It's the Christmas season. The sights and sounds are all around, getting us in the mood for giving and sharing and bounty. If you haven't already done so, it's time to deck your halls with Christmas cheer. I understand that everyone is concerned with saving money, so let's try some ideas that will serve that purpose. Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, Scripps Howard News Service
Keep the money in your hometown. Look for locally grown Christmas trees, if possible. Otherwise, consider buying the tree from a charitable organization so you can help support a worthy cause. Don't forget to gather cut pieces of tree limbs, which will look lovely placed in a basket or used as a garland on the mantel or dining table.
You no doubt have many tree ornaments already, but how about adding to the tradition? Have your children and/or grandchildren make ornaments to put on the tree. Be sure they have their name on them and also the year. Your family will enjoy those ornaments for many years to come, and they will certainly be treasured more than the most expensive ornament you buy for the tree. Consider having a new homemade ornament added each year.
Keeping with that "homemade" idea, how about making your own wrapping paper? An uncle might enjoy his gift wrapped in the Sunday color comics. Or experiment with wrapping a gift with another gift. Perhaps instead of regular wrapping paper, wrap the gift in a scarf or a pair of fun socks. Those fancy hair ties that little girls wear on their ponytails and pigtails can make cute "bows" for gifts.
It is always nice to have Christmas aromas in the house. This can be easily achieved by decorating with cinnamon sticks or a cinnamon broom, clove-spiked oranges and wreaths or garlands made from fresh pine. Of course, having a freshly cut or a live Christmas tree would be the best place to start. Those extra pieces of tree limbs you collect will add to the delicious scent of Christmas.
Light up the tree with LED Christmas lights. They are cost-efficient and are eco-friendly, since LED bulbs use 80 percent to 90 percent less energy than traditional bulbs and have a much longer lifespan — 35,000 to 50,000 minutes for LED lights compared to 1,500 minutes for incandescent. They come in white as well as multicolored. For ideas and varieties, check out EnvironmentalLights.com.
Don't forget to recycle. If you decide to go the LED route and you have lots of incandescent Christmas lights that you'd like to get rid of, research recycling tips at the Web site mentioned above.
Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, is author of Mystery of Color.