9 Christmas party essentials that make hosting a breeze
First things first: Invitations. Sure, you can send out a text or email to let friends and family know the details of your gathering, but we think that paper invitations that arrive in the mail the traditional way are much more charming. Minted offers a large selection of gorgeously designed invitations that are guaranteed to set the mood for your holiday party. Gilded Botanicals Holiday Party Invitations, Minted, prices vary.
We admit, we’re not fans of the sickly sweet fragrances emitted by many a scented candle, but choose carefully and you can infuse your home with an aroma that truly enhances the atmosphere of your party. This candle is not only a beautiful display item but it also gives off the subtle but authentic smell of a fresh Frasier fir. If you aren’t putting up a real tree in your home, just fake it! Thymes Frasier Fir Poured Candle with Pine Needle Motif, Indigo, $32.
If most of your holiday music is digitally stored on your phone, then you’ll need a speaker to fill your home with the joyful carols of the season. This moderately-priced option is sleek and lightweight and produces high-quality sound. It has a seven-hour rechargeable battery and easily pairs to any Bluetooth-enabled iOS device. Beats by Dr. Dre Pill Speaker, Apple Store, $219.95.
While you want your guests to eat, drink and be merry, you don’t want to find impossible-to-remove water rings or red wine stains on your travertine coffee table the next morning! Help your guests help you keep your home stain-free by making sure everyone has a coaster upon which to place their drink. These leather reindeer coasters are just the thing to add a festive touch to your soiree. Forest Merriment Coasters, Anthropologie, $32 (set of 4).
Your guests will need a napkin or two over the course of the evening, especially if you’re serving finger foods. Skip the boring white napkins and instead, opt for ones that are Christmas-themed. These 12 Days of Christmas paper napkins are perfect for a casual gathering and will add a touch of whimsy to a more formal one. 12 Days of Christmas Napkins, Amazon, $4.19 (package of 20.
Take a more modern approach to champagne this holiday season. Instead of traditional stemmed flutes, serve your bubbly in these stemless glasses, gilded with gold. Each is inscribed with the word ‘Cheers’, making them suitable for year-round use, but they’re particularly perfect for the holiday season. Stemless Champagne Glasses, Indigo, $39.50 (set of 4).
You don’t have to be Tom Cruise to mix a cocktail like a boss. This eight-piece set will turn you into a pro in no time. Complete with all the essentials you’ll need, you may be ready to start moonlighting before the night is out. This set includes a one-quart Mason jar, stainless steel strainer, double jigger, hardwood muddler, ice tongs, a stir spoon and two pour spouts. MakersKit Classic Cocktail Kit, West Elm, $28.
Sometimes it’s the smallest details that are the most impactful and memorable. Dress up your holiday table with these beautiful napkin rings, which are made with gold beads and sequins. Flurry Beaded Napkin Rings, Crate & Barrel, $4.76.
A selection of fine cheeses and gourmet crackers are always a hit at a party. And since cheese stays cooler on marble than most other surfaces, this is a great option. Plus, it also comes with a wire slicer that can easily cut through most soft and hard cheeses. Marble Cheese Board and Slicer, Sur La Table, $11.96.
A glam bachelorette pad with a beach-inspired design
A 500-square-foot condo in the city is transformed into a stylish, tropical oasis.
Growing up, decorator and stylist Laura Collins would often rearrange the furniture in younger sister Jennifer’s bedroom. “My room was always a mess,” says Jennifer. “Almost weekly, Laura would come in, switch the furniture around, organize and make it look pretty again.” So when it came time to furnish her first bachelorette pad in Toronto, Jennifer didn’t hesitate to ask for help from her big sis, who started with a mood board that evoked a sun-drenched Florida beach house. It was a style Jennifer sought not only because it reminds her of frequent family vacations down south, but also because she admires her sister’s beachy-glam Toronto townhouse (featured in Style at Home’s June 2014 issue), which boasts a similar eclectic coastal aesthetic.
Immediately, Laura identified aqua, brass and flamingo pink as key colours for the 500-square-foot space’s fresh, fun look. “My sister is my favourite client ever,” says Laura. “She trusts me – she knows this is my area of expertise.” Indeed, Jennifer purchased almost everything on the mood board within a week of moving in.
Though the space is small, Laura picked out standard furniture instead of condo-sized options. “Larger pieces make it feel more grand and livable,” she says. But of all the furniture in the space, the brass bar cart, set in front of the balcony doors and decorated with tropical details, is Jennifer’s favourite. “It reminds me of being somewhere hot,” she says. “I wake up, sit on the comfy sofa with my cup of coffee and see the sun shining in. It makes me feel like I’m in a beach house. It’s exactly what I wanted.”
Brass, aqua, turquoise, a hint of kelly green and a spattering of flamingo pink against the neutral white backdrop lend a refined vintage tropical vibe to the main living area of homeowner Jennifer Collins’s Toronto condo.
Framed prints of exotic beaches, a robin’s egg blue task lamp and a carefully edited selection of tropical-feel objets add freshness to the desk.
The kitchen is compact but features all the essentials, including a microwave tucked under the counter, a slender fridge and a peninsula offering enough seating to eliminate the need for a formal dining area.
A vintage brass tray topped with pink tumblers in the kitchen links to the brass bar cart with flamingo-themed items in the living area on the opposite side of the space.
Decorator Laura Collins (right) sits with her sister under a vintage Turner flamingo print.
1 Calypso tray, Rosanna, $32. 2 Amir toss cushion cover in Azure, Tonic Living, $45. 3 Industrial task lamp in White, West Elm, $119. 4 Kivik loveseat with Dansbo fabric in White, IKEA, $529. 5 Lucette bar cart in Gold, Pier 1 Imports, $430.
This huge dock is a dreamy spot for lounging and socializing all day long.
There are 66 steps from the dock up to the cottage, so the owners of this lakeside property built a boathouse to better enjoy their prime piece of real estate.Ontario’s beautifully rugged Muskoka region is known as much for its gracious lakeside boathouses as it is for its sprawling cottages. And with steep rocky shorelines, there’s often quite a trek from the dock to the living quarters. This family retreat on Lake Joseph is no different – while its high perch makes for glorious lake views, it also means “there are 66 steps from the water up to the cottage,” says one of the homeowners.
A small but efficient kitchenette is equipped for making drinks and snacks to serve on the dock.
Its modern charcoal and white palette is a fresh contrast to the aged hemlock flooring.
The white beadboard-clad walls and peaked ceiling create an airy effect in the living room. A pair of striped sofas (one is a pullout) imbues the space with a nautical feel, as does the stunning view of the lake. A glass-lined balcony with a lockable gate serves as a diving platform for daring swimmers.
Nancy eschewed the rusticity one might expect in a more traditional cottage for a design that’s youthful and modern.
The homeowners wanted a fresh and bright interior, so they chose white-painted beadboard for the walls and ceiling. Warmth comes from 100-year-old reclaimed hemlock flooring.
A compact bunk room comfortably sleeps four adults on twin-sized beds. Clean white walls, aged hemlock floors and blue and white bedding reinforce the casual coastal scheme.
The blue and white scheme is carried from the main cottage exterior to the boathouse and the dock furnishings.
The huge dock is a dreamy spot for lounging and socializing all day long.
Find everything you need to know to maintain a functional, clean bed long term.
You’re diligent about washing your sheets, but do you clean what’s underneath them? In addition to the expected bodily fluids and dust, your mattress comes in contact with all types of microscopic filth, chief among them dust mite droppings. Dust mites live in upholstery and feed on skin cells (something you’re constantly unwittingly shedding), and beyond being plain gross, their droppings can cause allergic reactions. So it’s high time you add mattress cleaning, a seasonal chore, to your to-do list. Having removed the sheets, vacuum the surface using the upholstery and crevice attachments. Spot clean any stains using an enzyme-based upholstery or carpet spray, such as a pet-odour remover. Then liberally cover the mattress with baking soda; let sit for a full day. Finally, vacuum up all the powder and enjoy a truly freshly made bed.
Buyer’s guide: In the market for a new mattress? Check out our shopping tips:
Cost: Set a realistic budget (don’t cheap out on a good night’s sleep) and stick to it. This is a big-ticket item, so the store may be willing to bargain.
Quality: Pay attention to details (stitching, seams, etc.), which will reveal how durable and well made the mattress is.
Comfort: Always lie down to get a feel. If you’re debating between two models, opt for the firmer one – it will soften over time, and you can buy a plush mattress pad if need be.
Policies: Familiarize yourself with the return policy and warranty before purchasing.
The average lifespan of a mattress is about a decade. If yours is showing surface wear, sagging or becoming at all uncomfortable, it may be time to trade up.
Seasonal to-do: On rotation much like the groove that develops in your go-to spot on the sofa, over the years, different areas of your mattress get uneven wear. To help it last longer, make a habit of rotating the mattress once a season. Alternate between flipping it from head to toe one season and upside down the next. (If your mattress has a pillow top, then only flip it head to toe.)
Very airy: Air circulation is key to deterring bacterial growth, so give your mattress some breathing room: If possible, place it outdoors in the sun (the UV rays will add an antimicrobial kick) every few months. When you go out of town, leave it bare of sheets.
Do: Use a mattress cover. Launder it frequently, especially if you suffer from allergies.
Don't: Saturate your mattress with water or use any sort of dry-cleaning chemicals; both can cause irreparable damage.
Stock up on these tools to create the ultimate mattress-cleaning kit
1 ￼Deodorizer: Nature’s best odour absorber is baking soda, and this one is sourced without the use of chemicals. Bob’s Red Mill baking soda, Well.ca, $5.
2 Dirt sucker: This handheld is specially engineered to extract all the microscopic dirt from your mattress. V6 mattress vacuum, Dyson. $330.
3 Stain remover: This non-toxic spray tackles organic stains without leaving behind any harmful residue. Nature Clean Pet Stain & Odour remover, Well.ca, $9.