’Tis the season to deck the halls with the latest trends

Published 1:00 am Saturday, December 10, 2011

Americans relish the excitement of Christmas.

Many of our traditions came over with our immigrant ancestors, but many new ones have been added over the years. As Americans prospered in the post-war era, 1946 to 1964, their infatuation with decorating to celebrate the season has grown, and today a majority of households have holiday decorations. It is not just Christmas decorating, holiday decorating begins before Thanksgiving and lingers into New Year’s.

Every year, designers and retailers offer a smorgasbord of themes and ideas to make your home ready for the holidays.

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Christmas trees have been the staple for more than 100 years. In 1900, only one in five American families had a Christmas tree, according to wikipedia.org. As early as the 1880s, artificial trees were available but they were made of goose feathers and were probably used only by the wealthier folks.

In the early 1900s, some savvy businessmen near larger metropolitan areas began growing trees on farms. In the 1930s, the Addis Brush Company, a U.S. manufacturer of toilet bowl brushes, introduced an artificial tree made of green colored bristles that became popular in England — but not so much with the American public who preferred the live version.

In 1950, the same company developed the first all aluminum tree, complete with a floodlight and rotating color-wheel. My family got one of these, and my sister and I would plop down in front of it for hours, watching the colors change and dreaming about what Santa was bringing to our house that year. The satirical, animated classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” led to a dramatic decline in the aluminum tree’s popularity.

Flocked live trees were introduced about this time, and they became the darlings of the wealthy who could decorate with a different colored tree and decorations each year. The trees could be tinted in various shades. The popularity in the early 1970s of country arts and crafts and a desire to return to a less complicated lifestyle saw preferences return to the natural trees.

Trees are but one aspect of modern Christmas decorating that encompasses using both live and artificial materials. Americans decorate wreathes for our doors inside and out and festoon mantels, banisters, coffee tables, side tables, bathrooms and anywhere there is space to put a little holiday something. We string lights outside and add all kinds of inflatable items and decorations to our front yards.

The Trend Curve International, an authority on color and design trends in home furnishings, tells us that silver and a lighter mint green are the newest design trends this year.

Other trends include: metal containers, votives, figures, ornaments and trees in gold, silver, bronze, tin, copper and pewter tones; anything rustic; folk-art Santas; vintage ornaments; eco-friendly décor; handmade felt ornaments; jingle-bell wreaths; mistletoe kissing balls; white snowy accents on wreaths and arrangements; and twigs mixed in with contemporary decorations.

Modern, sophisticated American lifestyle includes a good deal of emphasis on holiday decorating. It’s fun to make our homes festive for the season — if we don’t get so carried away that we miss the true meaning of why we celebrate.

Miriam Jabour, a Master Gardener and Master Flower Show judge, has been active in the Openwood Plantation Garden Club for over 35 years. Write to her at 1114 Windy Lake Drive, Vicksburg, MS 39183.