(Decor Amor) – Shiny silver and gold, the warm glow of lights, dazzling bursts of color – O Christmas tree, your magic helps fill our homes with laughter and love during this merriest of seasons. And while gathering together to trim the tree is a beloved family tradition for many of us, let’s be honest; for others, it’s an intimidating decorating nightmare. But don’t be overwhelmed, it’s easy to go from dazed to dazzling with a few insider tips.
Step one: Find the tree that fits your lifestyle.
Designer John Griffith decorates dozens of trees and leads holiday design seminars for dinnerware giant, Replacements, Ltd. Griffith recognizes since we all live in different spaces, the picture perfect 7-foot tree won’t work for everyone.
“People like myself who live in apartments, condos or smaller living areas often feel stuck having to get a tiny tree because of limited space, when there are so many more options,” Griffith says. “Flat trees, which are very low profile and sit close to the wall, are perfect for tight spaces. Half round trees are another great option because they’re basically half a tree, while corner trees reflect their name because they’re shaped to fit into corners. These types of artificial trees create the impact of having a larger tree that in reality doesn’t take up all that much room.”
Step two: Light it up.
Once you find the perfect tree, figure out how many lights you really need. Griffith suggests using at least 150 lights per foot of tree to decorate just the tips. For more depth, use at least 250 lights per foot.
And consider LED lights. Griffith notes that while upgrading to LEDs may be expensive initially, they’re a good investment in that these lights burn much cooler, last longer and are more energy efficient.
Step three: Think in thirds.
One of Griffith’s best practices: decorate in thirds.
“This is one of the easiest ways to make sure your tree is balanced from a decorating standpoint,” says Griffith. “Start by looking at your tree as what it is, a huge cone, then section it off in thirds around the tree. For example, if you have 1,500 lights, use 500 for one section, 500 for the middle and 500 for the last section. Do the same thing with your ornaments by dividing them into three groups before you start arranging those on the tree.”
Stylize with ornaments.
While lights create seasonal glow, ornaments dazzle and delight, bringing out the child in all of us. Our choice of ornaments reflect more than individual style and taste – they’re distinctively sentimental.
“Annual ornaments are always popular from a nostalgic standpoint because of the special memories connected to each one,” says collectibles specialist Kristen Pulley. “For instance, those made by Lenox China are very dear to me because of my two daughters. I started a collection for each of them when they were born – I began the teddy bear series for one and the gingerbread man for the other. As they got older and started decorating the tree, they liked them so much that now I have to get two of each series every year. It’s become part of our family tradition.”
Among Replacements’ most sought after holiday annuals, the Wallace Sleigh Bell and Gorham Snowflake collections remain family favorites, having been in production going on 50 years.
“Blown glass ornaments have really kept their popularity,” adds Pulley. “Production costs have gotten less expensive without compromising the quality making these more affordable to collect. For instance, Merck Family’s Old World Christmas ornaments are huge sellers, because you can find everything from traditional ornaments to fun, off the wall ones such as a piece of sushi or even Chinese takeout boxes.”
What’s hot for 2016?
Griffith says one of this year’s big decorating trends centers on monochromatic, such as using the same color lights (regardless of the hue) with ornaments in either all silver or all gold, but not both.
“One of my favorite techniques is adding bullion to a tree,” Griffith says. “Bullion is a very thin wire you add on the outside tips in geometric shapes that gives the tree a different kind of texture, movement and depth. It really adds richness to the tree, and the way the light reflects off this wire looks very luxe.”
Finally, Griffith notes no tree is complete without an over-the-top tree topper. Really nice bows made from high quality ribbon look lovely, while he favors using feathers, branches, floral stems and other natural elements to put an exclamation point on the top of the tree. With these great tips, it should be easy to find your own flair to kick-off what’s sure to be a memorable holiday entertaining season.
(Decor Amor) – Juggling parenting duties and work obligations, not to mention household chores, is a lot for one person to take on and yet, moms like you do this every single day. So often you get caught up in all the busyness, you forget to set aside time to relax or just have some fun. Fortunately, there are ways to streamline cleaning duties, so you don’t have to spend every spare moment scrubbing the floor and tackling clutter. Follow these five easy cleaning solutions to efficiently maintain your beautiful home and open up more time to do the things you love.
Purge, purge, purge: While getting rid of broken appliances and barely worn clothes initially takes some time, the results are well worth it. After removing barely-used belongings, you’ll have less stuff to store, which prevents clutter from piling up and causing stress in the future.
When getting rid of junk, start in the area that contains the bulk of your possessions, such as the bedroom or hallway closets. Tackling the problem head-on and getting the worst part over with first will motivate you to complete the project.
Stress less about stains with a convenient carpet cleaner: When you have kids and/or pets, stains are just a part of life. That doesn’t mean, however, you have to let stains interfere with your schedule. A quality carpet cleaning solution, such as the STAINMASTER Carpet Care line, will lift away tough stains and ground-in dirt so they don’t take away from your home’s style. STAINMASTER Carpet Care products begin cleaning on contact to remove even the most stubborn stains, and each cleaning solution provides an invisible shield to repel dirt to protect against re-soiling. Problems with carpet odor? STAINMASTER Pet Stain Remover also removes odor and leaves behind a light, fresh scent.
Add a mud tray in the entryway: Every time you mop the entryway floor, it seems to be dirty again in just a couple days. Winter and spring are especially hard on your floors, as kids and pets often track in mud, water and snow. To keep your floors clean, and reduce the need for mopping, set up a mud tray to store dirty boots and shoes. Mud trays are often made of tough plastic, which means they are easy to hose off and keep clean. Plus, you can find stylish designs that fit in well with your welcoming home.
Always put belongings back in their designated spot: It’s easy to finish eating and say to yourself “I’ll put these dishes in the dishwasher later,” or, maybe you put off putting laundry away when you’re in a rush. But in a few days, small clutter can turn into a big mess. Pretty soon, you’ll be overwhelmed by the clothes scattered on the floor and the dishes covering the kitchen counter, and you’ll be forced to spend a good hour or two putting belongings away.
To avoid belongings from piling up, get in the habit of putting items away when you’re done with them. It might seem like a hassle at first, but this small change in your daily to-do list will have a big impact on your weekly cleaning routine.
Use extra wall space for storage: If lack of storage space is constantly causing clutter, take advantage of bare wall space to install shelves or hang belongings, like coffee cups or hats. This simple trick can enhance your home’s style and maximize storage without taking up floor space.
Don’t spend more time cleaning than you have to – new habits and a few superior products are all you need to streamline your routine and open up more time for fun.
(Decor Amor) – What’s your idea of the perfect Thanksgiving meal? A big family buffet, or perhaps an intimate evening with a few close friends? Thanksgiving brings us together from near and far for all sorts of fun-filled traditions that are uniquely our own. And while those traditions may vary somewhat as families grow and our lives change over time, there’s one constant at the heart of Thanksgiving entertaining — the beloved turkey platter.
“Turkey platters really are the Christmas tree of Thanksgiving,” says Keith Winkler, product marketing manager at dinnerware giant Replacements, Ltd. “When you talk about Thanksgiving, I think most Americans picture that iconic Norman Rockwell painting with the mother serving the perfect turkey on a huge platter. Even though that image has been reinterpreted in so many ways as times have changed, the platter has always remained the centerpiece of the gathering, even for those who by-pass the bird to serve another main course for their Thanksgiving meal.”
Winkler notes there’s also a strong sentimental attachment to this seasonal favorite. Turkey platters often become heirloom pieces, handed down in many families, making the platter even more special.
Turkey dinnerware history 101
The history behind Turkey patterns and ultimately the iconic platter is literally as old as the holiday itself.
When Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving official back in 1863, English potters seized the opportunity to target the growing American market by producing turkey-themed dinner plates and platters. These ingenious designers generally took an existing design and replaced the center with a turkey motif to create those first Thanksgiving patterns. Manufacturers such as Spode, Mason’s and Wood & Sons used their colorful transferware patterns to start a new holiday tradition, which became an instant hit.
In fact, Replacements’ most popular Thanksgiving pattern, His Majesty by Johnson Brothers, started as an accent plate in the company’s Friendly Village pattern. The English manufacturer received so much demand for this particular motif that the company turned the proud Tom Turkey-adorned plate into its own pattern.
The great platter hunt
Designers say you don’t have to buy entire set of turkey-themed dinnerware to find the perfect platter. Replacements’ Julie Robbins notes you can find platters that blend well with any pattern, from the very old to the very new.
“Turkey platters aren’t necessarily bird-themed; you’ll find them in designs ranging from florals to even scenic vistas,” Robbins says. “Think who is going to be at your table, what you’re serving and find a platter that speaks to you. If you’re serving turkey, it doesn’t matter whether you’re carving your bird in the kitchen or on the table, just make sure it’s large enough to accommodate your guests. So many people make the mistake of trying to put a large turkey on a 12-inch platter and quite frankly, that is just too small and it’s not going to work. This is a special piece, not an everyday platter.”
Robbins adds she’s seen people do wonderful things with a small turkey, such as placing vegetables around the bird to fill out the larger platter and complete the look. Turkey platters aren’t only fun, many are also functional. Lenox and several other manufacturers produce turkey-shaped platters and other autumn themed serving pieces in alternative metal serveware. This is a special alloy that when heated or chilled maintains temperature to keep foods warm or cold.
Gobble up this season’s table top trends
Many dinnerware companies are producing Thanksgiving or turkey-themed accent plates and platters to mix and match with everyday dinnerware in colors and motifs to fit all tastes and lifestyles, from the very traditional to a more modern aesthetic. And if Tom Turkey isn’t the right design element for your table, Robbins says you can still create a seasonal feel, minus the bird.
“You can use fall leaf or even woodland patterns to create a classic Thanksgiving table without going with a turkey motif. Even beautiful classic fruit patterns give your table that cornucopia or horn of plenty flair.”
Not sure where to start? Find a list of Replacements’ most popular fall and Thanksgiving patterns on the company’s website, replacements.com.