Decor – My Christmas Decorations from Past Years (Part One)

When we lived in California, I decorated our house for Christmas in a very different way from our Midwest home.  I used artificial pine garland in several of the rooms, including the living room, family room, dining room and kitchen.  Pine garland is a wonderful Christmas decorating accessory to use and it can be very versatile with the use of different items added from one room to another to get a wonderful variety of looks.

As I discussed in last month’s Décor post, Fall decorations, in our previous home in California I used several lengths of pine garland set up in both the living room and dining room decorations with golden roses, berries and oak leaves with pre-strung with lights because the intent was to leave the garland in place until Christmas.  This was meant to save time during the holiday decorating process and the accessories in the garland would be changed from the Fall to the Christmas seasons.  In both rooms there were large oak pieces of furniture, an oak entertainment center in the living room and an oak china cabinet in the dining room, and the garland was secured into place at the top of each.

For the 2002 Christmas season, I removed the Fall decorations and added red poinsettias with red berries and holly leaves.  The inspiration for this was a trip had recently made down to Encinitas, California to the Ecke farm that grows poinsettias which are marketed and shipped throughout the United States during the holiday season.  I started the arrangement by inserting several artificial poinsettias into the existing garland and in between the flowers I added holly leaves and red berries.  The contrast of the green pine garland and the red poinsettias was very festive for Christmas.  Both arrangements in the living room and the dining room used the same decorations.


For the 2003 holiday season, I decided to do a different arrangement in the dining room.  I thought it would be appropriate to incorporate artificial fruit into the garland for a food themed arrangement that was reflected in the still life painting over the china cabinet.  I started by lacing red burgundy colored ribbon throughout the artificial pine garland. Next, I secured artificial “sugared” fruit onto the garland; I used grapes, apples and pears.  I think it made a wonderful display and looked very elegant in the dining room and the arrangement was used for both the Fall and Christmas seasons.  (Please check out the craft post, Victorian centerpiece, to see how I repurposed the “sugared” fruit into a lovey arrangement that I used last year in our Midwest home for the holiday season)


In our California home, I always decorated our kitchen with a gingerbread and candy theme for the Christmas season.  To start the 2002 decorations, I hung an artificial pine garland over the window.  I had found various candy themed items in the local craft stores, such as artificial chocolate candies, white chocolate covered strawberries and white “Icing” snowflakes.  These items were secured to the garland and the decorations looked perfect for the kitchen.

In keeping with my decorating style of constantly changing my holiday displays, for the 2003 Christmas I again used an artificial pine garland and laced a cute “Ho,Ho,Ho” red and white ribbon through the garland.  I still used the artificial chocolate candies but that year I added artificial gumdops, peppermint candies and red and white lollipops.  All these items were secured to the garland and once again the contrast of red and green colors looked great for the Christmas season.  As you can see for the photos of the kitchen garland for one year to the next, the same candy theme was used but with different accessories the garlands had to distinct and different looks.


For the last garland arrangement in our California house, I used another artificial pine garland for the fireplace mantel, this Christmas decoration was featured in the Décor post, Displaying a Boyd’s Bear Collection – Part Two.  I had found a string of amber pinecone lights in a local store and strung them through the garland.  Next, I evenly spaced my collection of Boyd’s Bear ornament nestled among the pine boughs.  To finish the display I added several real pinecones and red berries scattered throughout the garland.

As you can see by moving from one house to another I adapted by Christmas decorations and used the items in new and different ways.  I hope this inspires you to take a look as your Christmas decorations as you unpack them from their storage boxes and think about displaying those items in fun and different ways in the rooms of your home.

Decor – Department 56 North Pole Village

North Pole Village 2012

The Department 56 North Pole Village is one of the highlights of our Christmas decorations.  It brings me great joy to create something whimsical for the family during the holiday season.  Even with the same main buildings displayed every year; such as Santa’s Workshop, Elves’ Bunkhouse, Reindeer Barn and Santa and Mrs. Clause’s Home and the North Pole Gate – the display can look different from one year to the next.

When I unpack the boxes from storage every year, I will try to arrange the various buildings and accessories in different ways.  Some years I will even display the Department 56 North Pole in a different room of the house.  Last year I added a mountain platform and a blue sky background.  Please, take a look at the photos below and see how the display has changed over the years.

So, if you have one of the Department 56 villages, think about displaying it in a new way or perhaps even in a different room.  Maybe purchase another building or accessory to add to the collection.  Suddenly, with a little creativity or spending just a little money, a Christmas village can look fresh and new.


History of the Department 56 Villages

Over 25 years ago Department 56 began as a part of the premiere retail florist, Bachman’s, in Minneapolis, MN.  Bachman’s used a numbering system to identify each of their departments and the number assigned to the wholesale gift department was 56.  Department 56 has been a leader in the collectible, home and holiday decorative products and is now a division of the Enesco Company.

Known for their Christmas Village and Snowbabies collections, the brand began with the Snow Village six ceramic houses in 1976.  Some of the names of the original houses were the Mountain Lodge, Gabled Cottage and Inn.  Currently the collection consists of over 225 pieces and accessories.

The Heritage Village Collection started with the porcelain Dickens Village in 1984.  The charming houses depict the time of Charles Dickens and are named for places or characters relating to the stories he wrote.  Some of the pieces are The Old Curiosity Shop, Scrooge and Marley Counting House and the Cottage of Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim.

The New England Village was introduced in 1986 and includes churches, such as the Old North Church in Boston, lighthouses and other buildings and places in the New England area.

The Alpine Village collection started in 1986 and some of the pieces have very European names, such as Josef Engel Farmhouse, Bessor Bierkeller and St. Nicholas Kirche Church.

The Christmas in the City collection was introduced in 1987 and depicts American life from 1930 to1940.  Pieces include the Palace Theatre, Ritz Hotel, Dorothy’s Dress Shop and St. Mark’s Church.

The North Pole Series started in 1990 and the first pieces introduced were Santa’s Workshop, Elf Bunkhouse and Reindeer Barn.

The Little Town of Bethlehem collection was issued in 1987 and there were only twelve pieces.

For further information on Department 56 Villages or to see what houses and accessories are currently available or to get additional ideas see their website.