I don’t know about you, but I tend to procrastinate on holiday preparations. Sometimes it’s because I’m too busy with other things that were more important when I said “yes” to them. Other times, the perfectionist in me keeps thinking “what if?” What if a better table decorating idea comes to me later? What if there won’t be enough variety of food? Crazy, right?
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to think about what can be done right now that will bring more joy and less stress to the holiday. Remember, we want to avoid holiday chaos and focus on enjoying our family and friends. The answer could be discovering the ONE THING you want to accomplish with the preparation and the meal. For me, that would be enjoying our time together, staying calm, and living in the moment. When I focus on this….and how long it will take to pull it all together…it’s time to get real and make a plan.
Let’s take a look at some simple steps to avoid holiday chaos:
What can you easily accomplish in the time you have?
Remember that people typically come to a gathering for two reasons: food and fun. YOU are hoping to create lasting memories. But be realistic about the amount of time you can spend planning and preparing. When you’re completely exhausted by the time you sit down to dinner, it’s hard to enjoy the meal and your guests. Take it from me…been there, done that! My little Thanksgiving secret is that one year I went on strike in cooking the meal. But that’s another story for another day! LOL!!!
As you plan your meal, remember to delegate a dish or two to anyone who offers. Your party will be easier that way. And the bonus for your guests is that it lets them try a new recipe as well as feeling helpful.
What should you buy? What should you DIY?
Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself. So you need to decide what can you buy and what can you realistically do yourself. Costco, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market have delicious, prepared food that can fill in for side dishes you don’t have time to make.
This same mindset holds true for the table decorations. Most of us dream of having our Thanksgiving table decorated with perfectly coordinated china, colorful linens, and beautiful centerpieces. With a peaceful walk in the woods and a quick “shopping trip” around your own home, you can easily create a look that will wow your friends and family.
How to handle the clutter when guests are staying overnight?
I like being neat and tidy (most of the time), so a house full of overnight guests, luggage, and cramped quarters can feel a little crazy and chaotic.
Some of the ways I’ve managed to keep clutter to a minimum is to make sure everyone has a designated area for their family’s “stuff”. At my house that means all coolers are stored in the room off the garage and toys are kept all together.
Creating an out-of-the-way private space for guests to keep their suitcase will make them feel welcomed and keep the clutter to a minimum.
We all want the holiday to be a joyful, fun-filled and stress-free time. We want our guests to feel welcomed and comfortable. And most of all, we want to create cherished memories that last a lifetime as we give thanks for all of our many blessings.
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for. – Georgia O’Keeffe
When I think of Santa Fe, I think of Pueblos and pottery. I think of art. But mostly, I think of the beautiful colors of the earth, sky, and mountains at Ghost Ranch and the surrounding area. Each time I visit, a sense of calm washes over me and I feel at home walking around looking at the turquoise and blues, the corals, purples, and tans. They remind me of Fall…my favorite time of year.
So it was no surprise to me, when we moved to our last house and I discovered that everything I unpacked was turquoise, coral, blue or tan! People who know me best could see it, but it took starting fresh…with a clean slate…to make me see it. Now I realize, that except for the years of trying to follow the latest color trends, I always seem to go back to the colors that make me happy. Maybe this is why I get so excited to decorate for Fall. It’s the time of year when everyone wants to make their home a little cozier by adding deeper, richer colors and textures.
Here’s a checklist of some favorite ways to bring the colors of Santa Fe home this Fall:
- Add a bit of nature by collecting pinecones, acorns, or wildflowers and placing them in bowls or vases.
- Visit your local craft store for dried or silk flowers to add to your favorite piece of pottery.
- Change your pillows from summer colors to fall colors and patterns.
- Mix and match your dishes by adding salad plates with beautiful Fall colors. If you’re lucky enough to find 2 or 3 patterns with the same colors, your table top will have more interest. I found a really nice collection at Pier 1, but it’s even more fun to search flea markets for the perfect plate.
- Coordinate your new dishes with colorful, Fall placemats and napkins.
- Add a textured throw to your sofa or favorite chair to snuggle in on a crisp Fall evening.
- Bring in nature’s own with heirloom pumpkins and squash. I love the new colors of heirloom pumpkins ranging from sage to deep greens, white, and deep orange.
- Remember that anything you add to your home should be more about being true to your lifestyle and budget than trying to out-decorate your friends…it’s all about Authentic Living Interiors!!!
I have to admit that Fall is my favorite time of year. Why do I love it? Because, finally the temperatures begin to cool down and the leaves change to vibrant gold, orange, and red. I love spending time on the porch having a glass of wine with my husband in the evening, enjoying our tree house view that changes daily with different colors. But most of all, I love entertaining and creating Fall table settings that set the mood for the evening.
The moods you create can be endless…completely your choice! One mood might be warm and cozy like the table setting above. I loved it the minute I discovered it on One Kings Lane. The swag draped down the center with glowing candles and fresh flowers make me want to pull up a chair and sit there all evening!
Have you ever gone to a dinner party at a friend’s home and they’ve really taken the time to create a beautiful table setting? How does it make you feel? I hope that it makes you feel as if you’ve entered a special place that welcomes you, because they want you to feel special.
Remember that you don’t have to hire a professional floral designer to create it for you when it’s so easy and so much fun. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to learn how to do it yourself.
MOOD: Do you want your dinner party to be formal or casual, rustic or festive, simple or elaborate? The food that you plan to serve for the evening may be the deciding factor. Don’t you love how the rustic setting above uses food in fall colors as part of the setting? Even the use of fresh herbs in a vase adds to its farm-to-table appeal. But I especially love how this table setting makes me want to sit down with friends, share a delicious meal, and have great conversations.
The table setting below, shared from BHG, takes the opposite approach from the traditional settings above. I call this “opposites attract” with its use of the sky blue tablecloth pared with a simple arrangement of autumn leaves. Doesn’t it make you feel a little more festive and ready to party?
FOCAL POINT: It’s important to have a focal point to your table. And it’s a lot more fun to ditch the traditional floral arrangement to be a little more creative. That’s right! It’s time to think outside the box. Take a walk in the woods. Shop your pantry and cabinets. Stretch your imagination!!!
Keep placement in mind when you create your focal point. Remember that guests like to see your face when they’re talking with you. Arrangements that are too high or too wide are beautiful to look at when you enter the space, but not so practical during dinner.
INDOORS OR OUT: When the weather is beautiful and the air is crisp, it’s nice to have the option of setting your table outdoors. My friend, Donna, has a lovely front porch that’s perfect for a long table to fill with friends. Tom and I love serving cocktails and appetizers on our porch since the table there is too small for a large dinner crowd. But that doesn’t stop me from creating a Fall table setting that sets the mood for the evening!
Each time I see this Southern Living outdoor dining space, my heart sings! I love the lights, the pots filled with mums and grasses, and the rustic setting. What a fun way to spend an evening with friends!
In the end, when all is said and done, the table you set and the food you serve is never as important as the people who share the table with you. Remember that life is about the moments spent with people you love, the laughter shared around the table, and the memories you create when you’re together. Happy Decorating!!!!