Over the river and through the woods

When Ted and I were newly married, I aimed for elegant Christmas decor. Reds and golds. Shimmery bows. Glass Bronner’s ornaments.

Over the years my taste gradually evolved, inching toward the rustic. I eschewed thick foil wrapping paper in favor of Kraft paper, tying packages with baker’s twine and humming “My Favorite Things” as I worked. (Brown paper packages, check!).

It felt in keeping with our plunge into parenthood. Well-loved and imperfect passing as rustic and homey.

That’s the fun of Christmas decor: constantly refining your style, trying something new every year.

This year the vision in my mind as we went about our decorating and merry-making was Northwoods Christmas. It was inspired by the wolf cub hats from The Woodcutter’s Daughters, which turn toddlers into woodland gnomes.

A Northwoods Christmas, to me, is crisp and cozy, layered with rich textures: prickly pines and soft furs, burlap, and twine. Wool blankets and knit caps. Felt ornaments and vintage wooden baubles.

It is homemade and handwritten.

It travels over the river and through the woods — carrying presents, cutting down a Christmas tree, milling around the European Christmas Market.

It brings the outside in, tucking greenery into corners. And it is warmed by the baking of treats and the making of music.


Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and three young children in Inver Grove Heights.