Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Home for the Holidays by Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa

It is that glorious time of the year again.  It is time for family, food, and fun.  The weather is getting cooler and the smell of fallen leaves and crisp air abounds.  It is time for us to unpack our cozy blankets, rich candles, and fool proof family recipes.  

We gather together this time of year to celebrate the bounty and blessings of this entire year.  In order to fully take advantage of this gracious and special time, we need our homes ready to receive friends and family at a moments notice.  Keep the following tips in mind when preparing your home for holiday entertaining.

1.                  Pull out the good stuff
Get your favorite china and silver out of storage.   Clean it, polish it, and enjoy it.  Even when you are staying in for pizza and a movie, serve your pizza on a pretty plate with nice cloth napkins.  Pour the soda into crystal glasses filled with crushed ice. Instantly, you have the makings for a special evening.

2.                  Stock up on candles
Everything looks better in the glow of candlelight.  There is nothing more warming and inviting than the flicker of candles.  Place them on your dining room table, fire place mantel, side tables, and in your bathroom.  Turn down the lights and turn on the candles.  Make sure to use scentless candles so you won’t have competing smells in your home.

3.                  Sift through your Grandmother’s recipes
There is no better time of year for comfort food.  It is a perfect time for you to learn how to make that delicious pecan pie that your Grandmother makes every year.  Ask for the recipe (or write it down by dictation if no written recipe exists).

4.                  Clean out the fireplace and stock up on fire wood
Nothing says warmth and comfort like a roaring fire in the fireplace.  If you have a wood burning fireplace in your home, use it.  A warm fire instantly turns any room into a warm, cozy place.  Keep fire wood ready for building a fire at an instant.  If you have a gas burning fireplace, turn it on every evening and every morning and enjoy.

5.                  Change your bedding
Replace your cool, cotton sheets with warm flannel ones.  Layer your bed with warm quilts and blankets.  Pile on the pillows – the more, the better.

6.                  Take a look at your window drapes
It is time to take down the cotton sheers and replace them with warm, textured drapes.  Thick, lined drapes will help keep the draft out while creating a cozy and warm environment.  Drapes made out of velvet make for a great seasonal change.  Look for details such as beading, ropes, tassels, etc.

7.                  Stock up on coffee
Really, nothing makes for a more inviting home than the smell of fresh brewed coffee.  With cooler days and longer nights, a warm mug of coffee is so inviting and relaxing.  Make sure you have a variety of flavored coffee on hand.  Decorative mugs should be placed close to the coffee pot for ease and convenience.

8.                  Replace your bath towels
You can replace your bath towels with warm, colored, lush, thick new towels.  Infuse your bathrooms with the rich colors of the season.  Browns, warm reds, oranges, and spice will add warmth instantly and at a low cost.  Put out decorative soaps.

9.                  Rearrange your living room furniture
To promote conversation and create coziness, look at your furniture placement and determine how you can rearrange to create cozy areas where conversation can take place easily.  Make sure there is a small table next to each seat so that your guests can rest their drinks close by.  Take care not to have a centerpiece on your coffee table that prohibits guests from seeing each other.  Place a few light blankets or throws on the sofa.  It is always a good idea to add some throw pillows.  Throw pillows and blankets should serve to create an area of comfort in the room. 

10.              Cover up your bare floors
To keep your feet warm, throw some small rugs on the floor.  This is a great way to add some seasonal color to the room as well.

11.              Make sure you have plenty of party items on hand
Take this time to stock up on party planning items.  Have your pantry stocked with party essentials like nuts, candies, and party snacks.  Make sure you have some bottled wine, water, and sodas.

12.              Set up a guestroom
Make sure the guestroom has books, fresh flowers, water, and small containers of lotion, soap, etc.  It is always a good idea to have fresh fruit and nuts available for your guests to snack on.  An inviting room always has a place for guests to store their suitcases, coats, and bags. 

13.              Prepare a great playlist of songs appropriate for the holidays
Have music that will play from the beginning of the party until the very end.

14.              Document, document, document
Finally, make sure you take lots of pictures of your family, friends, and your home during the holidays.  Include pictures of your table setting and other holiday details around your home.  Place all photos in an acid free scrapbook in order to document your memories.

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