There's something especially magical about the understated beauty of December in the countryside. From brown paper packages to simple place settings, home-cooked holiday meals to homemade tree ornaments, here are 24 ways to have yourself a beautifully merry (and blessedly unhurried) holiday.
It only takes a handful of ornaments to make this mini tree merry and bright! And instead of a traditional stand, try a vintage candy box instead.
Add some bits and baubles to your work space. This collector uses both grown-up and school-house staples as merry accents.
SHOP VINTAGE CHRISTMAS SIGNS
Holiday displays don't have to strictly be all Christmas items. Emulate this collector by adding Christmas-colored everyday items to your festive figures.
SHOP SANTA FIGURINES
You can make a wreath out of nearly anything: All you need is a circular object and some ribbon! This vintage metal tree skirt does the trick when a bow is tied to the top.
Even empty ornament boxes hold graphic charm and come in handy when adding height to holiday vignettes. Try using your vintage containers to display bottle brush trees.
SHOP ORNAMENT BOXES
The more, the merrier! Emulate this Michigan homeowner and hang both your stockings and your garland together for a super festive finish.
Add plaids, stripes, and your other favorite prints all over your living room to make it extra cozy. And don't forget the matching Christmas pajamas!
SHOP CHRISTMAS PAJAMAS
This fresh garland is super simple to recreate: Just puncture
a hole through an apple, close to the center, then string wire through the fruit and secure wire to the garland.
Grab your warmest coat and snow boots for an afternoon spent outdoors. Go sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, or take your family on a classic horse-drawn sleigh ride. Silver bells are a must!
Draw some inspiration from the Junk Gypsies, who assembled this hay bale Christmas tree outside their Wander Inn in Round Top, Texas. Make your own by stacking straw and adorning it with lights, a star, and some ornaments.
Blogger and Connecticut homeowner Nora Murphy infused her home with holiday charm using tartan blankets as tablecloths, plaid dishware in her tablescape, and buffalo check blankets in her bedroom.
SHOP TARTAN BLANKETS
Add a touch of green year-round by installing forest green lamps on the exterior of your home or barn, then dress things up for the season: Outfit a drape of greenery with lights, ornaments, or berries. Finally, use what you've got: Stash plain planters, pots, and pails with birch logs and tiny pine trees bedecked with pinecones.
Move over, Macy's! We love the pomp and circumstance of the big-city pageantry but, to us, nothing signals the start of the season—or shows off the heart of a small town—quite like a quaint Christmas parade. The excitement is everywhere, from the moment the homemade floats find their places. Folks happily take a break from the hustle and bustle the season brings. They slow down. They gather. They bid one another well. Year after year, along the never-changing route, Boy Scouts wave and toss out candy while little ones scramble to scoop up a treat or five. The local marching band cheerfully bears the cold, performing for friends and families huddled together. This year, don your mittens and scarves and hit Main Street to welcome the season the small-town America way.
Tired of popcorn? Thread marshmallows with red-and-white baker's twine for a sweet update.
SHOP BAKER'S TWINE
Hang a grain sack, seed sack, or gingham stocking—they're just waiting to be filled with delicious dry goods.
SHOP BURLAP STOCKINGS
This crate of fire starters—formed from natural resin—is a simple way to get a holiday glow.
Show off the influx of season's greetings on a vintage tobacco basket by tucking well wishes into the overlapping strips of reed. (For old baskets, try eBay, Etsy, or CL Fair vendor Great Stuff By Paul).
$70 for two people/pets
Artist Kristen Rosas draws inspiration from family photos to make custom gouache cards.
Starting at $9.13 each for 15
Commemorate the work of your budding artist.
Starting at $2.60 each for 25
Minted turns snaps of pets into howl-arious cards.
Look no further than your backyard for the makings of a pretty table runner, then add a pop of plaid with a classic tartan tablecloth. For a whimsical place setting, slide good old handwritten name cards into the slots of vintage sleigh bells (we found these on eBay). Use candles in oversized Mason jars and rose-gold flatware—both help to reinforce the warm, magical vibe.
SHOP MASON JARS
Say what you will about the convenience of an artificial tree, but there's nothing like holiday decorating from the ground up. So pile into the station wagon (or your family's equivalent) and go on a hot cider-fueled pursuit of this year's specimen at your local Christmas tree farm.
As is true for most family outings, good-natured arguments will ensue (That one's too wide! Why, why are we walking so far? Mom, put down the axe!), but all will be forgiven by the time that one-of-a-kind fir finds its way home. And after Dad hauls down the ornaments from the attic and you go to hang that clay handprint from 1972, you'll be reminded that family, like the "too-wide" tree and its humble homemade trimmings, is perfect in its imperfection. Take that, plastic.
...pinecones, wood, pom-poms, bells, paper, a wagon wheel, or rope! Or make your own Christmas wreath with flea market finds like Christmas carol sheet music, tinsel, bulbs, or shiny brite ornaments.
Simply affix the decoration of your choice to a Styrofoam wreath and secure them u-shaped greening pins, tape, or hot glue depending on their size, weight, and shape.
SHOP WREATH FORMS
From ornaments to garlands, punched-tin pieces are galvanizing to become this season's hottest holiday trend. Made of antiqued sheet metal, this star scores tons of style points.
RELATED: Creative Christmas Tree Toppers
Yet another reason to spring for the next dough bowl you run across at the antiques store: It makes for a beautiful centerpiece (or menorah). Fill the wooden bowl with floral foam, insert candles (we love the simplicity of plain old white), and nestle seasonal greenery in between the tapers.
SHOP DOUGH BOWLS
Blame it on the hurried pace of our hyper-connected world, but the sit-down breakfast, it seems, has fallen out of favor. Let's change that.
This year, on Christmas morning, after the gifts are unwrapped and the shiny new bikes make their inaugural trips down the driveway, assemble your family around the table to revive the lost art of a leisurely country breakfast.
Just promise us this: Between bites of sugar-cured bacon, pause, for a second, to sop up this delicious moment, when the humans you hold most dear are gathered, together, around the table, breaking flaky, buttery bread. This, this sunny-side-up moment is what matters. The rest—the tree, the gifts, the bikes—is just gravy.
The spirit of the old-fashioned general store lives on, thanks to newcomers like Laurel, MS' Laurel Mercantile and Pawhuska, OK's The Mercantile. Plus, they're great resources for distinctive gifts!