merry christmas

Home for the Holidays: Great Christmas Decor Ideas for Your Abode

christmas decorating

It is impossible to incorrectly dress up a home for the holidays, because decorating rules do not apply to the Christmas season. Since not everyone wants to have their home look exactly the same as their neighbor’s, taking a little time to think creatively about how to add some special touches to each room will make all the difference. The perfect Christmas decorations can be bought, made, or found in nature, so there is no limit to what can be done or incorporated.

The Kitchen and Dining Room

The holidays are the perfect time to throw dinner parties, so this makes Christmas-themed dinnerware a great investment. There are casual dishes with cute snowmen or Santa patterns, as well as elegant settings with beautiful seasonal floral patterns and colors. Drape greenery over the dining room chandelier and suspend Disney Christmas ornaments beneath it. Cut small tree branches and suspend them from the curtain rods in all the dining room windows. Make “curtains” by attaching strings of ornaments, snowflakes or holiday cards to the branches. Use pine cones as placeholders, or make individual “gingerbread” houses from graham crackers and label them with the guest’s name.

Family Rooms and Dens

christmas decorMake Christmas trees stand-out with themes like all handmade ornaments or all vintage designs. An edible tree is unique as well. Use cranberries and popcorn for garland and make gingerbread ornaments. After Christmas the tree can be placed in the yard for the birds to enjoy. Beautifully decorated ornaments should not be hidden away within the branches of the tree. Display your favorites on shelves or fireplace mantels. Fill a large wooden bowl with ornaments and place on the coffee table. Purchase throw pillows in colors that match the theme to use for the sofa and on the floor around the tree.

For a special touch in your family room, make a collage of all Christmas cards that have been received and saved over the previous years. Put this collage in a gold or silver frame and display over the mantle or over a table that is displaying cards from the current year.

Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Hang a wreath or evergreen swag on the wall or window of the bathroom and add a dish or two of seasonal-themed soap. These could be hand-crafted bars of red and green, or soaps withmerry christmas holiday scents like pine or peppermint. Hang Christmas lights around the mirror and add ornaments to the shower curtain hooks.

In the bedrooms, create a dramatic look by surrounding the bed with flowing white curtains resembling a canopy, and add strings of lights around the entire perimeter. Tie varying lengths of fishing line to snowflake ornaments and attach to the ceiling above the bed. In nurseries, place alphabet blocks on shelves, spelling out holiday messages. Use decals of Christmas trees on the wall, or create a tree from felt so toddlers can decorate (and redecorate) how they like.

It is easy to purchase items that will look holiday-appropriate, but can be used through the rest of the year as well. Red and white striped tablecloths, red, green or blue throw pillows, blankets, and candlesticks colored silver and gold are just a few examples of items that can be used every day. While there will always be trendy colors or themes, Christmas is a great time to be eclectic and daring. Everyone should feel free to use whatever colors or designs they like the best.

How to Prevent “Harry and Marv” from Burglarizing your Home Over the Holidays

How to Prevent Harry and Marv from Burglarizing your Home Over the Holidays

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also a time when more homes are burglarized. For homeowners who want to protect their property and reduce the risk of a break-in, there are several steps to take. It will not only prevent theft, but can help to increase the safety of residents in the home.

Install a Steel Screen Door

Approximately 33 percent of intruders enter through a front door, making it important to secure the point of entry instead of allowing them to kick through a hallow door. Installing a screen door will make it difficult for the burglar to break through with a sturdy material that will protect the entrance.

Use Motion Sensor Lights

Motion sensor lights can be installed near the front and back door of the home, which will prevent intruders from lurking in the dark and attempting to get in. The light will turn on seconds after motion is detected, which will cause the individual to be visible to other neighbors. This will also startle them and can make them believe that someone is home, which can cause them to quickly exit the property.

Use a Wireless Security System

A wireless security system will help to monitor the property 24 hours a day, even when you’re away from the home. This can alert the authorities and sound an alarm when suspicious activity is detected. By having the home monitored on a routine basis, it will likely thwart a burglary or can catch the intruders before they escape from the home. In addition to a security system, you can reduce your risk of loss by signing up for insurance through a company like the Marine Agency, which will offers coverage for personal belongings that are damaged or stolen.

Make the Home Look Occupied

It’s normal for many people to travel during the holidays and leave their home unoccupied for several days at a time. Intruders are less likely to break in if they think someone is home, making it important to leave a vehicle in the driveway, keep one or two lights on, and ask the local post office to hold your mail.

Although many homes are burglarized during the holidays, it’s possible to prevent your home from becoming a target. With the right steps taken, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home is protected and that your personal belongings are safe.

 

How to Keep Your Family Safe From Holiday Fires

Fireplace

For many families, one of the highlights of the holiday season is decking the halls. As you wrap lights around your tree or light candles in the menorah, though, you are not just spreading holiday cheer – you’re also increasing the chances of fire in your home.

The holiday season is notorious for home fires, with an average of 47,000 occurring at this time of year, every year. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to protect your home and, more importantly, your family. Follow these four tips for a cozy, safe holiday season.

1.  Keep Your Tree Hydrated

One of the biggest fire hazards in your home is your Christmas tree. Many homeowners neglect to regularly water their tree, which results in it drying out. Having a dry tree is a recipe forchristmas disaster. Think of it this way: Pine trees are used to make turpentine, an incredibly flammable substance. Your dried-out tree could light up in as little as 30 seconds.

That’s why it’s imperative that you properly care for your tree. First and foremost, buy one that’s not already dried out: Check the needles to make sure they’re still healthy. Have the seller chop the trunk to reveal a healthy, thirsty new layer. Then, stay on top of your watering schedule. It turns out that a well-watered tree is very, very difficult to set on fire, because it has water within its branches and leaves.

Finally, you can prevent a fire by putting your tree in a spot that’s far from any sources of heat. Newer string lights don’t emit much heat, either, so perhaps you’ll have to upgrade your decor as well. To further reduce your risk, you could even swap out your live tree for an artificial one.

2. Mind Your Candles

Flickering candles set a romantic, festive scene, but they also pose a fire hazard when left unattended. The number of candle fires is higher in December than in any other month, likely due to the fact that so many people use them to decorate. The best way to avoid this is to invest in a set of LED flameless candles, which glow and flicker like lit candles do. You could even pair them with a scent diffuser if you miss the fragrance of your candles.

This is especially troubling as a recent study by Fisher-Price found that only 29% of children engage in outdoor play, and that number is assuredly lower in the winter. Meaning there is a high risk of your little one possibly injuring themselves from a candle flame, or worse. If you love traditional candles too much to say goodbye, always supervise them while they’re burning and be sure to blow everything out before you leave the house. Also, be sure to leave space around and above your candle so it doesn’t ignite other pieces of decor.

3. Clear the Fireplace

christmas-treeAnother fire hazard to consider in December: your fireplace. Everyone loves to gather around a crackling fire, but only do so after you have cleaned out the chimney. Have an expert inspect chimney walls to make sure they’re clear of any hardened soot, which becomes flammable. You should also invest in a screen if your mantle doesn’t have a built-in door to stop embers from crackling out and onto something flammable, like your carpet, furniture or tree.

Also, while many Christmas mornings involve homeowners throwing wrapping paper into the flames, you’re better off sticking to wood only, even when starting your fire. Accelerants and other liquids can cause things to get out of control.


4. 
Inspect Your String Lights

You probably only use your string lights once a year, meaning they sit in a box for the other 11 months. During that time – and during last year’s useChristmas Lights – they may have become frayed to expose wires, whether they’re bent the wrong way or chewed by some type of pest. Exposed wires can be the spark to start a fire on Christmas, so make sure all of your string lights’ inner workings are protected before plugging them in.

Be aware of how you hang your lights, too. The convenience offered by a staple gun is negated by the fact that staples can cause your wires to break and open, increasing the risk of a fire. The same goes for nails. The safest way to hang your lights is with hooks or another type of hanger that simply holds the wires without piercing them. Finally, always turn your lights off when you go to bed or leave the house. If you must display your outdoor lighting masterpiece regardless of whether or not you’re inside, put your lights on a timer so that they’re not overworked.

Clearly, it takes a bit of preparation and dedication in order to safeguard your home over the holidays. With these precautions, the only thing you’ll have to worry about this December is whether or not you’ve got a gift for everyone on your list – that one is on you.

Megan Wild is a home improvement writer who cares deeply about function and form in the home. You can read more of her musings at Your Wild Home.