Last call for Holiday Ideas House

Need some last-minute festive touches on the home front? Dec. 16 is your last chance to check out the seasonal-decorating inspiration at Bachman's Holiday Ideas House.

This year's house offers glamorous "alpine chic" ideas that mix deep natural tones and textures, including wood, fur and antlers, accented with plenty of big-city bling.

The Ideas House is located at the historic Bachman family home, 5936 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. Hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets, sold on the half-hour, are $5, with $1 going to Children's Home Society and Family Services.


Paper your table?

When setting your holiday table, we bet that pulling out a roll of wallpaper wouldn't be the first thing that springs to mind. But Farrow & Ball, purveyor of paint and paper, is suggesting you do just that.

We have to admit there's a bit of genius behind the idea. After all, wallpaper is generally festooned with festive designs. And the durability of wallpaper is not a question.

Farrow & Ball has gone a step further and created a special design for their Christmas table runner, a twist on their classic Ringwold paper -- a design based on an early 18th-century silk pattern by James Leman -- and featuring their paint colors Plummet (a deep gray, "imitating lead") and Calluna (a light, warm gray) accented with a shiny silver.

If you get a food stain on a portion, consider using the rest as wrapping paper. Or simply use the whole roll as wrapping paper. It would make for a spectacularly elegant presentation.

A 16-by-4-foot roll of their holiday table runner is $50 at Farrow & Ball showrooms and

KIM OSSI, McClatchy Tribune

Rent a Christmas tree?

Would you rent a live Christmas tree instead of buying one that had already been chopped down?

At least 33 million Christmas trees are grown, cut down and sold every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But a rented tree could be a greener alternative.

How does it work? Companies grow their trees in nurseries. The live trees are then placed in pots and delivered to customers, sometimes complete with decorations, for the holiday season. Customers care for the trees while they're at home, making sure the trees are watered and healthy. At the end of the season, the trees are returned and continue to grow for another year. After about seven years, when the trees are too large for rental, they are planted in the ground.

Tree rental isn't available everywhere, but who knows what the future holds?

JOHN PLATT, Mother Nature Network

Decorating with nature

Florist Edle Catharina Norman believes you can find beauty in your own back yard, even in winter.

She uses materials found in nature this time of year to create the holiday floral designs featured in her new book, "Beautiful Winter." Some are enhanced by flowers and greenery available at florist shops.

Norman provides instructions for wreaths, garlands, Christmas-tree decorations, centerpieces and other seasonal accents. Most are simple to create, so you'll still have time for all that shopping and baking.

"Beautiful Winter: Holiday Wreaths, Garlands & Decorations for Your Home & Table" by Edle Catharina Norman comes from Sellers Publishing and sells for $15.95 in softcover.