Just as you put the Thanksgiving Day turkey roaster back in the cabinet, it seems it's time to start thinking about the next holidays on the calendar: Christmas and Hanukkah. With everything that happens in those weeks after Thanksgiving (and there's a lot), getting a jump on decorating is a smart idea.


"The more preplanning and organizing you can do, the better," says Bill Kissock, designer at Eastham Interiors in Fort Collins. "The earlier you put up your decorations, the more you can enjoy the holidays. If you wait too long, decorating feels like a burden and you may start to feel anxious about how far behind you're falling."


Kissock looks at magazines for creative decorating schemes. With more and more decorating and design websites and applications coming on board—think Pinterest, Houzz and Remodelista, as well as thousands upon thousands of design blogs—there's plenty of inspiration to spark your holiday light.


"The holidays are all about creating memories and making traditions," Kissock states. "Look back at your own childhood and remember what made them special. Then recreate that in your own home."


Maybe that tradition takes the form of heirloom decorations that have a place of honor on the tree. Or a generations-old menorah that sits proudly on the mantle. Then add unique touches to make that tradition your own.


Harken back to an early Hanukkah tradition of giving gelt, or money, instead of gifts by making a gelt garland with plastic coins from the craft store. It's simple. All you need is some white string that is sturdy enough to support the weight of the coins, the coins and some glue. Cut the string the width of the area you want to decorate—a mantle, an archway or a window—and add a few inches so the garland will swag. Then glue two coins to each other with the string running between them, about three to four inches apart. Consider draping several garlands together; the more the merrier in this case.


You can spiff up traditional pine garland with ornaments, pinecones or something completely unexpected: seashells that remind you of a beach holiday or family photographs honoring lost loved ones are just some ideas. You might want to create an advent calendar of tiny Christmas stockings with special treats tucked inside strung along a garland. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.


Ellen Zibell, owner of Sense of Place in Fort Collins, loves candles for every situation and every holiday. "They add such warmth," she explains. By grouping them together you can create a candlescape on a table, in a window or on a mantle that is as simple or as elaborate as your overall theme allows. Perfect for both Christmas and Hannukah.


Don't be afraid to introduce new colors and materials into your decorations. It's a perfect way to add a pop of surprise. Maybe you want to add some magenta or gold elements to the traditional blue, silver and white of Hanukkah. While most decorations don't deviate from the standard hues, you can add other colors with candles.


"I have a client who is a certified Mexaholic," states Kissock. "She loves Mexico and has many, many souvenirs from all her trips south of the border." One year, the client decorated her home with poinsettias in every room (be careful if you have pets and small children, as poinsettias are poisonous). Mexican tin ornaments filled the tree. "But what made it really spectacular, was her silver and turquoise jewelry," remembers Kissock. "She just stuck it into the tree and it was completely unique. Years later, I still remember that tree."


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