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