American Folk Art Inspires These Christmas Décor Ideas, from the Tree to the Stockings on the Mantel
We love holiday-decorating traditions from all over the world, but this year we're bringing it home. These ideas take a cue from American Amish and Shaker designs, combining minimalism, symmetry, and craftsmanship for an effect that's pure elegance.
Amish-made anything is designed to last a lifetime, which is one of the many reasons why so many people choose it—everything from furnishings to brooms and baskets, beds and benches. Having originated in the 18th century, the rural communities have always lived in accordance with a philosophy of tidiness and hard work, including the work in gathering together for the holidays.
Christmas traditions lend themselves beautifully to the American Amish and Shaker design, as both of these styles evoke a homespun feel. For the table, the Amish "Evening Star" inspired the graphic design on our tablecloth's trim as well as a set of napkins in gathering for a family meal. Similarly, a checkered pattern found in quilts and basketweave inspired the stockings hanging on the wall as well as the ornaments bedecking our humble tabletop tree. Natural wood and basketweaving are the foundation of many folk art works, and these can be found in our projects as well. Outside for the front door, a haloed wreath is made from a pair of hardwood hoops. And for counting down the days 'til December 25 in a handmade advent calendar, a row of hanging baskets filled with treats and toys double as a charming garland for the mantel.
If you find yourself similarly drawn to clean symmetry, natural materials, and craftsmanship, opt for a holiday celebration at home that hearkens back to our American roots.
Created by Tanya Graff and Silke Stoddard; Art direction by Abbey Kuster-Prokell; Styling by Tanya Graff.
Point the Way
Amish "Evening Star" quilts—with their geometric pattern of 12 triangles surrounding a square—inspired the graphic print on these dinner napkins, which will look sharp year-round. Make a triangular stamp from a wooden block and a piece of foam, pick a few paints, and work with different-colored napkins to create a mixed set.
Check Off a Surprise
The crisp pattern of these stockings echoes the seats of traditional Shaker stools, but there's no weaving involved in their assembly. They sew up quickly from inexpensive kitchen towels, and the borders create the faux-cuff detail—which means you won't do a stitch of extra work.
Catch Some Air
There's a spare yet special beauty to this decorated tabletop sapling. The weightless ball ornaments are crafted from thin wooden-basket strips, and the paper Moravian stars come pre-folded and ready to use. Since most tree stands are made for wider trunks, anchor yours in a plastic-lined apple basket filled with stones and water.
Shop Now: FunStars Moravian Stars, in Red, Brown, and Rust, in Small, $5 each or $12 for 3; and Large, $8 each or $21 for 3, funstars.etsy.com; Ashland Chipwood Bushel Basket with Handle (used as tree stand), $6, michaels.com.
Float Some Fun
Advent calendars are all about suspense, so create one that will really leave kids hanging. A garland of two dozen mini baskets hoists tiny toys and candy just out of arm's reach. (Slide them onto a wooden dowel, and secure it to your mantel with ribbon.) To give the carriers a subtle sheen, paint them inside and out with watered-down craft paint, then stamp the handles with numbers 1 through 24, and commence the countdown.
Make It a Double
This eye-catching evergreen wreath consists of two sizes of halo-like wooden hoops—the kind used for basketmaking or embroidery—that are wired together at the base. Long-lasting foliage and winterberries adorn only the bottom half, for a pretty, pared-down effect. A single LED taper nods to the Shakers' mindful and minimal use of candlelight, and adds a graceful final touch.
Shop Now: Suzanne Moore's N.C. Basket Works Round Hardwood Hoops, 24" by 1 1/8", $8.50, ncbasketworks.com; Suzanne Moore's N.C. Basket Works Round Hardwood Hoops, 18" by 1 1/8", $6.50, ncbasketworks.com; Lamplust Flameless LED Taper Candle, 10", $24 for 4, amazon.com.