Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday Decorating on a Dime (or two!)

We recently returned to one of my favorite spots -- Southern Exposure Herb Farm in Battle Creek, MI -- for a whirlwind workshop on Decorating on a Shoestring. There were so many remarkable ideas (107 over three hours -- and that included time for a fabulous dinner!)

Like our other Southern Exposure visits, our time began with a fabulous meal, including a stuffed chicken dish, colorful roasted root veggies, kale salad, scrumptious potatoes and a remarkable peppermint cake, all served with wine.

The table was beautifully decorated with rosemary for a centerpiece, and of course we had our party favors. We also enjoyed frosted cranberries as an accompaniment on our plate (and regular ones in the water). I figured out how to make them while working on my Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Just cook the cranberries a bit in sugar and water and as they start to pop pull out unpopped ones. Roll them in sugar and let them cool. Then pop them in the freezer. They are sweet-tart, wonderful jewels!

After dinner we were given a ton of ideas featured in the dining room. Among them: Using a discarded wide frame to make a beautiful square wreath; wrapping boxes for decor and displaying them on a child's chair (this was atop an armoire).

Just about anything that hangs can become a showpiece. Add some glitz and glamour to your chandelier. Or, if you happen to have antlers hanging around, a bauble or two is always fun!


We broke up into four groups and our first stop brought even more thoughts! I loved this PVC snowflake centerpiece.

And while this photo is pretty fuzzy, I rather liked the faux wreath snow guy, which would be great on an exterior.

Two of my favorites (the ladder tree and the lighted saran-wrap-under-glass new year's setting are at Habitation. This photo gives you an idea of the new year's table.

Of course, lamps can be an accompaniment (with bows) or a centerpiece. This wreath-surrounded lamp made for a dynamic setting. The napkin rings are swirly glittered wires from Michael's.


Then it was back outdoors again to go to our next venue, the kitchen.

Chef Elsie shared her recipes and then a few hints. I loved this one -- take an old doorknob and repurpose it to anchor a large wedge of cheese. It gives one something solid to hold onto while slicing it.

Then it was off outside again! And every bit of outside was as decorated as in!

I was very excited to go into the "Big House" which isn't usually open to guests as it is inhabited by the farm owners. We were welcomed at the front door with this vision -- a dried hydrangea garland with stockings (purchased at the dollar store or resale). On each step was a battery-operated tea light. (The lighting was dim so I have two photos here to show it off.)

Another idea I loved was taking the lid of a storage container and putting lights, pine boughs and cones atop it. Use this as a resting spot for boots to drain. It smelled wonderful!

To be perfectly honest, I didn't want to leave this space. Ever. In my entire life. How could you leave a table so inviting?

Or a fireplace so warm and toasty! (Note how the vintage cheese graters were used for lighting and the use of doll clothing on the mantle. These were hanging from an old iron -- the kind you heat over the fire!

Wreaths (real and faux) were used everywhere. I liked how they used it here to encircle the clock.

Lighting adds so much and now that the LED battery operated lights are so accessible, they can go to spots where outlets aren't easy.

Colored water, a small wreath, hanging greens all go to make a window ledge inviting.

A small bunch of live roses (in floral water picks) or lovely silk blooms can turn a small tree into a lovely arrangement.

Finally, it was to the garage for some outdoor techniques, which included lighting, covering oversized letters with moss for a holiday message or monogram, and ways to use greens. 

 I should add again that every idea from the workshop was based on this principle: With the exception of lighting and any DIY supplies, most all of the decorative elements were either found in nature, purchased at yard sales, Goodwill/Salvation Army or other resale shops and dollar stores, hand made, repurposed or already owned (surprisingly, they didn't haul out all the "good stuff" from years before; in fact Scott said after the holidays, most of it all goes back to Goodwill).

In other words, really decorating on a shoestring.

Then it was off to the gift shop... unfortunately not in this vintage beauty!

And yes, damage was done!

Remember, your decor needn't be expensive. Just love it and make it fun and all will be well!


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a time you must have had! I love all of your photos and nice ideas! Thanks for popping in to see me.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Marilyn Miller said...

Love this post. What a very fun event. I agree decorating can be done on a shoestring.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Wow, so beautiful! That home is so cozy and inviting. I can see why you didn't want to leave! I love seeing others' decorating ideas, especially ones that can be done without much cost!

anno said...

How beautiful! Everything looks like a Christmas present, ready to go under the tree -- there's a lot to learn here. Thanks for sharing these great ideas (and gorgeous photographs)!

Barb said...

Good to catch up with you Jeanie. Sounds like you had a happy Thanksgiving. So many creative ideas - my head is spinning. The winter snow makes it all look even more inviting.

PeterParis said...

Incredible what you can create if you have the time and the patience! I have more or less given up the Christmas decoration... being invited to the kids places.

littleRamstudio said...

Lots of inspiration.
Loved the purity of the New Year table, magical.
Heather :)

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Talk about decorating on a dime....I so want to decorate more, but I can't! SHEESH! Oh well, I think making the most of what you have is really the wisest and most fun choice! The cheese grater with the lighting, now that is COOL! Enjoy your decorating my friend! Anita

shoreacres said...

Battery powered LED lights? That can go in cabinets, all by themselves? Who knew? Not me, that's for sure. You know me -- less is better, even with decorating. But I do have this old set of lawyer's bookcases in the living room, with those wonderful glass fronts. I could scootch the books toward the back, and....

Thanks for the idea!

Willow said...

Clapping with glee . What a treat of beautiful sparkly holiday bliss. The cranberries in the wine glass look and sound lovely.
Of course I also love the little coordinated dog :))))
Happy Holidays !

psychelyn said...

Everything is sooo inviting. Pictures alone made me feel so excited. How much more if I were to visit such place. I have few favorites, the clock wreathe, the decor on the stairs...and old door knob on cheese? Seriously? Hehe that's a fun idea.

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

Everything looks so festive and this sure sounds like it was a fun event. Great decorating on a budget ideas too, my favorite is the holly inside the door knob.

Joanne Huffman said...

Cool ideas. I plan on getting my place decorated this week-end - running late, of course.

Arti said...

What a sumptuous post! Amazing how rich all the colours and ornaments are. You've had a marvellous Christmas event there. Thanks for sharing, Jeanie. BTW, have you got my email about the Evening Standard Awards links?

Maggie said...

Such great ideas and tips, will certainly be trying one or two as I continue decorating this weekend.
Thanks for taking us along with you!

Janet said...

Your photos are always so beautiful. I love these, and all the decorating ideas. Such creativity.

Bella Rum said...

I need to make those cranberries. Great idea for drinks, too. Love the old doorknob in the cheese wedge. I have to look up in the attic and see what I can find. Jeanie, you do some of the prettiest posts on your blog that I've ever seen. Lots of eye candy.

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