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.
Life at home is anything but normal these days. Most of us have been cooped up at home, feeling more distracted than ever. Some days it feels like a blessing, as if God hit the reset button just for us and we finally have time to breathe and regroup.
Other days we just wander around the house aimlessly, distracted by the news and conflicting reports on how to stay safe. Between homeschooling and work-from-home the day is gone before we know it. Focusing on anything is hard.
Now that we’re spending so much time at home, suddenly we see our spaces with new eyes, and we’re definitely focusing on it. After weeks of staring at the same walls, sitting on the same sofa, and prepping meals on the same island that became your home office and home school, we long to make some changes.
Clients are telling me they’re finally ready to update their bathroom, change wall colors, or buy new furniture. Here in our house, we’re working on all the projects that we’ve been putting off. For years I felt the porch was too dark. It was all I thought about when I sat out there. So the project of the week was painting the porch! It’s funny how such a simple change like paint color can bring peace of mind.
Keeping life simple so we can enjoy it more is a lifestyle choice that’s becoming more accepted. Do you ever wish you had more room for fun and joy in your life? I know I do! After all the tension, uncertainty, and distractions simplicity at home is a good place to start.
After thinking about what I really want, (and the list was long) I narrowed it down to these 5 Important Action Steps to Simplify Your Life at Home…
Action Step #1: Re-evaluate Your Stuff
Too many possessions will complicate your life and lead to clutter. Living in a cluttered space drains our energy, our attention, even our bank accounts. And who wants that? Have you ever spent time organizing the clutter and all of your stuff, only to find that after a week, it’s a mess again and you can’t find anything?
Do you have a closet filled with clothes from 10 years ago? A pantry filled with expired food? Five sets of dishes? Instead, think about what you really value in life and start to live a life based that.
Right now, I value being active outside. I no longer want a lot of stuff that I need to dust or maintain. And that includes house plants, books, and nic-nacs. Slowly these things are going to new homes.
Action Step #2: Look at Your Time Commitments
Review your list of values and set priorities. Then use your Best YES (and your Best NO) to help you decide what is good for you and your family. You can start bringing joy into your life by doing the activities you actually love doing (gardening, being creative, relationships with family and friends, etc.). The things that no longer serve you can be off your plate!
Action Step #3: Focus on Your Goals
As women, we love to be people-pleasers and over achievers. Can you relate? We set all these goals for different areas of our lives and think we need to work on all of them at the same time. This is crazy, and a recipe for a mental explosion! You want to be homeschooling Mom of the Year, lose weight, decorate your house by yourself so everyone has their own “work space”, plant the garden…The list goes on.
Take a deep breath and know that there’s a better way. And that is called FOCUS. I like to make a brain dump of all the things I want/need to accomplish. Then I’ve learned to choose one important goal for each area of my my life: personal, home, and work. Once a goal is completed, I can move on to the next one.
Mentally release the rest of the list for now. And don’t beat yourself up with negative thoughts if you fall off the wagon and binge eat or stop a project for a day or two. Just focus on your ONE THING again until it’s done.
Action Step #4: Eliminate artificial and toxic ingredients
Eating clean, intermittent fasting, plant based are all the internet talks about these days. We work so hard at it. Somehow we forget that just as we watch what goes into our bodies, it’s equally important to watch the ingredients in our cleaning products, our skin care products, and our makeup.
My journey began with the simple need to find a product for my clients that would clean granite counters and stainless appliances without leaving a “greasy” residue. Chemical cleaning sprays began bothering my breathing, so I switched to “clean”. And now unexplained skin issues have made me start looking at the chemicals in skin care products and makeup.
Do yourself a favor and start checking ALL labels. Not just on food.
If you want to learn more about clean beauty, visit my website: www.beautycounter.com/randidestefano
Action Step #5: Stop Multi-tasking
Have you ever caught yourself checking emails, watching TV and trying to carry on a conversation with your kids? Chaos, right? And nobody likes feeling stressed from doing too many things at one time. Just like focusing on one goal at a time leads to success, working on one task at a time has the same effect. Being focused on one thing at a time allows you to do your best work, and no one feels like you’re not paying attention to them.
“Simplifying your life will bring balance, freedom, and joy. When we begin to live simply and experience these benefits, we begin to ask the next question, Where else in my life can I remove distraction and simplify life to focus on the essentials?” – Joshua Becker-
To learn more ways to Simplify Life at home, follow my Instagram page: www.instagram.com/simplifylife.randi
And my Facebook group: Simplify Life
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!!!!
I want you imagine, just for a moment…that your kitchen is not just a place where meals are made and dishes are washed. It’s a place where memories are made.
What would it be like…if instead of running to close the door to your kitchen when friends stopped by, you couldn’t wait to show them the best room in your house? A room that’s the heart of your home, where people WANT to congregate. A room where everyone is always laughing and happy. A room where you’re proud to entertain family and friends. Does this sound like the kitchen you have right now?
Everyone who’s ever hosted a gathering in their home can tell you, that no matter the size or shape, your kitchen is ALWAYS going to be the place to hang out. And in some kitchens it can become pretty crowded…and warm! So what allows one kitchen to pull off the perfect gathering while others just don’t work as well? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about creating a kitchen that is truly the heart of the home, the “center of everything”.
A Heart of the Home Kitchen might have:
1.An open flow into the family room or dining room
2. Island for prepping and serving food, especially during a party
3. Stools at the island
4. Enough walk space between cabinets and/or island (36”-48”)
5. Homework space for the kids
6. A place to sit and have a conversation
7. Uncluttered spaces: a place for everything
8. A message center for charging devices and message taking
9. A place to feed pets
10. Medicine storage
11. Table space for eating, talking, or playing games
12. A prep sink so others can help with meals
13. A desk for paying bills, searching for recipes, collecting purses and keys
Your Design Homework:
- Using the list above, check off the items that you already have in place in your kitchen.
- Of the items you don’t have, ask yourself if they’re really important to you.
- If they are, make a plan to include them in your next home makeover project. Remember that some items on the list can serve more than one purpose…a table can serve you for eating meals, doing homework, having coffee with friends, etc.
Though some items on the list might require a higher budget than others, remember that you can start from where you are with the little things. When you’re happy and excited to entertain family and friends, and your home reflects your personality, your enthusiasm will carry over and memories will be made.