Thanksgiving | Simplify Your Day

I am hosting Thanksgiving this year and the irony of it is that, while we're so busy at work trying to get everyone's home decorated before the holiday, my home is 100% not ready....and I'm an interior designer!  I moved over the summer and we've done a good amount of settling-in but there is still so much undecorated and unfinished.  But you know, that's just how it has to be for me this Thanksgiving.  I'm too busy decorating everyone else's home to do my own!  Oh well.  While a beautifully decorated home is wonderful, I understand that the holidays are about family and time-spent together not necessarily about a perfectly decorated home.

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All that to say, I've been trying to figure out the best way to prepare for the day little-by-little instead of stressing myself to the max the week of and waiting until the last minute to do everything.  I feel like I may not be in this boat along because this article showed up in my inbox this week...as if maybe others are trying to avoid stressing themselves out too! Ha!  So, today, with Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I thought I'd share some of the useful tips that were so graciously bestowed upon me this week in the hopes that it might help you have a happier, less stressful Thanksgiving day yourself!

Of course, at the top of the list for Kitchen/Food Prep is pre-make as many dishes as possible.  But one other thing that I thought was wise was advice to clear off your kitchen counters of unnecessary items before the big day.  This, while seemingly obvious, was a great reminder for me!  So often, we want our homes to look perfect that we leave out all of the decorations but really, when guests arrive and food is put out, the pretty stuff gets shoved to the side.  So why not save yourself the stress and pre-move all of the items that might get shoved in the corner last minute.  That way the food (which, let's be honest, is the most important part) has a designated home as soon as it arrives!

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Tip #2. Make room for the food in the fridge!  On thanksgiving day, it always happens the same way.  Guests all arrive at the same time and everyone asks you where they should put their food.  If you haven't cleared out your fridge, you're scrambling to move and shift items while the chaos grows.  So plan ahead.  Throw out the small tupperware containers of leftovers that probably won't get eaten anyway, bring in a cooler or some other container for drinks, and leave lots of shelf space for the food.

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As a secondary side-note to tip #2, clean out the dishwasher too!  That way, once the meal is over, there's a quick place to stash all the dirty dishes without feeling like your kitchen is overflowing with mess.

Tip #3.  Hire someone to clean your house. For the past events I've hosted, I've always cleaned my own home.  I kindof like to wait until the last minute so it can be as clean as possible when guests see it.  However, that's just not a realistic expectation this year.  My husband (genius that he is), actually suggested hiring a service to clean our house this year before Thanksgiving.  He knows how busy I am with your homes and knew cleaning would be hard to do along with all of the other prep so he told me to get someone else to clean my house (maybe he wrote this article and made it look like it came from another publication....lol!)...so that's what I'm doing.  One more item marked off my list, one more step towards enjoying Thanksgiving day!

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Tip #4.  Appetizers.  We all know Thanksgiving dinner is a feast.  There's too much food and you can only eat a spoonful of each item (even though Aunt Ellen spent 2 hours preparing her dish), but it's sort of part of the enjoyment of the day.  Appetizers do not have to be complicated.  Appetizers need to be just enough to hold guests off until the main event.  Maybe take it one step up from chips and salsa, but not too far.  If you do, everyone will be full of the delicious appetizers before Thanksgiving dinner is even served.  So keep appetizers simple.  Have enough for guests to munch on but by all means, don't stress yourself out with a complicated dish.

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Tip #5.  Don't cook the entire meal.  I learned a long time ago that the meal is more enjoyable for everyone if you're not cooking it all.  While you might want to look like superwoman by making all the food, the truth is, you'll end up stressed and frazzled on a day that's supposed to be enjoyable.  If guests offer to help with a dish, let them!  They don't want to spend the day around a host that's stressed and they can put all of their energy into making their 1 or 2 dishes super yummy!

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Enjoy this day.  Thanksgiving comes only once a year, the food is delicious and it's a day off work!  Make it a day to remember and don't sweat the small stuff.  Life is too short (and there's too much good food to eat!)

From one Thanksgiving hostess to another. :)

Jenna

Holiday Preparations | Sprucing Up Your Family Room

The holidays are coming!  That means hosting parties, making lots of food, house guests, and lots of good memories!  But it also means, you need to get your house ready!  Agh!  As a designer, and probably for anyone else in the interiors business, this time of year gets very demanding.  Everyone has been traveling all summer and, once school gets into a steady swing in the early fall, they realize their house isn't ready for all of the guests they have coming and they want it to get done, FAST!  If you've hired someone to work on your home but they may not be able to have it all done in time, here are some tips you can use to spruce it up yourself.  A beautifully decorated home is nice to be able to present to guests upon arrival, however, a comfortable home is most important!  People will remember how they felt in your home more than what it looked like, so hopefully these tips will help make your upcoming guest more comfortable!

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Add layers!  A rug, some pillows, throw blankets, even small side tables contribute to the layers of a room.  If you've got a soft place underfoot and some great pillows and blankets for guests to cuddle up with, they'll feel right at home and will be able to relax in your space.  When selecting these items, think big.  Bigger rugs are always better because, believe it or not, they make a space feel larger.  A rug defines the space so a small rug places the outline around a smaller area, making the room feel less than it is.  So go with the larger rug.  Get big fluffy pillows too.  And a lot.  Layer and mix and have extras floating around that can be used for the floor so guests can really get comfortable.

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Hang some art.  Art on the walls makes rooms feel more finished.  If you don't have a lot of decorative paintings or special art you want to display, opt for a gallery wall of family photos or even some of the kids' art.  There are tons of websites that allow you to purchase prints that can instantly be downloaded, printed, and framed, and allow you to fill in gaps if you're short on pictures.

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Bring in some lamp lighting.  Floor lamps and table lamps add a different lighting layer that is warmer than overhead fixtures.  It also gives guests more control of their light because they can just turn one on while the rest are off.  If you have a small space where you'd be open to string lights, they give off a super warm glow and will make any guest feel at home.

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If your home doesn't have a good flow for guests, consider rearranging the furniture layout to make it more conducive to hosting more people.  Bring in extra chairs, set up small seating areas, pull up the side tables for drinks, and allow your guests to be able to really enjoy!

Ultimately, the holiday are a time for you to enjoy family, friends, and good food so don't let an imperfect home ruin your experience.  Hopefully these little tips will help you prepare and will be remembered when you're throwing together all of those last minute preparations before the swarm arrives!

Christmas Prep | Table Settings

Christmas is less than a week away!  Agh!!!  It's exciting and nerve wracking at the same time.  There's so much to do and not enough time to do it but you're still excited to spend this wonderful time of year with family and that might already be on their way!

We all love Christmas at TMID!  Getting festive is sort of in our blood--all the decorations, you know.  So we're right there with you!  And that little cold snap that we had this weekend in Florida was fun too.  It'll be 80 on Christmas Day but, I guess that's just the sacrifice we make...

Anyway, if you're hosting Christmas dinner, you know that there's so many things to worry about.  The food, the cleaning, the gift wrapping, the drinks, the games.  There's a lot that goes into being the hostess (or host) with the mostest...so setting your table and making it festive might be low on the priority list.  You've got the China and the silverware which is all clean an polished, but a centerpiece and other decor might fall into the "oops!  I totally forgot about that" pile.  If so, no worries!  Because today we're going to give you some quick and inexpensive table setting ideas that will help make your holiday table look like you were planning it for months!

What are some things that there might be extra of at this time of year?  Gift tags, cookies, christmas cards, ornaments?  Yes!  All of these, most likely.  What about cinnamon sticks or rosemary or fir?  These are all items that you can use to spruce up your table!

Find a festive guest towel that can be used as a napkin, or maybe you already have nice cloth napkins and place  it on the plate in your place setting.  Then consider adding one of the following:

A gift tag with each guests name on it either tied to the napkin or attached to sprig of rosemary is a fun and festive touch that will literally take minutes!  If you've got a little more time, it might be thoughtful to write a sweet note to each of your guests on the back of the tag welcoming them.

Maybe you'd prefer to have the napkin off to the side instead of laying in the center of the plate.  If so, you'll still want something to spice up your plate for guests.  How about a cute gingerbread cookie waiting to greet them when they sit down?!  If you've already made cookies, just set some of the fun ones aside for that and voila!  place setting decoration done!

Want something a little different that isn't food or plants?  How about an individual votive or tea light candle at each place setting.  Depending on the container, these can really at a lot to the overall look of the table.  Use a red container or gold container or even green, depending on the rest of the table decor.  And light it shortly before it's time to eat!  It was add a cozy ambiance to your table and fulfill the fil place setting conundrum.

Were you late on getting your Christmas cards out this year? If so, nows the perfect time to get them to your friends!  Lay a card on the plate or prop it up at each place setting!  Take a little extra time to write a sweet or funny note to each of your guests that they can read when they sit down to the table for dinner.  It'll be a great way to start conversation and might even serve as an easy icebreaker!

We hope you all have a wonderful holiday wherever you spend it!



The Holidays Are Here | Prep for Guests

This is pretty much the busiest time of year for everything.  Food shopping, travel, gift buying--everyone is on the move with someone to see or a holiday party to attend.  Oftentimes, this means that you'll have guests--some expected, some unexpected...so it's good to just make sure your home is ready for a surprise visitor or two.  Not only will doing these things help you feel more relaxed but it will also make your guests more comfortable while they're in your home.

This first one is hard for the "unexpected guest" scenario but should be number one when it comes to expected or invited visitors--clean up!  While guests may make your home messy, it's always nice for them to be welcomed into a clean home.  The little things like a clean bathroom, dishes put away, fluffed pillows, and dusted furniture will immediately make them feel more comfortable in your home because a clean home is a welcoming home.  Since we all don't always keep a pristine home when it's just us, tidying up before guests arrive may be more difficult if the guest is unexpected so maybe the holidays is a good time to try to be more aware of the types of messes that are left.  Smaller messes are easier to clean up quickly when surprise visitors show up on your doorstep.

A good host always has food in her pantry to feed guests. Since we've already discussed that we don't always know when guests are going to arrive, try to keep some items in your pantry or freezer that will keep for a while but can be prepared quickly.  Quick meals like spaghetti or soup are easy comfort foods that can be made with little hassle if you need to feed your son's friends who show up from college a day early or the parent of one of your kid's playmates. Now, if you know guests are coming to stay for a little visit, you have more time to prepare and should be able to stock your pantry with the essentials.  Since everyone doesn't always wake up at the same time, it's nice to have quick and easy breakfast foods and snacks that guests can grab without bothering you about it.

You can also do these little things at the beginning of the holiday season to make preparation for any guests that might arrive and stay overnight--put clean sheets on the bed.  Maybe you haven't had guests in a few months and the sheets got a little stale.  Swap them out so that holiday guests have fresh sheets to sleep on.  The same thing goes for the towels in the guest bath.  Give the ones that have been sitting there un-used another wash just to fluff them up.  Place little conveniences in your guest bathroom--small bars of soap or travel size shampoos, so guest have the essentials available to them if they forgot something at home.

We love a cozy home filled with laughter and smiles so we hope these little tips will help make your holiday season more enjoyable!  Happy December 1st, everyone!