Tag Archives: holiday

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

Decorating, Holiday, How-To and tagged , , | | | Leave a comment

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.”

An Entirely New Take on Classic Garland

Decorating, DIY, Holiday and tagged , | | | Leave a comment

Looking for something different for your holiday garland this year? We’re favoring this absolutely charming mini bunting from Jennifer Rizzo, which would be a fun update to your standard tinsel or cranberry and popcorn garland.

We think it would look lovely on a tree or circling a wreath. Try it on a mantel, too, especially if you’re part of a musical household. You could customize the mini bunting by using paper that reflects you and your family’s interests. Choose floral paper if you’re a passionate home gardener, or an avian design if you’re a bird watcher.

Want to try it? Get the full DIY here.

Source: Photos by Jennifer Rizzo