Decor the halls

By Julia Dilworth, 24 hours Vancouver

You can blame it on the mild December weather, but it feels as though the holidays have snuck up on us. Five days to go until the 25th and are your halls decked? Is your tree up? Your ugly Christmas sweater on?

I have scantly heard Christmas carols, seen few strings of icicle lights and haven’t once spotted eggnog, which has apparently been in stores since November. Perhaps I’ve been too busy to notice? I have, with success, avoided public malls — or maybe I’m not the only one who has got some festive catching up to do.

Luckily, even if it’s been left until the last, last minute, these three decor projects will help you get your home holiday-ship-shape faster than you can say, “Pass the stuffing,” or “Yes, I’d like third-sies.”

Find Julia on Twitter @JuliaDilworth

Outdoor decor — holiday arrangement

Loblaw’s garden guru Peter Cantley shows us how to turn your barren winter pots into a festive doorway arrangement of boughs that will last for the entire holiday season.



  1. 1. Prepare your pots: Cut plant remnants from old pots (leave the roots) or add earth to an empty pot.
  2. 2. Create a triangle: Place a tall branch in the centre, then two medium branches out to the sides.
  3. 3. Working from the centre branch outward, cut sharp points at the ends of remaining boughs and insert them to construct the ‘bones’ of the shape you want.
  4. 4. Now fill in the centre of your triangle with the rest of the branches. First, reach for the white pine, chosen for their long, flowing, soft needles. Let the boughs drape up and arch over the rim of the pot. Again, cut a sharp point and trim off lower branchlets to give you a soft flowing look. Then add branches of Fraser fir for more interest.
  5. 5. Insert the dogwood sticks that are included in the bunch. Take up the red-hued dogwood branches, cutting some in two. Start at the top centre, and work your way down, alternating from side to side.
  6. 6. Get creative: Add your own personality with festive decor like lights, artificial fruit or bows. For a more natural look, add pine cones or birch logs.
  7. 7. Be sure to add water so the soil will freeze solid and hold the arrangement in place — and keep it looking fantastic all year long!

Winter candyland — peppermint serving tray

Create handmade candy serving trays for holiday treats and eats with this ingenious (and cheap) project from sisters Jessica, Jenna and Jodi of


  • peppermints
  • cookie sheet
  • parchment paper or wax paper
  • oven


  1. 1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. 2. Place wax paper on cookie sheet.
  3. 3. Arrange mints on top.
  4. 4. Bake for 8-10 min and let cool for 5 min.

Birch log candle holder

These birch log candle holders from Dani of make for amazing homemade gifts or the most spectacular mantelpiece your mother-in-law has ever seen.


  • birch logs, 2-to-4 inches in diameter
  • drill with hole borer bit, 1.5 inches in diameter
  • saw


  1. Cut logs in sections of varying lengths, from about 3-to-9 inches.
  2. Dani likes her candle holders to look natural and unstructured, but if you prefer a cleaner look you could cut them all to equal lengths. She also used logs of varying diameters, from about 2-to-4 inches.
  3. Arrange logs randomly and tuck some pine branches around them.
  4. You can also add a few silver ornaments or some extra-large pine cones.
  5. Tip: If you’re going to put fresh pine branches on your furniture, put something underneath to protect against pine resin — clear cellophane is good for this because it doesn’t show.
  6. Bore a hole in the centre of each log section, 1.5 inches wide by 3/4 of an inch deep to fit a votive candle.
  7. Place a votive candle in each log holder and enjoy.


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