Throw a Less Stressful Holiday Party!

November 18th, 2010

Years ago, when the mister and I were first married, we both agreed that the one thing we wanted to do together every holiday season was to throw a party the weekend before Christmas.  Eleven years ago, we started this tradition and it continues every year.  We’re all so busy during the year, and months can pass by so crazy fast when we don’t see our friends.  This is just one way we choose to show others how much we care ~ we open our doors the Saturday before Christmas and invite them all in!

You know that scene at the end of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ when George Bailey looks around at all his friends and family and Harry toasts, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town!’  It chokes me up every single time!  You too?

harry toast its a wonderful life

The moment in the film is about the importance of friends and a purpose filled life, but here’s what I always get from this classic:  it doesn’t matter how elaborate or modest your home or your lifestyle, the best moments of the holiday season come from the togetherness and good spirits felt from surrounding ourselves with the ones we love.  It has nothing to do with money.

To me, a holiday party is a great opportunity to capture that feeling.  So many people hesitate to throw a party because they’re worried it will cost too much or their home isn’t presentable.  Nonsense!  Every year, our party has grown bigger (we’re talkin’ 100+) but we don’t spend a fortune.  I enlist the help of some friends, but I don’t cater nor do I hire a bartender. (But I did hire a babysitter when the kids were little.)

I was inspired to write about our holiday party after I read 101 Party Do’s & Don’ts in the latest issue of House Beautiful.  A worthy read, more tailored to the dinner party, but here’s a few more things I’ve learned over the years about how to make a crowd feel welcome without spending a fortune.

Tips for throwing a less stressful holiday party for a large crowd:  

country living entry table1) Decorate early!  The weekend after Thanksgiving is decorating weekend!  If you plan to do Black Friday shopping, then I recommend decorating even before Thanksgiving like the retail stores do.  I know that sounds like you’re cheating on T-day, but if you’re throwing a party, get those baubles up early!

Concentrate your holiday decor where people will enter and congregate: the front porch, the entry, your kitchen, family room, dining room, and the powder room.

Your decor need not be elaborate.  Some candles and greenery are all it takes, perhaps some ornaments and twinkle lights strung here and there, just enough to capture the holiday mood.  It doesn’t take much!  Melissa has some great tips today for easy ways to add a touch of Christmas to every room.

Resist the temptation to wait to decorate the week or day before your party, we’re talking about reducing stress, so decorating early is key!

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Winners, Features, Favorites

November 17th, 2010

Greetings!  Oh what a week, are you caught up in the pre-Thanksgiving scramble?  Juggle juggle, balance, multitask, and a little more juggling, right?  Whew!  I’m looking forward to next week’s down time, just to sit around with family and friends, bake pies, peel potatoes, sample wines, and eat eat eat.  And maybe do some more eating.

Announcing the 3 winners of the Purple Lemon Designs giveaway!  Congratulations to:

#22: Kristin "Love the Medium Circles-n-Circles, which could be used all year round. I just moved to a new home so this would be great!"

#624: Shirley L.  "I shared on Twitter (I am @willowwhimsy)"

#748: Layla O.: "Oh I want one of these and was bummed not to have won last time, maybe this time. The wrought iron scroll would be great but any is fine by me."

swirl snip

A few hardworking DIY readers have sent me some fabulous makeovers, take a peek:

I’m loving this master bedroom makeover at The Painted Hive.  What a clever and beautiful headboard!

painted hive bedroom

  

Diane creatively reinvented this side table cart, I love her modern design!

diane cart before after

 

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A Perfect Gray Blue

November 16th, 2010

Do you have a signature color?  The one hue you turn to time and again that brings you happiness, soothes your soul, and brings you constant comfort?   There is such a color in my world, and it is the perfect gray blue.  The color that brings to mind a hazy afternoon in Provence, or a cloudy day on the Côte d’Azur.  (I’m guessing, I’ve never been, but a girl can dream!)  I swear, every time I see a well executed combo of white and dark wood with a beautiful gray blue, I completely melt like buttah!

Whenever I hear designers talk about their perfect ‘gray’ or ‘blue’ I’m all ears, but my personal quest for the perfect gray+blue continues.  It can’t be too blue, or it looks like a baby boy’s pastel nursery.  It can’t be too gray because it will feel lifeless and devoid of color.  Capturing the perfect shade of gray blue is a tricky thing I tell you.  It has to be just right!

Enter this little dresser I found at the local thrift.  Definitely in need of some love, and with such lovely curved drawers, I couldn’t pass it up!  It became the perfect specimen to test yet another shade of gray blue.

Here’s the sweet little dresser ‘Before’:

honey dresser before

 

And After:

cg dresser gray blue

 

Here’s the quick play by play on this charming dresser.  It was pretty sad when I found it and had taken some abuse, but at $40, I still couldn’t pass it up.  Perfect shape!  It could have been restained if I had sanded it down, but I decided to paint instead.

 

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