A Peek At My Thanksgiving Table

A Peek At My Thanksgiving Table

This year I’ve decided to hold my annual Thanksgiving dinner a week earlier than usual. My adult children have to go to several homes to attend numerous Thanksgiving dinners—eating Thanksgiving dinner sometimes four times a day. For many years they were more than willing to do this. I decided that this would make it easier for everyone, including the newest 2-month-old addition to the family. Also, giving us more time to visit together as a family during our Thanksgiving celebration. Since my Christmas decorating officially starts on Halloween (this provides plenty of time to decorate my own house and my client’s homes and time to photograph my holiday decor). Most years, my own home is in full-scale holiday decorating mode completing just before Thanksgiving. This year my early Thanksgiving idea lost me a week. However, somehow the house is ready, and I am excited to share a peek at the decorations with you.

broken floor tile

As always, my tablescape is a mix of old and new Items. Some of my cherished pieces of blue and white china from my many years of collecting, mixed with new items like my jewel-toned velvet pumpkins and the beautiful new chinoiserie pumpkins that I stumbled upon earlier this year. I added silver and mirrored chargers purchased for previous events that I have held, antique crystal candle holders, and a few silver pumpkins wrapped with iridescent pearls. This year, I am using cobalt blue and silver for all of my holiday decorations in my dining room, so my Thanksgiving table is following suit. The numerous combinations of colors that I have used for this room are always one of my favorites, so I have used it again this year—an easy transition to my Christmas Decor.

Add rich color.

This year, I’m using cobalt blue satin napkins folded with the silver metallic linen blend napkin. Silver napkin rings trimmed with rhinestones will hold these napkins on top of my place settings. As I’ve mentioned before, don’t be afraid to mix and match when you set the table. When I use my blue and white collection, you might notice that there are about four different patterns of blue and white in one of my table settings. I prefer this layered look of compatible patterns mixed rather than the look of just one pattern on the table, which gives it a lot more interest. It also allows me to add pieces to my collection without worrying about having a certain amount of plates. I know I can always mix a new piece in with the others.

If you prefer a more clean-lined look, you could certainly use one pattern or solid colored plates. When using solid plates, I like to add some contrast to the table with color or pattern in another way. Maybe a more colorful centerpiece, or even a simple floral strong in structure, like an orchid, gives you a much more modern look. When I’m setting the table for a sit-down dinner, I try to keep any centerpiece or center decoration low enough to where you can see over it, especially crucial during Thanksgiving when you are probably going to be sitting at the table for a while. Depending on your table’s shape, you will need to decide how much space you need to create a centerpiece accordingly.

I always use place cards at my holiday table. When my kids were little, it was always a fun project to create place cards for everyone. I still enjoy creating different place cards for everyone joining us for dinner and coming up with different ways to display the place cards. When it comes to glassware, I treat this the same way I treat my china or plates. For this table, I’ll be mixing and matching. This year I combined two patterns of cobalt blue glassware with silver goblets. I also mixed in a few silver-rimmed antique glasses since we were using silver on the table. I try to mix glasses of complementary proportions; this is the key to mixing glassware.

Instead of fresh flowers, which I usually use, I used a few potted flowering plants on my tables for this tablescape. The small lacey blossoms on these flowering plants were pretty and delicate, and I knew they would look great with all of the chinoiserie patterns. I placed these flowers in white ceramic pots. The details on these pots complement the Chippendale details in my high gloss white dining room chairs. I have enjoyed these potted flowering plants in my home all fall and decided to work them into my Thanksgiving tablescape. A few ice and glitter-covered greenery stems add some additional sparkle to the table and complement the room’s Christmas tree, which is ready and waiting to greet guests in this dining room. I’ll add a few more small details to finish out this tablescape, but I thought I would give you a quick peek. Happy Decorating!

Until Next Time,
Gia

From The Blog

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Preparing to celebrate the holidays at home

Preparing to Celebrate the Holidays at Home

After a crazy year of making adjustments in our lives due to the pandemic, many of us might be adjusting our holiday plans slightly. You may have fewer events to attend, smaller events at home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and more time at home. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t still celebrate the holidays with style and beauty.

broken floor tile
Add rich color.

Here are a few tips:

ONE

Decorate! Over the many years of decorating professionally, both year-round and for Christmas, one thing I know for sure, your environment affects the way you feel. Walking into a warm, inviting, and well-decorated house can be a great boost to your mood throughout the year and the holiday season. Maybe this year, you are working from home; this could give you a little more time to try some of those Christmas decorating ideas that you never seem to get around to doing. Start early to avoid the stress of getting your home in order. Make your home as festive as possible. If the kids are home, involve them in the process by making some decorations. It’s an excellent idea for a kid’s activity and a great way to personalize your decor with handcrafted ornaments or decorations.

TWO 

Mix things up a bit. If you usually host a Thanksgiving dinner for 30 with paper plates buffet style. This year, since you might have just a few people, bring out your china and be a little more elaborate on your table setting. Allow yourself to explore some possibilities that you couldn’t do with 30 people. Setting the table for a sit-down dinner might be a fun way to do things a bit differently

THREE

Instead of one large party or gathering, try hosting a few smaller gatherings with friends and family throughout the season. Spread out the fun and visit with your guests on a more personal level. Maybe plan an activity done with just a few people, like cookie baking or gingerbread house decorating. Take advantage of the smaller-scale gatherings and plan accordingly.

FOUR

Fill your house with the sounds and scents of the holidays. Even if your holidays will be more low key than you might have envisioned, enjoy the holidays’ sounds and smells throughout the season in your home. The sounds of the season’s holiday music and aroma can be uplifting and enjoyed even if you are just by yourself working from home.

 

Until next time,
Gia

 

From The Blog

Selecting Your Christmas Tree

Selecting Your Christmas Tree

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How To Store Christmas Decorations

How To Store Christmas Decorations

After the holiday season, you might be ready to start packing up those holiday decorations so you can start freshening up your home. By taking some time to organize your decorations before storing them things will go a lot smoother when you pull out those holiday decorations for next Christmas.
How To Store Christmas Decorations

1. Send a note

The first thing that I like to do before removing decorations is to make myself some holiday notes. I make some notes and schedule the note to be delivered to my inbox next year just before I start to decorate. I also make notes about anything I want to remember about my holiday card list, etc. I include thoughts about things that I might need for next year. For instance, if I need a new tree stand or if I used 15 feet of garland on a banister and next year I want to use 17 feet. I will be aware of that before I start decorating. When that note to myself arrives in my inbox the following year, I’m always happy that I took the time to write these thoughts down as I may have forgotten these things by the following year. Another idea is to take advantage of the after-holiday sales going on now and get a head start for next year!  By picking up those missing items now  you can store them for next year.

2. Removal of the ornaments

Always remove tree ornaments in the reverse order from how they were installed. For instance, if you put garland or beads on the tree last, take it off the tree first. This will keep things from getting tangled up. 

Sort and store

3. Sort and store

Sort and store ornaments so you can find things easily next year. Use a system that makes sense to you. For me, I change things around a bit every year so I sort things by color. I use clear plastic bins and sort all like-colored ornaments together.

I don’t use fancy ornament bins or holders as I have a lot to store and I need to keep things as condensed and easy to pack as possible. I use clear rectangular plastic bins. ornaments are packed in on top of a layer of bubble wrap. Glass ornaments might be packed in smaller shoe boxes or small plastic shows bins then packed in the larger bins for an extra layer of protection. 

4. Wreath storage

I store wreaths wrapped in plastic hung on the wall in my storage area. Larger more delicate wreaths are stored wrapped and placed on shelves to stack.

5. Artificial trees

I don’t use special tree storage holders or bags. I find them too frustrating and limiting with the size trees I am using. Depending on the type of tree that you have and how it is put together, I might adjust things as needed. After years of trying different things every artificial tree now gets treated the same way. I keep the whole tree together in one piece, lay it flat in the middle of a large piece of heavy-duty plastic and wrap it tightly with the branches folded up, then wrap with duct tape. The whole tree is then carried into the storage area where it will stand straight up leaning against the wall until it gets carried out next year. Trust me this works best with 2 people. Depending on where you store your decorations and how you access that area, you might have to make some adjustments to these suggestions. Small trees can be stored in bins wrapped and standing straight up in the bin.

6. Lights

Because I deal with a large amount of Christmas lights for work and I handle them often, I have my way of slightly folding them into a plastic bin so that they never get tangled. But the easiest way to wrap lights around an old cardboard paper towel roll. This prevents them

from getting tangled. This works well for ribbon beads and small garlands. I store all Christmas lights in a bin with all of the needed extension cords.

7. Bin storage

I store all of my decorations in the same sized plastic bins then all of these bins are stored on shelves in a designated area in my basement. I will never admit to the number of bins that it takes to store all my decorations but let’s just say that there are a lot of bins. A few years ago I added several shelving units and moved everything into bins that fit these units perfectly. So now everything is labeling and orderly with everything having a specific place.

Even if you have just a few decorations in your collection to store, I’m hoping that some of these tips will come to be helpful when dismantling your Christmas decor and keeping everything stored safely for next year.

Unit next time,

Gia

Artificial trees

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A Peek Inside My Holiday House Project

A Peek Inside My Holiday House Project

Every year the Concord Museum in Concord, Massachusetts holds it’s holiday house tour event. Several house are chosen to be on the tour and interior designers are asked to participate by decorating one of the the homes for the event. This year I was honored to be invited to design one of these beautiful homes on the tour.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Visions of sugarplums dancing in your head”? Well, that’s kind of what it’s like when you’re decorating a holiday house.

A Peek Inside My Holiday House Project

The Creative Spark.

You have free reign as a designer to put your stamp on a beautiful home. The designer selects, provides and installs all decorations and you have a very small time window in which to do it. You must work swiftly and very creatively to reach the finish line under these circumstances, allowing for any creative pivots along the way.

The incredible home that I chose for the tour, yes sometimes you can choose from the participating houses, already had beautiful architecture as it is one on Concord’s best examples of pedimented, colonnaded classic Greek revival style homes. It was recently renovated and it’s larger sized rooms allowed for the perfect environment to greet holiday house tour guests.

The next step was to meet the homeowner as all of the homes on the tour are private residences.

The beginning.

The homeowner was a beautiful woman who’s smile lit up her home even before I added a single Christmas light. She graciously allowed me to use her beautiful home as my blank palette giving me free rein to create a Christmas Wonderland for the holiday house tour. This lovely homeowner also welcomed me into her home with coffee and breakfast on those 6 AM tree decorating sessions needed to make up for the schedule changes since 2 or the 3 days planned to decorate became days a major snowstorm.

At least the snow was fluffy and white, which worked perfectly with the decor!

The homeowner also allowed me to incorporate some of her beautiful things into the Decor design and volunteered to be an extra set of hands as my assistant throughout the process.

The entry hall provided a beautiful staircase and a gorgeous full-length mirror which I adorned with sparkling white magnolias and gold ornaments. A large vase at the end of the curves entryway directed tour attendees through the living room. The living room was decorated with a rich mix of jewel tones. The glistening of mercury glass and gold antique Christmas trees greet you as a series of festooned garlands hang cheerfully throughout the space. We also get a great view of the dining room where the table is set for Christmas dinner in green velvet and metallic gold. I used a multitude of complementary greens, a harlequin patterned plate and deep rich red accents complement the adjoining living space.

The smell of pine and peppermint draws you into the kitchen where the decor is all about icy pastels. I used homemade custom candy canes and old fashioned candy from Priscilla’s Candy Shop (Located in Concord and Gardner, MA) give this kitchen the feel of a dreamy sugar-coated Christmas. I am so grateful that Priscilla’s was happy to help me by providing candy in the colors I needed for the space. (how lucky am I that I have a client that owns a candy shop?)

The tree was adorned with color and organic elements giving it a fresh but nostalgic feel. The table is set and awaiting a Christmas breakfast and the island allows the perfect place to display a pastel gingerbread house.

Fresh pine wreaths align the far wall, green ribbon sparkles when the morning sun shines through it. This parade of wreaths leads your eye to the back family room. The beautiful blush pink is complemented by changing glass trees and blush pink ornaments. White snow adorns the family room tree for a fresh peaceful space.

People usually think that doing Christmas decorating professionally must be “fun”, although it has its jolly moments, in reality, it’s more like a tactical Defcon mission. In my 20+ years of experience, this must be approached with the precision of a sharpshooter, the stamina of a marathon runner, the shopping strategies of a black Friday shopper, and the ability to visualize and create numerous things at once while being highly productive at the tasks following those creative ideas.

You must also have a great ability to improvise, hang from frozen ladders in the cold, tie perfect bows quickly and efficiently in mid-air, and with a great amount of patience. In the end, it is something that I have a passion for doing.

This year’s Holiday House project was enjoyed by approximately 1,000 guests and I really enjoyed meeting all of them.

In year’s past, I have completed large commercial Christmas decorating projects including one which put me in Boston’s government center decorating Santa’s house through the night, in the rain and high winds for an upcoming event.  In recent years, I focus on only a few select Residential Christmas decorating projects per year, as the time window is small. Usually, this service is reserved for former design clients. We do book these projects in the early fall for the upcoming holiday season.

I hope you enjoy a peek into my holiday house project!

Until next time,
Gia

From The Blog

Selecting Your Christmas Tree

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How To Prepare Your Home For Holiday Entertaining Even When Your Space Isn’t Ideal

How To Prepare Your Home For Holiday Entertaining Even When Your Space Isn’t Ideal

The holidays are here, which means it’s time to entertain family and friends.

Maybe you are opening your home up to numerous party guests, or just a few family members, it’s nice to make everything in your home feel a little more festive.

How To Prepare Your Home For Holiday Entertaining Even When Your Space Isn’t Ideal

It’s not always easy.

Just remember your home doesn’t have to be perfect to start, some well placed holiday decor can still create a beautiful environment for entertaining. I remember one Christmas many years ago, my own home was in the middle of a massive kitchen renovation during the holiday season. I was still determined to have my holiday party, even though my rough demolished horsehair plastered walls and exposed lathe in my circa 1700’s home were the only things in my kitchen space. I busied myself behind the scenes in an adjacent room, creating a series of decorated trees mounted on wheels like a stage set. When construction ended on Friday afternoon, I draped the entire space with white fabric and white lights, from the ceiling I hung a multitude of icicles, then I wheeled in a parade of Christmas trees to camouflage the room. When the sun set that evening, the glistening of white lights turned on and candlelight illuminated through the entire space.
My tented icy wonderland room was beautiful and somehow the rough textured walls only enhanced the look. Guests loved the look and had no idea that just hours before the party, trees were being rolled around the house.

Illuminate the entire space.
Focus your efforts on your table setting.

The passion.

Yes, I am a professional designer who has an extreme passion for Holiday decor and a drive for entertaining. But with a few simple steps, any space can be ready for holiday entertaining.

1. Use what you have.

Use your holiday decor to distract from the least appealing features in your home and highlight the best features of your home. If you have a beautiful fireplace, great!  If it’s not so great, use draped garlands and decor to have it complement the holiday space.

2. Illuminate the entire space.

White lights have a way of making everything look magical and pulled together. Stick with little white lights if you are trying to make a space look cohesive and pulled together. Even with minimal ornaments, white lights look great for your holiday decor.

3. Set up a buffet table.

Especially if your kitchen space is not ideal, lead your guests to another area where a buffet table can be set up. If you don’t have the perfect furniture piece for this use a folding table or even a plywood table. Once covered with tablecloths and decor this option will work great for a serving buffet.

4. Appeal to all the senses.

Your guests will always feel welcomed when they walk into a space filled with holiday music and the scents of pine or cinnamon.

5. Focus your efforts on your table setting.

Whether I am designing holiday decor for a small space or a full-scaled holiday show house or house tour, the table is always a focal point. I focus a lot of time and planning on the holiday table.

Think about what you are doing with your table setting early on in the planning process so that you can have the items that you are using cleaned, prepared and ready to go.

I have created a special holiday table setting guide for you that will help you create your own unique holiday table. Be sure to download it below.

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving and a Festive Holiday Season!

Until Next Time,
Gia

From The Blog

Selecting Your Christmas Tree

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Setting The Table For Easter

Step 1- Choose China or Dishware
Creating a beautiful Easter table starts with choosing dishware. You can mix a few china or dishware patterns together or use just one pattern. If you are starting from scratch, white plates are a great choice because they are so versatile. You can use white plates and dishware with so many different tablecloths and flower options to create different looks for every holiday throughout the year.

Step 2- Choose a Tablecloth
Use a solid color or a boldly patterned fabric that will complement your dishes. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you don’t want to use a tablecloth, look for some inexpensive placemats. You could also add color and texture with a table runner. Choose something that pulls together your color scheme.

Step 3- Create a Centerpiece
Arrangements of spring flowers make a great centerpiece. Individual blossoms of spring color and also be grouped in individual vases to create a great Spring table arrangement. Choose one color or use a mix of 2-3 colors. Use something unusual to hold your flowers, an old antique pitcher, a clear canister filled with jellybeans can add lots of colors and create a fresh springtime look. Also, remember to create a centerpiece that allows you to see everyone at the table.

Step 4- Choosing Glassware
When creating an Easter table design, we can’t forget about the glassware. I believe that glassware one of the most important details of your whole table design. Whether you are doing a simple table setting for a casual gathering with just one piece of glassware per table setting, or a formal dinner with numerous pieces, this adds sparkle and dimension to your table design. If numerous pieces of glassware are being used, I like to vary the heights as much as possible, but be sure to keep all glassware pieces proportioned to each other, this creates movement and balance across your table. Choose clear glassware or a color that complements your table, I like to mix colors to create a nice balanced yet interesting look. Glassware doesn’t have to be expensive, there are so many options to choose from when purchasing, think about your china colors coordinate your selections with items that you already own. Sometimes I use different items at each place setting, don’t be afraid to mix and match. You might only have 3 glasses of one style and 3 of another but if you alternate each place setting, it will look cohesive.

Step 5- Decorative Details
Add personality to your table by adding decorative details. With the addition of 2 young grandchildren in my family, numerous types of bunnies, both chocolate and gilded, have once again appeared on my Easter table. Use what you have, heirloom salt and pepper shakers, napkin rings, unique items that pull together the entire look of your table. It can be fun to incorporate meaningful items from family members, like great grandma’s crystal bowl, filled with candy or flowers. Just be sure it all ties in together in theme, color and proportion. Too many different things together will look cluttered and messy. Layer your table carefully, and just like putting on jewelry, if you are not sure, remove a piece. A little decorative detail goes a long way when mixed with the other elements of your table.

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