Thanksgiving is upon us and with other holidays only a waterslide away, let’s take a moment to ponder how it is necessary to gear up, if you will, for what is to come. Before the craziness of the hustle and bustle begins, why not plan ahead, get organized and take some of that stress away from those last minute “oh, I forgot that” or “yikes, I need.” This year I’m recommending a proactive rather than reactive approach, sort of a “prepare yee the way” strategy for the festivities.
Let me explain. We all know many things in life are frenetic: we rush to work, we rush to get the kids on the bus, we rush to fix dinner and we even rush right through the holidays. After all this rushing around we feel, well, for lack of a better word, “rushed”. Many of us do not even take a moment to embrace the joy or ponder the significance of the process. There is no better time than the present to cherish the season and plan ahead so that we may enjoy the magical essence of what the holidays are truly meant to be…. FUN! I love the fall season mostly because the cooler days and nights allow me to break out my sweaters and sport coats and begin to layer up. Preparing for the upcoming holidays can be exactly the same: one should build layers of small tasks and projects. This will allow you to arrive at the official day(s) of celebration feeling cool, calm and collected, where you will be able to relax, enjoy and take in the festivities rather than having to rush around saving yourself or others from last minute disasters.
So here are my sMARt tips for finishing the year with great style but also ahead of schedule.
Just like a well-appointed kitchen, your fireplace should always be ready to use. Keeping a decorative supply of firewood in an oversized basket offers both an earthy decorative touch as well as easy access. Matches, starter logs, newspaper and any other accoutrements should also be easily accessible. In my home, Rosebrook Gardens, I prefer to burn birch logs, mostly because I love the look of storing them in plan sight. Their white bark is attractive to look at, they burn easier and cleaner, and rarely throw of any sparks.
Some of the most important elements of the festive holiday spirit come in the way of staple items. By this I mean white candles, tea lights, festive hand towels, soda, juices, alcohol and mixers, all of which can be purchased far in advance and then stored. You know you’re going to need them so why not be ready? Keep in mind that a well-stocked pantry also provides you the opportunity to create a meal on demand. Planning ahead can often save the day, allowing you to eat healthier, faster and with ease by eliminating the crutches of fast food or prepackaged meals. Knowing which staple items your household requires and purchasing them in advance saves money and tons of much-needed time that you could spend with your family and friends or doing other things you enjoy.
Set The Stage
When was the last time you used your dining room? If you’re like most people, it was last year at this time. But if it’s rarely used that makes it easier to set the table in advance. In fact, set the stage by setting the table weeks before. Not only does this allow you to take an early inventory of what you need, it informs everyone that a special event is coming soon. This alleviates any need to run around mixing and matching pieces of china, cutlery or stemware the day of. This special task was a pleasure for me to do as a child as I was allowed to be creative and resourceful in setting the stage for the amazing meal.
If you’re going for an eclectic look then make sure to follow that theme throughout the table. One mismatched place setting does not a cohesive table make. Alternating patterns at every other place setting can be a fun and playful way to incorporate extra place settings when you are seating twelve but only have china for six.
I’ll Take It
How many times when shopping have you been looking for one thing and discover something completely different and not on your list—but you can’t say no because you realize this would make a great gift for someone or a hostess gift? Sound familiar? Take that cue and buy bulk if available. Now through the holidays inventory comes in and inventory goes out. If you see it, buy it, wrap it and give it. Dedicate a section in a closet for those perfect last minute gifts and you’ll be ready to give at a moment’s notice. This way, all of those gifts you received that you don’t use can be donated because you won’t need a stock of items—and you won’t be tempted to re-gift.
Discover Your Resources
Some of the easiest holiday decorating ideas await you outdoors. Birch branches, dried hydrangeas, sedum flowers and whimsical cat tales from ornamental grasses can be a delightful way to add a fanciful touch to your home or table décor this season. In lieu of a table runner, lay sprigs or branches down the center of your table and intertwine with a festive ribbon. Take powerfully colored leaves and intersperse them among the branches. These items offer an inexpensive creative solution to expensive floral arrangements.
A Festive Transformation
Seasonal decorative pillows are a trendy way for designers to change the overall look and feel of a home. Several off-price stores are onto this new trend and have aisles and aisles of decorative pillows. Today it’s very simple for anyone to swap out summer, fall or holiday pillows and introduce the latest trendy new colors. This season it’s deep plum, large patterns and interesting textiles. The best deals are always in limited quantities to it’s best to shop early.
Framed For The Season
One of my trickier design secrets is how to keep loved ones photos on view without cluttering up surfaces. How? Keep a few favorite photo frames out all the time, but switch the photos in them for ones that reflect the current season. Summer photos of your beach holiday are fun for summer but come winter perhaps a ski trip or beautiful snowstorm can be on view. You can also do this to honor people who don’t visit often. For example, when my family visits they don’t know that I have several different photos stored behind the visible family photo, all in one frame. Moments before my Mother arrives, I switch the picture to that dreadful family portrait that my Mother loves. I keep it on hand for the gatherings but come spring it reverts back to an adorable schnauzer photo. In any event, you don’t need to continuously purchase new frames, just consider updating what you have.
I hope these help you enjoy the wonders of the season with friends, family and those you love. I’m inspired by this simple quote from Richard C. Cushing, and I hope it inspires you, too: “Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” Need I say more?