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Q.What is the proper length of time to keep holiday decorations up - both inside and out. I say a week after the event is plenty while a friend actually keeps her (artificial) tree up until February. Her outside lights stay up too.

A. I assume the length of time that you leave holiday decorations in place is very personal --- much like how often you vacuum or keep leftovers in the refrigerator. I can share with you as a designer what appeals to me and why.

I enjoy lighting outside and the white twinkle lights are very appealing but do not have a strong link to Christmas unless used with icons.

In Beaver Creek, Colorado, the twinkle lights are used in the pine trees all year and it is beautiful and inviting. Since installation is very time consuming and expensive, these lights are left on permanently.

After the New Year, I often remove the bows from wreaths and/or swags and let the greenery become winter floras. Greens treated as cut flowers inside will last for months by changing the water weekly. If you have poinsettias, remove the bows and paper and place them in a clay pot, which will change it from a Christmas plant to a colorful houseplant.

This is a nice transition look until you want to encourage spring. Mixing fresh cut blooms that you buy while grocery shopping and adding them to your greens makes an inexpensive arrangement for the winter season.

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Reita Bayman

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