DECEMBER
24
An Understated Holiday
Matthew Mead
An Understated Holiday
Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
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Call me the “King of Understated.” At the holidays, I really like to pare down my décor so that neither my guests nor I feel confined and claustrophobic. I certainly enjoy adding a festive flair and seasonal style, but I like it to carry me from Thanksgiving right through New Year’s with understated ease. It’s an approach that I have honed and improved upon over the years and it’s something that applies as deftly to my mantel piece as it does to a group of friends coming for dinner.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

Stick to easy care botanicals like pine cones, small spruce trees, and greens that can be hydrated in vases. A mix of greens is beautiful and interesting and because they aren’t locked into a specific holiday and I can these fresh displays throughout December and most of January. A collection of green pottery strikes a festive note with oversized pine cones and some evergreen.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

Intersperse wrapped gifts right onto shelves and table vignettes and fragrant herbs and boxwood wreaths to the house for color and texture.  Fresh flowers are also a lovely touch and add dress for an entry way or coffee table.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

Silver trays add just the right sparkle and layer nicely under items that you might want to feature, like candles, sculpture, and centerpieces.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

I use white mixing bowls filled with water to float all types of greenery.  Seasonal fruits like apricots and citrus are piled on cake stands and compotes for decorations and recipes. I like boxwood wreaths because they are simple and textural and don’t shed.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

Use mercury glass pieces to create a sparkling focal point and reflect the twinkle of candle light. Small trees are still potted so I can reacclimate them to the outdoors and plant them in the spring.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

I add simple touches throughout the house… and they don’t have to be traditional nods to Christmas.  A vintage perfume bottle holds lush David Austin roses from the local florist while a gingerbread star gets a frost of white paint to dress up a door knob.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

I use champagne flutes to show off single roses (with lush full blossoms, you don’t need a great deal of flowers to make a strong statement).  I use my very favorite glasses to set the table or serve cocktails for intimate gatherings.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

I like easy recipes that I can use for multiple occasions or bring to evening events. I keep food simple and delicious, and easy to prepare or dress up. Scallops are seared in brown butter and savor spices as single serving appetizers.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

Top fresh greens with roasted winter squash and brown sugar baked pecans for a tantalizing salad.  I mix champagne into a fresh fruity punch topped with blueberries, apples and fresh mint. Leave a batch alcohol free for teetotalers.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

Collected flatware is always a lovely touch. Mixing and matching makes it even more interesting.  For a main dish, fresh sauteed peppered shrimp with fettuccine and large shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Photo Credit: Matthew Mead

Dessert can be a breeze. Just open your mind to what may be found at a local bakery or specialty grocery store.  My chocolate Opera cake is in the freezer section at Trader Joe’s. I dress it up with slivered almonds on a pewter tray and it is a decadent dessert.

This year I will truly enjoy the simplicity, take some extra time to relax, and soak in the serenity that natural, living elements bring to my home and entertaining decor. I wish to all of you the same with peace in the air and joy in your heart.

Happy Holidays.

- Matthew

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Leave Your Thoughts (1 Comment)

  1. Jane ·

    Such great ideas. I too am doing less, and enjoying it more. I put away my turquoise glass for Amber in August/September and now I feel like it could be out with silver and white for Christmas/January. Thanks for sharing, I always get great ideas from you. I hope you find time to relax over the holidays!