Easy and Elegant Christmas Trees

by Claire Worthington

Published by Facts on File, Inc.

128 pages, 1998

Buy it online




Holiday Decorations with Your Own Little Hands

Reviewed by Linda L. Richards

Whether or not you're a fan of Martha Stewart's, that well-connected Connecticut matron has given the world something. If nothing else, she's provided her followers with the idea that they -- too -- can make something beautiful. It sort of goes without saying that whatever you make won't be as cool or hot as whatever it is she's done most recently -- but -- you can make the attempt.

Where Martha Stewart has come to be the guru of the do-it-yourself-beautifully mavens, there are other worthy leaders on the path to household perfection. Some who even make creative goals an attainable thing. Better yet, some make it simple enough that even very young family members can feasibly participate.

Claire Worthington is one of these. A professional magazine stylist, in her first book Worthington has brought together 30 step-by-step projects to beautify your holiday season with your own hands.

While the book is called Easy and Elegant Christmas Trees, there's more than tree decorating in this well-produced book. The part titles indicate a certain type of tree -- Tree of Treats; Colorful Tree; White Tree; Country Tree and so on -- within these parts are projects suitable for Christmas gifting as well as tree ornamentation. Projects range from cookies-that-can-be-baubles, like Meringue Mice that hang from the tree to Festive Cookies intended that can be consumed as well as admired. There are ornamental candle holders; very finished and simple paper chains; as well as wreaths, stars and angels aplenty.

One of the nicest things about this book is that many of the projects really don't look as though you require a degree from the M. Stewart School of Good Things to complete them. In fact, several say that they are perfect for "young fingers" so you can set your offspring to work making decorations: a fun project for the family that likes to create together.

While the emphasis is unmistakably on Christmas, there are several projects that would be worth undertaking at any time of the year: which is a good thing, as I suspect there are some people who might end up getting this book for Christmas when it's entirely too late to create any Christmas stuff until next year. For example, the Amaretto Wrappers would be pretty and festive any time of the year, as would the Sugared Almond Bags and The Felt Birds would be a delight to children. Following the basic steps for the candle holder and adding your own variations would produce holders suitable for many occasions and the Gilded Pot would look striking in many homes year 'round.

My own favorite project is pure Christmas. An ornament called Cinnamon Bundles is so easy it amazes me I've never thought of it: truly the sign of a good how-to book. Four two inch lengths of cinnamon sticks are tied together with raffia. A bit of gilt creme is rubbed on the raffia to give it some glow. And -- of course -- the long ends of the raffia are tied beautifully to provide the ornament you've created with a built-in hanger. The result is a very simple ornament that looks like a little bit of wood for the fire. It's an ornament that you could feasibly make in under 10 minutes, drying time excluded. And it smells good.

Easy and Elegant Christmas Trees is a wonderful how-to book for the home beautifier with the holidays on their mind. Especially if you're wanting to do it easily and -- perhaps -- with pint-sized helpers. | December 1998


Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.