For many of us, Thanksgiving weekend is the official kickoff for holiday decorating. Following the national meal, we start stringing lights, flinging tinsel around, and larding the yard with embellishments that range from elegant and traditional to religious or with gazillion-watt light shows.
For some, decorating the yard is prescribed - a wreath and the same electric reindeer each year. But for others, it's a chance to try something new.
"Find where your passion lies," suggests Karen Babcock, associate director of Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton.
For focus, you can choose a theme that reflects a personal passion. Love the seashore? Put up a shell-trimmed wreath, then add Santa Claus lounging in a greens-trimmed boat with a fishing rod trolling for gifts.
Gardeners can hang a tree with small beribboned (so they'll flutter and catch the eye) garden tools along with the outdoor lights.
Ladew's decorations are traditional, harking back to the nation's roots with ribbons and greenery that evoke Williamsburg. Others celebrate the dark-of-the-winter holidays by filling their yards with light.
"I love candles in lanterns," says Lee Phillips, owner of Driving Miss Daisies, a design firm in Chestertown. "They look so pretty in the snow."
Phillips makes holiday wreaths, swags and garlands from natural materials like dried hydrangea and magnolia leaves, then dials nature up a notch by spraying select bits with glitter. "It adds sparkle and makes them stand out more," she says.
Garden centers and catalogs offer a wide variety of decorating options. Deck a tree with suet balls and other bird munchies. Or pick up a potted dwarf pine or topiary, the latest thing in all-natural ready-made.
"You just add a bow and little lights, and you're done," says Babcock.
Ladew Topiary Gardens
3535 Jarrettsville Pike
Monkton, MD 21111
Ladew's Christmas Open House will be Dec 9-11. Visitors can buy ready-made decorations or greens to create their own as well as enjoy the decorations done by garden clubs throughout the manor.
Driving Miss Daisies
313 Park Row
Chestertown, MD 21620
Gardener's Supply Co.
128 Intervale Road
Burlington, VT 05401
Freeport, ME 04033