But Where Do I Hang It?

A blank wall. What will I ever do with it? Many people feel intimidated when faced with decorating walls. Yet wall decor is fairly simple if you follow a few guidelines.

It is tempting to select paintings simply because they match the sofa or were on sale at the drugstore, and not because they have meaning to the family. Generally it is more interesting to select a painting or other decorative object for one of the following reasons:

1. It is a scene you particularly love: your hometown, a place where you once lived or vacationed, the area of your mission, or one of the temples. I painted a watercolor of my husband’s favorite fishing stream, and it is placed where he can enjoy looking at it frequently.

2. It represents an interest or hobby you and your family enjoy. You might be ski enthusiasts or enjoy boating or birdwatching. A scene representing this hobby might be fun.

3. It is a painting or sketch by an artist friend, and has sentimental value.

4. It fills a need. I have a cheery poster over my ironing board to help keep my spirits up while I do my least favorite task.

5. It creates a mood. A friend has a calm, restful Dutch interior painting in her kitchen that gives her a tranquil feeling on hectic days.

6. It expresses what you would have expressed if you could paint.

7. It is a piece of homemade art or handiwork—a beautiful doily your great-grandmother made or some crewel or needlepoint. A large bulletin board in the family room can be used to display children’s art objects or family home evening aids.

Many other objects of interest can also be placed on walls—alone or in groups—to create interesting areas in halls, family rooms, or kitchens. Such objects might include flat sculpture, trinkets, photos, old photostats and documents, framed pieces of gift wrap or fabric, posters, postcards, stamp collections, and other mementos.

To be aesthetically pleasing, a picture should be hung where it can be enjoyed. Most people hang pictures too high. They should be placed low enough to fit in with the furniture. Art which will be viewed primarily while sitting should be placed at eye level or lower.

A single painting is fairly simple to position, while a grouping can be more difficult. Paintings in groups can be arranged in symmetric balance (a large painting centered with smaller ones placed at equal distance on either side) or asymmetrically (with a large painting to one side and others placed opposite to balance it).

In arranging a group, first measure the space to be used; then out an equal space on the floor and organize the pieces in this space. If you try to do it piece by piece right on the wall, you will probably find yourself making many nail holes before you get everything to fit just right.

The most important consideration in art for your home is that you and your family like it. Decorating books, magazines, and stores are wonderful sources of ideas, but such ideas should be adapted to fit your needs and taste. Let your home reflect the real you. Bonnie Oswald, Newark, California

Family Home Extravaganza

To add variety to our family home evenings, we schedule two annual family events—“Family Home Evening Conference” and “Family Home Evening Theater.”

In planning the family home evening conference we select an evening when family schedules allow a four-hour family night. We choose a theme and select topics for talks and seminars. The evening’s first activity is a special dinner, followed by a keynote address. We try to include variety on the program, using both physical and mental activities. Sometimes we have a reader’s theater, a special reading or an appropriate musical number. We make assignments for displays or demonstrations. Our first conference was titled “Your Royal Heritage,” with a cardboard castle as our primary decoration. The agenda included an update of our family history and genealogical information, a discussion on celestial marriage, and a talk reminding us that we are children of God. Some years we invite other families, using their talents and insights as well as our own.

Our theater night is undoubtedly the children’s favorite family night of the year. Traditionally it is a rather rowdy event, not very polished but full of good-natured fun. Each year, when the winter holiday season is over, we choose three or four other families we want to invite and set a tentative date. About six weeks before the prospective date, we contact the other families to see if they can come, then send invitations with details. Skits are usually about ten minutes long. In between we have short entertainment, often provided by a guest invited for that purpose. We end the evening with refreshments.

We have had other family home evening activities over the years, such as talent or sport nights. The basic idea of such programs is to have a memorable activity which the children help plan. We have made a special effort to share these evenings with many ward members and not just our closest friends. This helps us learn to appreciate and work with many different kinds of people. These activities help make family home evening a fun home evening. Eileen Giberson, Amarillo, Texas

Helping Children Give Good Talks

One Sunday my two children were to give talks. We had practiced and practiced, but they both came down with acute stage fright and stammered through. Twice before, they had spoken with great success. What made the difference? The key seemed to be in preparation and practice.

Before your child is even asked to speak, prepare him for being in front of people. At the end of family home evening, we have a time for everyone to choose something to perform for us. Children enjoy this kind of fun, and it helps them gain confidence. Participating in family prayer and expressing their testimonies to family members can also help children feel more secure when speaking to an audience.

When a talk is assigned, let the child talk about something he is familiar with and can tell in his own words. A story about the child or his family is especially good. Benjamen’s first talk had been about his sister Olivia’s ring. He told how we lost it, prayed to find it, and did. He was familiar with the story and could tell it in his own way. He felt comfortable with it. Helping your child choose a topic he feels is relevant will give him a greater opportunity for success.

Once the topic is chosen, keep the talk short and simple. One story or one point is usually enough for a child’s talk.

Another important part of helping children give talks is practice time. The following are some suggestions I have found helpful in practicing talks.

Play church. We set up a pulpit, and I announce each child’s turn. We practice standing straight and tall with our hands down to the side, speaking with a pretend microphone. I show them how to talk into the mike and how close to get so they can be heard.

Practice at bedtime. Children are usually anxious to stay up and will be very cooperative.

Practice early at church. Take time before the meeting to show your children where they will stand, and show them how the microphone moves up and down.

When the hour arrives, sit back and let your child give his talk alone. If you stand by his side, he will look to you for help before he has tried to remember.

If after all the preparation your child does not do as well as you would like, don’t scold him. Find something to praise. Children do not need to be told they have made a mistake. They usually know. Don’t let them feel they can never do well. Focusing on children’s strengths will help them overcome their weaknesses. Always make speaking a positive experience and seek to improve your child with loving guidance. Diana Dunkley, Ogden, Utah

[illustrations] Illustrated by Richard D. Hull