Holiday Sparkle on a Shoestring!

(And my favorite buttery Christmas cookie recipe)

The perfectly decorated fireplace mantle on the cover of a holiday magazine or the perfectly lit tree in your neighbors’ front yard can result in feelings of inadequacies. It is tempting to try to compete with the neighbors or take your decorations over-the-top so your dining room table looks like it could be its own magazine cover.

But the truth is, in twenty years it won’t matter how many lights were on your Christmas tree. It’s unlikely anyone will even remember. What truly matters are the memories created with family and friends. Unless decorating is very important to your family and an activity you do together every year, simplifying your decorations will give you more time to spend with those you love.


Here are some simple and inexpensive ideas for quickly adding holiday sparkle without taking time away from sleigh rides and Christmas caroling.

Candlelight instantly changes the look of a room. If you don’t have candles, visit a dollar store and purchase cream, white or Christmas colored pillars in a variety of sizes. Tie pretty Christmas ribbons around the center of a few of the candles and they will look just as festive as the ones you find in fancy stores. If you place your candles in front of a mirror, the reflection will enhance your shimmering display of candlelight.

Place ornaments in a shallow bowl for a simple but festive centerpiece.

If you have furniture that really clashes with your holiday decorations, purchase a few inexpensive yards of fabric and create a billowy blanket on coffee tables, armoires, etc, to display your decorations.

Wrap boxes of graduating sizes in Christmas paper and stack them in a bare corner. Tie the entire stack with a pretty ribbon. If you don’t want to spend time wrapping boxes, you can purchase decorative boxes or tie a ribbon around white or natural boxes. You can also stencil or write words reflecting the season on the sides of the boxes. Hope, Joy, Peace, Love, Giving, Believe, etc.

Fill a $10 glass globe bowl purchased from a craft store with ornaments or curls of one-inch wide ribbon. Let the ribbon flow out of the top. This makes a great decoration or centerpiece and you can re-use the bowl for other occasions simply by switching out the contents.

Fill empty baskets with pinecones, nuts, oranges or greenery and display them beside a fireplace, on a shelf, coffee table or accent table.

Don’t forget to decorate other rooms in the house. A simple candle in a pretty votive will bring Christmas atmosphere to any room…even your bathroom.

Place a few pillar candles on a fireplace mantle, sofa table, buffet or any elongated piece of furniture. Add some evergreen branches, a few ornaments and maybe some ribbon and you have a feast for the eyes.

Line a basket with a Christmas tea towel and fill with Christmas cookie cutters to decorate a kitchen counter or buffet. Your cookie cutters will be easy to grab when you need them and they add a touch of the season to your kitchen.

You can change the look of your furniture for the season by tossing Christmas-colored pillows or blankets on your sofa, chairs and beds.

If you have a lot of shelves and corners to decorate, grab a few of the kids’ stuffed animals, tie Christmas ribbon around their necks and put them on display. Another fun idea: fill a dump truck with Christmas ornaments or a wagon with boxes or stuffed animals.

Create a bowl of sugared fruit by coating fresh fruit such as cherries, grapes, lemons, peaches or plums with a thin glaze of beaten egg white. Roll in white super-fine sugar, coating generously. It gives off a fresh-dusted, snowy effect. Let dry then display piled high in a bowl or arrange around your holiday ham or turkey. (These are for decoration only and should not be eaten.)

And, of course, display platters of your favorite Christmas treats where everyone can see them. A platter of decorated sugar cookies makes your house look warm and welcoming and beckons guests to help themselves.

If you don’t have time for rolling, cutting and decorating, here’s one of my very favorite, super simple Christmas cookie recipes. They are buttery, colorful and so, so delicious! They melt in your mouth!


Buttery Shortbread Button Cookies

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups butter, room temperature (not margarine)

Whisk together flour and sugar. Cut butter into small pieces and work into the flour mixture with a fork until it is completely incorporated.

Gather into a ball and place in refrigerator for an hour.

To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Use a fork dipped in colored sprinkles to gently push down on cookie twice to make a criss-cross pattern and slightly flatten the cookies. Take a toothpick and poke 3 holes in each cookie, all the way to the cookie sheet. Add extra sprinkles if desired.

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Do not overcook.

Remove from oven and let sit for 3 minutes before removing cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Praying your holiday is filled with blessings!








Cooking, to me, is about so much more than food. It’s about inviting others to share your table. It’s about extending grace to those who so desperately need it. It’s about serving others, especially “the least of these” in His name. It’s about making others feel special by setting an extra special table or wrapping a beautiful package. It’s about celebrating friends and family and blessings.  You can find LeAnn at



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Diane W. Bailey is the founder of The Consilium – an online community of wisdom and purpose for women over 45 years of age. She is a published author. Her books include String of Pearls – From Tears to Treasure, and 30 Days To A Better Stepfamily. She creates her own line of precious metals bracelets. Diane lives in the Deep South with her husband Doc. Together they have created a stepfamily, each having two stepchildren and two birth children, and share three grandchildren, one black lab named Charlie and one long haired tabby cat named Lil Girl. Diane’s passion is to encourage women to be all God has created them to be by pressing past fear and daring to live life as an adventure. Some of her life adventures include traveling to Israel, speaking, entrepreneurship and backyard farming with Doc. She loves Gumbo, fried shrimp and seeing all sunsets across water.

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