Design Lesson

Christmas decorating, organizing and entertaining secrets

Style at Home
Design Lesson

Christmas decorating, organizing and entertaining secrets

We all know how stressful the Christmas holidays can be. From the parties and the shopping to the baking, decorating and entertaining it seems like there’s a never-ending list of things to do. But the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, right? How can you get everything done without feeling like tearing your hair out? We asked the Style at Home staff for their holiday survival tips. Here’s what they had to say:

To me the holidays are about time well spent and memories made. It’s about comfortable conversations around the table after a good meal. And about remembering friends with handmade gifts or an offer of time or talents ... and sharing with others. It’s a reminder to be grateful for just how lucky we are to live in such a great country. My survival tip for the holiday season is simple: Just keep it simple and the joy of the season will last longer! - Susan Rogers

The holidays are about spending time with the people that mean the most to us, but sometimes we’re so busy that it’s difficult to see even the most important ones. So, my family started a tradition: we celebrate with my cousins and their children the weekend before Christmas (and would have no problems doing it earlier if needed). We rotate hosting it and everyone brings an appetizer. This way, it’s a stress-free enjoyable day. – Karen Paddon

My secret is to actively plan for at least two trips to the grocery store (always first thing in the morning, when it’s quiet). Inevitably, people only go once, with an enormous list of everything they’ll need for baking, entertaining, etc., and then the store is out of one key item, or when they get home it turns out they’ve forgotten something. I always set aside time for another trip (maybe even two), so I won’t be stressed when I realize I don’t have one of the main ingredients I need, or when I get completely frustrated by the crowds. – Suzanne MoutisDuring the holidays, I keep my trips to the liquor store frequent and I bake a batch of cookies at least once a week. You never know when friends or family will pop by, and there’s nothing worse than being without a bottle of wine or some festive munchies. – Lauren McPhillips

For holiday dinners, I often buy one or two things prepared from a gourmet shop, then cook something simple — like garlic roasted potatoes — so that the house is still filled with the lovely aromas that set the mood. This allows me to spend more time on the decorating — my real passion — rather than in the kitchen. When it comes to decorating, the grocery store and the back yard are my two go-to sources for great decor. Fresh bunches of luscious grapes, plums and figs are gorgeous as a centrepiece or on the coffee table. Citrus fruits offer beautiful colours with the added bonus of scent. Tuck a few springs of rosemary, pine or cedar in with any fruit arrangement and it’s instantly festive! I collect pinecones and decorate with them year-round but they look especially right at Christmastime. Pinecones are nature’s perfect accessory. You just have to keep what’s really important in mind. Spending time with family and friends takes precedence over everything. Whatever takes you away from that isn’t worth the effort! – Margot Austin

My secret? Online shopping! Even though it’s been around for years, I’ve just discovered it and what a world of difference. Especially if you can find websites that cut the shipping charges when you spend over a certain amount. Or, I like to stock up on my favourite bottles of wine because I never know when I’m going to have an impromptu party to attend or an unexpected guest. - Amanda Etty

Buy a box of your favourite wine at the beginning of the holiday season so you’ll never find yourself sans a last-minute hostess gift (or a relaxing sip after a stressful soiree!) And consider starting your Christmas shopping in the summer to avoid death-by-mall-crowd. - Sara Cation
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Design Lesson

Christmas decorating, organizing and entertaining secrets