Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ and the promise of mankind's salvation. This promise finds expression in the abundance of evergreen plants in Christmas decorating schemes. These plants -- holly, ivy, fir trees and pine boughs -- symbolize everlasting life. They also bring a wonderful Christmas aroma into your home.
Red and green are the traditional colors of Christmas. While evergreen wreaths festooned with red flowers, fruit and bows welcome guests at the front door, and garlands of ribbon-flecked greenery adorn mantles and banisters, the focal point of Christmas decorating is the Christmas tree. For a traditional Christmas tree, wrap the tree with strings of lights, either colored or white, to shine through the dark nights of winter. Follow the lights with homemade and heirloom ornaments with religious symbolism: angels, for the angels who led the shepherds to the manger where Christ was born; images of the animals present in the manger; candy canes, reminiscent of the shepherds' crooks; bells, for the church bells that ring at Christmas; and a star at the top, to symbolize the star that shone over Bethlehem and guided the three kings to the Christ child. Below the branches, hide the tree stand under a red or green tree skirt, and top that with gifts in festive Christmas wrapping.
Your sofa table is an ideal place to display a crèche, or manger scene. Put an Advent calendar on a side table for a fun way to count down the days to Christmas. It's traditional to hang a stocking for each member of the family from the fireplace mantle, but if you don't have a mantle, use ribbon to hang the stockings from a stair banister. Arrange groups of red-flowering poinsettias on stair landings, your fireplace hearth, and in your entryway. If you have children and pets, use silk plants instead of real poinsettias, since this traditional decoration is poisonous. You can also use faux evergreen and poinsettia garlands to drape chandeliers for a festive effect. And be sure to hang a sprig of mistletoe where it's easy to see, to encourage friendly feelings among your holiday guests.
Keep reading to see more traditional Christmas decorating themes.