Let's Deck the Halls! How to Get Home Ready for the Holidays
Whether it was a sadly neglected tradition or a bittersweet relief, most of us missed out on the holidays last year. No Thanksgiving dinner parsed out among grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, no winter evenings cozied up with hot chocolate and stockings hung with care, no seasonal décor spread over the walls to welcome the end of the year and the people who make their annual visit with it. Losing those gatherings with distant family and friends was just one of 2020’s many thorns to stick in our sides.
But now that 2021 has brought its bounty of vaccinations and far more open doors, everyone is ready to make up for those lost holiday get-togethers. Loved ones are about to come crashing into our homes like a festive tidal wave. So, let’s be ready for them with a space decked out for an unforgettable welcome.
Pass the Stuffing, Dress the Table
Yes, we all have fond visions of the TV-perfect living room swaddled in décor for TV-perfect holiday specials. Some of us manage to match that dapper parlor dressing. Some even surpass it. And why not? The living room is often where we choose to pile in the bulk of the paraphernalia for our many celebrations. Trees and menorahs and garlands, oh my. The whole room gets buried in the joyous clutter of wintery jubilation, making the foundational furnishings underneath disappear.
The same doesn’t always hold true for the second most important space of a holiday—the dining room. Even those who keep some traditions down to close family and friends are ready to enjoy a fuller evening feast for November and December, inviting in the distant relatives and assorted plus-ones. Whether or not you update the living room in layers of twinkle and tinsel for intimate scenes, the dining room is always where you and your guests are bound to crowd in for the big day’s banquet. But how to dress it for the occasion?
Nostalgia is hitting heavier than ever these days. It seems like everyone is longing for a simpler, more dignified vibe. Going with the classical style of something like the San Mateo 7-Pc Dining Set and its antique sensibilities might be the way to go. In the interim between meals, be sure to leave out a bowl of clove-pierced oranges for an old school ancestor to air freshener and an easy DIY accent.
On the flip side, perhaps you’re ready for something with a bit more extravagance. If you’re in the mood for a holiday season with a glossier edge, a collection in the fashion of the Eclipse 7-Pc Oval Dining Set would be ideal. It’s a lushly luxurious look perfect for dinner, drinks, and crystalline décor. Bring out some glass candleholders to throw some ambient light on the scene.
Looking between the two ends of the style spectrum, some may feel torn. Classic aesthetics are so long-lived for a reason, but the glamour of modern chic is just as mesmerizing—so why not go for a look compatible with both? Arrays like the Ryker 7-Pc Dining Set are designed to swing between the timeless and the contemporary with ease. It stands up to the raucous get-togethers as well as the more distinguished moments of thanks, toasts, and talk. This is a look that pairs well with any shade of holiday dress-up. Ribbons and foliage or velvets and crystalware.
Now, all this is fine for bigger picture settings. But what about the details? What about the vital bits and pieces that are the proof-positive that the annual magic is here? Let's start with...
Scents of the Season
It’s been brought up before in our piece on Autumn Ambience and it holds true here: distinctive aromas are the quickest way to spark memory, emotion, and a feeling of recognition. The same way you catch a whiff of pumpkin and think of fall or breathe in fresh flowers and picture spring, winter and its bevy of holidays are also tied to certain perfumes.
As mentioned above, one of the oldest tricks for this is the clove orange. One fresh orange, a few spiky pieces of clove punched into the rind, and you can leave it out to scent the whole room. Potent spices like cinnamon and coriander will do the trick too. The smell of peppermint is another winner, likewise for the evergreen aroma of pine—candy canes and tree branches, ahoy. And, of course, there’s the warm smell of baking. Fresh rolls, baked apples, sugar cookies, challah, doughnuts, gingerbread… Be it from a do-it-yourself marathon or a little help from the right candle, having specific scents on the air lets sensory magic take over the moment a guest walks in.
Decorating from Designer to DIY
It seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? By now every store you step into has aisles dedicated to the act of ornamentation. Pretty baubles are offered up for branches, tables, mantelpieces, bannisters, shelves, windows, lawns, anyplace and every place there’s room. Some of us have boxes of stuff ready to be taken out of storage; yesteryear’s décor coming out on display after the usual hibernation. Which is all lovely and fine. But this is the first holiday season post-2020. It’s time to do more.
This year, stop flipping through movies and blogs and Pinterest posts that show you all the little touches of darling DIY grandeur that you never quite get around to under all the excuses of ‘I don’t have the time, I don’t have the patience, I’m not talented enough for that.’ You do, you are, and you should at least try. Schmaltzy as it sounds—plenty of us are guilty of rolling our eyes when the do-it-yourselfer in our lives goes on about the virtues of crafting stuff from scratch—the act of creating something adds import to it. Making something, whether you’re an amateur or an expert, adds some magic.
No, this doesn’t just apply to the hobbyists delicately painting statuettes of reindeer and little children pasting construction paper stars together. Even if you plan to fill the bulk of your space with chic ornaments harvested from all those handy holiday aisles, you owe yourself a try at invention. Bake, paint, weave, string, draw, carve, frame; so long as you put something of yourself into it, the space and the holiday your décor is meant for will carry that much more meaning.
Which brings us to the most important thing to have ready...
Yes, you. You and your loved ones. You and your pets. You, for your own sake.
Perhaps you’re playing host. Perhaps you’re the one traveling to faraway kin and welcoming friends. Either way, know that you are the most vital component as these long-postponed gatherings roll in. The walls could be bare, the table undressed, the air absent of scents and songs, but so long as you are there, so long as you are still here, you have the most crucial part of the home taken care of.
Give thanks, give love, and give a cheer as doors are opened once again to all the people we have missed.