The hush of a "Silent Night" and the good cheer of "Jingle Bells" are Christmas gifts from the Victorian age. Victoria ruled during the last half of the 19th-century and the graceful, lacy houses, often referred to as painted ladies, developed during her reign as well. Marry the rich traditions of a classic yule with the ornate facade of your Victorian gingerbread house for unforgettable Christmas curb appeal.
1. Front Door Wreath
Recreate a welcoming front door wreath from Victoria's 19th-century London with a wire or hazel hoop and traditional materials. Gather a handful of 6-inch greenery tips into a bunch with green florists' wire -- use holly, ivy, yew, pine, oak or cedar -- and fasten each bunch to the circular frame with more wire, starting at the top and working your way around. Overlap each new bunch of greenery and continue fastening bunches to the wreath until it is very bushy and the form is completely covered. Poke pieces of florists' wire through small apples, tangerines -- fresh or dried -- pinecones and holly berries and dot them around the wreath for color. Tie a length of twine to the top of the wreath for hanging and disguise it with a fat red-and-green tartan bow of French wired ribbon.
2. Carolers on the Balcony
The balcony over the front door of your Queen Anne Victorian is a stage for a group of life-size molded plastic carolers in Victorian costume. Make certain they're visible with a hidden uplight tucked into the space at their feet and wrap the balcony railing with an evergreen garland threaded with twinkling white fairy lights. Keep it lively with a weatherized speaker or two -- wires run out through the window -- to deliver the sounds of your carolers singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "The Mistletoe Bow," and "Here We Come A-Wassailing."
3. Sparkly Gingerbread House
A Greek-Gothic Victorian with a wide, arched front porch and plenty of gingerbread trim will overwhelm a token effort at decoration. Go all out with icicle lights dripping from the eaves, porch pillars wrapped like candy canes in wide red ribbon and tied off with a dramatic red bow. Hang a fat wreath, trimmed with matching big red bows on the front door, and in every front-facing window of the house on every floor. Park two enormous poinsettia plants in full bloom at the door, one on either side. Festoon the evergreen tree in the front or visible side yard with slices of apples, carrots and oranges on loops of string, bits of suet, seed cones and strings of raisins, popcorn and cranberries for angels and other winged creatures to enjoy.
4. Set the Scene
Stage several holiday tableaux in the big front yard of your ornate Italianate or Stick Eastlake Victorian. On one side, set up a classic nativity scene with a central manger sheltering animals, shepherds, the Holy Family and approaching wise men on camels. Suspend an angel with a shining star on top. On the other side of the yard, freeze a glimpse of a Victorian-era Santa and his sleigh, dusted with snowflakes and pulled by prancing reindeer. Add a decorated Christmas tree to the sheltered front porch. Victoria introduced the first candlelit and decorated yule tree to England and the custom quickly became the rage. Use old-fashioned ornaments on your tree, shiny metallic bead garlands and all-weather tree lights that resemble candles flickering amid the baubles.
- Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images