Humanity groans in it’s wretched state- in lonely exile and captivity, enslaved to sin and without hope.
O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night,
and turn our darkness into light.
But in the midst, God enters in, bringing Light in the form of a baby born in a stable. Immanuel, God With Us.
O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.
And that’s not where the story ends. Through the Saviour, the King of Peace, who will bid all our sad divisions cease, there is a hope for the future.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, with the hope that the message of this song, written over 1000 years ago, will bring you hope and comfort, and a reason to rejoice, in this Christmas season.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
(I recently learned that this beautiful hymn, one of my favourites, is an 8th century antiphonal chant that was, in 1851, turned into a seven verse hymn. In Latin it was originally “Veni Veni Emmanuel”.)
I love Christmas cards! Whether I make them myself, or buy them (usually the year before on-sale after Christmas) I love picking out a sweet design and mailing them to friends and family far away. Traditional Christmas cards seem to be a dying tradition, with many people opting for photo cards or e-cards these days, but I do still receive a few old fashioned cards in the mail.
There are some really pretty card designs, and I always hate to recycle them after the holidays, so last year I saved all of the cards I and my family received, and upcycled them into gift tags to use this year! I love wrapping gifts, and it was nice to be able to reuse the cards, coordinating the wrapping papers and ribbons to go with each tag. This was such a quick and easy DIY, it’s can’t even be called a tutorial, yet I did want to share the idea with you, in case you also hate to toss greeting cards!
I used my Creative Memories oval templates and blades to cut the tags. This is the cutting system I got a long time ago…maybe 18 years? After all these years, it’s still going strong and I love it!
Centre the template onto the artwork and cut it out.
Punch a hole in the top of the card, and then string a piece of twine or ribbon through. I used the Fiskars small holepunch. A few of the cards had writing on the back, so I cut out an oval the same size out of green paper and then glued the two ovals together to cover it up.
That’s it! As I said, not really a tutorial, but more of an inspiration for gift wrapping. I know Fiskars makes some large tag punches, so that could work if you don’t have oval/circle cutters. Or, if you don’t have any punches, you could cut the fronts of the cards off, measure a 45 degree angle across the top corners and cut them into traditional tag shapes.
I wrapped all of my gifts this year in reused kraft paper bags and wrapping paper. I also reused old pattern paper as tissue paper.
I even wrapped one gift in an old parchment paper document. And all of the ribbons were saved from previous years as well…these are very zero waste packages!
Do you like wrapping gifts? How did you wrap yours this year?
Is it too early to start wishing everyone a Merry Christmas? I don’t know why, but I’m just feeling the Christmas spirit early this year! And by early, I mean the last week of November instead of the first week of December. Growing up, we never put up our Christmas decor before December, and because we always get a real tree, you truly can’t put it up too early or it will be dry and dead by Christmas Day. However, I do now like to put up my other Christmas decor before then. And for some reason, this year I was just itching to pull out my boxes and get my room in holiday mode, so I decorated this week.
As always, I used pretty much all the same decor, but styled the pieces in different ways to keep things interesting. The only new acquisitions were the adorable mini Christmas trees, which I picked up a few weeks ago from the thrift store for $3.00. (There were also some larger bottle brush trees in the bag, but I gave those to my sister) Honestly, no one ever need buy new Christmas ornaments, trees, tablecloths and tins ever again; I’m sure there are more than enough available at the thrift stores!
I also only used about a 1/3 of the Christmas decor I have, because it would look like a decorating store exploded in my room if I used it all. I only have two storage boxes with decor, but it’s not that big of a room either.
As for those new mini Christmas trees, I arranged a couple on the top of my shoe shelf, but wasn’t sure what to do with the others since they are a different colour and style. Then I realized they fit perfectly on the picture frames in my gallery wall! It’s a subtle detail that makes this wall look so festive.
Another recent acquisition, though not holiday specific, is this wooden bowl from the thrift store. It was a salad set of 5 pieces and I only wanted one small bowl for another project, but decided to keep them all rather than split off an incomplete set. The bowls were in pretty bad shape; cracked, and in desperate need of an oiling, but for $3.00 for the set, I took a chance. I sanded them smooth, glued and clamped the cracks back together and then oiled them with linseed oil and they look gorgeous now! (I didn’t remember to take a before picture, so you’ll have to trust me!) The large bowl was the perfect place to display some dried orange slices and pinecones on top of my dresser.
I also redecorated the top of my dresser with some of my fashion books instead of a tray. I’ve been wanting to try this for a while, but I’m not sure whether this was a smart idea because I’ll have to move everything off if I want to look at my book! But it does look nice in the meantime. And again, this year my woodburned garland found it’s way to the top of my dresser mirror.
Now for the statement piece of the room: the garland over my window! I decided to try a garland across my window this year, rather than doing a bouquet with berries and branches like I’ve done in the past. We have a massive juniper thicket growing at the edge of our treed area; you can gather branches from it every year and never even notice they are gone, so it’s perfect for winter decorating! (I don’t know how I’ll decorate if we move!)
Juniper has a fairly long cut life. I’ve had bouquets last 2 months before in a vase, and even when it starts to dry, it just gets lighter in colour and crispy, but doesn’t drop needles. So, I don’t know how well this is going to last, and if it’s going to make it to Christmas Day, but I thought I’d make a garland out of live branches. They are up high so even if they do get dry and crunchy, they’re not going to get mussed around. I think if I just leave them there, and don’t touch them, they should be fine.
They did smell very strong and earthy when I first brought them in, and I wasn’t sure about the smell since it’s in my bedroom, but after an hour it dissipated as the branches warmed up.
And I love how the window turned out! The red berries are festive, but not too bright, and the tan berries really give it a nice natural feel. And of course the fairy lights add the perfect sparkly touch (and they make a great night light too!)
For the rest of the room, I added my paper crafted house and tree made out of book pages that I made last year, and some pinecones to my bookshelf.
I also hung up my favourite little winter scene by encaustic artist Donna Hanson on the wall by my closet. I always get so excited to hang this one up in Winter- I love it!
And as a final touch, I hung my mini silver wreath over my gold oval mirror, placed an evergreen bouquet on top of my shelf, and scattered a couple of beeswax candles around. I have been enjoying burning them in the evenings when I read, which just adds such a nice hygge atmosphere.
I think we’re going to decorate the rest of the house this week, which I’m looking forward to. We’ve got some renovations going on, so the areas to decorate are fewer than previous years, but it’s still nice to put out a few festive touches despite, or perhaps as an antidote to, the chaos.
Did you get your Christmas decor up early this year, or are you still planning to wait a while? Do you like to try new things each year or stick to a tried and true formula? What is your favourite Christmas decoration?
And what a glorious statement that is! In a world full of despair, darkness and fear, it can often seem like things truly are hopeless. And what a year we’ve just gone through, the second in a row….when will it end? We’re waiting. And as we approach Christmas, we are reminded of just how much the world waits in eager anticipation. We’re waiting…but for what?
Let earth receive her King;
Into the darkness the Light comes… through the birth of a baby in a stable thousands of years ago. The world waits, and the answer comes in an unexpected way. God leaves heaven, to come to earth; God with us, Immanuel.
Let every heart prepare him room
If you are burdened and weary this Christmas, and wondering what it is we are waiting for anyway, I invite you to turn your heart to him. In the darkest month of the year, we remember Jesus, who “came into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Him will stay in darkness”. He is the one who brings hope and salvation to our weary, groaning world.
And heaven and nature sing.
I hope and pray that you will have a wonderful Christmas this year, remembering and celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ!
I just love Christmas decorating! Do you? I change my decorations each year- I can never do exactly the same thing or I get bored with it. This year, while I do have lots of vintage and retro decorations such as glass ball ornaments, mercury glass pieces etc., I didn’t use most of them and instead went for much more laid back, natural and simplified look. In past years I have done a lot more decorating, but this year it just felt right to have a more subtle look for my new space.
If you want to add some festive wintery touches, without going crazy with the faux snow and garlands, here are some ways to incorporate Christmas touches into your space without it looking like Santa’s workshop.
Faux berry branches look more realistic when you pair them with real branches. You also need very few stems to create an impact. (To see how make a little Christmas tree like this one, see this post here.)
Sometimes a tiny wreath hanging on the back of a chair, or a vase with evergreens in it is enough to add a festive touch. And of course, candles always add a warm and cozy feeling to any space, at this time of year!
Switch out your summery artwork for wintery artwork. On my dresser mirror, I added a vintage Christmas postcard. (And a little wooden snowflake garland).
I also have two beautiful encaustic pieces by this artist; one is a summery field and blue sky scene, and this one is a beautiful snowy scene. I switch between them, depending on the season.
Pinecones make great natural seasonal decor. I like to place them around in vignettes. If you have access to pine trees then they are free, and if you don’t feel like storing the pinecones, you can always go and toss them back in the bush after Christmas.
Sometimes you can add a festive touch just by making a few tiny presents to adorn your existing decor; in this case a glass hot air balloon! Or, like with this little cloche, change what you have displayed under the glass.
Also, if you don’t have a tree, you can also hang pretty ornaments in your windows from thread or fishing line, or loop some (unbreakable) ornaments over your doorknobs.
For my mom’s living room mantle, this year we kept it simple with bouquets of evergreen branches and candles of varying heights flanking both sides of the nativity.
And, again, pinecones made a great natural garland to ground the candlesticks. I made this one by wiring bunches of pinecones together onto a piece of sisal rope, which we then arranged along the mantle. Lovely golden beeswax tapers finish off the look.
Finally, my favourite piece of holiday decor, which is new this year for me, is an advent calendar. I made this one last year out of origami “masu” boxes. (not very well, I might add- I’m definitely not an origami professional. Don’t look too closely, or you’ll see how crooked it is!)
Each box contains a scripture passage and a chocolate to countdown to Christmas; and the best thing about making your own calendar is that you can put better quality chocolates in them, instead of those waxy tasting ones!
How about you? Do you like to change up your decor each year, or stick with a tried and true formula? Do you like to DIY your seasonal decor?