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It's fast, simple to go green for holidays
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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Christmas is a wonderful time of year. It is also a good time to look for ways to make the holiday a little “greener” and a little less plastic.
I am a realist. It probably is impossible to have completely eco-friendly holiday decorations in your home and I certainly don’t want anyone to throw away all the decorations they have and start over. That would be extremely expensive.
What I hope is that each year, as you replace or add items to your collection, you seek out decor that is Earth-friendly.
This weekend, Keep Liberty County Beautiful is one of several organizations sponsoring a holiday cottage as part of the annual open house at Yellow Bluff. Our house is decorated as an eco-friendly coastal Christmas cottage. We have tried to incorporate a variety of ideas that are gentle on the Earth, attractive and easy on the pocketbook, too.
Here are just a few of the ideas we implemented in decorating our cottage. I hope you’ll check out the open house. All proceeds benefit our the United Way:
• The porch and lawn: Use LED lights and solar lights when possible. They save energy and energy costs. There are a variety of reasonably priced choices available now.
We incorporated live greenery, making garlands and wreaths from local evergreens — cedar, pine, fir and magnolias. It’s simple and much cheaper to make garlands and wreaths yourself, but they can also be purchased at a variety of stores and online.
Burlap bows give the  pillows on the porch a festive touch. Poinsettias and other seasonal blooms, like paperwhites and Christmas cactus, are used inside and out.
Permanent (rather than disposable) luminaries make each holiday season bright. Palm fronds and raffia also decorate the fence and windows for a natural coastal look.
A birdbath becomes a holiday decoration and a pottery sphere brightens up the lawn.
• Inside the house: Burlap and raffia with occasional touches of regular ribbon and cut greenery and shells can be used to decorate chests, armoires and mantles throughout a house. Simple wreaths, sprays and swags of natural materials — grasses, shells and herbs — dress up light fixtures, doors, etc.
Candles made from soy or beeswax or flameless LED candles and tealights are great alternatives to traditional petroleum-based candles.
Cherished collections can be used to spruce up any area. We put a North Pole village in the cottage’s kitchen and an olive wood nativity scene and “coastal” Santa collection in the children’s rooms.
We also decorated the bedrooms with handmade quilts and a “fair trade” throw.
Craft items, like origami decorations, a sewn Christmas card holder, a sewn Christmas angel and a paper garland wreath, in the foyer all add a natural touch.
Our favorite decorations this year are the JOY letters on the living room windows. The MMS Builders Club cut the letters from plastic milk bottles. We covered the letters with moss and silver twine.
• The tree: We used a cut tree for our main tree. It will be recycled on Jan. 9 to make mulch.
In the children’s room, we used a potted tree that can be planted after Christmas or used as a houseplant.
Some of the Earth-friendly decorations include: “angels” made from aluminum soda cans, “fair trade angels” from Kenyan grasses, decorations made out of used light bulbs and CFLs, origami (folded paper) decorations, beer bottle medallions, clay and dough ornaments, a palm frond garland, sewn ornaments and paper chain garlands. The trees are lit with LED lights.
• The kitchen and tablescape: The table is layered with natural materials, including a muslin underlay and a burlap topper, with an elegant blue angel tablecloth sandwiched in between. My favorite coastal china is used instead of Christmas china, which could only be used once a year. The linen napkins are tied in bows and cedar and the shell placecards give each setting a natural touch.
For the centerpiece, we used a mercury glass container filled with greenery, used Christmas balls, shells, raffia and lights then surrounded it with greenery, shells and LED tealights.
The kitchen is festive, too, with items on the counters that enhance the holiday mood — peppermints in a glass container, a gingerbread lighthouse and mulled spices and cinnamon sticks simmering away. It all signifies that Christmas is here!
We want to give a special thanks to Brewer’s Christmas Tree Farm, The Georgia Forestry Commission, MMS Builders Club, Leah Poole, Jeannette R, Eloise, Karen Bell, Essie Gilkey, Terri Willett, Ryan Willett, Joy Kennedy, Maureen Mobley, and, of course, Yellow Bluff Company for making this eco-friendly Christmas cottage possible.
The open house continues today from 1-4 p.m. Admission is $10. Join us and check out ways to make this Christmas the “greenest” and merriest ever!
KLCB announcements that you can use to help save the environment:
• Through Dec. 31: Submit nominations for Win-dex Business of the Quarter Awards. Call 368-4888 or 368-4445, or e-mail for a form.
• Dec. 26-Jan. 9: Bring One for the Chipper. Plan now to recycle your Christmas tree after the holiday.

For more information on Keep Liberty County Beautiful programs, contact Swida at 368-4888 or
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