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deck the halls how to get into the holiday spirit, even without the big tree by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3
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stocking up
There's absolutely no reason in the world you should have to resort to sullying your fireplace mantle with those generic red plush stockings available in drugstores everywhere this time of year. For anyone with a basic familiarity with what to do with needle and thread, you can get yourself some fabric, cut out two big stocking shapes, and sew the stocking together by hand or with a machine. Felt is easy to work with, as it doesn't fray, but it's fun to play with other fabrics as well. Velvet, satin and taffeta make for a classic, elegant touch; for a homier feel, try recycling old flannel shirts.

Even if you can't sew a lick, you can decorate that stocking to make it uniquely you. Personalize your stockings with ribbon trim, tiny bells, buttons, felt cut-outs, maybe a monogrammed letter (you can get iron-on letters, or embroider them yourself). Go beyond the traditional red and green and get wacky with your color choices; snazz up a solid fabric with rubber stamps. Get creative, have fun. Stocking links to get your inspired...

stocking how-tos

marthastewart.com: christmas stockings

good scents
Scented candles are a simple way to fill your house with spicy, piney wintery aromas. But far and away my favorite way to get my house smelling properly festive is to get in the kitchen and start baking. Spend an evening whipping up a batch of gingerbread, holiday sugar cookies, maybe some pie. Better yet, make it a mini-party by inviting a few friends over to help with the baking, decorating -- and eating. You'll fill your house with the unbeatably wonderful smells of real homebaked goods, and have a plate full of sweets to share with your favorite folks as well. Throw on some holiday tunes, turn on the twinkling lights, and enjoy the holiday mood.


check out these related articles: 
sewing basics | gingerbread recipe | holiday sugar cookies| edible gift ideas | make your own holiday cards


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