Putting up holiday decorations is fun. Taking them down is not.
Maybe that’s why there are so many wreaths still hanging on the door when the Easter bunny comes knocking.
Using “winter” decorations, festive for December and New Year’s yet perfectly appropriate for the months that follow, might buy the procrastinator a little more time.
“We use a lot of greenery,” says Hannah Milman, holiday and crafts editor at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. “The smells remind us of the holidays but bringing nature indoors is nice in February and March.”
Evergreens might be more traditional but eucalyptus, olive or bay leaves are equally beautiful draped around windows or atop a mantel and they dry nicely so there’s no rush to clean them up, Milman explains.
A ficus tree adorned with snowflake ornaments brings “winter” to a warmer climate — and winter is three months long, says Celia Tejada, vice president of product design at Pottery Barn.
Working cranberries or winterberries into a garland breaks up the green with bursts of color but they are in no means specifically for the holidays. (Cranberries are particularly holiday friendly, though, because of their red color.)
“A ‘nature’ holiday look is easier to transition into the rest of winter than plastic Santas,” Milman says.
The berries also can be used for wreaths, as can pine cones and nuts. A dark wreath, possibly made from pines cones covered in shellac, could hang on the door or wall in a country house for all 12 months without looking out of place.
Floral arrangements and plants also are cheery and festive but are not tied to a specific holiday.
Despite its name, a Christmas cactus is a year-round plant — although its pink flowers bloom only in the winter — and the amaryllis flowers arrive almost on cue for the holiday season but they are easy-to-care-for houseplants the rest of the year. But, just like with cranberries, the colors of these plants, mostly reds, white and pinks, fit nicely into the holiday theme.
Orchids, which have become more affordable and readily available, make a nice gift “because it keeps on giving,” Milman says with a laugh.
She adds: “There’s a beauty in seeing the living in the dead of winter.”
Even “faux” natural touches, such as glass-bead berries or fake fur-covered pillows, enhance a room during the colder months, says Tejada.
“Fake fur, especially in white, just makes you feel so good and luxurious,” she adds.
She also says holiday items can usually make an easy transition into the romantic category. For instance, a clear glass-bead garland around a candlestick fuels a sexy glow to a room.
Holiday colors, including red and amber, are very romantic, which extends their appropriateness until at least Valentine’s Day and they can easily be used throughout the year.
Gold and silver are colors that clearly say “celebration” but they also have a longer shelf life than any red-and-green combination.
Milman suggests painting pine cones or pieces of fake fruit in the metallic tones, then leaving them in a bowl and forgetting about them for a while. Gold and silver also are among the most common candleholders and filling a room with flickering lights creates a cozy, happy and festive atmosphere, she says.
“Candles are a beautiful way to give more light on a dark day.”
Using the occasional scented candle, but not all scented candles, can add to the mood: cinnamon in December or a floral in February.
For the holiday decorator who really hates the cleanup, Milman encourages all-natural garlands with popcorn and cranberries strung on organic garden twine. The birds will be happy to do the dirty work once the holidays are over.