Living in a small home (it’s not tiny by any means, but it’s not as large as the average homes that are being built today), I find that when the holidays roll around, I’m not keen on putting up a Christmas tree in my living space. Much as I love looking at a beautifully decorated tree, I find that after a week or more, they start to make me feel claustrophobic; I generally feel like I’m walking around the tree just to get from one end of my living room to the other, and because the living room is also where I do my pilates exercises, if I have a tree there it cramps my style in that regard, too. Of course, I could try putting up a tree in other rooms – I always thought it seemed very romantic to have a Christmas tree in the bedroom, but in truth, I don’t feel like lugging a tree upstairs, either.
Still, I want to feel the spirit of the holiday season and share it with others who come into my home, and I’ve found that it’s actually the little things that can make a big difference, and you really don’t have to spend a lot of money. Most years, I go out into the woods and gather white pine boughs, which I arrange in large antique crocks (the kind that look like they were once used for moonshine), trail across the center of my dining room table, weaving them in and out of candles and a couple glass ornaments, and use them to line the dry sink of an antique cupboard which then becomes the repository for my wrapped presents. It has a similar effect to laying gifts beneath a tree, as the presents look so pretty with the pine sprigs peeking out beneath and around them. White pine has very soft, long needles and working with it is easy, though the cut boughs will leave some of their fragrant, waxy pine pitch behind, so you either have to accept that you’re going to have to scrape the pitch off later, or put an inexpensive cloth lining beneath them. If one doesn’t want to go to this trouble, then consider visiting the floral department of your local grocery store, many of which have evergreen and topiary-style arrangements that rival in appearance what florist shops have to offer, yet the price is so much better. I purchased the beautiful tabletop tree pictured above – a pairing of boxwood branches with baby’s breath, decorated with small red Christmas balls of varying textures (some are glittery, some shiny) and a simple gold bow – from my local Giant grocery store for only $28, whereas a slightly fancier version at Teleflora starts at a price of $64.95.
Getting back to the Christmas tree, while I don’t have one in the house, I found that I quite love having one outside, just in front of my picture window, where I can look out and see the top of it when I’m indoors. I have it decorated with ornaments that look like glass but aren’t, as well as with felted ornaments, and I make sure that the back of the tree, near the top, is decorated as well as the front, for my own enjoyment when I look out my window, even if its primary purpose is to greet motorists and passers-by. The accompaniment of two lighted deer sculptures makes the tree seem part of a tableaux, which I really like and which I mention for this reason only: to encourage anyone who feels like their home is too small for a Christmas tree to think outside the box – literally – because Christmas trees on an apartment balcony, porch or patio can be just as whimsical and fun to put up as the ones most people have inside.