ROD GUAJARDO / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Sue Burkhalter, above, stands outside her Duncan Avenue house, which has been festively decorated for Mardi Gras. Burkhalter repurposed the wreath she used for Christmas with purple and gold decorations to turn it into a Mardi Gras wreath.

Repurpose holiday decorations for Mardi Gras

Published 12:27am Sunday, January 22, 2012

In other places, Jan. 6 — or Twelfth Night — marked the date that neighbors who still had festive garland and wreaths hanging around the house had officially committed a holiday décor faux pas by letting the cheer lag on too long.

How embarrassing.

But luckily for people here in the South, the 12th night of Christmas also signals the kick-start of Mardi Gras season and a chance to avoid going “cold turkey” on outdoor decor.

Instead of spending a whole day ripping up, taking down and bubble wrapping the decorations that lit up the house in more way than one, a few local residents simply spiced up their garlands with a little purple and gold to transition from Christmas to Mardi Gras.

For Sue Burkhalter, the transition from Christmas to Mardi Gras decorations was a first this year.

“It’s a cute idea, and it really is easy to do,” Burkhalter said.

Burkhalter just spent her first Christmas in her new home on Duncan Avenue. Unlike her former house, her new house is visible from the street, presenting a perfect opportunity to dress up her house with all types of holiday flair.

The wreath on her front door, which used to boast of Christmas cheer, now hangs with Mardi Gras beads, a mask, glittery branches and purple-green and gold ribbon.

“It took like 10 minutes or something,” Burkhalter said.

With the use of some floral wire and last year’s beads, the wreath now drips of Carnival spirit.

The garland twirled around her porch railing is now laced with purple mesh ribbon, masks and beads.

While Burkhalter parted ways with the larger Christmas tree in the dining room, she will get to keep a 3-foot tall artificial tree alive in her den for at least another month after going purple green and gold.

“(Decorating for Mardi Gras) just postponed (packing up) that much longer,” Burkhalter said.

“Plus I like looking at a tree.”

Burkhalter switched out a red flannel Christmas tree skirt for a purple one, added some tri-colored ribbon, gold tinsel and some fleur-de-lis ornaments and it was suddenly Carnival time in her living area.

Because her Christmas decorations were mostly gold themed, the change was an easy one. And Burkhalter said she made use of the Christmas ornaments that happened to be one of the three Mardi Gras colors.

Canal Street resident Kayce Smith said repurposing her Christmas decorations for Mardi Gras helped her come down from her Christmas cheer a little smoother.

Smith said she and her husband love celebrating Christmas. And her husband, Alan, told her changing up the garland, wreath and trees for Mardi Gras makes the transition easier.

“(Her husband) says it’s a way for me not to go cold turkey,” Smith said.

Smith added Fat Tuesday flair to her Christmas garlands by getting rid of all the red and adding stripped green and gold mesh.

She also hung Mardi Gras-colored Christmas ornaments at the crown of the garlands that hang over her door.

Brenda Zerby of Moreton’s Flowerland, said repurposing Christmas decorations for Mardi Gras can be a fun challenge.

“Instead of packing away everything gold and green, put up the red and add purple, and voila, it’s Mardi Gras,” Zerby said.

Zerby said some customers bring their old wreaths that are faded or have weathered several uses, but are too nice to throw away, and the team at Moreton’s creates something totally new from the base.

Since Mardi Gras tends to be glitzy, she likes to add lots of sparkle and metallic colors to fit the season.

And where a big red bow or an angel used to hang, there’s Mardi Gras options to replace those December decorations.

“Some people (add) a ceramic or venetian mask, a (Mardi Gras) doll or clown and use it as their new focal point,” Zerby said.

Zerby said repurposing Christmas decorations for Mardi Gras also dips into the trendy earth-friendly sentiment.

“It’s a great way in our world of thinking green to repurpose (decorations),” Zerby said.

“The word’s not recycle, it’s repurpose.”

Darby Short, owner of Darby’s, said since she had so much going on during the Christmas season, she didn’t get to decorate her apartment on top of Darby’s Furniture as much as she would have liked to.

And especially since she is queen of the Krewe of Phoenix this year, Mardi Gras gave her family a great excuse to finally deck the halls with boughs of purple, green and gold.

“It keeps things festive and lively,” she said.

Darby’s, the shop, has an extensive collection of Mardi Gras decorations, including ribbon, ornaments, masks, and more.

Burkhalter said Dianne’s Frame Shop also has a good selection of Mardi Gras decor.

Dianne’s Frame shop carries ribbon, ornaments, fake glitter branches and the popular tulle mesh.

Frame shop employee Lauren Pope said the tulle works best when its wrapped around a base and fastened at random places.

“It’s pretty easy to work with,” Pope said.

Kmart and Walmart also have a selection of beads, masks and other Mardi Gras décor.

Zerby said Moreton’s also sells decorations in addition to making them for customers.

Zerby said decorating for Mardi Gras allows those that are suckers for the holidays to prolong the festiveness of dressing up a house just long enough so that they’re emotionally ready to pack it up come Mardi Gras Day.

Short said like Christmas, she loves how Mardi Gras celebrates community.

“Mardi Gras really is just one more thing about fellowship and being around and having fun a with friends and family,” Short said.

And the décor is another reminder of those feelings, she said, and a reminder that locals are lucky to live in a region that celebrates the season.