Thursday, December 29, 2011

Time to Un-Decorate!

Yes, I realize we still have a few days before the holidays are truly over. But I also know that around my house, taking down the decorations is a bit depressing. So I wanted to share some ideas that may make the un-decorating of your home a bit more fun!

First, as you take down your decorations, have two boxes handy: one for those things that you no longer love and the other for those things that have lived beyond their beautiful years. Label the one of the things you no longer love so next year when you get out your decorations you can take it to the donation center of your choice. (Most won't accept holiday decorations now.) Throw the other one away.

Now, do the same for the things you are returning to your decor. Do you still love them? If not, now is the time to include them in a third box - one you can take immediately to a donation center. I can assure you everything will find a good home with someone else who will love them as you no longer do. And now you are ready to surround yourself with only those things you love!

Make your fireplace mantel a beautiful focal point. A fireplace is definitely a winter hot-spot (pun intended), so keep it beautiful even after the decorations are gone. Using natural elements will  help you keep the holiday feel through the winter. Evergreens, wood, pine cones, berries are all beautiful touches that will take your mantel through until spring. Adding a bit of wool fabric in a plaid to the room (perhaps a throw or pillow) will enhance the warm, rustic look of the mantel, bringing even more coziness in.
Want something with a bit more glamour? Then try whites and metallics that mimic the frostiness of winter. This cool decorating scheme will go with most styles, giving you the freedom to stay with a neutral palette or add touches of hot colors for added spice. Try bright red, hot pink, or chartreuse. To stay with the cooler theme, soft blues and grays are a great touch. If the room feels a bit cold, use soft fabrics for warmth. A chenille throw, velvet pillows, or a knitted afghan are wonderful touches.
And if you don't have a mantel? Create one! That's easy to do with a mantel from a salvage store. (You might try ReStore, the resale outlet for Habitat for Humanity.) If it's not in great shape, a coat of paint will cover a myriad of flaws. Keep the color neutral and you can use it in any room! Decorate it just as you would a 'real' mantel and you've got an interesting focal point sure to warm any space.
Yes, un-decorating is really no fun - unless you make fun changes to bring your warmth, personality, and energy back into the space!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Entertaining

Holidays - the time for entertaining. As if we didn't have enough to do! But there are some things you can do to make your holiday get-togethers fun for everyone, including you.

First, host a brunch instead of a more formal cocktail party. You can serve make-ahead dishes like soups and casseroles. (Try baked French toast - you'll never have it any other way.) Serve everything buffet style. And serve food that requires a minimum of eating utensils. Finger foods are ideal, as is soup served in a mug. Or try a fondue either as a main course or as a yummy desssert.

If you're entertaining a little more formally, plain white dishes are a geat idea to make everything 'go' together. You can use whatever other colors you like for decorations without competition from the dishes. If you don't have them, you can buy them very inexpensively at IKEA. No one will know they are inexpensive when you pair them with your holiday decorations.

For table decorations, go for colorful and festive using lots of round ornaments. Get as colorful as you like and fill large glass containers (try hurricanes, vases, trifles or anything large and glass) with them. Or put them hook side down on candlesticks in place of candles. Or hang them from the chandelier with a pretty ribbon. The possibilities are endless!

If you prefer something a little more sedate, nothing says Christmas like evergreens and white lights. Use a wreath decorated with red berries (holly or cranberries) as a centerpiece and place a candle in the middle. Then add evergreens with white lights in planters for a simple, festive look.

Whatever you decide to do to entertain during the holidays, just remember - the food and decorations are incidental. It's all about sharing with family and friends. So make sure you have plenty of time to do that!