24 Days until Christmas: Welcoming the Christmas Season at the Front Door

Our family tradition on Christmas Eve was for the kids to gather in the car and look at Christmas lights. There were always those special homes that were decorated with amazing displays of the Holiday that were a must to drive by every year. Of course Santa had mysteriously landed at our home while we were out for our holiday adventure, so our celebration was Christmas Eve. It was always interesting that dad had a service call to go on that night while mom was designated to manage all of us in the station wagon. Six kids on the potentially snow crusted streets in Iowa must have been a memory she remembered well.

Continuing this tradition was particularly fun while visiting San Francisco recently. A home was a complete fantasyland. People gathered outside their cars and walked the property. Children were giddy and I was brought back to Christmas’s past. I was giddy!

The entry is the welcoming point of all those who gather for the Christmas holiday. Embellishment and grandeur is the theme of this entry. The tree was strategically placed so that it can be viewed from the street. Just in case a car full of people are out looking at the season’s treasures, this tree was enticing them to look further into the home.

The stone required concrete nails to be able to drape the garlands around the door. Anchor the garland with wire around the nails.The garland had the ribbons attached beforehand. Special picks added color and embellishment and these were added after the hanging of the garland. A helpful hand while hanging this large door arrangement was necessary. It is always a challenge to plug-in the lighted garlands around the door. These electrical cords were easily run under the front door mat.

Embellishing pots or several tall Poinsettia’s clustered outside the door is a quick and easy way to add grandeur as well. So load up the car with  holiday flowers in colors of red, pink or cream poinsettia’s. Welcome the Christmas Holiday season this year with a fabulous front entry door.

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25 Days until Christmas: How to Embellish the Dining Room Table

What a great place to show off those special Christmas statement pieces or create your own. The key is to find the right proportion to the table, ceiling height and chandelier.  When planning the dining room take both the chandelier and the centerpiece into your design so that they both fit nicely.  Adding either fresh flowers, poinsettia’s or holiday bulbs in bloom bring added charm and flair of HOLIDAY to the table. My paperwhites are sprouting nicely and I should be able to add them to the table decor by the first Christmas gathering. For Christmas parties the gathering point for food is on the dining room table I use as a buffet.  So extra care in size to include food is also a consideration….. Long and narrow!

The table is a great spot to add plenty of candle light.  When I entertain, I like the use of real candles, but safety should always be a consideration. My favorite safe solution is the use of crystal rose bowls and votive candles. Take care that none of your decor is hanging over the top of the candles. Tea lights will generally burn for 4-5 hours, perfect for the duration of the party. Real candles add the ambiance and romance of the season.  A nice fire in the fireplace, crystal rose bowls and tea lights in every room is fabulous. With all the candles it can take 15 minutes to light before a party, so add it to the last minute things on the to-do list right before my guests arrive.

In this display I have used the drummer boy Mark Robert’s fairy to add color and interest. Again, use a tray to do your collection so that the decor can easily be removed. The use of greenery is tucked around the crystal rose bowls and fairy. Antique candlestick sleighs are flanked on both sides of the arrangement. I will rearrange the stems for a long and narrow display for the food buffet. Added snow with a couple of shakes of glitter and glitter dust will sparkle the night away with the glow of candlelight.

I had added the colors of the fairy in the choice of crystal rose bowls. I use these bowls year round so they are collected and used in different areas depending on the creative “new” look that is fun to do year after year.  Add to and subtract as your dining needs warrant.

 

 

 

26 Days until Christmas: It’s officially time to decorate, chandeliers

Embellishment of the center place of your holiday dinner can be most stunning.  Keep to the theme of the room with matching ribbon and  colors. I have hung bulbs and ornaments from the ceiling surrounding the  chandelier, placed heavy garlands and used every Christmas pick imaginable. After the holidays I always feel as if the room is bare after taking this masterpiece down.

When decorating your chandelier be sure you have access to it. Move the table out of the way so that you don’t drag you and the chandelier to a holiday tragedy.  My balance I must admit is pretty good, but draping myself around that last light and leaning over a little too far, well, is just not being the sharpest tool in the shed. This is also a great time to have a helper hand up the selections that you plan to use. Running up and down a ladder with breakables? Not so much fun.

In this photo the cottage was built in 1935 and even though the chandelier isn’t as grand as I have decorated in the past, it offered a fun challenge. I decided to doll it up with glitter and glam.  To enhance the romance of this chandelier, I added a battery operated light stringing the lights along side the ornaments. The room is fairly bright with pre-lit garlands, so I wanted the effect to be romantic. Take fishing line and cut to different lengths. To save time I looped enough to hang a second ornament. The same ribbon used on the garlands is added to the ceiling and cascades down the sides. Ribbon is a lovely way to draw the eye up and adds elegance to the room. Pre-make the ribbon allowing enough wire to loop through the chain.

It’s officially time to decorate! Dust off the boxes, open and get after the creative in you!

 

27 Days Until Christmas: Thanksgiving Day and the Kitchen

As I think about the turkey in the oven, I am reminded that the center of all love is found in the kitchen. It is the place where we all gather to enjoy each other’s company and the chatter and clanging of dishes adds to the spirit of the day.

The centerpiece of the house for me is always the center island. Careful consideration to the style, finish and function is taken for the design of this piece. I once found an old church alter for the house in Houston and it became the base for the island. My mother always said it was blessed, I thought she would think otherwise!

So decorating the center island gives me great pause because it is the hub landing space for the holiday season. Fabulous, amazing and fantastic come to mind when I think about staging this masterpiece.

I like to start with a large tray. Add your Christmas selections on top. Use battery operated lights to highlight the area. I use snowflakes to cover up the battery boxes. Now you can easily remove your display when the island is needed for Christmas baking.

Mark Roberts’s fairies are a favorite holiday decoration that I like to use. They are a detailed elegant statement piece that add great impact. I use this tall 30” high fairy with whimsical trees, special ornaments and candles for this display. These fairies can be found at Nordstrom’s, Christmas specialty shops and many places online. Try http://www.markrobertsfairies.net

I will add a fresh poinsettia or paperwhite’s to the ensemble, as flowers are a beautiful way to say the day is special.

28 Days until Christmas: Including the Kids, taking a break for Thanksgiving

A holiday would not be filled with love without kids. I ‘adopted’ Ava from one of my best San Diego friends, Julie.

Julie and I are crafters. Those people that talk endlessly about the next cute project and we let our minds explode. Our Wednesday walks are my most favorite mornings. We started Monday on some Thanksgiving baking and are continuing the fun this morning with the kids helping us build these super cute turkey cookies. To do the same cookies here is a video provided by Giada.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/thanksgiving-turkey-treats-0202619.html?ic1=tbla

There is a construction project, condo’s, being built in front of my cottage. It is noisy and messy and the guys gather at my front walkway for breaks every morning. This morning we delivered these delights for the guys and are making for our Thanksgiving parties tomorrow.

A traditional Christmas with the “kids” in the past has been having my daughter, Blair,  and her friends or classmates over to bake and decorate sugar cookies.  We would roll out the dough, cut our holiday figures and attempt to decorate these delights once they were cooled and out of the oven. Made with love was the most important thing, so Martha Steward would have thrown them in the trash, I am sure. But I was always proud of our efforts. The best part?  We then distributed these cookies to the shut-ins of the community.  What a great way to share the joy of the season with those less fortunate. Memories and moments to cherish a lifetime.

Cheers to the giving time of year!

29 Days until Christmas: Elegant Garlands

Garlands are a great way to play up special areas of your home. I like to set the atmosphere of the house at night to have light distributed throughout by adding lighted garlands. A fabulous way to add elegance is to coordinate it with other Christmas décor in the room you are decorating. I emphasized this great antique mirror in a dining room. At night the mirror adds to the reflection and romance of the meal and ambiance. The use of timers on all of my lighted areas makes this easy as every evening the house because a magical Christmas without any effort!

I will use very tiny nails and carefully place them on the back side of the mirror. Then place wire to anchor your lighted garland around the mirror (or picture). I wrap the ornaments with the wire branches from the garlands. Be creative when you swag the garland. On this display the garland is off set.

A selection of special ornaments are hung to give grandeur to this Christmas display. Color coordinating it with the centerpiece of the table adds to the overall wonderland and beauty of the room.

30 Days until Christmas: Glamorous Mantles

I love every aspect of the season, but mantles are often the focal point and one that I let my creativity energize. The crackle of a burning fire in the fireplace will draw attention to this masterpiece. I like to use the inspiration of accessories around the house and changing my mantle every year in spontaneity and fun.

A couple of things you should take into consideration while decorating your mantle. I will caution the use of real branches or anything highly flammable with a fire so close. This area can also have a tendency to dry out more quickly. Hang those stockings with care.

We used nature for the last mantle, but let’s spice it up with something special. This year I have lights that have 8 adjustments to select from. Email me on my website to order. I turn the switch to different “moods” depending on my guests.

For this years family room mantle I used all crystal and silver.  Place in and stabilize with wire (attach to tiny nails for stability) flocked greenery and silver sparkling picks of the season. This will add to the reflection of the lights and candles. Now I tucked and placed crystal hurricane candlesticks with small rose bowls and a crystal cross.  All of these accessories I found from around the home. I used my silver pheasants to hang my Christmas stockings (again, placing them far away from the firebox). I have two bronze soldiers that stand guard on my mantle year round that I adorn with ornaments. Adding Christmas trees to any area is a favorite. A set of 3 silver glitter trees are arranged along the mantle piece. To finish I added silver ribbon and picks to the top of my art on the mantle to dress it up for the holidays.  Elegance and the sparkle of the season are now in place!

31 Days Until Christmas: More trees!

How extraordinary the season becomes with the elegance and embellishment of the season! This tree displays large ornaments for a stunning and show-stopping tree. Notice the use of large branches and hanging lanterns, huge ornaments of glitter gold, white and silver. Draping garlands and the use of extra-large bows are placed around this 12 ft. tree. What an expression of the imaginative and magical Christmas this tree displays for the season.

As the Christmas carols play in the background this morning, the thoughts of bringing a truckload of creativity to your home brings me the greatest pleasure decorating for the holidays for my clients. Inspiration is limitless, from decorative lightweight items that may not seem to be a holiday decoration as used in this tree with a touch of oriental lanterns. Look for inspiration, These can be found at the many of the Dollar stores or Pier One Imports.

Consider the services of a professional. They can help you put together your ideas with a creative talent that can merge your ideas with a fantastic tree. So let the juices flow and dream the magic of the holidays. This installation will take time; so plan for lots of fun and a trip or two to the store to put this wonderland together!!

32 Days until Christmas: Valuable tips to decorating the Tree

The true magic of Christmas is the tree. I remember sitting in front of it for hours as a child as though the weight of my small world disappeared. The twinkle of lights was pure delight. Confessions of a tree stalker, I am always looking for the next great idea for tree decorations. I like to suggest if you are starting from scratch that you use the classics for the base of your investment. Try silver, gold, champagne or red and green. These are easily added to year after year.

Follow these important tips in decorating your tree. Yes, there is a process to decorating the tree, especially if embellishment is a part of this year’s décor. A couple of times I have found myself stripping the tree aghast that I forgot the order of assembly. This example will be using gold, silver and accents of green. It is my elegant tree.

  1. Tree standing straight and lower branches trimmed off the tree (for fresh trees). For artificial, take the time to fluff every branch, stand back and make sure the tree is standing straight and branches are even all around.
  2. Turn on the strands of lights while decorating the tree, this way you can make sure of faulty lights early in the game. Many times I will purchase new to avoid this headache for fresh trees. Distribute lights evenly and go for more! A 7 ft. tree should have at least 700 lights! Check
  3. Wide ribbon is a great choice to fill in gap areas of the tree, tuck deep inside the tree. Then add a second and third ribbon to add more dimension and interest. Done
  4. Tree toppers are the centerpieces of the tree. Add this item next and anchor with zip ties or wire before breakables are added. I know traditionally the “star” is put on last but often times it makes it hard to stabilize when the tree is decorated. Plus toppers today are outrageously fun and elaborate. Glam it up
  5. Start with the larger ornaments and place strategically around the tree. Usually most will be staged around the middle of the tree for best effect. I always back away from the tree to make sure the tree is balanced. Looking good
  6. Now for those precious ornaments and bulbs!!!! I like to buy and create an overall tree of a single color as the first “layer”. This is effectively done by buying boxes all in one color and is a relatively inexpensive way to achieve a more unified tree. Spread the color around the tree. Different sizes of bulbs will add to nice dimension. Pick two or three colors!!! This year’s tree is gold, silver, champagne and green. For elegance I bought a variety of the same elegant Santa ornaments adding champagne and crystal picks that glitter amongst the lights. Enjoy