Brighter your home with holiday surprise

December 06, 2008



Scripps Howard News Service

Start the countdown.

In just a few days, the madcap and marvelous holiday season will be cranked up to full force. This year, as you pull out boxes filled with decorations to brighten all your winter celebrations, from Thanksgiving all the way through New Year's, I want to encourage you to sweat the small stuff.

In years past, I have had a blast going over the top with my holiday decor, creating grand displays that knocked guests' socks off. But this year, I'm going for a quiet, more edited look. I plan to sprinkle little seasonal touches throughout my home so guests can discover one surprise after another when they visit during the holidays.


If you want to sweat the small stuff this year, too, here are a few ideas to get you started.

DECORATE DOORKNOBS: Imagine how fun it will be for your guests to reach for a doorknob and be greeted by a sweet seasonal display. Create a creative cluster out of faux greens, golden ribbons and a small, framed print, and hang it from a little-used doorknob, like the one on your front coat closet. Or try this: String a lovely tree ornament on a satin ribbon and hang it from the key in the lock of your antique secretary or armoire.

ADD KNICKKNACKS TO NAPKINS: Sometimes, all it takes is one creative touch to turn your table setting from drab to dramatic. One of my favorite ways to jazz up a table is to tie up cloth napkins with a little something special. For Thanksgiving, use raffia ribbon to hold your napkins, then tuck in a twig of bittersweet. For your winter table, trim off a few wisps of fresh pine from the bottom of your Christmas tree or an evergreen in your yard, and insert it into a ribbon (how about traditional red or a spunky black-and-white check?) tied around your napkins.

STACK A STASH OF SEASONAL BOOKS: Holidays make me feel nostalgic. And I've found that one interesting way to pay homage to the past is by using old books in your decorating. During the holidays, work a few vintage holiday-themed books, old music scores or even antique winter postcards into a display on your coffee table, on the nightstand of your guest room or on the desk in your home office.

SHOWCASE SEASONAL COLORS: Invite your upholstered furnishings to join in the holiday festivities by decorating your seating areas with the tiniest touches of seasonal color. Spruce up your sofa, club chair or window seat with one or two pillows featuring a subdued red-and-green glen plaid, paisley or stripe. Add a red-and-green duvet to the foot of your bed. Toss a whimsical holiday-print tablecloth over your kitchen table.

FIGURE IN FIGURINES: I adore both sophisticated and silly figurines, and they are a staple of my year-round decor. Occasionally I will bring out special figurines I display only during the holidays, like the deer statuettes that I feature in woodland displays on my dining-room table. But usually, I add quirky holiday touches to figurines I keep on display year-round. Toss a small evergreen wreath around the head of a crumbling garden bust. Or tie an ornament on a satin ribbon, then dangle it from the hand of an angel figurine.

GREEN BOUQUETS: Arm yourself with a few pretty evergreen picks, or keep the trimmings off the bottom of your Christmas tree and use them to add bits of holiday green in odd spots about your home. Fill a vase in your guest bedroom, powder room or office with a simple, aromatic bouquet of fresh pine twigs and berries. Create a nosegay with clippings from the evergreens in your back yard, and hang it from your kitchen window sash. Tuck some in among the candles on your mantel or the display of china in your hutch.

Mary Carol Garrity is the proprietor of three successful home-furnishings stores and is the author of several best-selling books on home decorating. Write her at nellhills(at) For more stories visit Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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