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I get a kick out of helping my mom decorate her home for Christmas, because when we open up the musty boxes of 1950s ornaments, I get to relive my childhood, one felted, flocked or sequin-covered ornament at a time.
Pay tribute to holidays past this season by sprinkling in some decor from your childhood or other eras gone by. Here are some tips to get your started.
If you're a baby boomer like me, the recent resurgence of the mid-century look is a flat-out celebration of your childhood.
If you are lucky enough to have a few of your family's favorite holiday ornaments left, pull them out and feature them front and center in your holiday displays.
Sometimes the best displays are those that are the least obvious. A tiny Christmas-tree ball, for example, tucked into an open drawer in the linen cabinet awaits the careful observer. Where else can you tuck in a kitschy ornament? Among the dishes in your china cabinet? Hooked on a bedroom doorknob? Suspended from the garland on your mantel?
Peppermint is the iconic candy of my childhood and a fun addition to your vintage holiday scene. Hit an upscale candy shop to find peppermints that are as pretty as a picture, then display them in lovely glass containers, like an apothecary jar.
Cluster together three jars in different sizes and fill them with brightly colored ribbon candy, peppermint sticks and peppermint squares. For the price of three bags of candy, you have a sensational holiday display that will warm the heart of your inner child.
When I was a kid, I remember moms painting nuts in metallic colors of silver, gold and bronze, then displaying them in dishes. Try this creative trick yourself.
All you need is a bag of mixed nuts and silver, gold and bronze spray paint.
When I want to create intriguing displays that have a lot of layers, I reach for a stack of old books. Not only do books serve as great risers, giving interesting accents increased stature, they can also add an interesting storyline to the tableau.
For a holiday display, weave in antique books that celebrate the season. Do you have any old holiday books you read over and over again as a child? Use them in decorating.
You don't have any such books? Hunt for some at an antiques store.
When the Nell Hill's team decorated a designer show home a few years back, we wanted to create a very subtle holiday display in a very traditional living room. Instead of piling up the writing desk with a huge and complex design, we featured a simple bouquet of pine picks in a red transferware bowl.
The bowl's raspberry hue was repeated on the cover of "A Christmas Carol," leaning casually against a reading lamp. The display gave a dignified cheer for Christmas.
When paying tribute to days gone by in your holiday decor, why not celebrate your own family? Every year Dan and I host our family for Christmas dinner.
One of my favorite things to do is to make copies of vintage photos of our family members, insert them into adorable petite frames and rest one on top of each place setting.
You could also work them into your centerpiece or the display on your buffet. If you want a good laugh, frame photos taken during those awkward stages of life, like junior high, with those unfortunate choices in eyewear and hairstyles.
Do you have any favorite holiday images you can resurrect or re-create to decorate your tree? How about stringing popcorn and cranberry in a garland for the tree?
Pick whimsical Christmas stockings to make your holiday display magical. And don't just hang stockings from your mantel -- use them to adorn a few unexpected spots. Put one in a fanciful display on your front door, hang one from the doorknob of your guest room or add them to the window sashes in your kitchen.
I really like to decorate with burlap during the holidays because this age-old fabric is a wonderful counterbalance to all the glitz and glam.
Little trees wrapped in burlap bags are a great addition to a soft and subtle Christmas display. Place a line of them on the kitchen windowsill or along your mantel for a more minimalist, organic look.
The column has been adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.