Decorate with Crafts

Illuminate the Possibilities

The Country Sampler stylists light the way to classic Christmas style with tips for decorating with candles, bulbs and more.

CN07DWC3WaIn an instant, twinkling lights -- whether from a string of white tree bulbs, lit votives or tiny electric candles -- can transform a space from ordinary to extraordinary, especially when used for holiday decorating. To get glowing on bringing Christmas cheer into your seasonal vignettes, Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad and Catherine Parker recommend collecting an array of lights and intermingling them with your displays. "Candles make a big impact but take up very little space," Sally-Jo says. "And, because tealights and votives are small, they can be feathered in later wherever you think they'll look best."

Catherine adds that, for dinner parties and other gatherings, groupings can be built around luminaries to create a cozy atmosphere with mood lighting. "Put together a candle-based centerpiece or tablescape to set the mood for your get-together," she says. "Start with a jar candle or a large pillar surrounded by accents, and bring in more complementary pieces that will spark conversation. You'll be amazed at the impact a few flames will have on your dinner party's ambience!"

CN07DWC3The Light Stuff
Instead of employing several of the same kind of candle for this coffee-table display, the stylists decided to change things up and use matching containers to hold different varieties of candles. "It's easy to get stuck in the same pattern of using just tealights or just pillar candles," Catherine says. "That's certainly fine, but we chose to mix it up with a three-wick pillar and a red jar candle placed inside green buckets, and a small red-and-white votive to tie the colors together."

The subtle hues of the vignette's components are picked up by a pretty quilt spread over the couch, and snowman accents play up a winter wonderland theme. "A garland of ticking mittens and a sprinkling of snow inside the tray coordinate nicely with the papier-mache snowman, the snowman pick and the plump fellow resting in the bucket," Sally-Jo says. "I love using trays for holiday groupings because you can easily move the display onto a kitchen counter, a dresser or an entryway table."

CN07DWC2Bright Future
In this tablescape, twinkling votives and clip-on tapers echo the shimmer of the lights wrapped around the tree in the background. The stylists sought to strategically place the candles around the table to get the greatest impact. "Clip-on candles at the place settings give each spot an individual glow," Catherine says. "We also set a green votive on top of a tower of wood blocks to illuminate the hurricane-lantern centerpiece."

 Inside the glass cylinder, shiny jingle bells surrounding the base of the Santa reflect light produced by the candles scattered around the table. More bells inside a coffee mug provide a nest for another green votive and repeat the metallic sheen of the gold and silver ball ornaments intermingled with greens and red-and-white ribbon.

"The simplest things, such as the ribbon arranged around the Santas and blocks, can be clever additions to a tablescape," Sally-Jo says. "We also used tiny stockings to hold silverware and added color with a candy cane inside each wine goblet. Plus, backless photo frames work wonders in the place of chargers." Other touches, such as a green-and-white blanket used as a tablecloth and a holiday-hued Christmas apothecary box in the background, complete the seasonal scene.

CN07DWC1All Fired Up
Rather than dealing with the fuss of a hearth blaze, let your furnace do all the work warming your home for the winter and fill your fireplace with a vignette instead. Here, Sally-Jo and Catherine intermingle lodge-inspired accents and a few garden goodies to build a nature-loving scene made radiant by a mix of candles and electric lights. "We really went to town with candles in this fireplace arrangement," Catherine says. "We placed red and green jar candles inside terra-cotta pots, lit a pillar inside a candleholder with a tree-shaped cutout and brought in a bold red lantern."

More glow comes from electric sources, such as the star-shaped tree lights and the electric candle nestled alongside cardinals in a rectangular wood box. The stylists added to the bird theme with a few more figurines and a rustic birdhouse. "We gave a boost to many of the vignette's accents by resting them atop birch-log cuttings and upturned terra-cotta saucers," Sally-Jo says. "We also managed to make a level display surface by balancing a raw-wood tray on the fireplace grate." In the background, a wood-toned shutter adds texture and a mirror trimmed in sticks reflects the area's festive lighting.

Written by Elizabeth Preston
Photographed by Maurice Victoria
Styled by Sally-Jo Enstad & Catherine Parker
Produced by Dennis Morgan