It's the most wonderful (and busy) time of the year. Catch your breath from all the shopping and get creative by taking a do-it-yourself holiday decorating class.
From making wreaths to artistic photo albums, you'll be able to master a new skill and fill your home with good cheer this season.
Barbara Aiello of Southampton walked away with a "sense of self-satisfaction" after making a wreath in a class led by dried floral designer Diana Conklin about two years ago. "The most gratifying is how she creates all these things from nature and shows us how to create something beautiful out of it," says Aiello, 76.
Liz Perry, 44, of Middle Island took a Ukranian egg-decorating class at the Art League of Long Island last year and was so hooked that she started making eggs at home and giving them as gifts -- an economic perk of taking DIY classes, she says.
"Time is our biggest commodity. Anybody can go to a store and buy a gift," says Perry, 44. "It's not even so much what it is, it's that somebody thought about you so much and took the time out to make something especially for you."
Fresh evergreen wreath
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.- noon Saturday, Rogers Mansion, 17 Meeting House Lane, Southampton ($55, register in advance at 631-283-2494). Also 2-4 p.m. Sunday at Bridge Gardens, 36 Mitchell Lane, Bridgehampton ($30, register at 631-283-3195 or email email@example.com).
Create your own 20- to 24-inch evergreen wreath and decorate it with dried flowers. Instructor Diana Conklin provides about a dozen varieties of greens (cedar, spruce), dried flowers (hydrangeas, roses) and herbs (lavender, Sweet Annie).
Attendees should bring their own garden gloves, as well as any specialty items that they may want to use.
Ukranian egg decorating
INFO 631-462-5400, artleagueli.org
Learn the ancient Ukranian art of pysansky by writing on eggs with beeswax and submerging them in different colored dyes several times to reveal a pattern. Painter Jill Amorosano provides students with cleaned, hollowed-out chicken eggs, a kistka writing tool and an assortment of dyes. She also instructs the class on the history of pysansky and its symbols, from the colors (red represents happiness and passion) to the writing -- wheat or pine needles represent good wishes and health. "You're almost given a hidden message," she says. "It really becomes a treasure."
It's not your typical photo album. When the front cover is tied to the back cover, the opened book forms the shape of a star and holds about a dozen photos. You'll learn bookbinding techniques and use ribbons, sparkly decorations and ink to design each page. "I look at it all the time. It's so pretty that I didn't want to put it away," says Dorothy Clancy, 53, of North Babylon, who made a star book last year.
ALSO TRY Sunday at 1 p.m., Scrapper's Playground is hosting a workshop to make a "configurations box" that can display holiday-themed trinkets on a shelf or table. Students will craft their boxes using scrapbooking paper, then decorate it with alcohol and distressed inks and glitter glue, says owner Sue O'Malley ($50, class lasts three to four hours).
Crafts for kids
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday (also Dec. 10 and 17),
COST Included with general $8 admission ($5 ages 2-17)
Each craft day is for kids of all ages and includes a different activity that features a natural element. On Saturday, the craft is beeswax candlemaking. Kids roll strips of beeswax around a wick to create a 2-inch candle -- complete with holly leaves and berries stamped out of the beeswax by cookie cutters. Participants also learn about bees and how they create beeswax, says Lisa Reichenberger, Old Westbury's environmental educator.