We are often asked for our advice on entertaining during the holidays. Recently, A Thyme to Cook Founder and President, Linda Sample, took some time to discuss her thoughts. Here is the third in the series of Holiday entertaining season tips…
Decorating for the holidays is probably my MOST favorite thing to do. So, I want to make sure I do not get carried away with this one and start rambling….
It is important to make your home feel warm and inviting (use candles, make the entryway festive and smell wonderful). However, DO NOT GO CRAZY CLEANING THE HOUSE!
The only place to focus on is the bathroom. No one will notice the kitchen, as they assume you are as crazed as everyone else at this time of year; but they WILL visit the bathroom. Make sure it is clean, smells great; and I always recommend adding some unexpected holiday touches to this neglected, but also, frequently visited room – some greens, twinkle lights, perhaps an Elf on a Shelf? And if some of your family are of the fuzzy kind, make sure to clean their “bathrooms” too and tend to the litter box and scooping the lawn before guests arrive.
USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
Now, grab a glass of wine and walk around your home – what do you see? What do you have? This is the time to bring it all out, as you certainly don’t do it any other time of the year – what are you waiting for? I am a strong believer in keeping meaningful, significant ‘stuff’ and discarding the rest.
What do you collect or have a lot of, (that hasn’t come out of the cabinet), for a while? Using a mass quantity of fewer items always creates a more a striking visual effect. Do you have dolls, antique toys, a collection of milk glass, or a lot of brass items? Any of these things, when grouped together, (especially with some fresh greens and perhaps some sparkle) will create an impact.
As long as you have three of any one thing, it’ll work. Odd numbers of one item look best. You may have two or three collections of three-items; in that case, I would suggest dividing the groupings in different rooms. The idea here that “less is more” – and a few groupings of similar objects goes a lot further than a ton of little, unrelated items. (Display all your milk glass items in the bathroom with some shiny glass balls, or even better, some fresh greens from the backyard.)
Take a NEW look at some of the things around your home for more inspiration – I bet you can find LOTS of things you forgot you even owned – galvanized containers, baskets, wood boxes, an assortment of great pottery bowls, tea cups, old glass bottles, glittery, fun costume jewelry that can look sparkly when hanging from a branch, (especially if it is a twisty Harry Lauder walking stick branch); gather them all up together and decide where they can be festively displayed with greens, holly, ribbon (any consistent color – it does not have to be red!) Putting a lovely marine blue and silver ribbon on your potted plants can go a long way, and ties them together. Think massing “like” things together with one consistent color theme, and you are half way there!
As a Green Caterer, we are always looking to nature for our inspiration. We have an abundance of material in our back yard; moss, birch branches, and holly (know what you are cutting and be aware of greens/etc that may be on the state’s preservation/endangered lists!). Double check for “creepy crawlies” living in the branches and make sure none are considered poisonous for animals – holly, Christmas cactus, poinsettias – to name a few.
There are lots of great elements out there. Remember the massing concept. A lot of any one thing works with items from the back yard, too – big bowls of acorns, pine cones, feathers, bird nests; any of these things massed together with a festive ribbon, shiny lights, or sparkly ornament makes a statement. I would caution you to be careful when placing greens around your home, to avoid contact with heaters, radiators, candles, pets, etc. Keep in mind that battery operated candles have come a long way and are always a safer choice. Just make sure you purchase them with all yellow/gold or blue ‘flames’ – mixing them up is not a great look.
You can also check out the grocery store – glass cylinders of cranberries, nuts, clementines, or apples, are inexpensive and definitely recyclable!
Holiday decorating should be fun (try an upside down Christmas tree, or tie a big ribbon around your dining room table like a present!), and should encourage you to look outside your comfort zone to utilize item you already have on hand, and should NOT be a competition. Your party should be a reflection of you, your family and the heart of your home.