettle you? Do you want an elegant, pretty, perhaps even understated holiday space? I know how you feel. Well, I’m going to share with you how I created an intimate outdoor Christmas setting for under $50.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. Despite unavoidable re-re-re-recordings of Frosty the Snowman being piped into every store and restaurant, I have my warm memories of Christmas past, and good friends and loving family to help me celebrate in the now. This year I wanted to decorate part of the exterior of the house. I was hesitant to tackle the front of the house for many reasons: too expensive, too tall, and too much work. Instead I focused on a part of the house that had been neglected (Ahem… boyfriend…) and already needed some TLC, the back porch. I decided to create an elegant and simply intimate Christmas setting where my boyfriend and I could enjoy a cup of Christmas cheer.
First, I began by cleaning up the area that had become the landfill for the rarely used lawn-mower, ladder, gardening tools, power washer, and other bric-a-brac that had no business on the porch. So, I found a new home for those things and proceeded to clean up the porch. Pressure washing the table and chairs removed a layer of grit. After a fiery Texas summer, the dust had accumulated and set in so it was in dire need of a cleaning.
Since a power washer tends to get around doors and under windows, I took a regular hose with a spray spout and sprayed the whole area, the windows, doors, stone, etc. I removed a few wasps’ nests and got it nice and clean. I then cleaned all the glass with Windex to give it a nice sparkle.
Second, I went to Home Depot where I bought several boxes of mini-lights, one 68ft 6in strand and three 20ft 7in strands. The house is made of stone so I required something to hold up my lights. I got four boxes of 25 Mini-light adhesive Clips. While 3M makes a terrific light clip that won’t harm your interior walls at $1 per clip (!), these Home Accents Holiday brand clips were less than $2 for 25 – quite a bargain. These are fantastic and hold very well when stuck to clean window frames. Make certain to use 2-3 clips in each corner or you will end up with dangling lights once a winter wind blows.
The combination of stone, glass, and white lights created a hard ambiance; the Home Depot nursery sold a small live tree call Leyland’s Cypress that softened that look. It requires 6 hours or more of sun and is a hearty winter tree that can withstand -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the holidays have gone by you can plant the tree and enjoy it all year round. This was a great option as my boyfriend and I have decided not to have a large tree in our home, but still wanted to have something besides our Christmas wreath on the front door. I placed the tree in a plastic faux-stone pot ($5 instead of $25 for a stone pot) to add a quiet and inexpensive elegance and situated it on the ledge of the built-in slate and stone grill.
Finally, I knew I wanted something to balance the tree and I wanted it to remain low-maintenance and organic so I bought a couple of gourds. Stapling the plastic stems of silk flowers to the gourd stem made dressing up the gourds quick and easy. I chose a fall orange to contrast with the green and antique white gourds I had already bought. Add a few Fuji apples for flair.
Now, there was just the small detail of dressing the table. Don’t forget to mine those attic boxes holding the trappings of Christmas past! I found a gold tin canister and stuck some fall flowers and a couple of miniature pumpkin accents, set it on the table and viola! It became a simple arrangement that dresses the small table nicely, but not too busy or kitsch when you need the space for an enchanted romantic dinner for two.
Of course, you can tweak this setting if you are expecting guests by having more seating and a larger table. Also, I’d recommend a few cozy blankets and a few throw pillows that guests can use to snuggle as they enjoy the Christmas lights and Texas night air.
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