First and foremost, this year, the evergreen hollies have had INCREDIBLE berry set! And not just a few trees, all of them! I'll be curious to see if they look this good next year or if the berry set was more of a cyclical thing.
The arborvitea also had excellent cone set which made for some great cut greens inside.
I'm really feeling more minimalist this year in Christmas decorating. With interior home renovations nearly wrapped up, everything looks so nice, I don't want to clutter it up with too much "extra". Also the twins are at the age where they MUST touch everything. My favorite indoor decor this year:
Christmas candles in the windows (Classic!)
Slim White tree in the front window with gold garland- plastic glitter balls and snowflakes only since the twins keep touching everything!
Audrey still wants Santa to decorate the color tree in the playroom this year.
Skipped all artifical garland inside and instead used minimal cuttings to accent horizontal spaces- arbs with cones on playroom mantle, foyer table, dining room server- artifical berry picks added to some; holly with berries on piano and dining room buffet
Used pine roping on stairs instead of artificial.
And of course, miniature trees throughout!
Outside I went with white lights on the boxwoods and witchhazel across the front. Color lights on the little driveway spruce and on the holly on the right side (not sure if I'll do the holly again or not).
I lit the holly we can see out of the playroom window with the Lowe's color lights. This year I went zig-zag, but prefer the triangle-spiral I did in 2022.
Finally used my big-bulb color lights from Lowe's this year (across the front of the pool pergola) and I'm SUPER disappointed- from far away they don't look any different than the mini bulbs. I could go around the whole pergola next year if I buy two more boxes, but it's not critical.
We put the "grinch" lights on the front oak- I love those red, white, and green lights from Target and wish all my color trees had them instead of the Lowe's strands with blue.
I bought the big roll of pine roping and hung it around the front door. Since I did the inside stairs, I didn't have enough to do both garage bays and ended up with a lot of extra. I don't have the heart to screw into the new azek around the slider, but that would be a good use of a lot of it. I'm hoping to find a good use for the rest before Christmas- maybe just across the top of the garage doors...? In 2024, I could probably get away with the 3 of the smaller rolls, depending how it prices out.
This spring I planted an Osmanthus ('Party Lights') in my driveway planter. I added some spruce and berried holly branches around the Osmanthus. I filled in holes with dry hydrangea heads. It looks ok. It really needs height and color. I think different texture from either southern Mag leaves or pine branches would look better too.
Garden Planning for Winter Interest Plants
Last year I did an awesome job labeling each strand of lights, extension cords, connectors, and waterproof covers. A few things I left unlabled thinking it was obvious what goes where but I will undoubtedly label EVERYTHING this year. The labels took all of the guess work out of setup.
I'd love to plant a Southern Magnolia (thinking in the front along the east property line) and more winterberries (maybe Winter Gold....?). I always forget about Christmas when spring rolls around. I also want to try red twigs somewhere, unfortnuately the best locations on the property for them aren't the best locations visually. I'll have to keep thinking about it...
Wreath Workshop in 2024
We have SO many evergreens here (and hopefully more winter interest plants with some planning) that it seems silly to ever purchase Christmas greens. The problem is, I have no idea how to make a wreath myself. I've been saving wreath frames from past Christmases but I don't really know how to start. So right after Thanksgiving next year, I want to plan a wreath making workshop with some close friends and a local florist/gardener. Hopefully it will be fun time and we can take home some useful skills (and wreaths!).