Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cat-safe decorations, year 2

Brian and I ran into a slight snag with our ecofrugal holiday decorations this year. Normally, we adorn the front porch railings with evergreen branches (discards from the local Christmas-tree vendors) and white fairy lights...but this year, we couldn't do that because our front porch currently has no railings. After years of seeing the plaster on the old steps slowly crumbling away, we finally gave in and spent a wad of money to have them replaced, along with the two smaller steps in the front and the walk in between. It was pricey, but we decided it was worth the money because we were simply never going to have the time to do such a big job ourselves...and even if we attempted it, we certainly wouldn't get such nice results as the pros.

However, the folks who install the steps don't do the railings; there's a separate contractor for those, and we had a little trouble getting in touch with him, so our new railings were only ordered a week ago and aren't ready yet. At this rate, it's not clear that we'll have any railings to hang our holiday lights on before the holidays actually arrive. So we've had to content ourselves, for now, with trimming the side porch railings and decking the halls indoors. Of course, just like last year, we have to limit our indoor decorations to places that are out of reach for the cats. However, since last year, I've come up with a few new cat-safe places to display holiday greenery.

Some parts of the decorating scheme are unchanged from last year. I still made up a bunch of my usual little flowerpots filled with spruce cones, evergreen, and bright holly berries, trimmed with red and silver ribbon, to display on all the high shelves throughout the house: six on the bookcase in the living room, two in the office, and one in the kitchen on top of the fridge. And the collection of pottery on top of the entertainment center in the living room got the same treatment as before: evergreens in the vases, pine cones in the colander, and red ribbons twined around the dessert dishes. The arrangement in the bathroom was a little harder to get right, since the plant on top of the medicine chest has grown quite a bit since last year, so I had to figure out a way to get its long tendrils to coexist with the trailing red ribbon. But eventually I found a way to overlap them without getting them hopelessly tangled.

One thing I didn't like too much about my decorations last year was that I only had one tiny pot of evergreens in the whole big downstairs room. This year, it occurred to me that if I wanted a bigger splash of color, I could just fill up a bigger vase with evergreens, and attach the last of my red ribbon trailing down the side. And since I had a perfectly good vase that was no longer using on top of the toilet in the downstairs bathroom (since that spot is cat-accessible), I just filled that up and set it on the top shelf of the etagere in the corner. I even pulled out a wee glass bluebird that I'd been keeping in the bathroom and set it alongside the vase for a touch of added color. It's more visible than the tiny little pot, but wish I had a little more of the red ribbon, since I think this would look even nicer with some longer streamers of red ribbon trailing down both sides of the etagere. (I think I could safely let them dangle down about a foot before they'd be within reach of the kitties.) So maybe I'll pop by the dollar store and see if I can find any more. They were all out last year, but the stock there keeps changing, so you never know.

Once I'd figured out that I could add a vase of evergreens in that spot, it occurred to me that I also had some perfectly good containers in the downstairs bathroom that could also hold evergreens—my collection of blue glassware that sits on top of the corner cabinet. So I went through my assortment of evergreen branches and found some long, skinny pieces to fit in the bottles and the bud vase, and some shorter pieces to fill up the little drinking cup. The bowls of the goblets weren't a good shape for evergreens, so I just popped some pine cones in there instead. Then, just for good measure, I set some small pine cones into the tops of the candlesticks as well. And finally, I took the last stray bits of silver ribbon and arranged them along the sides to frame the whole arrangement.

The final change was in the guest room. Last year, I just draped a long length of multi-colored ribbon around the toys on top of the bookcase, but I thought it would really look better if I could add a bit of greenery up there, too. So I pulled out a tall glass goblet—the same one I used to keep flower arrangements in the kitchen before we had to switch to a cat-safe vase—and filled that up with evergreens. For extra color, I took the last tiny bit of red ribbon and twisted it into a bow around the stem of the glass. Then I just cleared a little space among all the toys on the bookcase, and now the toys are all gathered under their very own Christmas tree—right where toys belong.

Since I already owned all the glassware, and the ribbons and pots were saved from last year's decorations, I didn't have to buy anything at all for this year's holiday decorations. The evergreens were all salvaged from the tree-vendors' trash bin, and the pine cones were gathered right here in our neighborhood. So basically, it's all just debris that would otherwise go to waste—and we have instead turned it into beautiful holiday decorations that didn't cost us a penny. An ecofrugal Christmas to all!
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