Household Tips

Household Tips: Christmas Decorating Ideas - Stairways

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When decorating for Christmas don't forget about stairways, railings, and banisters. There are tons of ideas for decorating them, but remember to keep safety first.

In many homes the staircase is one of the first things people will see upon entering. So when it comes to decorating for the holidays donít forget to dress up the staircase just as you would any other area of the house.

When using seasonal greenery, there is the option of using the real thing or the fake variety. There are pros and cons to each. The real thing smells wonderful but will eventually dry out. The fake kind doesnít have that holiday fragrance, but it can be used again year after year.

There are many different ways to decorate stairways, railings, and banisters. Here are a few ideas.

[B]Decorate for Christmas with Garlands[/B]

Garlands are one of the most popular decorative items for stairways and railings. They are a wonderful option because they can be either simple or elaborate. They are widely available in stores, and for DIY types, theyíre a fun and creative craft. So when thinking up holiday decorating ideas, donít forget the garlands.

- Garlands can be made out of a wide variety of items. Pine, ivy, pinecones Ė the list goes on and on. So try to be creative. Add decorative holiday touches with berries (real or fake), ornaments, candy canes, glamorous ribbons, or anything else you can think of.
- Pull poinsettias out of their pots and add a couple of blooms at intervals along a simple garland. This works with any flowers that match the dťcor, they neednít just be holiday-themed. Put the stems in small tubes of water to help them last longer. Hide the tubes in the garland.
- Add strings of lights to garlands and wrap them around the banister for a traditional decorative Christmas look. When using lights on a stairway, make sure there is an outlet that is close enough to allow plugging in without having a lot of wire exposed where people will be walking. Garlands look beautiful when lit, but safety always comes first.
Who says stockings have to be hung by the chimney with care? They look lovely when hung on the staircase as the accompaniment to a garland.
- Flameless candles have recently become very popular and they offer a safe and easy alternative to the real thing. Put flameless votives or tea lights in a transparent organza bag and hang them from a Christmas garland.

[B]Decorate with Wreaths and Clusters of Greenery[/B]

Wreaths have always been a front door staple, but they can be put on display elsewhere, including the stairs. Try attaching wreaths at intervals up the stairs, tied with decorative holiday ribbons. Keep them simple or add embellishments such as glass ball ornaments, berry clusters, flowers, pinecones, and ribbons.

Instead of swags of greenery trailing down the banister, a la garland, try independent bunches of greenery tied to the railing. Like wreaths, space them evenly at intervals along the stairway and either leave them on their own or connect them with ribbons. They can be attached to the banister or railings using thin floristís wire. If the wire is visible, cover it with a piece of beautiful matching ribbon.

Just about anything can be used for this idea so get creative. For instance, birch, dogwood, or other branches can form the backbone of the bunch, then add evergreens and sprays of berries. If a glamorous look is desired, add shimmering ribbon. Or try combining pinecones and poinsettias or other flowers. The key is to keep it fairly simple, and donít try to make them too large. Elegance and simplicity go hand-in-hand.

[B]Display Christmas Cards[/B]

A staircase is the perfect place to display holiday cards. One way is to take different lengths of ribbon and weight one end with a glass ornament or chandelier crystal. Then attach the cards by sandwiching them around the ribbon and sealing the edges with tape. Finally, tie the ribbon in a bow around the bottom of the banister or secure the ends under the stair runner (when applicable). Or for an even simpler way to display Christmas cards, open them up and tape the inside of the cover to the stair rail. Use painters tape so that paint wonít peel from the rail when the card is being removed.

[B]Accentuate the Stairs[/B]

While the railings and banisters are important, donít forget the stairs themselves. If space allows, decorate alternating steps with small potted Christmas trees, pointsettias, or other greenery. Add holiday bows to match the home's decor. You can also put flameless candles on the landing and up either or both sides of the steps. Note: This only works if the stairway is wide enough to allow for safe passage. Also, homes with young children and pets might not want to try this, as poinsettias can be dangerous if eaten.

[B]Be Safe When Decorating the Stairway for Christmas[/B]

- Always use caution when decorating a staircase. Donít hang over railings, or try to reach anything too high. If a ladder is necessary, always have a spotter.
- Hang the decorations in a way that allows people to grab on to the railing if necessary.
- When hanging lights on a staircase hang them on the outside of the steps so no one can step on them. Also, if anyone has to grab the banister or railing for support they won't run the risk grabbing the wires.