Originally published by Hills Newspaper / East Bay Daily News
The holidays are quickly approaching. The earlier you prepare your home for the holidays the more you are likely to enjoy the spirit of the season. There are so many things to do that it can be overwhelming. Where should you start? It is your home and you can do as much or as little as you wish to. The key is to be organized. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Wash windows
- Clean window coverings (check cleaning instructions)
- Wash bed linens: comforters, dust skirts and mattress pads
- Clean closets
- Clean refrigerator and stove
- Polish silver
- Clean carpet
- Have fireplace professionally cleaned
You can hire a cleaning service to do most of these things If you are doing it yourself write a list and try to stick to it. Be realistic, there is so much you can do!
Check your closets: Make sure you have enough of the following items:
- Tablecloths with matching napkins
- Placemats with matching napkins
- Table pad: it is the best thing to protect the top of your fine dining room table. They are available everywhere. From faux wood ones to “matelasse” by the yard.
- Flatware: look for mismatched forks, knives and spoons.
- Glassware: water glasses and wine glasses
- China: check for broken plates, cups or saucers.
It is a personal choice to decide whether or not to use your fine china versus you everyday one. For a seated dinner, fine china would be best. For a buffet style dinner, everyday china will do.
- Bed linens: sort out sheets and shams
- Hand and bath towels: make sure you have three or four extra sets of each.
I recommend having some extra pillows and blankets as swell. Do not forget to count how many chairs and tables you will need to accommodate all your guests!
Jazz up your Entrance, Dining Room and Living Room:
There are the areas that your guests will see first. These rooms need to be warm, inviting and beautiful!
Here are some ideas to liven things up:
- Paint the walls.It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do! It will enhance moldings, baseboards and bring life to furniture. Select some warm colors: pumpkin, deep reds, burgundy. Go to the nearest paint store and bring home a few samples (quart sizes) to try on your walls. Then decide which color to choose.
- Dress your banisters and mantels. Decorate them with garlands (fresh ones smell wonderful), add pinecones, beads, pomegranates, ribbons of all colors. Play with them, add whatever you feel like. Use your imagination. This is your home!
- Place some accent pillows on sofa and a few on the floor. Pillows are so inviting. Select silk ones in deep red and gold.
- Put scented candles everywhere. It is the least expensive way to give a festive touch to a home. Buy different sizes and colors. Place in groups of 3 or 5.
- Fill the house with seasonal plants and flowers like Cyclamens, Poinsettias, Amaryllis and Holly to name a few. Put in entrance, on coffee or end tables, on consoles and mix different colors.
- Get baskets in different shapes and sizes, fill them with natural, gold or silver pinecones or shiny ornaments and even with chocolates and candies.
- Fill glass or crystal bowls with Pot Pourri. My favorite: Sugar Plum (Earth Elements). Its unique fragrance will bring the holiday magic to your home.
- Set the table: invest in a beautiful centerpiece it will enhance the beauty of your table.
- Buy your Christmas tree: (if you plan to celebrate Christmas) Select a tree for its nice shape and its size. The size should be proportionate to the room. Whether it is a real one or an artificial one your tree will be the focal point. Sort out the ornaments you want to hang by color, shape and size. Remember that less is more. Trees that have too many ornaments on them will look overdone.
Now that you are ready, you can invite a few your friends for a preview of what is to come! This is the test. See how they react to your spotless and beautifully decorated home. Have a fire burning in the fireplace and some warm, spicy cider ready for them. Let the aroma fill the house. It will be the final touch.