First off, let me say that I cringe at most holiday wrapping papers. I guess it stems from years working in fabric design. I think most wrapping paper is tacky. Where is William Morris when you need him or M.C. Escher for that matter. Or Even Keith Haring--now that would be fun paper. And the red and green combo doesn't work for me. If it was up to me, I would wrap everything in brown paper with satin or velvet ribbons in shades of plum or chocolate with a little jute twine and/or gold cord for contrast. A brown gift tag with plum spirals and gold accents. A muted palate with lots of texture. Mark doesn't like the brown paper look. He thinks it is a step above wrapping in newspaper.
I saw some lovely wrapping paper at Pottery Barn displays this year. It looked like birch bark and had great red velvet ribbons around it. They didn't have it for sale though. Last year, they had graphic black and white paper with some presents wrapped in newspaper. I took pictures of that display to show Mark.
What I end up wrapping presents in is IKEA black and white paper. It seems to represent the dark/light themes of the solstice. This year I have striped, big dots, and checker board. I use one for thewrapping and a contrasting paper for the tag. Then I dress it all up with brightly colored (but not Christmas colored) curly ribbons. It is fun and graphic looking. I have a few presents wrapped in brown paper that I decorate with the black and white stuff.
I do love me some Christmas music though. I have a huge collection of Christmas music. Every year I get a new Christmas Album. There is something about a good carol. And I listen to them when I wrap and when I cook. Basically I listen to nothing else from Thanksgiving until Christmas. If anyone has any good recomendation for albums, I am listening. I think my favorites are The Roches, Sarah McLachlan, Charlie Brown. I also like playing Christmas music on my friend's piano. I took piano lessons for 7 years and can't play a lick, but I can pick out Christmas carols. Maybe I should rent a piano every December. My favorite carols are Oh Holy Night, What Child is This, Santa Baby, So This is Christmas, and Grown-Up Christmas List.
I have a hard time with outdoor lights. I like them, but I am looking for the perfect and doable light display. I like it simple and classic. White. No gymnastics on the roof. Every year we put out colored lights. Mostly purple and teal--leftovers from a themed tree gone wrong. We don't have any lights out this year. Mark has had to work a riduculous amount of hours this month, so it just didn't get done. But it keeps me looking over other people's lawns and wondering what my ideal display would be. No blow-up Santas, no grapevine animals, or creche scenes. I like a lit wreath and a greens and light covered lamppost. Maybe some greenery at our second story windows and some candles. I do like our tree and Moravian star in the front window--that is there. The Moravian star is decoration that is native to our home town of Lititz.
Maybe if they weren't so expensive, I'd just get a bunch of them and hang them from our two trees out front. I like them the best. The warm glow is so pretty on a dark night. And it reminds me of childhood.