1+1=3: Try a new style this holiday season

November 29, 2008

After spending 6 weeks working in the 'Elf Factory' on the Festival of Trees, I have had my quota of inspiration for holiday decorating. One of the best designer tips I heard over and over again was a very simple one...use what you already have in a new way this year.

Sounds easy enough but I needed some visual aids to get my creativity in gear. Late Thanksgiving afternoon, I had some quality time with my mother's extensive magazine collection....after an hour or so with Veranda, Southern Accents and Architectural Digest, I was ready to roll. I hit my mother's silver closet and then took my treasures home for experimenting.

Recently, I've been hooked on the concept of the no.3 which appears repeatedly in Christmas traditions...the wise men, for example. This obsession came from a conversation with the Captain (the professional groomsman) about the philosophy of 1+1=3, otherwise known as 'the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.' This idea is one that can be applied to many areas of life, but it seems particularly appropriate to holiday decorating...after all, tinsel without a tree is just shredded up foil....but add it to lights & ornaments and you've got something.


So back to the project...embracing the advice of using things in a new way and having the no. 3 as a guiding force, I took ornaments, silver containers and a mirror to create a very cool, anthropologie-like centerpiece. My mom declared it 'avant-garde' when she came by to see it the next day. My 3 elements (ornaments, silver pieces & mirror) came together as a stylish holiday decoration. Oddly enough (pardon the pun), I used 3 types of ornaments (balls, birds & pinecones) and 3 types of silver containers (compotes, egg cups & a vase).

The Captain's point of 1+1=3 was fully supported by my new centerpiece. None of those items would have been out this holiday on their own. Together, however, they compose something very interesting and perhaps a bit beautiful. This project is a great example of a thought we can all take with us throughout the Christmas season...how can we become a part of something bigger or better than ourselves? What can we use that we already have to create something beautiful, meaningful or helpful?