Dahlia Does Design: simplifying the holidays

Repurposing pages from magazines or newspapers make for a unique design and saves money. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAHLIA WOODS

With the holidays upon us, it’ s a good time to step back, take a few deep breaths and look at all the positives. As family, children and friends descend, this pause will change the dynamics of your house.

Simple Steps:

Make a list of all your holiday projects from A to Z.

  • Decorating
  • Planning meals
  • Presents to buy
  • Special entertaining for the holidays

Enlist help from everyone involved in each project. You can accomplish a lot more with less stress when each person has a designated task.

Decorating the house:

Survey each room, clear your counters, put away items that are not currently used – clutter makes for stress. Also clearing the decks makes it easier for setting up holiday displays.

When your guests arrive have a staging area for coats, purses and accessories. Also designate a table as they enter for gifts and a separate locations for food and beverages brought by your guests. Assign helpers to direct your guests to the desired locations.

Keep holiday decorations simple – less is more – it will make it easier to keep the house clean with increased traffic. I f you do have holiday keepsakes limit them to a specific location. The tree is the perfect spot for heirloom ornaments. A great family activity is to create handmade ornaments with friends and children using natural elements.

Your holiday table should be your creative palette – be spontaneous. Use low branches or flowers from your garden for your center pieces. I use lemons and oranges and limes mixed with natural elements as a table runner. Try to keep your decorations low so people can see each other across the table.

You can mix and match your china and glasses – napkins could be vintage linens.


Check on dietary restrictions for your guests – vegan, gluten free, lactose free, food allergies. The internet is a great resource for specific recipes – appetizers, main courses, desserts and beverages.

The easiest, most practical way to serve is buffet style – guests can choose their own portions and favorite dishes. And it reduces the pressure of serving a big group at the same time.

Topics of conversation:

With the elections over, there may still be lingering issues between family members – no matter what your leanings are, this is a time for mutual sharing of love, good food and experiences. Best to keep topics neutral and nurturing – be thankful for health and family and the bounty of the holidays.

Buying presents:

I love the idea of asking each member of the family to write down five items they need – each costing $25 or less. Th e n the giver can choose one or two items and the receiver won’t be disappointed.

The most generous gift is to choose a charity – give a gift in honor of the receiver. Do the kids really need another expensive toy? A nd a donation is so much more rewarding and spreads the message of joy and thanksgiving.

Wrapping presents:

I love repurposing, using pages from magazines or newspapers – such as the color comics section for wrapping. This makes for unique designs and saves a tree and money.

Just remember to celebrate the holidays with everyone – that means taking time for yourself too.

Be happy, life is short .


San Marcos Daily Record

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