Party Planner
Dec 9, 2009

Simplifying the season

By: Jessica Padykula

Simplifying the season Author: Style At Home

Party Planner
Dec 9, 2009

Simplifying the season

By: Jessica Padykula
Over the years, the number of people suffering from SSD (Seasonal Stress Disorder) has risen to alarming proportions. Holiday enjoyment has been replaced with anxiety and frustration over what to bake, where to shop and how to fit all the decorations onto the mantel without having a nervous breakdown. OK, we made up the part about SSD, but regardless, somewhere down the line, holidays have become more about mimicking Martha Stewart than enjoying time with loved ones. But we’re here to change that.

We’ve rounded up home decor, organizing and entertaining experts to find out how to get through the season unscathed.

Decorating for the holidays doesn’t have to be a burden. Janice Clements of Clements Interiors has some great tips for giving your home a festive feel without breaking the bank (or your sanity!)

Choose a colour scheme
One of the easiest ways to make an impact is with colour. Janice suggests choosing a bold yet traditional pairing such as orange and green, gold and red, or blue and white and then sticking with it. If a decoration does not match your colour theme, don’t buy it or don’t try to find a spot for it on your mantle. Make it interesting by playing with shades of light and dark or punch it up by adding a splash of black or white.
Consider candles
Clusters of candles is a quick, inexpensive and elegant way to add instant ambiance to your holiday gathering. Scatter small votive candles amongst larger, taller candles to add depth and texture, or go glam by putting tea lights into wine glasses and filling them with dragées (silver-ball cake decorations).
Offer comfort
Baby, it’s cold outside! Fill a basket with a variety of cozy slippers and place it at the front door to welcome guests in from the cold.
Bring the outside in
Hang fresh cedar and real boxwood wreaths inside your home. Fill large glass bowls with pinecones or tall vases with large twigs tied with red or green ribbon.
Use the power of positive aroma
There’s no better way to enhance your holiday decor than with the smell of something baking in the oven. Don’t cook?  Pick up prepared cookie dough rolls from your local grocer and pop them in the oven.Organizing
Before your home is overrun with decorations, wrapping, ribbons and bows, Brenda Borenstein of Organized Zone shares her ideas for replacing chaos with order.

Edit, edit, edit
Throw out anything that’s broken or that no longer works. Wading through cracked and unusable decorations to get to what you need wastes time and causes frustration. Lights especially need to be checked to see what works and what can be tossed. Post-holiday, wrap lights around a piece of cardboard to avoid pulling out a tangled mess next season.

Store so you can see
Your best option for seasonal storage is clear containers in uniform size boxes so they are easy to store. Half the battle is seeing what you’re looking for without having to open every box in the basement.

Though it’s tempting to throw all holiday items together, regardless of specifics, separating the tree ornaments from the outdoor decorations from the kitschy kitchen items will save your sanity. For example, use a clear box for wrapping only. Store scissors, bows, tape etc. in with your wrapping paper for easy access and less stress.

Trade everyday items for festive ones
Instead of trying to fit your festive linens, dishes and decorations amongst your everyday items, box up the everyday dishes, etc. and put out all festive things, then switch back after the new year arrives. This takes some time but it’s worth having the extra space.

Make space
Chances are you’ll be entertaining a lot over the holidays, so think about clearing out space in the front hall closet for anyone who might be coming over. Get rid of anything you don’t wear and aim for one-third empty space for guests.
Don’t hide from holiday hosting. Karen Rachlin of Bite Catering provides her advice for simplifying seasonal entertaining.

Buy seasonal, local and fresh ingredients
Take cues from the season when planning your menu. Sweet potatoes, squash, beets and hearty greens like kale abound. In-season items not only taste better, they are usually more economical.

Prepare your menus ahead of time
Knowing what you want to make in advance means you can shop earlier for dry and non-perishable items and have the opportunity to tweak the menu if problems arise.

Practice new recipes in advance
It’s great to experiment and serve new recipes, but don’t wait until the day of your big holiday bash to unveil your first-ever Coq au Vin. Make it at least once for a friend or family member to ensure you have flavours and cooking times perfected by the big day. 

Share the cooking
Encourage your guests to bring their favourite festive dish and let them show off how fabulous it is. This not only saves you time, but money, too and adds a personal element to your event.

Add an interactive element
For the most part, people don’t want to be glued to their chair all night. Karen suggests food and drink stations as a great touch for any event. Set up bowls of mixed greens, salad fixing (nuts, dried cranberries, feta cheese, chick peas) and dressings. Provide Chinese takeout boxes and chopsticks (or forks) so your guests can create their own favourite salad. You can also use this method to serve pasta or a grain (quinoa, for example) with a plethora of fresh fixings and sauces.
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Simplifying the season