Sunday, December 11, 2011

Going Coastal for Christmas

If I'd packed the Christmas decorations, Greg would have killed me.  Moving from 5000 square feet to 1600 square feet doesn't allow for 50 yards of lighted garland, 15 wreaths for the windows, three fully decorated Christmas trees and two holiday deer. You can forget about the life-size partridge in a pear tree.

So here we are, December, and we have no decorations.

My Bucket Advent Calendar
Well, almost no decorations.  I snuck the handmade Advent calendar of buckets into the back of the car while Greg was recording music and thus, distracted, when we were home in November.  I made the Advent buckets three years ago to help our family keep up with the traditions of Christmas.  Busy with school, dance, chorus, band, work, and volunteering, we missed the little things that make Christmastime special: baking cookies, drinking hot chocolate while watching It's a Wonderful Life, making peppermint milk in a fruit jar like my great-grandfather did, caroling our relatives (the only ones kind enough to take it) or even just riding around eating fast food burgers and looking at tacky Christmas lights.  The buckets solved everything.  Over Thanksgiving break, I wrote down a special holiday treat, tradition or activity for each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas and placed one in each bucket.  I tried to vary each day between a family outing like seeing the latest Christmas movie at the theater or a family tradition like baking sugar cookies to silly treats like holiday pens, pencils, socks or candy.   I also scheduled into the bucket activities the essential holiday preparations of getting the Christmas tree, decorating and special church services.  The kids loved getting up in the morning and checking out the surprise for that day.  Obviously, I had to bring this to Fripp. (I'll post some of these special holiday activities from this year.)

With our calendar proudly hung, we decided to get creative for the rest of our decorations instead of spending more money.  As part of their PE assignments, the kids scoured the beach each day looking for seashells, sand dollars and starfish.  Greg contributed by going clamming, happily eating the clams and donating the shells for the new tree garland.  I golf carted around the island in the rain searching for the beautiful Atlantic White Cedar trees in full berry and snuck a few limbs here and there for our mantel and mirror.  We only purchased burlap for stockings, jute and hemp roping for the shell garland and two strands of blue lights for the tree.

After pulling all the ingredients together, we spent one whole day sitting around the living room, watching football and creating our decorations.

The kids strung popcorn while Greg drilled the holes in the seashells and I created the garland.  We made individual ornaments with the sand dollars and whelk shells.  After layering it all on the tree and adding our travel ornaments, our lone starfish topped the tree.
Greg's drilled shells

Our Coastal Christmas Tree

Not a professional pattern
The mantel, decked out with the cedar and berries, looked complete when we added our personally sewn stockings.  Emma and I cut a rough pattern out of newspaper and I gave the kids their first sewing lesson on my handy Baby Lock sewing machine (I insisted on bringing this on sabbatical and it finally paid off!)  Wyatt and Emma sewed their stockings without hesitation, but Anabel froze when it came her turn.  Trying not to lose my patience, I asked her what on earth was the matter.  Leave it to Anabel and her love of movies to paralyze her at a tiny sewing machine.  Seems in the American Girl movie about Samantha, there was a scene in a sweatshop factory where a boy got his hand caught in a machine and the giant needle went through his hand.  Ouch!  After showing Anabel that it was impossible to sew your hand on this machine she proceeded without any problems.  Kids... you never know what they're thinking.

I added a shell initial for each child's stocking... Thank you, Hot Glue Gun!

With the stockings hung by the chimney with care, I proceeded to make a holiday wreath for our center mirror.  I wired a few cedar branches together and "Voila!" A Christmas wreath!

Our homemade decorations may pale in comparison to their store bought brethren back home, but I love these coastal decorations we made together and will treasure them always (or at least until they start to smell.)

1 comment:

  1. I love the decorations, Jenny!!! I did a tree one year for Christmas and strung popcorn and cranberries and put old jewelry on it... No lights, it was beautiful... the year was 1971... Couldn't afford decorations, it is one of my fondness memories... Now you are making so many memories for you and Greg and your children... God Bless You, Patty and I love all of you!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!


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