Categories
Holidays

Outdoor Holiday Decor Etiquette

Every neighborhood has one. You know, the house so bright with holiday lights that it can be seen from the space station. If your that guy or gal, who prides themselves with their over the top decor follow these rules of holiday etiquette to maintain peace on Earth with your neighbors.

James Wheeler

Put up the holiday lights the day after Thanksgiving. Even though all the stores are pushing Christmas before Halloween, follow the Black Friday to the Epiphany (January 6) rule for putting up and taking down your own holiday decorations.

Know your neighbors floor plan. If your neighbor’s bedroom windows overlooks the side of your house, be courteous and not shine the lights directly at them. Make sure your display is not in your neighbor’s line of vision either. You don’t want to temporarily blind as they pull into their driveway. Same goes for those inflatables, that could block visibility to the road. If you’re not sure, create good will and ask your neighbors if the decorations are a nuisance.

It’s OK to keep the lights on all night. Putting the lights on a timer is an easy way to save energy, however it’s fine to leave them on all night as long as no one complains.

Cut the music. A light display set to music may look and sound fantastic but you must resist. Even if you were to turn off your display at a reasonable time, none of your neighbors want to hear Tis the Season to be Jolly on repeat.

Wesley Tingey

Know your neighborhood. Take note of the level of decorations in your neighborhood. Festive as it may seem, a massive holiday display is going to attract visitors, possibly creating a traffic nightmare. Don’t land on your neighbor’s naughty list! Proceed with restraint in your your Christmas decorating.

Don’t be a Scrooge. If you find your neighbors are the ones with lousy holiday décor etiquette, approach with caution. If their multiple generators keeping the lights going or blaring music is keeping you up at night, say something. Do so in a polite way and offer a compromise, such as an ideal time to shut the party down. If it’s an aesthetic complaint, keep it to yourself. That mechanical Santa and eight tiny reindeer is filling your neighbor with holiday cheer and that is what this time of year is all about.

Mr. H says: Christmas lights makes us feel eight years old again-Enjoy!

Categories
Holidays seasons

10 things you need to host a holiday party

Pulling off a holiday party at home is made easier by having a few basic things on hand to make your soiree stress free.

1. The list

The key to any successful event is to make lists of all the elements that will go into the party. Include all the food and beverages along with glassware, tables and chairs, etc. that need to be purchased, borrowed or brought out of storage.

2. A coat rack

Clear out a space for your guest’s to stash their coats and purses. If you have the room, a temporary coat rack will eliminate having jackets draped over your furniture during your event.

Portable coat rack
Bed, Bath and Beyond

3. All purpose wine glasses

Stemless, dishwasher safe glasses can serve double duty for both wine and cocktails. Keep the boxes and store the clean glasses in a dust free space so they are ready to go for your next party.

Stemless wine glasses
Luminarc

4. Festive paper products

Cocktail parties call for themed paper plates and napkins, making clean up a snap while creating a lovely setting. Use a larger luncheon size for the food table and cocktail napkins at the bar for drinks.

Christmas paper napkins
Caspari

5. An easy menu

Keep the menu simple with a variety of five or six items. Create a festive spread utilizing both store bought items and home made. Stock up on crackers and cookies so that if the food is running low you’ve got back up. Forgo serving anything that needs a fork opting for pick ups, dips, and veggies.

Mini beef wellington bites
Wiliams Sonoma

6. The punch bowl

Turn any type of clean vessel into a serving piece. No punch bowl, no problem since a soup tureen can hold a libation with a matching ladle too. Bonus: Having a batch of cocktails premade will make serving easier than making drinks individually.

White soup tureen
Pottery Barn

7. Serving pieces

Take inventory of your platters and trays, designating what they will hold ahead of time. Don’t forget your cake stands or tiered trays for creating various heights on the table.

White cake stand
Frontgate

8. Holiday decor

You don’t need expensive florist’s arrangement to create a holiday setting. Snip greenery from your yard and intermingle with pine cones, berry stems and flame less candles for an easy table top design.

Christmas decorations

9. Holiday tunes

Never underestimate the power of music. Besides providing background noise, Christmas music elevates everyone’s mood.

10. Trash cans

Make clean up easier on yourself by putting out plenty of trash cans for your guests to dump their used paper plates. Ditto on creating a dirty glass station with a tray near the kitchen.

Decorative serving tray
West Elm

Mr. H says: Tis the season to jingle and mingle-Enjoy!

Categories
Holidays seasons

Real or Faux Christmas Trees-the Facts

The Christmas tree is at the heart of the season’s holiday traditions. But as we become more eco-friendly does it make sense to cut down a living evergreen for such a short-lived pleasure? An artificial tree made of plastic doesn’t feel too “green” either. So it’s time to unpack the facts of both kinds of trees.

The Real

As with most types of farm products, Christmas trees are grown as managed crops. They are not cut down on a large scale in the wilderness. Taking about a decade to grow a six foot tree, farmers generally plant new trees to replace the ones that have been cut down.

Taylor Rooney

As the trees grow, they provide animal habitats, clean the air, and prevent soil erosion. Rolling hills, that are unsuitable for other crops, are where Christmas trees grow best. At the end of the season, real trees can be composted returning them back into the natural environment.

Keep your real Christmas tree looking good through the season by making a fresh cut to the trunk and immediately placing in warm water. Set up your tree away from direct heat sources and be sure to check the water level daily. It is not unusual for a tree to drink 2 gallons of water the first day it is the stand.

The Fake

Most people that opt for an artificial version do so out of convenience. (Disclaimer: Mine is fake!) Since artificial trees are made of metal and plastic they are not biodegradable like real trees. Recycling is nearly impossible since the materials used to fabricate the tree would be need to be separated to do so.

Artificial Christmas tree Balsam Hill
Balsam Hill

The question of eco-friendliness depends largely on how long you keep your artificial tree. The more seasons you reuse it, the more environmentally friendly it becomes.

Artificial Christmas Tree Birch Lane
Birch Lane

Look for artificial Christmas trees made with polyethylene, or PE plastic, instead of PVC. PE plastic is more durable and also tend to look more realistic. Proper storage in the off-season is key to ensuring that you can enjoy your Christmas tree for many seasons.

So now onto the next debate: white or colored lights?

Mr. H says: It’s not what’s under the tree that matters but who’s around it-Enjoy!

Categories
bathroom decorating Holidays outdoor living seasons

8 Easy Design Tips for Fall

Bring that Fall feeling inside by adding cozy autumnal touches around your house with these festive and easy decor ideas.

Front porch greetings

Greet family and friends with a Fall themed wreath or porch vignette. Incorporate natural dried materials, gourds, and seasonal flowers into your display for a delightful seasonal welcome.

Fall wreath ideas
Creekside Farms

Faux Fur Pillows

Swapping out lightweight summer throw pillows to more textural ones like faux fur, velvet or chunky knits in darker jewel tones is an easy Fall upgrade.

Faux fur pillows
Grandin Road

Bring the Outside In

Add natural textures to your decor by mixing twigs, hay and gourds with pewter and mercury glass for an elegant Fall theme.

Natural fall decorating ideas
Pottery Barn

Pretty Paisley

A richly colored, set of paisley napkins is an easy way to transform your dinner table for Fall. Add a monogram for a personalized look.

Paisley monogrammed napkins
Donovan Design Linens

Chic Baskets

The warmth of natural woven baskets feels instantly Fall. Pile a basket with fruit in the kitchen or group a few on the coffee table to stash the remotes or hold magazines.

Natural woven baskets
West Elm

Copper Accents

Handcrafted copper items have a rich glow that fits seamlessly into Fall decorating. An occasional polish will keep it looking shiny or allow it to mellow into a verdigris patina.

Copper candles
Akkadian Candles

Tidy Up the Bath

Don’t get caught off guard by holiday guests. Stock the guest bath now with fresh towels, soap and scented candles.

Marrakech towels Matouk
Fine Linens

Cozy Up Outside

Enjoy Fall’s cooler evenings outside with seating arranged around a fire pit. Keep cozy pillows and throws on hand if the weather turns extra chilly.

Mr. H says: Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower-Enjoy!

Categories
decorating Holidays

Romantic Room Design

If you’re looking to inject some romance into your life this Valentine’s Day then a natural place to start is in your home.  Eschew the gauzy, frilly images the word “romantic” conjures up in favor of a luxurious, modern approach.  A romantic room should draw you in with comfortable furniture, rich tactile fabrics, and other interesting elements that welcome users and entice you to stay. 

Red walls and a delicate tablescape create the perfect setting for an elegant  Valentine’s meal.

The ethereal feel of this light and airy living room begs it’s occupants to slow down and relax with each other.

photo by Sidekix Media

The romantic flower tile and marble top counters create an ideal place to make sweets for your sweet.

photo by Sidekix Media

 

A romantic, backyard oasis complete with comfy furniture and twinkle lights.

photo by Randy Fath

A romantic getaway may be just a few steps down the hall.   A four poster bed piled high with pillows and a fluffy comforter is an inviting retreat in shades of pale blue and white.

Premier Estate Properties, Inc.

 

Caramel color walls were found to be the most conducive to amorous bedroom activities in a study conducted by Travelodge.  Red, while the color of love and attraction, was shown to suppress the mood.

Try your own experiment with these wall color ideas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regardless of where romance happens, remember that lighting sets the mood of any space.  No one wants to get intimate under the glow of a too-bright light.  Dim the overhead fixtures, light some candles and enjoy Valentine’s Day with the one you love.

Mr. H says: To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance-Enjoy!

Categories
Holidays recipes seasons

Ten Holiday Entertaining Tips

Throwing a holiday get together doesn’t have to be stressful or feel improbable during this busy time of year.  Follow these ten no fail tips to host a memorable holiday gathering.

Traffic Flow

To avoid traffic jams, place the bar and the food in two different areas.  Spreading people throughout your home make for better mingling.   Create a plan for managing coats and wraps as well as gifts you may be receiving.

Easy on the Food

There is no need to go overboard on the types of foods you serve.  Having five or six items to choose from, mixing hot and cold, on a beautifully decorated table will make for an exceptional party.  Abundance is everything during the holidays, so be sure to have enough nibbles to satiate all your guests.

photo by Caroline Hernandez

Serve in Style

Eschew the paper plates and stock up on durable white melamine plates that go straight into the dishwasher.   Choose a neutral white color and cool shape so that they can be reused throughout the year.

Glassware too!

Riedel

There are economic sources for stocking up on multiples of bar ware, including Riedel stems, that can be reused time and again.  Save the boxes they come in for easier storage after the pieces are washed and dried.

Use Unscented Candles

Since scented candles mingle with other aromas, including food and your revelers perfume, use unscented candles in your holiday decor.   Keep candles in the center of the table or placed up high.  We don’t want guests catching on fire by reaching over an open flame or backing into a low placed pillar.

photo by Element5 Digital

Stock the bar

Anticipate that guests will consume two drinks apiece in the first hour, then an additional drink per hour for the party duration.   For a self serve bar, set out openers, glasses and plenty of napkins.  Check back frequently to ensure that the bar remains well supplied.

Craft a signature cocktail

Instead of a full bar, serve beer, wine and soft drinks along with one signature cocktail.  This tree beverage dispenser makes it extra special.

Try Santa Punch

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 qt. pomegranate juice
  • 3 cups blanco tequila
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 (750-ml.) bottle dry sparkling wine, chilled

Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Cool syrup completely (about 45 minutes)

Stir together pomegranate juice, next 3 ingredients, and simple syrup; chill 4 hours. Pour mixture into a punch bowl or dispenser, and gently stir in sparkling wine just before serving.

Tunes set the Mood

Every holiday party needs a good soundtrack.  Consider your music and the volume based on your guest list.  Conversation is what counts at any celebration, so be sensitive with your play list.

Keep it Cool

Even on the coldest of winter nights, a room full of guests can heat up quickly.  Keep your house cool prior the party turning up the heat only when guests refuse to shed their coats.   Instead of lighting the fireplace fill the hearth with a mix of  unscented candles.

Powder Room Prep

Have the powder room guest ready with pretty disposal hand towels, lovely soap and lotion, tissues and plenty of extra toilet paper within easy reach.

Frontgate

Mr. H says: Life is the best party you’ll ever be invited to-Enjoy!

Categories
decorating Holidays

Holiday Decor Eye Candy

If you are like me and haven’t decked your hall yet, here are some enchanting holiday decorating ideas.

Trees with a theme

Michelle Edgemont-HGTV

CELIVESGG

Balsam Hill

Front door festive greetings

Jamie Lee

Balsam Hill

Holiday table top ideas

Todd Trapani

Pixabay

Over the top decor can be found in public spaces.

The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC

biltmore-christmas-asheville-nc
Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA

pennsylvanias-historic-longwood-gardens-photo-harold-a-davis

The Roosevelt-A Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New Orleans, LA

the-roosevelt-new-orleans-waldorf-astoria-hotel

Dominika Roseclay

Mr. H says: Christmas is a tonic for the soul-Enjoy!

Categories
decorating Holidays

Five Festive Christmas Tabletops

The countdown is on before the big Christmas meal.  Find inspiration for your holiday table decor with these elegant and unexpected design ideas.

North Carolina interior designer Kathryn Greeley, is no stranger to creating a luscious table top having authored the eye candy packed book The Collected Tabletop.   Layering china patterns with hand blown martini glasses and beaded holly place mats hit all the notes for a lavish Christmas party.

Kathryn Greeley The Collected Tabletop Christmas

Better Homes and Gardens TV host, Tara Dennis is well known for her decorating, style and craft ideas.  Keeping things fresh and simple she crafted this beach inspired Christmas tablescape with just a few basics.  Natural linens, solid plates and plain glassware, along with a scattering of shells, is sure to transport diners to a tranquil beach.

Tara Dennis Beach Christmas tabletop

Tara Dennis Beach Christmas centerpiece

Red, green and white elements set a simple yet classic holiday table.

Pottery Barn

Sweet Peach featured this playful, kid friendly Christmas table by Beth Lord.  Utilizing vintage ornaments under glass, wrapped “gifts” and mismatched table ware, she sets the stage for laid back holiday supper.

Sweet Peach holiday table top

A mix of Waterford and Lenox “Holiday” china sets a gorgeous holiday table.

Betweennapsontheporch.net

Mr H. says: The best memories are those made gathered around the table-Enjoy!

Categories
color Holidays

Red, white and blue fabrics

With the upcoming 4th of July celebrations upon us, many of us think of red, white, and blue as the unofficial colors of summer.   These patriotic colored fabrics however prove that the colors of the United States are seasonal and timeless.

Chairloom updates this classic chair with Duralee’s ikat print Sulu American Beauty

Chairloom Duralee Sulu AmericanBeauty

Robert Allen’s bold Artful Floral in poppy

Robert Allen Artful Floral Poppy

Robert Allen fabrics were used to create this picnic scene at DIFFA’s Picnic by Design event

DIFFA picnic with Robert Allen Fabrics

A modern outdoor fabric by Duralee

15708-206 Duralee fabric

Birds of a feather flock together in Thibaut’s Imperial Garden collection

Thibaut Imperial Garden Giselle

Achieve a vintage look with Stout’s Telford in Sangria

Stout TELFORD 2 SANGRIA

Studio 773 Americana pillow collection

Studio 773 American Pillows

Saffron Marigold’s Kashmiri shawl inspired vintage paisley print bedding in blue, red and cream.

Saffron Marigold  Bedding red white and blue paisley

Thibaut sets the scene poolside in their Batik print from the Courtyard collection.

Thibaut Courtyard Batik

What the colors of the United States flag represent: The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valor, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Mr. H says: My patriotic heart beats red, white, and blue-Enjoy!

4th of July dogs

Categories
decorating Holidays

Holiday Decor Don’ts

It’s time to deck the halls and you can keep your decor merry and bright by following some simple rules.

Don’t start your holiday decorating without clearing out the clutter.  Adding holiday decor to an already overstuffed space makes for an unhappy home.  Remove art, accessories and even furniture that don’t fit your decorating theme.

Photo by It’s The Little Things
Don’t forget to measure your ceiling height before shopping for a Christmas tree.  Bring along a tape measure to scale your tree choice too.

Too tall christmas tree

Don’t try to decorate every room of your home.  Make an impression by focusing on the areas of the house your family uses most.

Photo by Piccadilly Design 

Don’t adhere to red and green color schemes.  Purple, blue, gold, silver and white all make for a festive atmosphere.

Houzz

Don’t forget the natural decor in your yard.  Wreaths, garlands and festive tablescapes can all be created from outside your door.  Seal naturals in an airtight container and place in the freezer for 24 hours to kill pests.

Williams Sonoma

Don’t leave candles unattended.  Use non-flammable holders and keep away from children, pets and items that can catch fire such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains and furniture.

Pottery Barn

Take Mies van der Rohe’s “Less is More” advice. In a season where we visually assaulted at every turn practice some restraint with your own holiday decor.

Ballard Designs

Don’t keep the lights on all night.  Regardless of how tasteful they may appear, your neighbors and the electric company would appreciate them being extinguished at some point. Lights can be controlled on a timer to prevent your neighborhood from glowing for weeks on end.

Exterior house Christmas lights

Don’t decorate the pets.  Choking, strangulation and suffocation are enough reason to keep your fur kids free of humiliating costumes.

Dog holiday costume

Mr. H says: Christmas is a box of tree ornaments that have become part of the family-Enjoy!