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“We use all kinds of paper for wrapping gifts and it’s a good craft for kids,” she says. “They make their own ornaments. We spray pine cones with gold paint and sealer and use those as our centerpieces.”
Marcela uses an artificial tree inside her house, even though she likes using native plants as Christmas trees or decorating the plants outside the home. She places plastic luminarias along the perimeter of the house. She only begins decorating about one week before Christmas, but she leaves her lights up for a while. “Lights are great in any form and [especially] nice for a small town,” she says.
Nancy Hoyt seeks simple elegance when she decorates her Casa Contente home for the holidays: Thirty-six plastic luminarias (from Ace Hardware in the VOC) flicker along the wall of her courtyard. Wreaths consisting only of greenery and red berries add a touch of color to the courtyard’s two large wooden doors.
But it’s the dried century plant – a southwestern agave that shoots up a flowering spike as high as 25 feet, after which the plant dies – at her front door that gets the most attention. Nancy said she found the perfect dead plant in her previous housing community, waited until it dried out, and asked the local gardener to cut the spike off. “If you cut the plant too early, it will lose its pods and you won’t be able to hang ornaments,” Nancy says. “You can tell when it’s dry because when you tap the shoot, it sounds hollow.”
Nancy placed the spike in a clay pot with a narrow opening. The plant is about eight feet tall. At Christmas, she decorates it with ornaments from throughout the Southwest. She doesn’t use lights on the tree, so as not to compete with the luminarias.
Inside, Nancy says she usually brings in fresh poinsettias and uses candles. “I don’t use a ton of decorations,” she says. “I’m from Holland, where we celebrated Santa Claus Day but Christmas was more of a [religious] holiday. I like to keep it simple.”
Oh Saguaro, Oh Saguaro
Eleven years ago, Carol Scribner saw she had no room for a traditional Christmas tree in her new West Sedona home. She stumbled upon a brown rattan saguaro cactus at Biddle Outdoor Center and has decorated the 4-ft. tall cactus for Christmas ever since.
She places it in a ceramic pot and adds little white lights, a few chili pepper lights, and ornaments from the Southwest and around the world. Carol is partial to a small barbed-wire coyote, hand-hammered tin and copper ornaments from New Mexico, handmade clay ornaments from Santa Fe, artisan ornaments from the Sedona Arts Center, and a twig and yarn cross made by her son when he was a child.
Can you tell Carol likes it when people think outside the box? More evidence: Last year she held a party in which guests attended in pajamas while The Night Before Christmas was read from beneath the saguaro.
Sedona Bed and Breakfast Holiday Tour
Want to see how Southwest bed-and-breakfasts decorate for the holidays – or get ideas on where you’ll recommend the in-laws stay this Christmas? Check out the ninth annual Sedona Bed and Breakfast Holiday Tour, hosted by the Premier Bed & Breakfasts of Sedona association. On Dec. 10 from 1-5 p.m., 12 B&Bs will open their doors to benefit Verde Valley Caregivers (www.vvcaregivers. org), a non-profit organization providing assistance to adults who want to maintain their independence while living at home.
Each B&B will be decorated for the holidays, serve refreshments and give tours, says organizer Almira Wagley. The tour takes place the day after Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village’s Festival of Lights; last year more than 300 tickets were sold.
“A lot of people are interested in seeing what a B&B looks like on the inside,” Almira says. “I think there are always those who fantasize about owning their own B&B and want to learn more about it, too.”