I can say with full confidence, our home is holiday ready. We've purchased gifts and even designated a bin in our closet for everything we need to transport for our annual pilgrimage to South Carolina next week. It's been so cold outside, I've been trying to spend as much time as possible indoors. Cleaning and sorting so that when we return in the new year everything will be set for us to jump right back into work and life. I hate coming back to a messy house after vacation, it's a miserable feeling. I want the apartment to feel warm and occupied, not like it's been abandoned for a few weeks.
As cozy and clean as I can make our space on the inside, what happens outside our front door is beyond my control. We live in what must have been a gorgeous brownstone in 1915. Unfortunately, judging by the cracked plaster, rickety staircase and maroon tiling, the building hasn't been renovated since the late 1970s. The eggshell color of the hallways which (with no declaration of war) shifts into what can only be described as burnt custard yellow is a dead giveaway. Seriously, I was shocked that our building wasn't scouted as a location for the new David Simon show "The Deuce", all about the underbelly of New York and the rise of porn in the 70s. They wouldn't have to do much at all, maybe add some ceiling mirrors or a shag carpet. The original decor is that seedy.
Our super is a lovely man who lives downstairs with his two sons, but there's only so much they can do without the help and financing of a less than interested landlord. In light of all this, hanging a loud and super ornate holiday wreath feels forced. There's also the bit where I don't want to spend a fortune on something which won't be seen all that much- it's not like people are driving by our third floor walk up. Even if there was traffic, you wouldn't be able to see too any of it by the light of the single exposed bulb by our front door. I'm also not sure the door could even handle that much weight. The entire building leans to the left so I'm always nervous to hang anything too heavy. Ok, I feel like I've really painted a picture for you.
For now, my Pinterest wreath dreams are going in the "when we have a house" drawer and I'm sticking with the theme of my last post- no fuss holiday.
I had one branch of evergreen leftover from decorating the rest of the apartment which I decided to use for a door garland. Instead of dealing with wire and traditional images of a wreath I stuck with decorating the branch as is. Like I mentioned before, I don't like to go too heavy in one direction or the other with Hanukkah + Christmas. We celebrate both, so I try to land somewhere in the middle. Plus, I like to keep our decor seasonal more than holiday because we can keep it up through the winter!
All you'll need to make this garland/wreath/hanging (you can call it whatever) is a spool of string, a branch of evergreen, some baby's breath, and a pieces of winter citrus. This whole project cost $5 and took me less than the length of an episode of The West Wing.
Preheat oven to 200°F. Use any citrus or old fruit you have in the house. I had two lemons, two oranges, one persimmon. (Full disclosure the lemon was moldy. So no waste!) Cut the fruit into slices and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a cookie sheet to dry out for a few hours in the oven. Low and slow. You might burn a few slices but whatever. It's rustic. If you need more direction there's an excellent tutorial on drying fruit for ornaments here.
Once ornaments are dry use the string to gently tie them to the branches of your garland. I used dark green string for camouflage purposes. You use whatever you have on hand. Don't let anyone judge you. It's string.
Tie and tuck other wintry flowers into the branches of your decoration. I like baby's breath because it's inexpensive and a delicate offset to the rustic and heavy feel of the dried fruit and evergreen. It also reminds me of my wedding and I get sentimental like that sometimes.
Hang it on your door. Revel in your craftiness and thrifty ingenuity. Add more bourbon to your coffee. Go back to watching The West Wing.