By MATT FOX
December 13, 2006
My co-host Shari Hiller and I enjoy all seasonal decorating projects, but decorating for Christmas is our absolute favorite. We love the lights, the colors and, most of all, the old fashioned Christmas trees.
In most homes, the tree is the focal point of the holiday decor. For many families, choosing and decorating the Christmas tree is an annual tradition.
Today, it seems, that Christmas trees can be found everywhere from malls to the Internet. If you are looking for an old-fashioned holiday experience, however, your family might enjoy cutting your own tree.
Or you might enjoy shopping at one of my favorite places. I get my tree at the lot around the corner, which is run by the local Boy Scout troop. It's filled with hundreds of trees just waiting to be taken home to a loving family.
If you are purchasing a tree from a lot, look for a tree with a healthy green appearance. The needles should be shiny, soft and pliable, not dry or brittle.
Once home, place your tree in water as soon as possible. Make a fresh cut to remove a half-inch to an inch off the base of the tree before putting your tree into the stand.
If you are not putting your tree up right away, store it in a protected area where it will not be subjected to freezing temperatures. Make a inch cut off the base and place it in a bucket of warm water. When you decide to bring the tree inside, make another cut to ensure proper hydration.
Check the stand daily to make sure there is sufficient water to cover the base of the tree. With proper care, a tree can safely be kept indoors for several weeks.
Decorating an old fashioned tree can be a family affair, but Mom or Dad may want to handle the lights. To imitate the candles that first illuminated trees, try using all white lights. For an even more authentic look, you might use lights made to look like candles.
For a beautifully lit tree, run a green or brown extension cord along the "spine" of the tree. Then, instead of stringing the lights around the tree, try wrapping the individual branches, beginning in the interior of the tree and working your way to the outer edges.
Once the tree is lit, move on to the garland. A general rule of thumb says that for every foot of tree, you'll need two yards of garland.
To create an old fashioned feeling, why not have the whole family sit and string a garland of popcorn and cranberries? You'll be able to complete the job in no time at all if you string the kernels and berries onto waxed dental floss. And the job will go even faster if hot chocolate and Christmas cookies are included in the fun!
When you are placing the garland on the tree, it's best to start at the top and work your way down. Try draping the garland so that it lays in small curves at the top of the tree, with bigger curves as you move down.
Now it's on to the ornaments. The great thing about Christmas ornaments is that they don't have to be expensive to be beautiful. In fact, the most cherished ornaments on the tree are often the ones that cost nothing at all. They're the ornaments that have been made by loved ones, and are special because they evoke wonderful memories of Christmases past.
As you begin to decorate your tree, place the largest ornaments first. They will become focal points. Then fill in with the smaller ornaments. To add interest and depth to the tree, hang some ornaments close to the trunk of the tree and others on the outer branches.
After all the ornaments are in place, you can also add holly branches with berries and pinecones to fill in any remaining open spaces. Bunches of dried flowers and ribbons are another lovely addition to an old fashioned tree.
When the last ornament has been hung, I'm sure you'll be pleased with your beautiful old fashioned tree. While the tree may only last a few weeks, your family's memories of it will last a lifetime, making it an enduring holiday gift for the whole family.
Weekend Projects (DRG Publishers), also appear together frequently on HGTV.
For more on Matt Fox & Shari Hiller, visit www.hgtv.com or www.mattandshari.com
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com
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