Easy Entertaining & DIY Décor for the Holidays

Posted On November 8, 2018

Who hasn’t felt the pressure to be the perfect holiday host?

By Clair DeLune    Photos by Clair DeLune

And who isn’t already busy with life’s challenges – so much so that taking on the additional work to clean, decorate, shop, cook and give the perfect gift for your “does it ever end” list of gift recipients has left you too tired to sing “Joy to the World,” much less organize any joy?

What if you could ramp up the simple joy you experience being with friends and family, as well as the good fare you serve and ramp down time you have to invest into making it happen? 

We’ve got a few ideas to spark this approach.

Wash holiday dishware a few at a time, then set aside. Plan to make one “must-have” family recipe that makes the holiday special for your guests, but order the rest. Local groceries will fully cook a turkey, dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce meal that rivals Grandmother’s – a reheat that can’t be beat. 

Fresh Market will prepare a turkey breast if your group is small, and their corn soufflé is a must! Feel free to make your own veggies, but it seems silly when they have them already made, so toss them into the cart. Ching! The time you are saving is already adding up. Bakery croissants, or a long buttered baguette torn into pieces, drizzled with olive oil then sprinkled with bleu cheese makes a lovely twist on stodgy heat and serve buns. 

Desserts. It is unthinkable not to serve desserts. Did your ancestors pass along the quintessential mincemeat pie recipe? Make it. But, consider using a pre-made crust. If you think baking is best done in a bakery, we have located a few tasty autumnal treats for you. Lowe’s Foods on Forest Drive has two ways to achieve bliss: an orange ombré cake and, for larger crews, a pumpkin-ensconced sheet cake, perfect for Thanksgiving. You simply cannot go wrong with cake.

What if you decide that – along with the low-pressure menu – you want to save even more energy to spend with your guests? A DIY Décor Day is just the thing!

Unless you are a professional decorator, you are under no pressure to strive for the pinnacle of holiday décor. One trend is mix and match, where imagination is key. If you need inspiration, saunter through a vintage or retail store. You can even mix different patterns as long as colors don’t clash and print sizes are somewhat similar. Just one or two tweaks to your normal set-up will make people notice, but won’t take more than a few moments of your time to achieve.

We spent a few minutes with Terry Mathis recently in his lovely vintage shop, Camden Collectables at 1041 Broad Street, where we pulled a wee bit of this and a smidgen of that off the shelves and placed them in a nostalgic layout. The china was cream and gilt, with an outer band and center design of reddish flowers. For an unexpected touch, we paired the red with green Depression-era wine glasses. French brocade dining chairs at each end of the painted white pine table provide a charming détente between elegant and rustic, which results in a warmly welcoming ambience.

Perhaps you inherited a vintage trunk tucked into a corner of room. Bring it out, upgrade it with a festive runner, toss some colorful paper leaves atop it from JoAnn or Hobby Lobby, then finish it off with a glass top. Crown your glorious creation with a bowl of pine cones, either purchased or picked from your own Southern pines, and those cakes for a homespun dessert table. Or, reevaluate what you own from a new angle. In fact, change the angle of the table. Anything can be repurposed for the holidays. Grab a quilted sofa throw in festive colors and toss that catty-cornered on the table – after it is freshly laundered or dry-cleaned of course! If you don’t have one, Tuesday Morning offers an array of mini-quilts that cost less than the fabric alone would. Now you have yet another item checked off your list. 

And if you are itching to try the newest trend, get ready to turn trash-to-treasure. Let Sadie Seasongoods, whose credo is “living a firsthand life using second-hand things,” show you how to take items that need rehab and reFAB them in short order for next to nothing. She does the hard part, which is to envision what something has the capacity to become, then outlines on her web pages at www.sadieseaongoods.com how we much less talented creatures can follow her step-by-step easy instructions and achieve the same results. Here she makes a set of pumpkin trays (do them once and they are yours forever!) from old cutting boards. You’ll want to run to the hardware store for paint and supplies this minute.

Now you only need to heat and eat and select your presents – please see our gift guide for ideas!

Enjoy your simple holiday. You deserve it… you worked smarter, not harder!