HG: Annie Payne Column December 06, 2008

Christmas Annie-gram: Bright Ideas

C ome all ye faithful to the Holiday Tour of Homes.

Need a little inspiration for your own hall decking? Visit these five homes today and Sunday from noon to p.m. Tickets are available at area City Market stores for $15. Ticket sales support the Grand Junction Symphony Guild.

H is for homemade.

One of my favorite places to visit on the Internet is Etsy.com. It is a place to buy and sell all things homemade. I could waste hours perusing all the creative, handcrafted items.

If you need some gift ideas, go to Etsy.com and click on “Time Machine 2.” This function allows you to view all the newly listed items.

Organic dog treats, Girl Scout bottle cap earrings, hummingbird pot holders, whatever your crafty heart desires, you can find it on Etsy.com.

S stands for ribbon.

My sister, the wardrobe consultant, suggests using wired and curled ribbon, hung vertically on your Christmas tree to give it a taller and slimmer look. Because what self-respecting tree wants to look short and squatty?

You don’t want your Christmas tree having a complex, do you?

I is for adding an international flair to your Christmas celebrations.

The Payne family loves to learn about how different cultures and countries celebrate Christmas. We were inspired to learn about Holland when we found a pair of wooden shoes at, of all places, the Habitat for Humanity Home Supply Store .

In the Netherlands, St. Nicholas is known as Sinterklaas. Dutch children are told that he sails from Spain on his feast day, Dec. 5. Children fill their shoes with hay and sugar for his horse and awake to find the shoes filled with gifts such as nuts and candy.

We know that Santa actually has reindeer, not horses, so the Payne kids will put carrots in the wooden shoes instead.

S makes me think simple and sustainable this holiday season.

I read a statistic that Christmas Eve and Christmas day generate 3 billion extra tons of garbage each year.

Consider buying and giving only previously owned items. In this era of reduce-reuse-recycle, re-gifting is no longer a dirty word. Re-using gift bags and saving wrapping paper will also cut down on paper waste.

Do you make plates of goodies for friends and family? Instead of using new plastic ware or paper plates, consider buying a beautiful, lone piece of china from a thrift store. You can find them for as little as 25 cents and the presentation of your home baked goods will be much more pleasing.

Speaking of thrift stores, not only did I get wooden shoes at Habitat for Humanity, I also bought a Christmas tree for $30.

Another way to have a simple and sustainable holiday is to have a swap.

Tired of your old holiday decorations, but can’t afford to buy new ones? Get your friends and family together for a Christmas decoration swap.

Bring a plate of cookies and recipe cards to share and you kill two turtledoves with one stone. (Oh, that sounds awful.)

How about dress two elves with one pair of pants? (Nope. Come on, Annie, we are talking about simple and sustainable.)

You accomplish two things at once. (Ah, that’s better.)

T Pick a theme for your Christmas tree.

I like to have a fancy tree with coordinated ornaments for the living room and a fun, family tree for the family room.

The theme for this year’s fancy tree is “A Florentine Christmas.” I used colors and ornaments that make me think of Florence, Italy, during the Renaissance Era. I used large apple green, peacock blue and royal purple balls with other gilded ornaments and silk roses.

I let the kids decorate the “family tree.” They get to hang whatever they want on it. The family tree turns out very colorful and full of wonderful memories from ornaments the kids have made or been given over the years.

M agazine subscriptions are my favorite gift to give, because they are the gift that, month after month, keeps on giving.

I love to picture my friends and family going to the mailbox and finding their magazine and thinking about how thoughtful I am, again and again. There is a magazine out there for everyone and most subscriptions are less than $20.

A lways take pictures.

When you have your family and extended family together this holiday season, take lots of pictures. Not just action shots of kids ripping open presents, but posed pictures of couples, cousins and one grandchild with their grandparent.

I have lots of pictures of my grandma, but I would love to have had a picture of just her and me.

Conversely, one of my favorite photographs is of my 1-year-old twin boys and their great-grandpa Payne with the colorful past. He died shortly after the photo was taken, so we feel really lucky to have it to show the boys the man who, as a young boy, rode on a midnight train from Chihuahua, Mexico, bound for the United States after his family was driven out by Pancho Villa.

S The last letter of this Christmas Annie-gram stands for service.

As much as marketing and commercialism would overshadow the true meaning of Christmas, it is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, who spent his life in service to others.

There are many opportunities to volunteer your time, talents and donations in our community. Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, United Way of Mesa County, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the American Cancer Society are just a few of the fine organizations with the goal of improving the lives of others.

Even an act of service as simple as checking in on your neighbor is a wonderful way to honor the true meaning of Christmas.

This holiday season, take a break from the wired and curled ribbon, wooden shoes and hummingbird potholders to give heartfelt service to others.

For more on an unpredictable variety of other topics, visit Annie Payne’s “Anniethology” blog online at Anniethology.blogspot.com.



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