The Front Porch Revisited
While the month of December is arguably the most exciting month of the year, it also has a reputation for being the most stressful. Both our time and our budgets are typically stretched beyond endurance, so it is imperative to find ways to manage both well. In the midst of the decorating frenzy, it can be easy to overlook one very important spot … the front porch. But this is the first thing guests will see upon arrival, so here are ten things you can do to ramp up the appeal of this outdoor extension of your home. The criteria? All of these tips are FAST and FRUGAL in an effort to lessen your holiday stress instead of adding to it!
- Swap out your fall décor. Time is of the essence, so one quick tip is to simply replace all of your fall décor (pumpkins, corn shocks, mums, etc.) with Christmas items instead. Empty that bin or wagon or window box of its now irrelevant fall beauty and replace it with greens, lights, and shiny red Christmas balls. No need to reinvent the wheel if you simply decorate the same spots in new ways for each season or holiday.
- Pick a color. Simplify the entire process by only choosing items from one particular color scheme. How about white? Hang white skates from a sled or wicker chair, string white lights around your pillars or handrail, use white spray paint to freshen up pinecones or a twig wreath, and wrap faux gifts in white paper. It simplifies the shopping and crafting when your eyes are focused on a specific color.
- Visit your local thrift shop. Thrift shops are a fabulous way to stretch the budget! You can pick up Christmas decorations for a fraction of what you would pay for them new. Additionally, this is a great place to find baskets, bins, and bowls to fill with greens and lights on your front porch. Think outside the box … find creative ways to use non-Christmas items and convert them to holiday décor with the addition of spray paint or a red bow.
- Bring the inside out. Sort through old blankets, scarves, and boots that are ready to recycle. Grab the ones that could double as Christmas decorations … a red plaid blanket, a pair of black rubber boots, or a polka-dot scarf … and find new uses for them. Toss the blanket over a porch rocker, fill the boots with greens, and tie the scarf to a wreath or snowman.
- First impressions matter. Invest in a nice outdoor porch rug for guests to wipe off their snowy feet. These run the gamut from playful snowmen to simple “Merry Christmas” greetings. Since you will only use it for a few weeks out of the year, it should last you for quite a few Christmas seasons.
- Swap with a friend. Most folks have limited greenery on their property, so think about friends who might want to trade. Offer them boughs from your evergreen in exchange for some sprigs of holly. This is a win-win for both of you.
- Don’t overlook the twigs in your yard. While lots of trees and shrubs have lost their leaves, the remaining bare branches or twigs can be an inexpensive and homey way to add a decorative touch. Put a bundle of branches in a large barrel or flowerpot. String with lights and even ornaments, or tuck some greens in the mix, to create a beautiful arrangement for your porch.
- Put your firewood to double use. Before it makes its way to your woodstove or fireplace, store your firewood on the front porch and double its value. Stack it neatly in a wooden crate or galvanized metal tub. Add some sprigs of greenery or even Christmas lights to increase its appeal. You don’t even have to own a fireplace to borrow this idea! Buy a small bundle of firewood anyway and put it to good use.
- Signs can set a welcoming tone. If you are crafty, stop by your local Home Depot and buy an inexpensive piece of wood. Paint it black or white, stencil or paint the words “Merry Christmas” on it, then sand lightly for aged appeal. Double its value by adding a fall message on the reverse side and you can use it for back-to-back seasons.
- Shop the after Christmas sales. It is never too early to start thinking about next Christmas. Try to set aside a small amount of money dedicated to those after Christmas clearance sales. This is the perfect time to invest in a beautiful imitation Christmas tree for your porch or a set of lanterns to place on your front steps. While it’s hard to spend money so far in advance, you will congratulate yourself next Christmas when you’ve got some fabulous new items to help usher in the season!
As always, make sure your front porch is a reflection of you, and enjoy this holiday season with family and friends!