YOU Magazine - December 2007 - Deck the Halls: Budget-Friendly Decorating Tips Subscribe to YOU Magazine and other timely market alerts from Laurie Gardner.

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Laurie Gardner     Laurie Gardner
Senior Mortgage Loan Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage Company NMLS Unique ID #204060
Phone: (907)796-1202 / fax 907-929-6711
Fax: WA Consumer Loan Co. License #CL-157293
License: Mortgage License #AK157293
Alaska USA Mortgage Company NMLS Unique ID #204060
December 2007

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Deck the Halls:
Budget-Friendly Decorating Tips

Deck the Halls: - Budget-Friendly Decorating Tips

The holiday season is a costly time of year. There are gifts to buy, parties to prepare for, and any number of other miscellaneous expenses. That being said, it makes no sense for us to spend money when we don't have to. One expense that tends to be a touch excessive is the money we put toward holiday decorations.

Don't get us wrong. We are not saying that decorating for the holidays isn't important. Our only point is that it doesn't have to cost a lot. Actually, we're hoping that once you read this article you'll feel that it shouldn't cost a lot. So, in the spirit of the holidays, let's deck the halls – affordably.

Now, That's a Fire!
There's nothing that captures the essence of winter quite like a fire in the fireplace. On a visual level, the beauty it brings to a living room is almost indescribable. On an olfactory level, it makes the entire house smell like the holidays. And, on a practical level, it adds warmth to your home.

The first lesson here is to make sure your fireplace is in good working order. If it needs an inspection or a good cleaning, do it now before your schedule gets busy or your budget tightens. If you plan on burning a chemical-laced log to clean your fireplace, we do have a word of caution. There are several issues of debate surrounding this type of chimney cleaner, but the bottom line is that most of them don't do the job as well as a qualified, professional chimney sweep. Look for a reference from someone you trust, perhaps a local real estate professional, who can recommend someone in your area.

Let's say that lighting a fire in your fireplace is not an option. Fortunately, you can still make use of the space. Simply remove the grate that holds the wood, give the inside of your fireplace a thorough sweeping, and replace the grate with a fireplace candelabrum that can be purchased at various home improvement stores and websites. It may not be as impressive as a raging fire, but it will bring a touch of elegance to any living room. An even less expensive and simpler solution is to utilize multiple pillar candles of varying sizes. Place them on the floor of your freshly-swept fireplace, and you're set!

Comfy, Comfy
The winter holidays are all about bunkering down with friends and family, drinking a mug of hot chocolate or hot buttered rum, and either watching movies on DVD or catching up on each other's lives. Aside from the aforementioned beverages and entertainment, there are two items that are crucial to this scenario – throw pillows and blankets.

Think about it. Very few of us have enough seating in our living room to accommodate all of our houseguests. In other words, someone always winds up on the floor. Instead of that being a bad thing, why not make it a desirable place to be with the simple addition of a few comfortable pillows and blankets. At the same time, when strategically folded and placed throughout your living room, blankets and pillows can double as holiday decoration.

Utilizing the pillows and blankets you already own would obviously be ideal and cost effective. However, if you find yourself needing to bolster your bolsters, don't break the bank. Establishments like Target, Kmart, and any number of home improvement stores sell very affordable, yet fashionable throw pillows and blankets. You'll be surprised at the difference that a few of these accoutrements will make to the overall feel of your family room.

The Nose Knows
We associate the holidays with certain scents. Pine, cinnamon, and cloves seem to top the list. If your family celebrates Christmas, you've most likely got the pine part covered with your fresh Christmas tree. But what if you don't celebrate Christmas, or what if you're partial to an artificial tree? No problem.

Have you ever thought about the pine that's available to you for no cost at all? Try making your way down to your local Christmas tree lot and inquiring about the branches they've trimmed off of trees and have no use for. Freebees like these can be used to adorn mantles, decorate coffee tables, or may be tastefully strewn across a dining room table. They add a splash of color and a fresh pine scent without the presence of a tree.

Regarding the scent of either cinnamon or cloves, there are several ways to achieve it. Two of the easiest and least expensive methods are the use of potpourri and scented oils. Strategically place two or three such items around the house, and you'll be immediately transported into the holiday mode.

Lighting Is Everything
The good news is that achieving the proper holiday lighting doesn't require you to purchase any expensive fixtures. Instead, start with candles and lots of 'em. Candlesticks, votives, tea lights, and pillar candles all have the ability to create mood through incandescence. Candlelit dinners seem to look and taste better, and movie watching in a candlelit room adds ambience to the experience.

The bad news about candles is if you shop for them in the wrong place, you can rack up a hefty bill in no time at all. If you're thinking about burning a lot of candles this holiday season, it can easily turn into one of those unnecessary expenses. For an array of inexpensive candles, look no further than your local Ikea. If that's not a possibility, simply log onto and browse the nearly 100 different types of candles they have to offer.

Another option for creating soft lighting within your home is the use of white Christmas lights or rope lights, as they can be draped across mantles and shelving, or tied around the perimeter of large paintings or mirrors. The effect of their soft light emanating from behind a wall decoration brings a dramatic touch to any dimly-lit room.

Color, Color, Color
The holidays are all about color. If you celebrate Christmas, red, green, and white will serve as your color palate. If Hanukkah is your holiday, it's all about blue, silver, and white. And if Kwanzaa is your celebration, look no further than red, green, and black. If none of these options work for you, there are always fall colors like brown, orange, and yellow.

Whatever your color choice may be, it is important to incorporate it into every room. Tablecloths and cloth napkins can provide the color in your dining room. In terms of the living room, the aforementioned pillows and throw blankets can serve as your holiday color accents. Even holiday gifts awaiting their opening can be wrapped in the appropriate colored paper. In terms of the rest of your home, be creative. Just make sure to utilize the colors that represent whatever holiday you are celebrating.

Reflect on the Past
Family is a major theme of the holidays, so why not pay homage to this notion by digging through your closets for family mementos and keepsakes. Your children's holiday projects from school, pictures from past holidays, and holiday greeting cards are all perfect examples of decorations that are already sitting inside your home. Now is the time to break them out.

The Sound of Music
Music is decoration for the ears. Most of us have some sort of holiday-themed music somewhere in our collection. If not, pick up 3 or 4 compilation CDs that illustrate the holiday you are celebrating. Play these (on a lower volume) whenever you have a gathering in your home, or simply feel like getting into the spirit of the season.

But don't stop there. Genres like soft jazz or classical music are also great to pipe into your living room during your gatherings. They add a soothing sophistication to any holiday event.

So, let's review. We have just brought the warmth, comfort, scent, light, and color of the holiday season into your home. The best part is we didn't ask you to buy a bunch of "stuff" that costs a lot of money or takes up valuable space in your garage once the holidays are over. Most of the items you probably already have, and the others are minor investments at best. With all the extra time and money on your hands, there's just one thing left to do. Have a happy and safe holiday season.

License AK# 157293 Washington Consumer Loan Company license# CL-157293 California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, License# 4131067

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