Tag Archives: holiday

An Absolutely Unexpected Christmas Tree Alternative

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An absolutely unusual and gorgeous Christmas “tree.” — Folk Magazine

This dog-friendly home has character to spare. — Apartment Therapy

A look back at home resolutions for 2012. — Centsational Girl

What’s for dinner? Chicken, squash and shiitakes. — The Blender

Discover an artist who’s rethinking toile. — Sweet Paul

Clever design ideas to steal from a mansion-turned-hotel. — CasaSugar

Discover the top pins of 2012. — Country Living

Follow These Tips to Gift Wrap Like a Pro

Entertaining, Holiday and tagged , , | | | 5 Replies

Want to make your gifts look gorgeous this year? We caught up with Pottery Barn’s resident gift wrapping expert, Sean, to get his tips and tricks for creating your best-looking holiday gifts ever.

Sean’s Top Tips 

• “Don’t use a gift bag! Even a simple gift looks better wrapped in paper and tied with ribbon or twine.”

• “Using the right materials makes giftwrapping easy. A metal ruler for measuring and cutting paper; a rotary cutter for clean, easy cuts with a straight edge and double-stick tape to ensure everything stays in it’s place and out of sight.”

• “Measuring the paper to fit the box ensures all folds stay crisp and neat. ”

 

• “Once the box is wrapped use your thumb and index finger to crease all edges for a crisp, clean look.

• “Ensure that the two triangular flaps on each side of the box meet in the middle and face in the same direction.”

• “When tying a four-way bow, ensure the ribbon on the bottom lays flat and isn’t twisted.” (Find a tutorial for tying a bow here.)

• “Don’t forget to embellish your gift! A simple topper like an evergreen branch or holiday ornament is an easy and festive way to finish off the perfect gift wrap.”

Ready to wrap? You can also check out the slideshow below to discover a unique way to wrap pesky round presents like candles. You can also download a variety of PDF tags similar to the one Sean used below.

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A Holiday House Tour With Our Big House on the Prairie

Decorating, Decorating Inspiration, Inspiration and tagged , , | | | 3 Replies

Karen, who blogs at Our Big House on the Prairie, has a gift for creating a festive, cozy, holiday-decorated home. We’re so happy to share some photos from her lovely abode — you’re in for an absolutely festive tour. We also spoke with Karen about her decorating style and holiday traditions.

Can you give us a brief history of your home?

“Our home was built in 1907-08. We purchased the house in foreclosure in July 2010 and embarked on a two and a half year renovation. Every inch of the house was in need of tender loving care . . . and some parts needed a complete overhaul. We are thankful we survived the process.”

How do you use your office during the year? Does its use change at all over the holidays?

“I own a business where I help people care for their photos by getting them off their hard drives and into their lives. My office is where I preserve my own family’s memories and stories — and in the process help others do the same. I coach a team around the country, and all of that happens around my computer. It’s so important — both mentally and emotionally — to have a beautiful place to work. I use my Pottery Barn shelves to surround myself with my favorite things . . . photo albums, favorite needlework, a picture of my daddy, gifts from my children and my cherished collection of 17 Susan Branch journals. (For 17 years I have celebrated each day with written comments at bedtime in a journal.) This year I added my Top 40 movies to my shelves! My work is steady throughout the year, but my Pottery Barn project table probably sees a little more action around Christmas. My wish for the world: That every woman gets a Bradford Project Table.”

Can you tell us about all of the stockings and mittens you have hanging? There are a lot!

“We are a blended family of ten kids — and now six grandchildren! With spouses, our stocking count is up to sixteen! With every wedding I get to pick a new stocking. Our stockings are handknit in Bosnia by underprivileged women. Since we are adding grandchildren at an alarming (and wonderful!) rate -— 5 in this past year. I made an executive decision that the grandchildren would have mittens instead.”

Do you have a favorite room in your home?

“My favorite room would be the kitchen . . . and our bedroom . . . and the master bathroom . . . and my office. Ha.”

Are there any Pottery Barn products you used to decorate with this year that you particularly love?

“I loved bringing wrapped Christmas gifts home from Pottery Barn and incorporating them right into my decorating! Isn’t that why we love Pottery Barn, because everything coordinates? Right down to their wrapping paper, ribbon and tags! My friends are not going to get their gifts until the last minute. I loved seeing the way Pottery Barn filled glass decanters with ornaments in the store. I went home and did the same. My favorite new thing is the real wax flameless candles that you set on a timer with the touch of a button. Every night at 5:30 pm my candles all come on like magic and flicker for 5 hours. It has added a real magical feel to the house this holiday. And I know it is time to go to bed when all my candles are out — ha.”

“I also loved putting the Pottery Barn Kids chair Santa hats – on my PB kitchen stools, and I love the Pottery Barn mercury glass collection because I think it reflects the beauty of our leaded windows — no pun intended. This holiday I wrapped it in white toile netting and added vintage snow.”

Your tree is lovely! What kind is it? Is this how you usually decorate it every year?

“Our tree this year is a Douglas Fir. I like Frasier Firs, too. The important thing for me is fresh. “Life is too short for plastic greenery” is what I like to say. This year I did everything fresh, even the evergreen boughs on the mantels and at the front door . . . it made me happier. The tree is decorated with ornaments that have been lovingly collected over the years. If we tried, we could probably tell our family history with that Christmas tree.”

How are you celebrating the holidays this year? Are you hosting family?

“This year I am celebrating by creating a family recipe book with photos and family stories. It is actually Volume 2 of Mother Rabbit Cooks. Our family will gather to celebrate after the holidays because we alternate with the ‘outlaws’ and this isn’t our year.”

What advice do you have for others who want to enjoy their holiday decorating more?

“Force yourself to get it done early by being on a Christmas Home Tour or scheduling a big holiday Party. And make a great playlist of classic Christmas music.”

Why do you shop at Pottery Barn?

“I like one-stop shopping. I am not a mall shopper. I like having everything I love all in one place. I love beautiful, classic design. I love how everything in the store fits together and works together because I like my whole house to feel coordinated. I also like the way that my vintage Pottery Barn pieces work with the new stuff — and last year’s pillows mix and match with this season. I love the prints that make me want to stand and stare at them. I love the color palettes. I love getting my PB catalogs and being inspired . . . Not only are they a decorating guide, but they transport you to places that you can dream about creating for your own home. Somehow we learn about warmth and creating intimate spaces, color and good design just by flipping through the pages. They ‘teach us’ with pictures. I love feeling inspired by walking into the Pottery Barn store — and I love the kind people who work there. I loved renovating a home knowing that Pottery Barn had everything I needed — and wanted! From the light fixtures to the mirrors and house numbers.”

Take the full tour of Karen’s beautiful home!

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Source: Photos courtesy Our Big House on the Prairie/a>

Laura’s Inspired Advent Calendar and Mantel

Entertaining, Holiday and tagged , , | | | 2 Replies

If you’re looking for creative advent calendar decorating ideas — or simply gorgeous holiday decorating ideas in general — you’ll be pleased to read this interview with Laura, who’s the creative forced behind the blog Finding Home.

What was your original inspiration for the look of your holiday mantel?

“The original inspiration for my mantel was my desire to create an advent calendar this year.  I had been trying to figure one out that was my style for some time and finally settled on the idea of a window.  Once I decided on that, I felt it would be perfect center point for my mantel.  I knew I wanted to keep the color scheme simple this year, greens, creams and whites and natural elements.”

Can you tell us more about your advent calendar? 

“Once I had decided on the window idea, the task was to find a window with 24 panes.  It took quite a few months of looking through my regular vintage haunts, and finally found one in August.  It waited patiently for me in my garage until I was ready to start pulling it together.  I simply glued vintage sheet music with cut out numbers (I used an electronic cutter for the numbers) to each of the panes.  There is a felt snowflake taped to the window that we move to each number to count down the days.  I also put a small basket hanging on the side of the mantel with corresponding numbered envelopes.  Each one contains an idea for us to do together as a family each day.”

The cut glass doorknobs in the pack basket are such a brilliant addition! How did you happen upon this idea?

“On the left side of the mantel I placed a vintage scout basket filled with greenery. It is one of my favorite things because of the signature and name on it.  One of the main reasons I love to use vintage items in my home is when there is a story behind them — and this basket is a perfect execution of that.  Inside the basket are two small evergreen plants mixed with fake evergreens.   It was a little flat and I wanted to dress it up a bit.  I have always loved using vintage door knobs in my décor, so I decided to place them in.  They were too heavy for them really to be placed right, so I decided to place them on a wooden skewer and place them in the dirt of the plant as my own version of a ‘floral pick.'”

(A close look at the name and signature on the back of the pack basket.)

What greenery did you use for this look?

“The greenery I used was a mixture of real and fake.  I was careful in selecting my fake greenery in that it was realistic but not overly expensive.  On the stool in front, I used a small lemon cypress plant.”

We also love the Epsom salt in the mason jars, which you use to hold up the candles. How did you decide to try this? Any advice for re-creating it?

“I was inspired by some projects I had seen on Pinterest to use the Epsom salts.  I often use mason jars with candles in them in my décor, but I felt for this mantel it needed a little something more — and the ‘snow look’ was just what it needed.  This project couldn’t be simpler and is very inexpensive as well.  I used a mixture of tea lights, tapers and small votives in the the different jars.”

 

What are your favorite elements of your mantel?

“My favorite element of this mantel is how all of the elements pull together, it is in the Christmas spirit, without being overdone.  The colors are comfortable, but bring an element of elegance.  I do however absolutely love the drawing on the right side.  It is actually a vintage sap bucket lid, from back in the days when they were wood.  When I found it at a yard sale in Vermont there was  a very light sketch of the Victoria-dressed man and woman skating.  I used a chalk pen to go over the lines that were there so the drawing would be more visible.  This is especially meaningful for me because my husband grew up on a farm that made maple syrup and we now make our own in our neighborhood here in New York.  It is one of favorite times of year, after Christmas of course.”

Why do you shop at Pottery Barn? 

“My style is based in traditional but always mixed with vintage elements and a little modern edge thrown in. Pottery Barn’s products provide me just that element — and the unique vintage pieces that are offered from time to time are amazing.  Almost anything I can find at Pottery Barn fits within my style and allows me to still be unique and not too ‘cookie cutter.’ And all of the holiday products are always so inspiring. ”

 

All photos courtesy Erin Witkowski

Creating a Beautiful Holiday Mantel: A Tutorial From Designer Stephen Saint-Onge

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Today, we’re excited to present a post from designer and dad Stephen Saint-Onge. Using a variety of Pottery Barn products as well as personal family heirlooms, he creates an effortless and beutiful holiday mantel you can accomplish quickly.

Happy Holidays everyone.  I am very excited to share this simple makeover idea with you…

As a designer and as a family man, I love this time of year.  I love how the feeling of home truly comes to life during this holiday season.  We realize, in the midst of our busy lives and the crazy world out there, that our homes are a place that can lift us up, can remind us of the good things in life again — or they can simply provide us with a foundation that allows us to do what we do everyday.  At this time of year, it’s a chance to make those home spaces better, more beautiful and more inviting for our family and friends — but also for ourselves.  We all deserve that.  My motto:  Good home design has the power to change lives.  I have seen it happen and now — more than ever — we all need that power in our lives.

I also know as a husband and father  that this time of year can be stressful and filled with many things on our to-do list, so getting our homes ready for the holidays may be one of the last things we tackle.

So with that in mind, I want to show you that you can do it all. You can make your home look beautiful and festive without taking away too much time from everything else you need to get done.

For me, it’s all about creating focal points this holiday season. You do not have to go over the top as you prep your home for guests and entertaining. Focus on areas : on the front door/entrance area, a buffet table or, in the case of what I’m sharing with you today, a mantel.  You can create simple touches in your home that can bring the holidays in by creating a mood, a visual, a warm glow in place you see everyday.

As the last week before Christmas starts playing out — don’t panic —   your home will be ready and it will be beautiful.  I’m here with Pottery Barn to help you turn an everyday space into something special : easily, creatively and right now.

I recently visited a friend’s house where I was going to tackle a mantel makeover for the holidays…

*Simple mantel.   Here is what it looked like at the start.  A great location to create a focal point.

 

*Remove the props and accessories to simplify your working stage.

 

Sometimes removing artwork or other things on the walls can help you see something in a fresh way. I wanted to create two instant looks for them, the first one being very simple.  The ther one is a bit more detailed, but still very doable.

The first look was simply done by laying out two fresh garlands across the mantel.  Anyone can do this and it looks beautiful thanks to Pottery Barn’s amazing options for the holidays….So easy – go online – find what you like and order it. Comes right to your home ready to place!  That is just what we did here.

Next, I decided to repurpose an angel they had instead of the painting.  Shopping your house for props is a great way to get a new look in your home now.  Plus, you can introduce new pieces as well, which truly drives home a stylish new look any time of year,  in any room of your home!

Then I added a simple string of white lights into the garland for a nice warm glow.

I could have easily have added some pillar candles and tapered candles along the mantel for more light… But I liked the simple look of the green garland with the white angel.

For a second look,  I removed everything and put the painting back into place. This time I used two other garlands (ones that smell amazing!) and placed them on the mantel.  These have silver ball accents that add a great sparkle to the area but also serve as an accent that I will bring in again with other props too.

*Then I added a string of white lights again for the glow. I’m all about lighting the holiday time. I always tell clients that if you cannot makeover your whole house, use lighting to your advantage.  Candles and lights on dimmers can make a home setting look beautiful easily. It can take your eye away from areas or things about a room that you do not want to accent as much. Lighting allows you to set the stage and is a great creative tool in every project I do — even in my own home!

I loved these stocking holders in silver that can be engraved for every member of the family.  I like the idea of placing photos of each family member in them.  Fun thing to bring out every year!

I found these great faux fur velvet stockings from Pottery Barn too.  I liked that I could look online and see the options easily – great way to check off the list and know that those creative tools will be coming your way quickly.  I liked the color of these stockings because they worked well with the room’s overall color scheme.  Classic style.

To complete the focal point , gather some furniture pieces for seating near the area to draw your eye in as you enter the room. Light the fire, dim the room lights, turn up the music and set the scene. Easy and doable — even in these last few days before Christmas!

I invite you to visit my Designer Dad Studio blog to see a video of me on location doing this makeover for you.

I’m all about simple ideas and things that can easily make family-focused homes better.  I’m also one that believes that change is good at any time of year — not just at holiday time. I look forward to inspiring, motivating and getting you excited about your homes again…

Happy Holidays from my family to your family!

Designer Dad Stephen Saint-Onge is a designer, photographer, artist, author of the book No Place Like Home: Tips and Techniques for Real Family-Friendly Home Design and a Contributing Home Editor for Family Circle.   Stephen is also a husband and father of two boys. 

Source: Photos courtesy Stephen Saint-Onge

How To Set Up a Festive Drinks Station For Your Holiday Party

Entertaining, Holiday, Recipes and tagged , , , , | | | 6 Replies

We’re excited to feature a post today from Carmen Taylor, who shows you how to create an easy and festive drinks station for your upcoming holiday soirees!

Setting up a drink station for a large crowd can be stylish and fun. Follow these guidelines for a seamless holiday beverage service.

Choose a signature drink that may be customized using infusions, purees and juices. An interactive beverage station is personal and exciting for guests. Use a beverage dispenser suited for larger service like the Decorator’s Drink Dispenser.

 Fill the base of the drink dispenser with seasonal decor elements.

 Mercury Glass Ball Ornaments add the perfect amount of glimmer.Prep glassware by garnishing Jewel Cut Double Old-Fashioned glasses before guests arrive. I enjoy using fresh herbs or fruit slices.

 

Rosemary Gin Sparkler

1 ½ cup of sugar

1 ½ cup of water

8 sprigs of rosemary

2 ¼ cup of gin

2 cups of club soda

½ cup of lime juice

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, 4 of the rosemary sprigs, and water to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool.

Strain the sugar syrup into a large pitcher. Add the gin, club soda, and lime juice and stir to combine. Chill before serving; garnish each glass with rosemary sprigs.
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Source: Photos courtesy Carmen Taylor

Endless Ways to Give: A Chat With St. Jude Outreach Director Marlo Thomas

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When actress-author-activist Marlo Thomas was growing up, her father, nightclub performer Danny Thomas, had a favorite saying: “There are two kinds of people in the world: the givers and the takers. The takers sometimes eat better, but the givers always sleep better.” Guided by this philosophy, the elder Thomas went on to found St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and for the past eight years, Pottery Barn has been honored to work with the hospital as a fundraising partner. To date, Pottery Barn has raised $18.6 million toward St. Jude’s groundbreaking efforts to find cures for catastrophic childhood diseases through its landmark research and treatment. In keeping with its founding vision, no child is ever denied treatment at St. Jude for a family’s inability to pay. That’s because St. Jude pays for everything, including the cost of treatment, travel, lodging and food for patients and a family member.

In honor of the holiday season, we sat down with Marlo Thomas to talk about St. Jude. For the past 21 years, she has been the hospital’s tireless spokesperson, raising awareness and funds in her role as National Outreach Director. Here’s our conversation:

For those who aren’t familiar with St. Jude, can you tell us a bit about the hospital?

“In addition to making sick children well, we are dedicated to two things: One is to raise awareness, so that mothers and fathers and grandparents and caregivers know that St. Jude is there when their child is sick and they have nowhere else to turn. A lot of hospitals don’t know exactly what to do — not because they’re bad hospitals, but they’re working only with what they know. At St. Jude, we work on what we don’t know. That’s because, in addition to treating very sick kids, we are also a research center — and that’s a very important distinction. And second, we also must raise the funds to do this life saving work. So the whole idea of our annual Thanks and Giving campaign is to raise both money and awareness so that we can continue this work.”

How does St. Jude help to make its patients feel happy and comfortable?

“Whether you’re an adult or a child, it’s important to be surrounded by joy and positive people. That helps the healing process.  At St. Jude, all of the walls are painted with fairy tales and murals. It doesn’t look like a hospital at all — it looks more like Disneyland! We also make sure that children enjoy a lot of play time. We have crafts and artwork for them, and every Tuesday we bring in dogs for a special petting time with the kids. And then there’s our Child Life department, where specialists work with patients and families to minimize stress and anxiety through age-appropriate activities. We also host programs for the children during the holidays, whether it’s Halloween or Valentine’s Day or even prom time — we give little dances! We want to help them not miss out on the experiences of normal childhoods. Our most exciting tradition is our off-chemo party, which we have to celebrate when a child ends chemotherapy treatments. We have balloons, cake, streamers, ice cream and party hats, and everyone gets involved in it — the doctors and nurses, the parents and children. In the end, our overall goal is to do everything we can to celebrate the children, make every day special and fun for them and to keep their spirits up.”

As a company, we’ve been so pleased to help in some small part. How can our customers and associates continue to help?

“For one thing, Pottery Barn is no ‘small part’ of our efforts. So far, you’ve raised $18.6 million — that’s amazing! It costs $1.8 million to run the entire hospital every day, so you’ve basically paid for ten straight days. That’s a lot of love. What’s also really important about Pottery Barn’s contribution to St. Jude is the commitment of your associates at the individual stores, who every year not only ask guests to make a donation to St. Jude at checkout, but know all about the hospital and answer questions of your guests. We feel blessed and inspired that the entire Williams-Sonoma Inc. family has joined us this way, and with such great enthusiasm and creativity. And, by the way, I just love your Gifts That Give Back — the beautiful home décor, the fragrance items and the mercury glass. I’ve actually bought a lot of the mercury glass as gifts this year. I love the collection!”

What can readers do if they want to do a little something extra to help St. Jude?

“They can go straight from this interview and click onto the St. Jude website and make a donation. They can also learn more about volunteering for St. Jude, and read all about our children. They can watch the videos and commercials we’ve made this season, with our great family of celebrities — Jennifer Aniston, Robin Williams, Sofia Vergara, Michael Strahan and all of the big stars who are involved with the campaign. Every one of them is invaluable to us.”

We love the new “Hey St. Jude” video! How did this video come together?

“We all took part in it. My brother Tony always had the dream of getting the rights to the ‘Hey Jude’ song. It ‘s such a natural for us. So he started by making calls to people he knew to get them involved. The staff at St Jude had worked with some of the stars, I knew some people — a lot of calls were made. It was such fun to do. We were able to use it for online only, and it still is up there and doing really well. About a million people have seen it so far, and it’s helped us raise a lot of money and awareness. And those two things are the lifeblood of St. Jude!”

 

Source: Photos courtesy St. Jude

Streamline Gift Giving With a Gift Wrapping Station (or Improvise Your Own Version With These Tips)

Decorating, How-To and tagged , | | | 1 Reply

At this time of year, many of us are desperately searching for that extra pair of scissors, length of ribbon, and roll of wrapping paper. Crafty pros know that a gift wrapping station can eliminate this vexing process completely.

Even if you’re stretched for square footage, a wall in a laundry room, guest bedroom or craft room is enough space to accommodate a gift wrapping station. Our Gibson Craft Station is a great option. You can also cobble together a station by using furniture you might already own, such as a small buffet. By using such items, you can easily assemble your gift wrapping station for this peak holiday gifting time, then disassemble it after the new year if you so desire.

Whether you have  a dedicated gift wrapping station, or not, here’s our list of essential gift wrapping items that you should have on hand.

  • Tape dispenser with tape refills. Double-sided tape is also a great option.
  • Scissors
  • Gift wrapping paper. We also love the look of brown kraft paper used as wrapping paper.
  • Ribbon
  • Gift tags
  • Gift bags
  • Tissue paper
  • Bows
  • Pen and paper for labeling gifts

For more tips, check out this post from Country Living.

Kelly’s Irresistible and Vintage Holiday Mantel

Entertaining, Holiday and tagged , , | | | 8 Replies

Today we’re happy to share photos from Kelly Elko of Eclectically Vintage. Take a look at her lovely holiday mantel decor, and read about her tips and ideas for holiday decorating.

How did you decorate on the mantel? 

“I tried keeping things light and simple this year.  Lots of white and silver mixed with a few rustic touches like the burlap on the twig wreath and wrapped around my snowy mason jar candles (which I scatter throughout my whole house).”

The typewriter and song lyrics are a great touch. What inspired this idea?

“I have two vintage typewriters and this one has has been sitting on the bottom shelf of my coffee table and when I started moving things around, the idea just came to me.  Don’t you love when that happens?!  It’s my favorite detail this year.”


Are these knitting molds for the stockings? They’re so unusual. What’s their history?

“They are antique stocking stretchers that I found at Brimfield this summer.  I may have done a little dance of joy when I found them!”

 

What are your special tips or tricks for decorating the mantel for the holiday?

“I’ve done it all over the years, from real garland to sugared fruits to an old crib bedspring on the mantel!  One common denominator has been symmetry.  It creates a timeless look (no matter how many Frostys or Santas you have gathered on the mantel)!”

How did you hit upon the color scheme for this area?

“I love a bit of bling! The mercury glass trees add that while giving a vintage feel.  The branches in the vases were in my Halloween mantel (strung with cobwebs) and my fall mantel but for Christmas, I simply gave them a spritz of white spray paint.  They remind me of birch trees.”

 

Take Kelly’s entire holiday house tour (and find out the history of this charming antique car) here!

Source: Photos courtesy Eclectically Vintage

Family, Friends and Festivities: Tony’s Top Tips For Making the Most of the Holidays

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Last week, we were thrilled to host a Facebook chat with Pottery Barn’s entertaining expert, Tony. (Psst, he also designed this gorgeous cocktail shaker.) Tony provided such an incredible wealth of holiday entertaining tips that we had to pass them along to blog readers who might not have been able to join the chat. Keep reading for Tony’s Top Tips!

 

  • Remember what really matters. “I always try to keep the three Fs in mind: Family, Friends and Festivities.”
  • Create formality in a small and casual home. “You can make a small space feel really formal by using elevated candelabras and candles and your choice of favorite linens. Try our caterer’s tablecloth. It comes at a great price and you won’t worry about it if you have clumsy guests.”
  • Make your Christmas tree do double duty. “If you’ve already bought your Christmas tree, cut off the branches from the base and use them on a table runner intermixed with festive pillar candles.”
  • Update a classic red-and-green color scheme. “For a great option and to modernize it, choose either red or green and then mix that one color with neutrals. Burlaps and ivories will mix well with either.”
  • Decorate with larger centerpieces at a holiday dinner. “Larger centerpieces add a dramatic element to the table, but once dinner is served it can be a good idea to move them to a console or mantel to free up room for the main course.”
  • Throw a holiday party with a small budget: “Limit the drinks to just wine and champagne. There are plenty of well-priced wines and champagnes under $10 that you can find on the lower shelf of your supermarket. You might be surprised by what you find! If you go this route, you can spend more time mingling with your guests and less time mixing drinks. It will feel just as festive, and much more effortless.”
  • Successfully mix real florals and “fauxtanicals”: “Mix it up! The fauxtanicals will fill out your arrangements and you can have them at the ready for next year’s entertaining season. Check out some of our favorites here.”
  • Set a well-decorated kids’ holiday table: “There are so many crafty options that you can try for tables that have to accomodate kids. Start with your favored color palette for your table, then mix in rustic elements such as stars made from cinnamon sticks and colored yarn or twigs and ribbon. For more ideas, check out this Pinterest board.”
  • Creatively set the table without napkin rings: “Try this: Wrap your flatware in a cloth napkin. Then take a five-inch sprig of branch from your Christmas tree and use twine to wrap it multiple times around the napkin and flatware. Simple, seasonal elegance that will add rustic charm to your table. No napkin rings required!”
  • Avoid a major party foul: “Do not, I repeat do not run out of ice at your party! Fill a second cooler with ice beforehand and store it outside. It’s always a downer when you have to send someone on an ice run in the middle of a party.”
  • Whip up fun holiday finger foods: “For finger foods, we love decorated Christmas cookies for a sweet finger food option. (Check out more cookie recipes in Pottery Barn’s Party Planner:.) For something savory, bruschetta with basil and tomato features classic Christmas colors.”
  • Pop in one essential DVD: “If, like me, you don’t have a fireplace, bust out that yule log DVD. I know I’m going to! Even in warm climates the yule log gives you a cozy holiday feeling and adds a little levity to every celebration.”
  • One Pottery Barn product Tony can’t live without: “I’m here to sing the praises of flameless candles. No longer will you have a singed centerpiece or false alarm from your smoke detector. I’m obsessed with them. I have them on a timer and my living room has amazing ambience every day when the sun goes down. For holiday decor, you can mix them with botanicals and vase filler inside lanterns and never worry that they’ll cause an accident.”
  • An easy way to create a great party vibe. “I go on Pandora and choose Frank Sinatra all night long. If that’s not your style, we have some great playlists, too.”
  • How to be a great party guest: “My family’s mantra is, Always bring something to the table. We have so many great hostess gifts this year — it’s easy to bring something fabulous for any style of home. Here are some great ideas to start.
  • What to bring your hostess: “A no-fail hostess gift is a great candle. Try giving a gift that gives back, like our selection of St. Jude’s gifts.”