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Holiday ornaments reflect fashion and furnishing trends

By Kim Cook
Associated Press / November 27, 2008
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Christmas tree ornaments tend to reflect styles we see in the year's home furnishings, as well as what's on the fashion runway. We like to dress our tree as we dress our rooms and ourselves.

This season, inspiration trotted the globe, from Morocco to Moscow, Punjab to Pyongyang. Stools and step chests grace the living room, while ethnic fabrics and motifs adorn wall art and clothing. So it's no surprise many holiday ornaments evoke these graphic prints and international sensibilities.

Look for elaborate paintwork and embellishments, tassels, bright good-luck Asian reds and golds. At the other end of the spectrum are graceful, muted tonal shades, simple Zen-like branches, winterberries, and blossoms.

No doubt you've seen the charming peasant looks, blanket-stitching, and textural garments that fill stores this fall. In home decor, this trend has shown up in Scandinavian-style carved furniture, homespun wool throws, and Nordic patterned rugs.

For the holidays, this translates into charming folk-art, stitched-felt animals, stockings, and people, as well as evocations of natural elements in carved wood, painted tin, bark, and even dipped metal.

Some see a cultural trend emerging that has to do with nesting, comfort, and home and hearth as a safe haven from the daily storms of life. So childhood treats like candy canes, gingerbread cookies, and cupcakes become temptations for the tree.

Sur La Table, a national retailer of all things epicurean, stocks luscious glass ice cream cones, chocolate dipped strawberries, and glitter frosted sweets.

"Food plays such an important role during the holidays - dessert and food-related ornaments just appeal to our senses," says Linda Nangle, Sur la Table's tabletop buyer.

With millions of Americans watching "Mad Men," "Life on Mars," and other shows steeped in the styles of the '60s, '70s, and '80s, it's no surprise that shelter magazines and on-trend furniture retailers have embraced the mid-century years. Retro-look ornaments such as martini glasses, starbursts, and kicky teardrop shapes are smart, fresh, and sophisticated once again.

And for those who dress their homes in all-out glamour, Christmas is a time to really put on the glitz. We see lustrous hues such as persimmon, silver, grape, and chartreuse in pretty sweaters, silk jackets, and other party wear. There are myriad baubles dressed up in feathers, fur, sequins, and glitter that catch the light.

Robin Coogan, buyer and display artist for the gift and ornament store Seasons Too in Larchmont, N.Y., decorates 12 to 18 private homes for the holidays each year. "Everyone loves the sparkly metallics, as well as rich reds and chartreuse. Especially those who do a lot of entertaining - they want their tree and mantel to really set a festive mood."

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