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Continuing beloved Christmas traditions on a budget

The Scible Christmas tree
The Scible Christmas tree (Submitted photo)

The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. Every time I pull into my driveway, it warms my heart to see twinkling topiaries flanking the door and an evergreen wreath with whimsical red and green ribbons adorning the front of it. As I enter the front door to a sea of gold, silver, red and green decor and more twinkling white lights, it brings a sense of coziness and family to me.

My love of Christmas decorating was instilled in me at a young age by my mother. Every year, the day after Christmas, we would wake up early in the morning, put our winter coats on and head out on a mission. We were not looking for shoes or sweaters like many of the shoppers; we were on the hunt for half-off holiday decorations. When else would it be practical to purchase a second or third tree to decorate, a gorgeous beaded garland or an intricate hand-carved model of Santa Claus? It wasn't the same store every time. As the years went by, my mother's tastes as well as the styles changed, but our Dec. 26 acquisitions were always so special.

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The following year, it was so exciting to open up all of the boxes and be able to display the finds from the year before. My mother's friend, Hannah, would come over, and we would spend the whole day decorating the tree and filling the house with shiny baubles and greenery. This was a special time for us and one I will cherish forever.

Years later, these beautiful decorations now cover my tree and line my stairwells, and as I pull out the boxes the day after Thanksgiving every year, even though she is no longer with us, each and every ornament reminds me of a time my mother and I spent together.

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To bring this festive feeling to your home, you do not have to spend a fortune on holiday items. It is easy to get sucked in to all of the glorious displays they have at local stores, but many of these scenes can be recreated in your own home with things you may already own or can collect for practically nothing.

One of my favorite things to use for holiday decorating is outdoor greenery. I can just head out my back door and trim branches off of the evergreens in the yard and use them on my mantle, along the stair rail or around my front door. Placing some holly or pine branches in a few small vases or mason jars and arranging them on the coffee table can make a beautiful centerpiece. Ribbon and small ornaments can be tied around the containers to make them even more festive. Pine cones can also make a wonderful centerpiece if placed in a large bowl with some round silver or gold ornaments.

Ornaments can brighten up a tree, but can be used for decorating the rest of the house, as well. A pretty container filled with a variety of different shaped or textured ornaments can brighten up any table top. A few years back, I found two large boxes of vintage jewel tone glass and aluminum ornaments at a yard sale for only a few dollars. I used some of them to make a gorgeous wreath by stringing them onto a coat hanger shaped into a circle, and I put the rest in a glass container that sits on my bathroom counter.

A great way to make your home feel festive without purchasing new items is to change out the color scheme. I replace all of my white candles used throughout the year with red ones. I also switch the pillows and throws on my couches to red or gold ones. Red poinsettias also can change the look of a room. A neighbor uses them to flank her fireplace. The combination of the freshness of the flowers and their bright red color transforms her living room.

Photographs and Christmas cards can also be used to brighten up a room for the holiday. By stringing a combination of family photos and Christmas cards together, you can make a garland to hang down the stair rail or across the mantel. You could also make DIY frames and place those adorable photos taken of your kids on Santa's lap inside. We also like to make ornaments with the photographs of loved ones to remember them on the holiday.

Holiday candy or cookies can also make wonderful decorations. Gingerbread cookies with icing and sprinkles can be made into lovely ornaments by simply poking a hole in the top of each cookie just before it comes out of the oven. Candy canes can be tied together with a ribbon and hung on the tree or on a vase as well. Glass vases filled with red and green candy make a great mantle decoration, too.

As I sit and enjoy my shining tree and smell the fresh scent of pine lining the mantel, the holiday traditions surrounding me bring a smile to my face and warmth to my soul. I hope that your well-dressed home will do the same for you.

Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at kellyscible@gmail.com.

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