Archive for December 2010

Making Your Holiday Table Special

Whether you serve sit down style or opt for a buffet, making your Holiday table special adds that finishing touch for the day.

1. What's on the Menu? By reviewing your menu plans, you'll have a starting point on how you want to set your table, your serving pieces needs and what size table you'll need. Try to add one dish that’s new or different.

Pumpkin Spiced Mimosas
Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider Mimosas

2. What's the Theme? However you decorate the rest of your home is your common thread for creating a beautiful spread. Color is the easiest to replicate.

3. Gather the Goods. Corral your serving pieces, China, serving ware, napkins and linens 1st. Your serving pieces can be a mix and match, don't feel that they all have to be a certain style, just make sure they can house the food they're intended for. The same goes for China. There is no need to resort to using paper, a mix of dinnerware is O.K.

BH&G Photo - Red Transferware
 Back Story on not having a full "set" of China - While conducting a workshop a few years back, one of the participants shared that when her daughter 1st married, they were a bit strapped for cash. Creatively, she shopped the clearance sections for a collection of very good, but usually single, place settings. When she hosted her 1st Holiday, she created a tradition that each setting was beautifully laid out, and each family member got to choose their own setting for dining that day. It is now a tradition, which the family looks forward to each year.

How to shop for Mix & Match China

4. If you're serving sit down style and have enough room, use chargers. They're inexpensive, protect your linens and add that special splash to the place setting. If serving buffet style, the chargers can be used under the serving pieces for the same effect. I have found some of my favorites, from bamboo to crocodile embossed, at Target. Hobby Lobby too has a nice assortment.

5. Consider a run of organza, tulle or sheer fabrics to go over your linens. Fabric stores have wonderful holiday fabrics that can enhance your basic linens. They too most likely will be on sale.

6. If serving buffet style, use lifts to raise a few of the dishes or décor to create an interesting tablescape. Cake stands, large pots, sturdy boxes, books can all lift things up. Make sure if they aren’t pretty, to put them under the linens.

7. Mark your serving pieces. Use stick ‘em notes to mark what each dish will serve.

8. Set the table. Don’t go overboard, but make it special. Fold napkins in a special way, add a small gift ( I like British party crackers,) candles (unscented,) and whatever other décor you’ve decided on to make each place setting special.

9. Make it special. From a signature cocktail, to a special centerpiece, to a new tradition, making your dinner special for the ones you love makes for memories.

Preying with the Rules

I am a fan of reality shows. To me they score far and away more than fiction, especially because they are easy to relate with. They also teach real life lessons and they depict the true human nature. This weekend I watched a penultimate show of a local music star search contest. In the local standards, the stakes were high and the contestants gave it no less seriousness. They clad the best fashion and pulled the hottest moves. At that point of the competition, the rules of the last elimination were quite clear, or so we thought! Two contestants were to be eliminated so to remain with four finalists. The first contestant was eliminated by the least number of votes garnered from fans. That was done according to book. It seemed to the judges that if the game was played by the set rules, a ‘strong’ contestant would have been eliminated at the expense of a ‘weaker’ contestant, who was a darling to the fans, a working strategy. This particular contestant was all along on probation but thanks to a horde fans, she kept coming on coming back. Thus the judges decided to eliminate this contestant by ‘judge’s votes’.
The jeers and murmurs from the crowd made their statement. The game had been rigged. The result had been insincerely arrived at. The crowd had been robbed of their right to vote for their favorite contestant, their votes had been trashed. The card had been passed under the table. It can be compared with the survivor series. Contestants always fight to get a hold of immunity and the rules are always very clear – get to the immunity instrument and stay in the competition. What would probably happen if the mode of acquiring this immunity is determined at the end of the race?
Games and competitions are only fair when rules are stuck to. The same applies to life. Fair play is one virtue that should be sought by all and sundry. Notwithstanding the side of the equation that one is! Taking advantage of the other side is not an alien phenomenon. It cuts across the board. Raw deals are always experienced, whether in employment, contracts and even marriages! Rules of engagement are always broken. This does not only water down the integrity of the defaulter, it can also jeopardize long cultivated relationships, not to mention cost a great deal to the victim. 
That said, however, it also very important for everyone to make due diligence, read in between the lines and especially to get a good look at the fine print and only get as deep into the water as they weight can bear. Terms and conditions of any engagement is always overlooked. This has been in many occasions the cause of great anguish when the water turns murky.

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6 Tips on How to Give Your Holiday Décor a Makeover:

Think Outside the Box!                    Showcase Family Heirlooms

Color            Use What You Have               Set Your Holiday Table in Style

                                      Incorporate New Pieces

#1. Use What You Have

Inventory what you have. Don’t rummage in the boxes my friend, unload them, especially if you’re O.C.D.-ish or a theme person. By revaluating your existing things, you’ll be inspired, find new connections and come up with different combinations.

#2 Think Outside the Box!

Don’t put it up like last year, or the year before, or the year before… One of my favorite places to decorate is the China Cabinet – Acres of Waterford or Macy style China displays are so BORING, besides, the Dining Room is meant for conversation and celebration. Have a treasured ornament from Great Grandma? Hang it from an ornament stand with her picture next to it. Vases can be filled with tinsel or mini-ornaments, shelves can be sprinkled with faux snow – Tell a story in this great space!

#3 Color

A great way to refresh and reinvent your décor is with a new thread of color. This year’s hot hues are Chocolate, Blue, Bronze, Orange and Super brights - like Neon Yellow, Hot Pink and Lime Green. A little shot of these fresh hues will liven up your old stuff and make it all shiny and new. Try some new napkins, I like to pair two together. How about a can of bronze floral spray on some old greenery and neon green on pine cones with a dusting of chocolate glitter? Why not pickup a pot of hot pink orchids or Christmas cactus to perk up table tops? Pop them into copper containers or in brightly glazed pots.

#4 Showcase Family Heirlooms

The Holidays are all about family, and what a better way of celebrating the season than with special pieces of the past. Besides the antique ornaments, what about the heirloom silver tea service? The tray can be proudly placed on the living room cocktail table anchoring a lovely holiday vignette. The pot and creamer used as vessel for a spectacular floral arrangement, and the sugar bowl filled with wrapped candies in the powder room to refresh the breath of guests.

#5 Set Your Table with Style

Treat your guests with style and panache by setting a lovely table. Whether buffet or sit down, be a great hostess by adorning your tables with a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Mix and Match is always a lovely treat, so don’t worry that you don’t have enough of one dish set. Never revert to Chinette, but feel free to twist up your service by serving appetizers or use festive paper as the second/salad plate. If buffeting, flat is not where it’s at – Create lifts and height with flipped pots, boxes, hurricane vases, giant martini or daiquiri glasses. The pots/boxes can be covered with runs of fabrics or table clothes, and vases, glasses used as platter/plate stands or filled with dips or food. Think of a fancy brunch at a 5 Star Hotel. Candles, fresh floral and chargers come cheap and make a chic impact for your table. Make sure that the candles are scent free.

#6 Incorporate New Pieces

This is a double meaning tip. When decorating, don’t leave what you already have out, pack it away and replace with the Holiday Décor. Rotation is good. Plus, when the holidays are over, and you unpack the old stuff, consider placement in a new spot.

Now that you’ve unpacked and inventoried your decor, decorated - Pack a box or two to be donated. It’s time for someone else to love your décor. Just like the cloths in your closet, if you haven’t used them in awhile, it’s time to let them to go. By donating, you make room for a few new things.

Use the tips above to help you shop for a few new décor pieces. From color to decorating area, a few new added pieces to your Holiday collection can perk up the old stash and give you a new fresh view.


Ornament Stands:

Festive Paper Plates:

Orchids and Christmas Cactus: Home Depot

Floral Spray, Glitter, Giant Martini Glasses, Candles: Michaels

Chargers, Hurricanes: Hobby Lobby