One of my favorite ways to decorate for the season is what I call “The Tray Display.” Basically, what you do is take a tray and create a seasonal display on it. What I find is that the tray “anchors” the display making it look like it belongs there when it’s in a bit of an unusual spot. Also, for the people who get overwhelmed by the thought of decorating the house or even a room in the house, but still want the season represented, this is your “ticket to ride!” This approach gives you a seasonal display without being “too much" or “breaking the bank.” It’s really fun and easy.
Now you might think…”isn’t this just a centerpiece?” I say think bigger and think broader. While yes, it literally could be a centerpiece, why stop at the dining room table? What I’m saying is if you want a “pop” of the season, create one! Imagine doing a whimsy display in your child’s room for Christmas, or a Christmas display for Grandma in the nursing home, a little décor tray in the kitchen, or even a welcome tray in the guest bedroom…are you starting to see it? You don’t have to decorate the whole room, but a pop of the season on a tray in that room is something that seems easy. This tray idea is the ticket!
Some of the additional things I like about the “Tray Display.” If using real plants, or say a pumpkin and gourds for Harvest, it keeps your surface fresh and free of water or the debris sometimes left from real display items. If your burning candles, the wax will not drip on the surface. It’s easily moveable. I tend to put it wherever I need it, then move it around from place to place to keep things interesting. And, as I said before I think it saves you money because you are only decorating a tray, not an entire room. If you are decorating a room, you can add this in as a focal point of the room. If your bringing it say to Grandma at the nursing home, or to the staff, this gift is so much better than just a single plant. It shows you worked on this and built this for them. You crafted it with love, and they will feel the love, as it’s a representation of the season.
Think outside the box as to “where” you feel you need a little Christmas this year. Then think of “is there anyone you know that needs a little Christmas cheer?” Between those two questions you will find your answers. Next is the tray. I like a tray where I can fit enough on it to make a display. You will want the tray to be seasonless as you will want the tray to perform all year. I suggest a wood or metal tray that works for all seasons. When I am buying the trays for Crescent Moon Home, I am always conscious try to buy an assortment of both wood and metal trays that are various sizes. This year I found a big metal tray that I love and some great rough wood trays. All could be used throughout the year, and all are varying sizes. If you have a place in mind for the tray make sure your tray will fit the area, and your tray/area are big enough to build a small display.
The options are endless as to what to put on the Display Tray. If you’re a beginner, here are some basic thoughts.
Candles are always a good start. My rule for candles on the Tray Display are as follows…
1. The only real candles I use in the cabin HAVE to be in glass, either a poured candle in glass, or a candle or votive that is housed INSIDE the glass, such as a hurricane. My only exception is the dinner table, where I will use some tapers. When the tapers are lit dinner is ready, and you basically are minding the candles all throughout the dinner. When dinner is done, blow them out.
2. If it’s the dinner table, I prefer real candles. If It’s anywhere else throughout the house I prefer the battery operated timed candles. Especially as a host, I don’t want to worry that my candle power throughout the house may catch something on fire while I am entertaining my guests. I don’t need that worry.
3. The battery operated candles. At first when they came out I was so so on them. But over the years they have vastly improved and now the flame looks so much more realistic. The ones we carry at Crescent Moon Home are on for 5 hours and off for 19 hours. As it gets dark early in the winters, I love to see all of my candles come on a 5:00 p.m. and flicker into the night till 10:00 when I’m heading downstairs to get ready for bed. With this happening night after night, I’ve fallen in love with these candles. I like things that are automatic.
4. Going to the nursing home or anything outside your home, I would go with the battery operated candles. No one has to fuss with them for safety and night after night Grandma can enjoy the flickering flame.
After candles for the beginner, I would use some faux or real florals or picks as we call them. The price has dropped significantly over the last few years on faux pick/stems and the realism of the picks has grown. It is often difficult to distinguish the two without touching them. The picks we carry at Crescent Moon Home are very realistic and people are always commenting "what a good price they are." If your leaning towards fresh, purchase greens that will last the season. Many do if not cut a long time before they were put out for sale. My favorite fresh pick or stem is cedar. It’s full, bushy and lays flat. For me I like to mix cedar with other fresh picks and berries
So we have the candles, the stems to fill the tray, and the tray. Just with this you can build a great display. I usually take it a step further add a focal point to the tray. This can be anything under the stars, only held back by your imagination. In one of my photos I used our mango village set, wool trees and a riser. In another photo I only added candlesticks for height. What you can do here is endless. As I continue to make my Tray Displays for Christmas I will add the pics here. If you are going to try and do a tray display, when you are finished send me a picture and I will post it on Instagram and Facebook. This is not overwhelming to create. There are no rules to follow. Just use your imagination. Do it a few times and you will be creating some new traditions that are beautiful and seasonal. Don’t be a Grinch, we all could use a little Christmas now.