Easy Christmas Entertaining Fresh from the Great Outdoors

You can bring nature indoors in the wintertime just as easily as you can in the spring or summer to give your holiday entertaining a fresh, beautiful look without a lot of added expense.

And just because you don't live in the woods doesn't mean you can't bring the woods indoors. Even urbanites can create a "silent night" atmosphere with winter greenery from a craft store or gardening center. Evoking the tranquility of a pine-scented forest is a nice change from the bustle and glitz of holiday store displays and automated Santa Clauses.

Since pine is an abundant material during the holidays and is so wonderfully aromatic, construct a chandelier out of pine wreaths and garlands to hang above the dining table and assemble pine garlands and pine snowflake plate chargers for each place setting. Pinecones, cranberries, rosehips and moss make creative additions and give your decorations color and texture.

Here are two projects to try at home:

A Pine and Cranberry Candle Cradle
Snowflake Placemats

A Christmas dinner can be hearty and easy to prepare -- try my recipes for making a Classic Roast Beef with Red Wine and Fresh Blackberry Sauce, Roasted Root Vegetables with Horseradish and Rosemary and a Cranberry-Orange Upside-Down Cake.

Some quick and delicious holiday drinks to serve include Coconut Eggnog or Mint Tea Juleps.

Remember, Christmas entertaining doesn't have to be about big, expensive parties and projects -- sometimes simple is best.

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