In suburban U.S.A., living the American dream… Sounds appealing, whether you are living it or not, doesn't it? This was once the American ideal. Times have changed a lot. However, one thing remains the same: home owners are proud of their homes, no matter where they live. Homeowners would love to add value to their homes if given the opportunity and believe curb appeal is important. Who doesn't want to live in the nicest, largest or most interesting home on the block? What would set your home apart from the rest if it’s not the nicest or the largest?

Landscaping, exterior improvements, outside décor? All of the above are great ideas to add visual interest to your home. But what about taking advantage of the Christmas season? The season is an opportunity for homes and businesses alike to literally “shine”. It’s a favorite Christmas tradition to drive around and gaze at Christmas lights. Why not proudly display your home with beautiful lighting?

At the time of year when those spring flowers you planted no longer live—in most regions—this is the perfect way to be festive, entertain and create curb appeal! You can enjoy the lighting from November to January—or later—year after year. It’s something to look forward to each year. It’s also something for your entire neighborhood to anticipate.

So where do you begin? The budget, where to buy, who’s going to install? The best way to begin is to start planning early. Envision your decorated home and define your expectations.  Come up with your own creative ideas. How much do you have to spend? Do you want simple strands of lights or do you want to go a bit bigger with large outdoor displays? Do you want to buy online? Are you able to self-install or would you need to hire someone?

Once you have answered these questions, start shopping! Call around and look online if you are going custom. See what’s out there that fills your vision. There is an array of product available on the Internet. Shopping around also gives you ideas. Place your orders early in case what you’re after is on back order or not yet available.  After your lighting is purchased, sketch out a plan for your home with your lighting design. If you are hiring someone to install, you will already have your plan in hand and simplify the process. If you are doing it yourself, you have a blueprint to follow. Happy decorating!

My biggest inspiration for home ideas is HGTV. To get holiday decorating ideas, go to http://www.hgtv.com/holidays-holiday-homes/package/index.html

 

By Melissa Farnham, Director of Marketing for LightTheNight

www.LightTheNight.com

Holiday Lighting Store

 

"Going green" has become a part of our daily lives. We recycle paper and plastic. Our appliances and vehicles are also enegry efficient.  Going green with LED is now the choice in holiday lighting as well.

The price for LED lighting is a bit more than the standard incandescent bulbs we've seen in the past but the energy savings, longevity and low maintenance more than make up for the cost difference.

An LED bulb consumes only 1/10 the amount of energy of an incandescent bulb.  For example, a typical 50-light string of incandescent bulbs uses 20.4 watts of power, while our Pro-Grade 50-light strings only use either 2.4 or 4.8 watts per string (depending on the color) yet produce the same or even more output. That's a savings on your electric bill of 77% to 89%. And that's only the beginning……..

Longevity is another important advantage to using LED lighting. The standard incandescent mini lights are rated at 3,000 hours, our Pro-Graded Minibrites rate at…..are you ready for this? 50,000 hours!!!! That's approximately 16 times longer, which means 16 less times you'll need to replace the light string.

A few other advantages of using LED for your holiday lighting displays are LED lights are much smaller than the traditional bulb, making it much easier to put up your lights and allows you to be more creative in your holiday displays.  Have I mentioned that LED lights also operate much cooler than other bulbs?  In fact, they only exhibit a temperature variation of 1 degree, making them a much safer option than incandescent light sets. This gives you more freedom in decorating outdoor plants and greenery, which would be prone to catching fire if you used other bulbs.

Written by Lynn Jebbia

There are hundreds of Christmas traditions handed down from generation to generation, from culture to culture. Traditions like the Christmas tree in the living room the Christmas wreath on the door, the mistletoe hanging from the chandelier, gifts underneath the tree, stockings hanging above the fireplace and cookies left out for good ole St. Nick. The Christmas tree is the most popular tradition across all cultures.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Austria and Germany the tops of evergreens were cut off and hung upside down in a corner of the living room. They would then decorate these evergreens with apples, nuts and strips of red paper. The fir tree decorated with apples represented the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. Today, the Christmas tree or Tannenbaum in Germany is traditionally decorated secretly by the mother with lights, tinsel and ornaments. The rest of the family see it on Christmas Eve with cookies, nuts and gifts under its branches.

Queen Victorias husband, Prince Albert brought the first Christmas tree to Windsor Castle in 1834 which started its popularity in England. This popularity crossed over to the United States and by 1850 it had become very fashionable in the eastern states.

Christmas trees are imported into Greenland because there arent any trees there; They decorate their trees with candles and bright ornaments.

The first outdoor Christmas tree decorated with electric lights was in the market square in the town of Pietarsaari, Finland in 1905.

Norwegians decorate their trees on Christmas Eve and then join hands and sing carols while walking around it. The tree is usually decorated by the parents while the children wait anxiously outside the room. After the tree is decorated a Norwegian ritual known as circling the Christmas tree?is performed. The family joins hands around the tree and then walks around it singing Christmas carols. After this they exchange gifts.

Even in warm climates at Christmas the tradition of decorating trees exists. In Australia, Christmas is in the middle of the summer. Many Australians decorate Christmas bushes which are native plants with little red flowered leaves. In Brazil, pine trees are decorated with little pieces of cotton to represent falling snow.

Christmas trees in Sweden are decorated with stars, sunbursts and snowflakes made from straw. Spain has a fun tradition of playing a game called Catalonia in which a tree trunk is filled with goodies and the children hit the trunk, like the pi?ata is hit in Mexico, trying to knock out goodies like hazelnuts, almonds, toffee and other treats.

Lynn Jebbia is the owner of Acadia Wreath Company. Acadia Wreath Company, based in Bar Harbor, Maine, handcrafts fresh Maine balsam fir Christmas wreaths, Christmas Centerpieces and Kissing Balls which are shipped directly to customers and corporate clients throughout the United States.

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Written by Barbara Thorp

Outdoor Christmas Decoration

Dont buy anything yet. Measure your front yard and decide what types of decorations you want and where you would like to place them. Take photos and then draw sketches where you would like to string light, garlands, and where you might like to place decorations on the roof of your home. If you dont want to light up the entire front yard, then find a focal point and begin your planning right three. Use trees or bushes that serve as the centre thereby taking a more systematic approach, which will prevent you from having to move items around later.

When you have a plan and have used all the tools, such as the drawings from the photos and where you want to place the decorations and lights, and then take inventory of what you already have at home. Check through absolutely everything. Your outdoor lights and ornaments must be in working order. HINT: If you are going to be buying new lights this year, find strands with built-in timers, or consider buying a connecting timing device. This will get rid of the hassle of remembering to turn off the lights and will save on energy bills.

Check for burned-out bulbs and replace them. They will drain electricity from the entire string of lights and ultimately make the other bulbs dimmer or even blow prematurely. Look for frayed cords, extension leads, and check the packaging and read the instructions carefully, always look to see that the manufacturer has labelled the item as approved for use in exterior locations.

I must tell you about a couple of superb online sites that are really worth taking a look at OzFreeOnline.com because it has hundreds of classified ads that have just about every conceivable thing you can imagine for sale. Before you go shopping online for anything, go to this site first. Join up, search, and then begin shopping. If you dont want to decorate the exterior of your home this year then have the experts at xmas.com.au, they have the most spectacular pages to browse; perhaps you might even get some ideas. Do not use any item outdoors unless it is designed for exterior use, and be vigilant about testing outdoor electrical receptacles. If you spot a problem while you are taking inventory, then you will have plenty of time to repair the items before you begin to fix or replace them when the end of November comes around.

Outdoor Christmas Decoration

String lots of fairy lights about, through trees, bushes, and on the front of the house and around the eaves. You can by gorgeous little candles with a tiny battery in them and these can be glued on to branches with a hot glue gun. Some of our favourite types of lights with which to decorate outdoor trees are icicle lights. Icicle lights are clear strands of bulbs made to resemble frozen shards of ice. For a tree that is truly unique, we recommend hanging several strands of icicle lights all over the limbs and then adding a few crystal or glass ornaments for effect. Once you are done, your tree will resemble a winter-wonderland fantasy.

You might even want a life-size Nativity scene. You can make your own with old store dummies. If you are handy with a sewing machine, you could run up the clothes easily, since they drape and have no real pattern to them. Straw to put in the cradle can be purchased from the pet shop and you could place a down light on the entire scene.

At xmasdelights.com.au, they have some fabulous ideas for decorating the exterior of your home, just log in, and browse; you will get loads of ideas. OzFreeOnline.com is always reliable and has the expertise to keep you interested in searching through their hundreds of ads online. Dont leave until you have found exactly what you want for you Christmas decorating project. You may even find an optic fibre Santa Clause. These can be great fun and need not be too expensive. Large inflated Santas and Snowmen are gaining popularity too and can have a spotlight streamed on them. Christmas is a special time for Christians and I am pleased to say that many Non-Christians join in the ceremony too.

So please enjoy your families and decorate indoors and outdoors as if you may never do it again. Take photos or film with a camcorder, so that your children will always have the memories, particularly if they have helped in the decorating. Just make sure that you choose safe items that will not give someone a nasty shock if they touch them and read all the instructions on packs to make sure you assemble any decorations with care. Always use safety first. HINT: Do Not Forget The Christmas Wreath on the Front Door.

Barbara Thorp recommends Ozfreeonline Classifieds, post free ads and more!

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Written by Enid Edginton

When it comes to christmas tree decorating the latest fad is the upside-down christmas tree. Is there any good reason besides the fact that it is a really hot xmas trend that you should actually buy one of these? First of all it may help a bit to look a bit at the history of the upside down xmas tree. That might help you decide if this type of christmas tree is for you.

The upside-down christmas tree comes from the pagan tradition of spreading evergreen boughs across the floors, windows and hearth in order to keep evil spirits from invading the home. This tradition was celebrated by cultures as diverse as the Celts, the Romans and the Vikings long before the time of Christ.

You have to remember that Christianity did not really take off in central Europe until twelve centuries past the birth of Christ. As it was noted that the evergreen contained the three points of the Holy Trinity, it was brought indoors and hung upside down. This was a way of playing it safe for most central Europeans who liked to mix their pagan rituals with their Christian rituals. Not only did the upside down xmas tree offer protection from evil spirits, but it also acknowledged the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. All of this was put to an end when religious zealots in the 16th century Germany proclaimed that the upside down xmas tree was sacrilegious. Religious officials ordered that the tips of christmas trees stop pointing to hell and instead be turned right side up so they pointed to heaven.

Since the 16th century we hadn't heard a heck of a lot about upside-down christmas tree decorating until they were marketed as store display units to retailers a couple of years ago. The reason for their revival had to do with common sense. The upside-down christmas tree that is bolted to the ceiling simply left more space for retail displays and more room to display christmas tree decorations. It also offered less of a chance of a liability lawsuit should a stumbling shopper trip over it. It wasn't long before the general public started demanding the upside-down christmas tree as a novelty item.

This past christmas the prestigious Hammacher Schlemmer holiday supply company (which has been in business over 150 years) could not keep their seven-foot tall pre-lit upside-down christmas tree in stock. It costs $600 U.S. with a lifetime guarantee. This should give you an idea of how popular this latest trend in christmas tree decorating has become.

This might be because there are definitely some benefits to using and upside down tree when it comes to christmas tree decorating. For one thing it keeps your precious glass ornaments away from the prying fingers of children. It also keeps pets and toddlers from accidentally tipping the tree over. Another benefit is that it also allows you to pile more presents under the tree (of course keeping in mind that "under the tree" is now "under" the top of the tip of the tree and its decorative topper.)

Another benefit is that the upside-down christmas tree is quite practical. They are bolted to the ceiling, which means they take up no floor space, so it's great for smaller apartments and smaller rooms. It can be positioned in tight corners and other places that do not accommodate a tree with traditional Christmas decorations.

The upside-down christmas tree can also be hung in places where you could not consider having a tree before. In fact many people simply hang the tree over their dining room table the same way you would a chandelier. Also it is much easier to see the christmas tree decorations and ornaments on an upside-down Christmas tree because they dangle down from the branches and do not visually disappear into the tree foliage. Many of them come prelit, which gets rid of the necessity of wrapping the tree in lights.

So just how are these upside-down christmas trees attached to the ceiling? They are bolted to a base that is screwed into the ceiling. If you are just into this for the novelty of it and the idea of a whole christmas tree and dangling christmas tree decorations dangling over your head makes you nervous then you can also buy models that have a base on the floor that supports an upside down artificial tree.

As upside down christmas trees are a very new thing, there is some debate as to which types of christmas tree decorations look best on it. For instance some people like the look of clumps of tinsel hanging like clumps of hair downwards from the ceiling whereas others find the effect to be too cluttered or messy looking. In you are of the latter opinion then you might want to stick with trailing cotton batten which is more like spider webs and does not fall as easily off the tree.

As you don't want any ornaments falling down and smashing on the floor or God forbid, on somebody's head you need to take extra care about fastening your christmas tree decorations securely to the tree. This is also true of christmas garlands, lights and the christmas tree topper. Remember to also fasten everything securely to the tree with some kind of wire as well as the usual fishline!

A drawback to buying an upside-down christmas tree is that after you remove it, you might have a bit of a plastering job to attend to thanks to the nuts and bolts that hold the base secure. This is why many people opt to hang it where a light fixture is usually hung. Then after the holiday season is over, they simply replace the light fixture to hide any marks left from the bolting of the tree to the ceiling.

Another consideration is that it is difficult to predecorate these upside-down christmas trees. Many of them need to be hung quite high to avoid them from scraping the tops of people's heads. This means getting up on a ladder or a table to attach christmas tree decorations to the tree so this is definitely not the kind of tree that is best for an elderly individual or someone who is afraid of heights.

For more information on Christmas trees, visit O Christmas Tree a year-round resource for all your christmas tree and decoration needs.

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