More Joy…Less Stress: 3 Simple Steps to Avoid Holiday Chaos

More Joy…Less Stress: 3 Simple Steps to Avoid Holiday Chaos


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 funYOU 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.

A Reminder of Thanksgiving

A Reminder of Thanksgiving

Calm 2We’ve been in our new home for almost two years now. Our lifestyle is different and we’ve made wonderful new friends. These days I spend most of my time on the same things as before…working on client projects, playing some tennis, and welcoming our friends and family. But before all of this, there was frustration, anger, and lots of impatience to move into our new home that we designed…..

It was one of those weeks.  You know, the kind of week where nothing seemed to go as planned.  Just when a little glimmer of joy appeared, another issue popped up that needed to be taken care of right away.  And then anger reared its ugly head!  I was definitely not the “positive, look-on-the-bright side” person I usually am.


Apple pie
I love decorating for Halloween and Thanksgiving.  And I love baking goodies for the family dinners, like my grandma’s Dutch Apple Crumb pie… that everyone loves.  But we were packing to move, and pretty much everything was in a box.

Living among boxes piled one on top of the other was not how I wanted to spend the days before Thanksgiving. My desk was emptied, files were packed, and I was about to shut down the “command center” on my desk.  It was basically total chaos around our house!



Baylee boxes
And then, as I was walking around feeling sorry for myself that life was slinging too many lemons my way, I looked up, and saw my sweet dog, Baylee, asleep on the floor.  She was totally relaxed among the boxes.  Her only need was to be by my side.  And it was then I realized that this moment was a gift from God. This moment was there to remind me about gratitude and being thankful for all of my many blessings.

And so began my daily ritual of writing down 5 things I’m grateful for. Because even if we carry these blessings in our minds for the day, somehow writing them down makes them seem real…and wonderful!


Thanksgiving blessings

Create a Welcoming Thanksgiving…The DIY Way

Create a Welcoming Thanksgiving…The DIY Way

Fall signWhen the weather turns cooler, and the skies are blue, suddenly I’m in the mood to start decorating my house for fall and Thanksgiving. Does this ever happen to you? The funny thing is that my creative juices start flowing this time of year, and I head to the woods to see what I can find.

For some reason, fall decorating brings out the urge to decorate with handcrafted items, in luscious colors of red, orange, gold, and purple. I guess it’s the anticipation of winter cocooning that makes me want to add a bit of country to my decorating. But I love the scents, the colors, and the textures.

So this week, thanks to Better Homes and Gardens website, I’ve discovered some doorways and table settings that I hope you’ll enjoy.


Fall entryMums, mums, and more mums!  I love how they’ve paired them with white pumpkins for contrast.

couchOpposites attract in this colorful arrangement.  Red/orange is across from this shade of blue on the color wheel, and make a perfect combination that pops!

vase with Fall flowersContainers can be created from what you have around the house.  Here, I’ve taken a ceramic vase and added willow branches, sunflowers, berries and leaves.

Chinese LanternsChinese Lanterns in bright orange/red add a pop of color to my mantel.

Fall 8Pumpkins, gourds and mums say “Welcome to our home”

Fall 7

Fall 5Create a simple table runner with ribbons down the center that can be changed with the seasons.  Add to it colorful leaves with pumpkins and gourds, and you have a beautiful Thanksgiving table arrangement in minutes.

Fall 6Even non-traditional containers can make out outstanding centerpieces.  I love the use of this globe to hold pine cones, nuts, and berries in this fall arrangement.

Fall 4A simple pumpkin trimmed with bittersweet.  Adding star anise and dried fruit as part of the grouping helps add a little bit of nature to the table.

Fall 2Everyday water glasses become centerpieces when you add these beautifully colored fall leaves.  By separating each color into their own container, you’re creating more interest to the grouping.  Remember to stagger heights whenever you can to let each piece stand out on its own.

Fall 3Pumpkins and colorful leaves.  It can be as simple as that.

Happy Decorating!!!!!