City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Home for the Holidays

with Leann Parker

When I decorate our spaces, especially around the holidays, I strive to bring things into our home from the outdoors rather than from a store. I’ve always loved the natural elements of evergreens, dried citrus and white candles. These outdoor touches are ones that have stood the test of time and will never go out of style. You can find them in even the most outdated books, movies and in grandma’s old holiday photos! Occasionally, I’ll get excited about a fun new trend, but at the end of the day my holiday trimmings center around things that will never trend out even as the times change. And, boy, have the times changed. 

Rolling into the 2020 holiday season is less than pleasant. (There, I said it!) I don’t like change and going into this holiday season where everything is different or canceled feels really hard. But, if you’re like me, I know that we can’t live in that place for too long. After allowing myself the time to grieve the big and smaller losses, I can put them to rest and move forward with recreating what it might look like to celebrate during this unique holiday season. In our home we’ll be doing a lot more gathering around the piano instead of dressing up for the symphony, but that is still celebrating just the same. And I am finally ready to embrace it. As I prepare our home for the holidays with citrus galore, I hope you will grab your oranges and join me! 

First, bring the outdoors in!

In addition to the common greenery and berries brought into our home around the holidays, dried citrus is one of my absolute favorite natural decor traditions. Our home smells glorious the day I prepare them, and the results of perfectly preserved citrus can be used in countless ways. Dried citrus can even be saved in an airtight container to be used again the following year—the slices get a bit darker but look just as beautiful as they age! 

How to dry citrus:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice citrus and arrange on a cookie sheet.

  3. Bake until slices are mostly dried (3-4 hours), occasionally flipping for an even bake. 

*Slices are done when the rinds are hard and dry, but the centers are still tacky. The slices will continue to dry out after being removed from the oven so “under done” is OK!

How to use dried citrus:

  1. For gift wrapping, pair your dried citrus with real or faux greens and attach with cotton ribbon or twine to garnish your gifts. 

  2. For tablescapes, add dried citrus to gift tags and use as personalized place settings. 

  3. For home decor, use ribbon or twine to hang dried citrus as ornaments or string several together to use as garland.

  4. For desserts and charcuterie boards, garnish with dried or candied citrus. 

  5. For gifts, make stovetop potpourri to fill your home with wonderful holiday smells 

Stovetop citrus potpourri:

If you aren’t comfortable with the usual edible homemade gifts this year, don’t give up! Here is an idea that is still homemade but not to consume… to smell! Stovetop citrus potpourri will fill your family’s and friends' homes with all the yummy aroma of the season whether or not you can join them in person. 

  1. Dried Citrus (see “How to dry citrus” above)

  2. Cinnamon Sticks

  3. Whole Dried Cloves

  4. Whole Dried Star Anise

  5. Mason Jars, either 16 ounce or 8 ounce

  6. Gift Tags to write instruction cards

To assemble as gifts: place a combination of all dried ingredients above in individual mason jars. You can’t make a mistake on the amount or combos of ingredients since they all work wonderfully together! In my jars, I included 3 slices of dried oranges, 3 cinnamon sticks, 2 star anise, and 2 teaspoons of whole cloves. Handwrite instruction cards to include with each potpourri jar and give to your friends and family to enjoy.

Next, repurpose and reclaim.

After I’ve filled our home with natural elements of pine, berries and citrus I then move onto repurposing the things that I already have such as these old atlas pages. Repurpose what you already have by reinventing the things found around home.

Repurpose old atlas accents:

Here I am repurposing an old atlas, but the atlas idea can be swapped out for any other paper item you have on hand such as unused sheet music, book pages or brown paper bags. Here are a few ideas on how to use your repurpose paper:

  1. Stocking Stuffers: roll pages and stuff them in empty stockings until Santa comes.

  2. Tablescape: slip whole sheets under plate settings and google “origami tree” and make a personalized seating arrangement.  

  3. Gifts: add smaller pieces of pages to embellish gift bags and gift boxes. 

Reclaim thrifted mantel and tablescapes:

Decorate your mantel and tablescape by either thrifting items or, again, finding them around your home. My mantel includes a vintage saw, thrifted brass candlesticks and bugle horns hung on the stockings. For my citrus tablescape I shopped my house and found a striped throw blanket to use as a tablecloth and tea towels to use as napkins. (Tip: it's all about the color and pattern you have in mind, not necessarily the original purpose of an item.) I completed the look by using more of my thrifted brass candlesticks, wooden cutting boards and finally adding dried oranges with faux greens to top it off. For my atlas themed tablescape I followed the same idea—thrifted cloth napkins and white dishes, gold chargers that I already owned, and old atlas pages used under plates and as place setting cards. 

DIY Ice Bucket:

An ice bucket made out of, well, ice! This is a show-stopper that costs nothing but a little time using items that you probably already have. Surprisingly, this ice bucket will last for hours once placed out for use and after you’re done, put it back in the freezer (adding a bit more water) for another time. I typically use one ice bucket the whole holiday season with a last hurrah on New Year’s Eve. 

  1. Large container

  2. Small container (just a bit bigger than the diameter of a bottle)

  3. Small rocks (enough to fill your small container)

  4. Filler of your choice (pine clippings, cranberries, flowers, sliced fruit, or even things like beads or glitter!). In this ice bucket I used clippings from our boxwoods and fresh cranberries.

Full video instructions are located at @silvertoothfarmhome highlight titled “ice bucket.” Tag me with your own ice bucket creations—I can’t wait to see!