New South Style #1: Trying On New Traditions for a Year

Everyone knows that tradition is important, especially around the holidays, but no one knows this like a southerner.  While pulling out my decorations this year, I began to reflect on the many traditions that had been passed down to me with regards to entertaining and decorating. Though I cherish all of these traditions, they have also left me with little room for decisions about what I think Christmas could look like. This year, I decided to keep my “usuals” packed up and go out on a limb to experiment. It’s ok to take a year off from traditions. Just make sure to keep them safe for next year.

The Christmas Tree

Use your creativity to cut out the part you like least. For my grandmother, this was the mess and fuss over the real Christmas tree that they always purchased. One year, she decided to make an“alternative tree” and created one out of wood dowels with pegs for branches. This created space for the ornaments and no room for needles! I tried my own turn with this and used the gifts for friends and family as blocks to build my tree. I used the bows as ornaments and added a red paper chained garland to emphasize the tree’s shape. It’s either lazy or creative genius!



Photo Credits: Jeanne Tompkins



Here are some other genius-alternative Christmas tree ideas!


















The Garland

I also decided to try my hand at using live garland because I had this great idea for ornaments that I wanted to show off and needed somewhere to hang them.


Photo credits: Jeanne Tompkins

Some tips for working with live garland:

  • Thin green floral wire and wire cutters are your best friend!
  • Live garland was fun once I stopped trying to make everything perfect. Allow and expect your garland shape to be more organic. Don’t fight nature!
  • Similar to decorating a tree, string the lights and then wire the garland into place on your mantle, sideboard, curio cabinet and any other furniture. Add the ornaments last so that you can really get the effect as you layer in each one!
  • Get ready for your house to smell fantastic!



Instead of using my beloved eclectic collection of ornaments, I decided to go for a more focused look that would be fun and daring without breaking the bank! I incorporated some of my vintage silver glass ornaments and made some additional ones to create a “punk rock Christmas” look.  I purchased some plain glass ornaments at the crafts store and used red plaid fabric scraps that I had at home. The finishing touch was the safety pins!


Photo credits: Jeanne Tompkins

Here are some more fun creative Christmas decor ideas:

  • Commit to a color that you don’t normally use! Is purple you’re favorite color? If so, then deck the whole tree out in purple with silver or gold accents.  Look for ornaments at the Dollar Tree or any other local craft store. Remember, your ornaments don’t have to be purple to start. Spray paint offers a quick change at a great cost.
  • Do you have a favorite Christmas element like nutcrackers or Santas? If so, then only take out those elements and hand craft some fill in pieces to avoid any gaps in your final look.
  • Experiment with a fun pattern like polka dots, cheetah print, or stripes!



Remember, at one point all Christmas decorations were largely paper and handmade, so play around with your creativity and do something fun. After all, it’s only for a year!