25 Ideas to Inspire Your Country Christmas

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it’s officially time to start decorating for Christmas. Looking for inspiration? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together 25 ideas to help you get started planning your perfect country Christmas.

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These metal Christmas trees are a perfect addition for a little rustic look. From RustinRose

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A different take on the Christmas wreath from Smash Blog Trends

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Another unique Christmas wreath, and we love red trucks! From Crystals Cottage Home

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A regal country look. From Instagram.

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Love this Christmas lantern from The Country Farmhouse

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Don’t forget under the tree! This and lots more ideas from Life on Kaydeross Creek

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Looking for a classic way to dress up your mantle? By Liz Marie Blog

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Don’t forget the stockings! From Deavita

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Garland and wrapped boxes to dress up your fireplace.

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Use handmade signs and pillows for an extra splash.

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DIY wreath design by Blue Eyed Yonder

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Can’t have a country Christmas without mason jars. Designed by DebDebsCrafts

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Unique Christmas Trees by Lyckoslantern

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Decorating with appetizers. From Ciao!

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Simple beauty by Liz Marie Blog

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Fun with Mason jars from Mason Jar Crafts

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Elegant Christmas Tree from Celebrate Mag

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Decorating the table. From Rosemary & Thyme

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Love this hot chocolate station.

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Another hot cocoa station from Jennifer Carroll

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Snowflakes on the front door. From Small Measure

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Cheerful entrance from Comoorganizarlacasa

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Simple farmhouse living room by HomStuff.com

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Rustic snowman from Pinterest

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Now its your turn! Share with us your country Christmas designs and decorations and help us spread the cheer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reason I’m Holding On To 2016

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I get it. Really I do. 2016 was a strange and certainly difficult year for many of us. The world seemed to contract as if in labor. From Syria to Russia to global terrorism on an epic scale, through racial and socioeconomic tension and the ugliest US election cycle I can remember in 40 years, this year was never lacking for headlines, hashtags or social media banter. We lost many well-loved personalities, from Prince to Harper Lee to Grizzly Adams, and although no year is without its casualties, 2016 will be remembered by many as the year the Eighties Icons died.

For my family, though, it was a year of illness, of strained relationships and circumstantial changes. It was the  year my family moved from our childhood home in Oregon to the Midwest, leaving everything we knew and the people we love behind to forge an adventure into the unknown. Many of our family and friends couldn’t understand why we would want to do this. Some of them took it personally and it unfortunately put tension on those relationships. To top it off, just the other day, before the year was yet over, our chocolate lab was hit by a car in front of our house (See Here).

So I get it. I understand how so many have come to see 2016 as the worst year ever. Uncertainties. Sadness. Heartbreak. Tears. I could easily look at it the same way. I can also see how many of us are clinging to the hope of a new year, as if somehow the passing from December 31st to Jan 1 is like going through a revolving door into a utopia that will magically put all those terrible things behind us forever. Hope is good, and so is the idea of a clean slate, a new canvas to paint on. A new year full of possibility. But it does not erase the things we have come through or the lessons they hold.

So I’m choosing to hold on instead of letting it go.

I’m holding on to 2016 because it was the year I grew the most, emotionally, spiritually and professionally. 2016 was the year I learned to grieve. I wept over my mother as she died suddenly of cancer, much too young. I said goodbye to my father, who died of a broken heart just a day before my mom did. I lost my grandpa and Katie lost her grandma. Through all of these things,  I did not lose faith, but clung to it, and was made stronger by it. I learned that the way to become a better father, husband, human being is to be stretched beyond comfort and even broken at times so that I can be put back together again. To rely on others more and myself less. I learned that God is not just a crutch to lean on and read about, but a trusted companion who is compassionately dedicated to shaping our lives, and fiercely loyal through the process. I learned that bad things will continue to happen, but that no matter how dark the world seems, the light that shines in our household will never go out as long as we remain dedicated to each other and to the people around us.

And it wasn’t all bad. There were good things, even great things, that happened through the year. My second eldest son graduated from high school (a feeling that is something like an exhalation of a long-held breath, which any parent of graduating teens will understand). Our move to Iowa afforded us the opportunity to pursue a lifestyle we could only dream about in Oregon. I’ve had the opportunity to be challenged in my job and to grow from it significantly. We’ve had the privilege to bless others and to be blessed. There were beautiful sunsets every night, butterfly kisses from my daughter and silly moments with the boys. And laughter. There was a lot of that too. We built things with our hands, saw places we’d never seen before and got to know new people along the way.

Hope is not a thing that only comes in the promise of a new year. You see, through all of our personal tragedies, there was good in the midst of the awful. And that gave us hope. Hope was the very thing that kept us moving forward. But without tragedy and hardship, hope is meaningless.

We must take the wonderful with the terrible and let them both shape us into something more than we are today.

Was 2016 the worst year ever? Each of us have our own perspective, but I don’t think so. A challenging year? A frustrating year? A year of loss? Yes, to all of those. Will 2017 bring something different?  I don’t know what the new year holds. We can be fairly certain there will be more trouble. More uncertainty. But I will not be defined by fear. And neither should you be.

I’ve made it through 2016. And I’m now better prepared for whatever is to come.

 

Easy Fall Centerpiece

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Crisp mornings. Falling leaves. Thanksgiving. Autumn is in the air and that means the outdoor activities will soon move indoors. Family and friends sitting around the table, sharing a meal and good conversation.

Why not make an eye-catching centerpiece that will serve as a focus point and bring it all together?

It Started With A Branch

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I dug through the branches I cut a while back and found a relatively straight piece that still had some character. Be careful cutting on the miter saw. Any kind of crook in the wood will bind the blade and potentially cause damage to the saw or yourself.

Gather Your Materials

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After you’ve sourced your branch wood and cut it to length (I cut mine a little under 19 inches long), its time to decide on candles. I used regular votive candles I had on hand.

Cut The Candle Holes

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Figure out where you want to position the candles and make a center mark for the drill. The candles I used were roughly 1 3/4 inches at the base, so I used a 2 inch forstner bit chucked into my Craftsman drill to make my holes.

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I went about 1 1/2 inches deep into the wood. Make sure you drill as straight as possible. Forstner bits are aggressive and will snag the wood if you’re not careful, resulting in a twisted wrist or a mangled work piece, especially if you’ve chosen a softer piece of wood like pine or fir (I’m using ash, which is what they make baseball bats from). Hold the piece firmly, or carefully put it in a vice.centerpiece13

Originally I had considered using four candles, but settled on 3. After drilling my holes, I cleaned the piece of sawdust and chips and then wiped it down with Mineral Spirits.

It’s All About Staging

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Here’s where you can let your creativity run free. You can choose to simply use the branch and candles as the entire center piece, or you can elaborate. I wanted something a little more, so I pulled out an old oak table top I’ve had for years. It has a nice weathered white wash on one side that is kind of beachy, and I thought it would work well with the rest of the centerpiece. I cut it down to size with my circular saw and then trimmed the edges on the table saw.

We had some small pumpkins our neighbor gave us that worked well. You could add some greenery or a few crab apples. Christmas is around the corner. Maybe add some pine cones and white candles to give it a wintry feel. A few cornflowers and seashells, especially with the beachy table base, would take this piece into spring or summer.

However you choose to be creative, this is an easy project that can be done in just a few hours. And its something different that you can feel good about showing off to you guests. Better than anything, it cost very little by repurposing most of the materials from your own yard. Simple.

 

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Cheers!