Do Holidays Have to Blink and Glitter?

Holiday Projects, Found Ornaments, and Architectural Details

Blinking lights and holiday glitter are like shouting. Holidays can bring out the best and worst in people, so here are some suggestions for spotlighting the better angels of our nature, highlighting humankind's very best—the natural beauty of architecture.

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Create with Architectural Salvage

Charles Eames with a Christmas Tree Made of Burning Molded-plywood Chair Legs, circa 1946
Designer/Architect Charles Eames with a Christmas Tree Made of Burning Molded-Plywood Chair Legs, c. 1946. Photo from the exhibition "The Work of Charles & Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention" courtesy Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, and the Vitra Design Museum (cropped)

American designers Charles and Ray Eames expressed a playful holiday spirit—this 1946 photo shows Charles Eames with a fanciful Christmas tree he made. Did you know that molded-plywood chair legs make wonderful candles? Together, the Eames husband-and-wife team created some of the most iconic American furniture. They designed and built chairs from the then new production method of molding plywood into modern shapes—a process that is still used today. And what did they do with leftover and rejected chair legs? Imagination prevailed!

"I could never think of that," you might say. Then ask your kids or the neighbor geek down the street. Anyone can come up with bizarre and entertaining ornaments from odds and ends found around your own work bench or even from the local dumpster. Call them Found Ornaments.

Holiday Project:

Try this: give each of your kids $5 or $10 and take them to the local hardware store or big box chain store (e.g., Lowe's, The Home Depot, B & Q). Tell them they can spend the money any way they want for building supplies that they will assemble into a decoration, tree, wreath, or some other ornamentation for the holidays. You'll find that some of the most beautiful decorations are simple, economical, and eco-friendly. And where else can you get a handmade wreath for ten bucks?

Also, check out these decorating ideas from the House Channel Experts here at About.com:

  • Alternative Christmas Tree Ideas
  • 12 DIY Christmas Wreaths
  • Recycled Christmas Tree Ornaments
  • Vintage and Antique Christmas Scraps

Photo (cropped): Original photograph circa 1946 from the exhibition "The Work of Charles & Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention," - Furniture, Library of Congress in partnership with the Vitra Design Museum

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House exterior with Christmas decorations
House exterior with Christmas decorations. Photo by Stocktrek/Photodisc Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

Bah humbug to flashing lights and holiday glitz. Natural beauty doesn't need such shouting—architectural detail can speak for itself.

So, how can you showcase the architecture of your house? Accentuate your home's details with strategically placed outdoor spotlights. Shine a light onto what you love best about your house. You may have a rustically carved front door, a massive brick chimney, or fancy columns or pillars that display a regal beauty. Let it shine. Take some tips from the pros who lit the Washington Monument—(1) focus on the corners and (2) light from the top down. Exterior lighting can be permanent or temporarily placed using outdoor extension cords.

Is your home designed without ornamentation? Outline simplicity with simple lights tucked under an overhanging eave, allowing the architectural detail to glow itself. Just remember, though—the Washington Monument isn't outlined in blinking lights.

Here are more tips from the Experts:

  • Holiday Outdoor Lighting Displays Around the USA
  • Christmas Light Displays
  • How to Wrap Trees With Outdoor Lights
  • Best Outdoor Holiday Lights

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Indoor Christmas Decorations

Winter holiday decorations on door opening to a room with a fireplace near xmas tree
Peaceful Christmas. Photo by pixhook/E+ Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

What part of your home's interior was love at first sight? The massive stone fireplace? The original 19th century balustrade in the hall stairway? Place chic Christmas wreaths on the best of your home's architectural details. Simple decorations will focus the eyes on the real beauty of your home.

Check out these decorating ideas from some of the best Home Experts:

  • Christmas Decorating and Furniture Arrangement
  • Christmas Decorations and Holiday Decor
  • 5 Feng Shui Tips for A Happy Christmas Home Decor
  • Find a Truly Green Christmas Tree