Gay Dad Life

How to Make Beautiful Christmas Garlands and Centerpieces

I cannot emphasize enough to y’all how much this Southern boy loves Christmas. I love everything about it! This time of year for me is special because – I know I’ve said this before – I love traditions. The food, the lights, the decorations, the joy and laughter... OK, OK ... Maybe all these are my favorite Christmas things.

This year is extra special because our daughter is now old enough to enjoy this time with us. Last year she was a just a month old: Douglas and I were up to our noses in a completely new way of life. However, this year we are able to decorate, cook, and watch the holiday specials with Alli Mae. Seeing her light up when she saw Frosty or Rudolph for the first time made my heart sing and it is something I will remember forever.

When it comes to decorating, I’m able to dedicate four solid days of organized phases. Phase 1: garlands and lights; phase 2: centerpieces and nicknacks; phase 3: Christmas tree;

phase 4: outside decorations.

When you have kids this is a must, so you are able to quickly find what you need and assemble each task and move on to the next.

I have it down to an easy and fast process that is fun and requires Christmas music!

In the spirit of Christmas, I am sharing some fun DIY projects to create beautiful garlands and centerpieces.

Garlands


Instead of just using the bare green garland, you can really make your decorations stand out if you layer them.

Garlands: A Three-Step Process.  Step 1: String the white lights through the green garlands; step 2: Layer the glitter garlands over the green garlands-with-lights; step 3: Add the faux cranberries.

Materials needed: green garlands; foliage (silver or gold) glitter garlands; faux cranberries. (For examples of some of these materials, see the two photos immediately below. All items can be purchased from Michaels.com.)

Directions: After you have the green garlands in place, string the white lights through them (see photo above, step 1). The more lights you use, the prettier the finished product will look. Layer the glitter garlands over the green garlands and lights (see photo above, step 2). Then take the cranberries and layer them over the glitter garlands (see photo above, step 3).

Center Pieces

Now that the garlands are completed, we can move on to the center pieces. They will look perfect on dining tables and mantels!

Materials and tools needed: pinecones; foliage (silver or gold) glitter garlands; faux cranberries; silver or gold glitter; glue; some paint brushes; a drop cloth. (All items can be purchased from Michaels.com.)

Consider adding: 2 or 3 apothecary jars filled with candy (for mantel display); 2 large white candles (for dinner table display).

Directions: If you have kids, a fun project is collecting pinecones! In the South we have giant pine trees that produce huge pinecones that are absolutely perfect for centerpieces and last for years! Give your kids a paper bag and have them collect around 25-30 pinecones.

While they are gathering them, set up your glitter station with glue, paint brushes and either silver or gold glitter along with a drop cloth to collect any mess that may fall. Paint on your glue to the prettiest and largest pinecones and sprinkle glitter all around them. Once all the pinecones are glittered, set them outside to dry.

For a dinner table display: Find a red or white table runner that runs the length of your dining table. Place the glitter garland on top of the runner. Then, place the pinecones down the middle of your table. I use around 12 or 13 on my display.  After the pinecones look naturally placed, embellish the final look with cranberry garlands. Two large white candles really polish the look. (I also have a plastic gold bowl to hold a few cranberries, to help make all the placements seem more full.)

For a mantel display: These are my favorite. They are really easy to assemble and beautiful. I use apothecary jars filled with candy to really embellish the final look. It brings me back to my childhood every time I see my candy jars in these displays! Lay the green garland on the top of your mantel. String in the white lights and lay the glitter garland and cranberries on top. (It’s the same three-step process as before!) Place the apothecary jars in the middle and just like that, your centerpiece is complete!

Our home doesn’t have a fireplace, so unfortunately we do not have a mantel; instead, we use the top of our entertainment center. I have Nutcrackers to help fill the long space, but for a mantel you really do not need them.

*  *  *

Note: The first year these particular decorations took a long time to complete. But, every year after, I replicated the previous year. These decorations will last for many years; white lights are usually the only thing I have to buy every year. Being organized helps the process move quickly and seamlessly. Each year, you learn a little more to help you in the following years. I have been decorating with the same decorations for years now. I am able to organize the items into separate, labeled storage bins so I can quickly assemble each step.

Instagram is a great place to get inspired and find new ideas. @marthastewart@thefarmhouseproject and @inspiredbycharm inspire me daily!

With everything that has happened this year with our country, it is especially important to be compassionate and tolerant this Christmas season, even in the face of cruelty and ignorance. The holidays are the perfect time to teach our children to be empathetic and to help the less fortunate. As we teach them to love and be kind to others, they are then helping build a brighter future for all of us.

From our home to yours, we truly hope you’ll all have a wonderful holiday season and a safe and happy New Year!

Merry Christmas from the Alexanders!

❤️🎄❤️ Erik, Douglas and Alli Mae

Follow our family's journey on Instagram @Nolapapa

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

Cooking with Kids: An Interview with David Burtka

David Burtka sits down with us to talk about his new book "Life is a Party."

When you're a young couple it's easy to order in or dine out on a daily basis, but when the kids come along, spending time in the kitchen to prepare nutritious and healthy meals for them can become a problem for some dads. We turned to gay dad and celebrity chef David Burtka who just published his debut recipe book Life is a Party, to get some advice, inspiration, and support as we take our baby steps in the kitchen.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

Philippe "Swiped Right" on This Handsome Young Dad

At first, Philippe wasn't sure he could date a man who was a dad. But Steve, and his son Gabriel, have helped him realize a "fatherly side" of himself he didn't know he had.

"It's been one hell of a ride since the beginning," said 26-year-old Steve Argyrakis, Canadian dad of one. He was 19 when he found out he was going to be a dad and the mom was already several months along in her pregnancy. Steve, who lives in Montreal, was struggling with his homosexuality but wanted to do the "right thing," so he continued to suppress his authentic self. "I was so scared about the future and about my own happiness, that I had put aside my homosexuality once again."

A couple of months later, little Gabriel was born, and it was love at first sight.

Keep reading... Show less
Entertainment

Ain't No Party Like a Gay Dad Dance Party

Gay dads singing and dancing with their kids is EXACTLY what you need to get your weekend started right.

Who jams to Led Zeppelin with their kids?

Who rocks some sweet moves to Kelly Clarkson?

Who sings along with their kids in the car?

Who breaks it down with a baby strapped to them in a carrier?

We all do! But these guys happened to catch it all on tape for us to enjoy! Thanks dads. 😂

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Adoption

5 Ways to Know Your Adoption Agency Is LGBTQ-Friendly

So you're ready to adopt. How do you know your adoption agency won't just discriminate against you as a gay man, but is actively welcoming to LGBTQ people?

You know what is the worst? Adoption agencies who discriminate! So how do you know your agency welcomes you? Check out our list of five immediate ways to know if your agency is LGBTQ affirming.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

Gay Dads Featured in Enfamil Commercial

A new ad for Enfamil showcases two gay men talking about their daughter.

The best kind of inclusion is when you're not singled out but instead included right along with everyone else. This kind inclusion inspires others to pursue their own dreams and desires, just like any one else. As part of our popular culture, we know that brands are uniquely suited to inspire us in this way.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics

Daughter of Married Gay Couple Who Used Surrogacy Abroad Isn't Citizen, Says U.S. State Department

A decades-old law can be used to discriminate against gay couples who use surrogacy abroad.

James Derek Mize and his husband Jonathan Gregg are both American citizens, but their daughter, born via a surrogate, may not be, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

The New York Times took an in-depth look at this case in a piece that ran in the paper yesterday. While James was born and raised in the U.S, his husband Jonathan was originally born in Britain. That may be enough, according to the State Department, to deny their daughter citizenship.

"We're both Americans; we're married," James told the New York Times. "We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn't be able to be in our country."

According to decades-old immigration law, a child born abroad must have a biological connection to a parent that is a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible to receive citizenship upon birth. Children born via surrogacy are determined to be "out of wedlock," according to the Times report," which then requires a more onerous process to qualify for citizenship, such as demonstrating that a biological parent is not only an American citizen, but has spent at least five years in the country.

The intent of the law, which dates back to the 1950s, was to prevent people from claiming, falsely, that they are the children of U.S. parents. But LGBTQ advocates argue this archaic policy is being used intentionally to discriminates against same-sex couples, who often have to rely on donors, IVF and surrogacy in order to have biologically children, and are thus held to a higher standard.

"This is where our life is. This is where our jobs are," James told the Times. "Our daughter can't be here, but she has no one else to care for her."

Read the whole story here.


Popular

Couple That Met at the Gym Now Spotting Each Other Through Fatherhood

How two real New-Yorkers became two soft-hearted dads

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

Byron and Matthew Slosar, both 41, met ten years ago at one of New York City's Equinox gyms. "I asked him for a spot on the bench press," smiled Byron. The couple were married September 22, 2012.

Surrogacy was always the way Byron and Matthew wanted to become parents. They chose to wait and become dads later in life, until they had established careers and the financial means to pursue their chosen path.

They signed with Circle Surrogacy after interviewing a few agencies. "We immediately connected with their entire staff, particularly Anne Watson who lovingly dealt with my healthy neuroses on the daily for 1.5 years," said Byron. "They definitely personalized the service and helped us understand all 2,000 moving parts." The dads-to-be were also very impressed with how much emotional support they received from Circle.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse