2016 archive

Winter White New Year’s Eve Celebration

Are you hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration this year or are you going out?  We usually don’t do much on this night.  We usually stay in with our kids and ring in the New year in our jammies watching the Dick Clark Rocking New Year’s special.  However, I do like to take down my Christmas table and set it up for New Year’s. I knew from the start I wanted my table to be all white. We always do a midnight toast to ring in the new year and I love to set goals and get pumped up for the year ahead.

I have to say I love my table this year.  I kept the greenery from my Christmas table which you can see here if you missed it.  I love using some of the same materials from other tablescapes.  It makes setting up the next one that much easier. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  You can make things look beautiful without having to own a china store.

Silver and white New Year's Eve tablescape 2017

One of my goals this year is to try my hand at flower arranging.  I figured why not try to make the NYE flowers for this tablescape.  I wanted to use all white flowers which were harder to find then I thought.  I had to go to four different grocery stores to find enough flowers for what I needed, but it was worth it in the end. I was so nervous that I would waste all the money I just spent on those gorgeous flowers. In the end, I was happy with my first attempt.  I have a long way to go, but you have to start somewhere.  What new things are you going to try in 2017?  I would love to hear them.

Plates and champagne flutes from Homegoods

I love this silver and winter white combination.  The crystal candle holders are from Crate and Barrel.  The plate and champagne flutes are a Home Goods purchase.

You can use the same greenery you used at Christmas for your winter decor. @yourstrulyjenn.com

As you saw in the Christmas post, I used the same greenery, white artificial flowers, as well as the same chargers.  However, this table took on a completely different look.

This is my first attempt at flower arranging www.yourstrulyjenn.com

I set out my artificial flowers and greenery in advance and then put out the fresh flowers right before my event.  I always try to use some kind of fresh materials. Please leave me a comment below and let me know what your goals are for 2017.  If you are going out on NYE please be safe and drive carefully.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Links To Like December 2016

Well I can’t believe we are heading into 2017.  I haven’t done one of these in a while, but I thought it was a good time to tell you about some things I have been loving in case you are still looking for some last minute gifts.

Stocking hung by the chimney with care. @yourstrulyjenn.com

Items I’m Currently Loving

I am still in love will these Pottery Barn bean bag chairs.  Everyone loves them from toddlers to adults.  They come in super handy for lounging and extra seating in our movie room.

These are perfect for this time of year, but I use them year round.  Check out these twinkle lights from Anthropologie.  My daughter will be getting an apartment soon and she may be finding some of these in her stack of gifts.

I am currently reading Debbie Macomber’s Twelve Days Of Christmas.  It is about a Blogger (go figure) whose neighbor is a real piece of work.  She decides to kill him with kindness and write about it on her blog.  It is a quick read and will get you in the holiday spirit.

Check out this clothing line from Family Christian. They make christian inspired t-shirts, sweatshirts, and wrist bands. One of my favorites is “In Jesus name I play.”

Do you know what Stance socks are?  If you have a teenager you do!  Every year we open matching pajama pants on Christmas Eve. To make a long story short, nobody is wearing the pants I buy.  I think these socks will make a better gift and a darn cute matching family picture.

Are you able to find those Hatchimals anywhere?  Well I think these Fur Real Friends are really amazing and would make a great gift.  Plus you can find them in stores.  I saw some at Target this morning.

I have always wanted a set of white and silver dishes and I love these from Kate Spade’s home line.

Who invented stockings anyway? That person should be on the naughty list.   By the time you stuff stockings you have spent enough money to buy several more gifts. Are you finished shopping yet? I did a lot of shopping online this year, but still need to get a couple more stocking stuffers.  I hope you are not feeling too stressed and can enjoy your family during this holiday season.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

Making your Home Cozy for the Winter

Cold weather is not my favorite, but decorating for colder weather sure is. Adding cozy textures to your home is a simple way to add warmth. When the weather changes so does your decor. There are several things I think of when I think of winter. I think of a warm fire, cozy blankets, chunky sweaters, comfort food, and football season. My husband likes that I’m a fan of the last one. However, I still like to keep my decor simple and on the neutral side.  Douglas Elliman asked me to give you some tips and inspiration for decorating your home in those winter months. For some amazing homes, head over and check out their Florida properties.  I can guarantee you, you will immediately feel right at home on their site. Here is my inspiration board of how I would design my dream cozy living room.

My cozy winter neutral glam inspiration board

In the first part of winter, you may be celebrating the holidays with your family and friends. I celebrate Christmas and decorate in late November and early December. I always enjoy decorating for the holidays. When you think of decorating your home for Christmas you might immediately think of the traditional red and green. I have used those colors for many years, but in the last couple of years I have ventured out of my comfort zone and tried other themes and colors. This year I stayed very neutral and decorated using white, gold, silver, and rose gold. I really was inspired by the look of mixing all the metallics together. You can check out where I threw a little plaid into my decorating in my Merry and plaid home tour here. After I take down my holiday decor my home always seems so bare. I like to add some winter decor to carry me over until spring.  You can still keep your Christmas greenery up for a while and mix in your winter decor.  I hope you get some decorating ideas from my holiday decor and some tips on how to make your home cozy for the winter.

 

This winter wonderland tree makes you want to cozy up by the fire. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

This white, gold, and silver tree is elegant yet has that cozy vibe. You just want to pick a spot in front of the fire and relax with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Check out this winter wonderland tree and cozy setting. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

Putting something at the base of your tree can really set the tone for your theme.  These accessories really make you feel welcome and cozy.

The small details of this tree are exquisite. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

A close up of the tree shows small details like the glitz and glamour from  the crystals to the feathers.

The white flowers and gold ornaments look beautiful in the lights. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

Layering your tree gives you that natural look. You have a more symmetrical look on each side and from top to bottom.

The white feathers make the tree a perfect winter wonderland. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

I used pillows at the base of the tree as well as a snowflake tree skirt.  You could use a faux fur throw and make it look like a tree skirt.

This chair looks beautiful next to this tree. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

Since the tree is so glamorous and soft I added a leather chair to the mix to give the look a little masculinity.  I think it is the perfect piece to finish off the look.

Don't you just want to curl up and read a book at the bottom of this tree? www.yourstrulyjenn.com

I like to shop my home first to see what items I can use to finish off the bottom of my tree.  I have wrapped empty packages and made them look extra special with fancy details.  You don’t always have to go out and purchase extra to create something amazing.

The fireplace looks so amazing next to this tree. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care... www.yourstrulyjenn.com

This is the first time I have put a tree by my fireplace and I absolutely love it.  It’s crazy, but I’m already thinking about what to do next year.

A cozy scene complete with fire. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

A cozy spot by the fire is where I want to be. I hope you were able to pick up some inspiration from this look.  You can still have comfort while being stylish and showing your personality.  Check out some more tips on how to decorate your home for the rest of the winter.

Ways to Make Your Home Cozy

Add blankets to your seating areas- We have tons of extra blankets in each room of the house because I keep our home a little chilly. But in the winter you can find me snuggling with my hubby and maltese to stay warm and cozy. I also add heavier blankets in my bedroom. Layering your bed with lots of pillows and blankets will keep the cold out. Adding different patterns, colors, and textures will give your room a more comfortable feel.

There are several accessories you can add to your home to make it more cozy in the winter. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

Add candles to your decor- Candles instantly warm up a home. They add light, warmth, and ambiance to any room. I always have candles around but especially in the winter. This season I added rose gold battery operated candles and they are gorgeous. Having them amongst my white ones added a little glamour. The light that the candles give off make such a beautiful glow. It is the perfect lighting for a quiet evening at home.

I put candles everywhere in my home.

Sheepskin rugs and faux fur– Rugs create such an intimate space. Kids can easily get on the floor and play. You can get comfy in the floor and watch a movie on family movie night. Other comfy items you can try are sleeping bags and bean bag chairs. I have these bean bag chairs from Pottery Barn and every age group from 3-adult have instantly loved them when they come over. They were on a huge backorder for a long time. I hope you can get them now. They were so popular. What a great way to instantly up the cozy factor.

Change Your tablescape- I love to use my white dishes especially in the winter. I try to use my everyday dishes as to make my table a little less formal then what I had at Christmas. Then I can add any color napkins and neutral items like pinecones, fresh flowers, and candles.

Start a warm fire- I am a very cold natured person. When I was little my parents said I could always be found sitting in front of the fire until my back was so warm they had to tell me to move. Hearing the crackling fire roaring in the fireplace is such an amazing feeling and can really help you get through those cold winter months.

Putting extra blankets around your house makes your home more cozy.

Add a winter scent- We equate memories with different scents. Pine, cinnamon, spice, cranberry, and vanilla are all winter scents. Think of baking Christmas pies all day long.  There are candles that smell like that. Wouldn’t you love to recreate that scent? You can use candles, potpourri for your stove, or wallflowers that you plug in.

Decorating with family pictures- Don’t you feel more comfortable in someone’s home that is decorated with personal touches such as loved one’s photographs? My daughter is a senior and we just got her senior photos back and they are amazing. Her portraits are gracing our walls and we are very proud parents. I like to see those personal items in someone’s home. That’s why when you sell your home, real estate agents ask you to depersonalize your home so other’s can visualize their stuff in the space.

Getting through winter is easier when you know ways to spruce up your home for the season.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

Rose Gold Holiday House Tour Part 2 2016

I hope you saw my Merry & Plaid holiday home tour part 1 and the reveal of my blush and rose gold tree.  If you missed those posts I would love for you to go back and check it out.  Then join in again to this tour.  If you are new to my blog, welcome.  I’m Jennifer, an interior stylist, and I just love Christmas.  I am one of those early Christmas decorators.  Since I have so much to do, I always start before Thanksgiving so when I return home after the break the house is decorated and I can take pictures and edit. This year I decided to go with a rose gold and blush theme for my tree in the kitchen. Since the kitchen is the hub of our home I change that tree every year.  I enjoy coming up with something new to express my creativity, but of course there are some traditions that stay the same no matter what.

My daughter is a senior this year and Christmas as we know it will drastically change for our family.  As your kids get older things slowly change and your traditions evolve and gradually change to match their age. I am trying to hold on to our Christmas memories and make this an amazing holiday for my family.  Every year we do a fancy brunch at The Founder’s Inn.  This is one of our favorite days of the year.  We get all dressed up and enjoy each other while eating amazing food. We take tons of pictures and walk around seeing all the beautiful decorations and lights.  I’m so looking forward to spending this time with my family.

 Rose Gold Holiday Home Tour 2016 Yours Truly Jenn

If you collect neutral ornaments such as silver, gold, and glass you can easily change your ribbon and add a few colored ornaments and you have an inexpensive way to change your theme.

Rose gold and gold metallics were used on this tree along with blush ornaments.

This is a green tree that I add lots of other limbs to each year to give it a flocked look.  It also gives my trees that layered look so there are no big gaps or holes.

This 7 1/2 foot tree is accented with mixed metallics and blush ornaments.

I love decorating the bottom of the tree with beautiful packages that match my theme.  These blush packages from Sugar Paper for Target are the perfect fit.

Lovely talescape with blush Christmas tree.

This is the first Christmas that I have my new kitchen table.  I love the way this rose gold look just shines against the tree.  I know I’m obsessed with rose gold jewelry and now I think I’m obsessed with rose gold dishes too.

Green, gold and copper Christmas tree

I loved all the accessories on this tree.  The copper ornaments, the gold pinecone picks, and the gold netting just really show up well on this snowy white tree.

Snowy Balsam Hill tree decked out in green and gold.

I purchased these packages and this green and gold ribbon from Dillard’s at the end of the season last year.  I love getting beautiful stuff by shopping the day after Christmas.

Ribbon and gold netting to accent the trees.

Purchase a few bigger ticket items each year and your Christmas collection will quickly multiply.

Zgallerie deer help decorate the bottom of the tree.

I purchased these white, glittered deer from Z Gallerie at the end of the season last year. I thought they would make a beautiful base to one of my trees.

Check out this Christmas entryway decked out in green and gold.

I am proud to show off my daughter’s senior pictures which we recently displayed in the foyer.

Green and gold entryway

We have an amazing photographer we have used for the last 5 years.  If you are looking for a  photographer in the Hampton Roads area, check out Jason Williams at Elite Photography.

Green and gold accents in entryway

I decided to go with a neutral and mixed metallics theme this year.   I am working with several design clients and I wanted to keep my decor simple this year.  I think your decor can be quite beautiful when you think out of the box.

Gorgeous gold and white mantel

I purchase all of my garland from Frontgate.  I have been so pleased with their Christmas decor.  I also put them down my two story staircase each year.  We have had them 7 years and they are still going strong.  Mine have pinecones and red berries already woven through the garland.  I ordered the Classic garland.

Love the stone on this Christmas fireplace! Yours Truly Jenn

I added snowy picks to my garland to give it a flocked look.

I recently bought these faux fur stockings from Dillard’s.

Love these white faux fur stockings.

I’ve always loved decorating the mantel.  This is the very first thing I decorated this year and I’m so pleased with the way it turned out.

Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out part 2 of my home tour 2016.  I know Christmas posts really get people searching around to blogs they have never been before.  I hope you saw something you liked and will come back in the future. Have a fabulous holiday with your family and friends and have the best 2017!!

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

 

 

 

Merry & Plaid Holiday House Tour

I’m thrilled to be participating in Jen Rizzo’s holiday house walk link party for the third year. This is my favorite post of the entire season. Jen’s house tour began last week and featured over 30 homes with beautiful holiday decor. It is so amazing you need to check it out if you haven’t already.  I can’t believe you get so much inspiration in one place. Last year my theme was perfectly plaid and I used red, black, buffalo check and plaid patterns to decorate my tree.  Well I just couldn’t totally give up that plaid because I loved it so much so I decided to do my bedroom in plaid.

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-11-00-54-pm

I’ve never decorated my bedroom for Christmas before.  I have always envisioned my room decor being quite soft and romantic similar to the tree I do in all white or the one I did in pinks and golds.  However, I just loved that plaid so much and got such a great response from it I wanted to throw it in somewhere.  I thought my room would be a great place since it was out of the way.  I have a first floor bedroom that is off the main living space.  It can easily be closed off from the rest of the house. So sit back, relax and I hope you enjoy the tour.

Merry and plaid bedroom Yourstrulyjenn.com

I wanted to put a little tree in my room this year and I’m so glad I did.  I’m not sure who loved it more me or my husband.  He wakes up and goes through the house turning on all the Christmas lights.  It makes the house so cheery when I get up to make the school lunches.

Plaid, buffalo check, and red ornaments www.yourstrulyjenn.com

I reused the square boxes and ribbon from last year.  Everyone in my family knows to save my “pretty” boxes.  Of course the round boxes are new from Sugar Paper this year.  I just love everything they make.

Beautiful packages finish off the look

This plaid tree skirt is from Pottery Barn and is personalized with our family name.

Merry and plaid bedroom with red and white wreaths

This year, I really made an effort to take decorations I already had and tried to work them in a different way instead of buying new items.  Those wreaths on the mirrors were wreaths I used for a wedding reception.  I used the ribbon from the tree, red flowers, and picks to add a Christmas look.

White wreaths with red Christmas accents.

The buffalo check throw and plaid euro shams are from Pottery Barn.  The small black buffalo check pillow was from Target last year.

Gorgeous Christmas dog!

My 7 year old tea cup Maltese is the baby of the family and is completely spoiled rotten.

Breakfast in bed

What a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee and read your morning paper.

Red, gold, and white dining room tablescape

I started doing this table in gold, white and greenery, but it just needed something more.  When I added my Lenox Christmas salad plates I knew that it needed that hint of red so I kept going.  I added the red polka dot napkins at every other place setting and the red flowers in the centerpiece.  That is just what it needed.

I love the crystal on the table

The plates are Eternal by Lenox and the crystal stemware is also by Lenox and has a gold rim.

Red and white roses add the final detail to the table. Yourstrulyjenn

The polka dot napkins are from Pottery Barn.

Red, white, and gold tablescape Yourstrulyjenn.com

I hope you enjoyed the first part of the tour.  I will be uploading part 2 later this week.  The color scheme in the next tour is completely different so I hope you like it. I’m done decorating, but shopping is another story. Oh the stress.  But I need to remember the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place and try to chill out.  Thank you for stopping by.  I would love for you to check out my social media where I post daily inspiration.  Follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Isaiah 9:6-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Steps for Decorating a Fabulous Christmas Tree

Each year I decorate about 6 trees in my own home and many more for clients that hire me to decorate for their business or personal tree for their home. If you haven’t noticed I LOVE Christmas.  I start the day after Christmas gathering sale items for the next year.  I may not already know my theme, but I collect mercury class ornaments so I’m always on the look out for those and other gorgeous items that I know I can find a home for. I have some steps that I follow when putting up any tree I decorate.  I hope these help you when decorating this year.

Steps for Decorating Your Tree

Choose your theme early I already had my holiday theme picked by June so I was able to shop for ribbon and mixed metals when I was out and about. Dishes, entertaining pieces, candles, and other items you may use for the holidays go on sale throughout the year. Plus you may not be able to spend a ton of money on holiday decor around the holidays when you’re purchasing gifts for others.  If you shop year round you can spread out your budget.

Choose artificial or real tree-  If you choose an artificial tree you need to decide whether it is pre-lit or will you add lights yourself.  I always buy pre-lit trees.  We buy artificial trees because my husband is allergic to real trees.  However, I have become used to them and love them.  I can put them up whenever I want and the branches are easy to manipulate. Of course live trees smell amazing!! But you have to worry about dried needles that fall off.  Also you have to be careful if your ornaments are heavy. If you are adding your own lights make sure you run extension cords down the center of your tree.  DON’T put them on one cord or you will blow a fuse.  Also, you should put 100 lights per each foot.  For example, if you have a 9′ tree you should add 900 lights.

Fluff your Tree- One of the most important things to make your tree look realistic is to fluff it and cut off the tags. After being in the box all year it is quite smushed. You want all your branches to be hiding holes and gaps in your tree.  Fluff each section and start to get it back in shape.

Put on the tree topper-  You want to add your tree topper before you put on the ornaments.  More than likely you will be on some sort of ladder and you don’t want to knock off your precious glass ornaments.  There are so many options these days that you can add on the top of your tree.  Try using a bow, an angel, picks, a star, a reindeer etc..

Add large tree fillers- This is where I like to add extra branches to my tree that make them look more realistic. My favorite are the branches that are frosted or covered in ice.  I love to make my green trees look like they have been hit with a little bit of snow. You don’t know how many people have asked me where I bought my tree when I used these branches.  This tree happened to be just a regular inexpensive tree and was just filled with wonderful picks and fillers to make it look amazing.

Add fillers into your tree to make it more realistic looking. Yours Truly Jenn

Add color with designer ribbon- Ribbon can be a game changer for your tree.  You can find this in any theme and color that you’re looking for.  Weaving ribbon in and out can take a special technique.  You don’t want to make it look like you just circled around the tree and wrapped the ribbon around and around and around. Here is a post I did last year showing the full decorating of all my trees.  And if you’re not already reading Kristen’s blog Ella Clare Inspired, you need to head over there and read her post on using ribbon on your Christmas Tree. For an 8 foot tree you want to buy at least 4 rolls of ribbon that are 10 yards long. This way you have enough to use on packages at the base of your tree.

Add decorative ribbon to your tree. Yours Truly Jenn

Organize ornaments by color and put large ornaments on the bottom-  I took the time this year to take all my ornaments down in October and instead of having them labeled by tree I put them in tubs by color. This was the smartest thing I did organization wise.  I started seeing how my trees could be decorated by using different color combinations. I really started mixing metals and materials and saved money by using the items I already own. Start down low and hang your large ornaments first.  Also, look for holes deep inside the tree where big ornaments can fill holes and dangle without hitting branches.  Remember, with artificial trees you can manipulate the branches.

Finish off with smaller Picks and decorative pieces-  This is one of my favorite steps.  I really love to add decorative fillers to the tree.  When you add items like colored picks, flowers, and netting you can really start to see the tree take a designer look.  These items can be expensive when buying multiple sets.  Look for sales and try to get these early so they are not picked over.

You want to put a tree skirt and holiday packages to finish off the look- You can find tree skirts everywhere in every theme.  I always like the classic white or gold ones so they go with most of my trees.  I also like to save some of my ribbon from the tree to use on my packages at the bottom of the tree.  It really pulls the look together.

Add packages to the bottom of your tree to add a decorative look. Yours Truly Jenn

Lastly, Put a stomper on your tree- I love stompers.  When you have as much holiday decor as I do stompers make your life so much easier.  They are cheap and can easily be found.

I hope some of these tips will help you add some pizzazz to your tree.  What are some of your holiday decorating tips?  I’m sure you have some that we could add.  Please leave a comment below and add to the discussion.  Happy Holidays.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Rose Gold and Blush Christmas

I am so excited that Christmas home tours are finally here. These are literally my favorite posts of the year. I have been decking the halls for a couple weeks now to get my home ready to share with you.  It takes me a while to get things presentable enough to photograph so I like to start early and take my time.  I’m lucky though. My neighborhood tends to decorate early. When I see the first person decorate it’s like an unspoken go ahead that I can decorate the outside of my home without getting strange looks.

This year I had my theme already decided way back in the summer. Knowing my theme early allowed me to start collecting anytime I saw something while I was out shopping. This way I could purchase things on sale. I was able to get my table decor for my kitchen by October. If you can shop early you will get things before they are picked over.  I know where I live there aren’t a lot of options for Christmas decor so when you find something you need to buy it early.

My theme this year incorporates rose gold, blush, and gold metallics. I love this theme.  It is very soft and romantic.  Very big contrast from the plaid red and black I did last year. Check out my home tour from 2015 here.  The pictures I took during last year’s home tour turned out so good I was a little nervous about how these colors would photograph, but I was so pleased with the tree I moved forward and tried my best to capture the tree in all its glory.

Blush and Rose Gold Christmas Home Tour - Yours Truly Jenn

 

Rose Gold and Blush Holiday Home Tour www.yourstrulyjenn.com

The curly ribbon is rolled around something round to create this shape.

Blush and rose gold Christmas Tree with gold metallic ornaments. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

These blush packages are from Sugar Paper for Target.

Blush tree, ornaments, and blush sugar paper gifts. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

A lot of my ornaments I’ve saved over the years, but At Home had a lot of rose gold and champagne accents this year.

Blush and white pillows Yours Truly Jenn Holiday Tour 2016. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

These pillows are from Michaels.

Blush and gold holiday home tour 2016. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

This champagne ribbon is from Dillard’s 2016 collection.

Holiday house tour 2016- Blush tree and Rose gold tablescape. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

I bought these pink glasses at Anthropologie in the fall.

Rose Gold tablescape and rose gold glasses from Anthropology. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

These rose gold chargers came from Wayfair.

Blush and rose gold tablescape. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

These rose gold candles came from Amazon.

Rose gold tablescape with blush tree. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

I found these rose gold napkin rings along with gold and silver at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Thank you for checking out the first part of my home tour.  There is lots more to see in the next couple of weeks so keep checking back. I have several more rooms to show you with different color themes. I hope this gives you some inspiration for your own home.  I post daily inspiration on my Instagram and Pinterest accounts.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

Tips for Stress Free Holiday Entertaining

I love to entertain especially around the holidays.  With all the decorating, shopping, and events to attend; it can be quite overwhelming to prepare your home for a party.  I have come across several things that have helped me over the years and I wanted to share these tips with you.  I always say work hard, but work smart.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  I hope something in this post will be new to you so you can implement it this holiday season.

Holiday entertaining doesn't have to be stressful. Here are some tips to help you entertain. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

Tips for stress free entertaining

  • SET THE TABLE DAYS IN ADVANCE–  Wash up all your dishes and arrange your table several days before your party.  This way you can see if you have everything you need and if your vision will turn out the way you “think” it will. Use a faux center piece and then add fresh flowers or other pieces at the very end so they keep their luster.
  • IF YOU CAN, HAVE YOUR PARTY CATERED- This is the best investment you will spend.  You will be able to mingle at your party instead of filling food trays.  Also most caterers will have items that you can rent from them like linens, tables, and decor.  This makes everything so simple for you.  They also have servers so it really takes the work off of you during the party.
  • USE WHITE DISHES- If you don’t have white dishes that is what you need to invest in.  Having white china and everyday dishes has really helped me when coming up with tablescape ideas during different seasons.  I have been able to change my themes easily because I have a neutral background. I can change out placemats, napkins, and centerpieces while adding pops of color to match my themes.
  • USE CANDLELIGHT TO CREATE BEAUTIFUL AMBIANCE- I love using candles on my tables for added light and to create a beautiful atmosphere.  I have a ton of candles.  I have the tapered kind for my crystal holders, but I also have the battery operated candles that are so easy to use.  They can be turned on by remote and are great for seasonal decorating.
  • CHECK YOUR BATHROOMS DURING THE MIDDLE OF YOUR PARTY- I always go through the restrooms in my home to make sure the bathroom is working properly and is clean.  I empty the trash, make sure the toilet is clean and working properly, and I check to make sure there is enough soap, toilet paper, and guest towels.   It’s also important to empty the trash.  This doesn’t take long, but is noticed if you don’t do this.
  • USE SOME KIND OF CHRISTMAS SCENT IN YOUR HOME- if you don’t have a real tree it’s always cool to have the scent of a real tree in your home.  Candles are an easy way to make your home smell great.  I like the pine smell, but I’m obsessed with my home smelling like I’ve baked all day.  Anything by Bath and Body Works that has vanilla bean in it will smell fabulous.  I love Merry Cookie and Gingerbread Latte for the holidays.
  • HAVE A FABULOUS PARTING GIFT FOR YOUR GUESTS- It’s always nice to give your guests a token of your appreciation for coming out to your party.  It takes effort to get all dressed up and leave your busy schedule so something special when you leave a party is a great idea.  It doesn’t have to be anything big.  Something just to say, “thanks for coming out.”
  • HAVE A BARTENDER ON HAND OR MAKE SIGNATURE DRINKS BEFOREHAND- This one is similar to having a caterer.  You don’t want to be behind the bar mixing up signature drinks all night.  Hiring a bartender makes sense so you don’t have to be watching the drinks all evening.  This will take a lot of stress off you.
  • HAVE SEVERAL DESIGNATED PLACES FOR TRASH- Check on trash often.  You don’t want the trash overflowing.  Especially if your party is inside your home.  I like to put several trash cans out in major locations so they are easy to find and are near the “go to” areas.
  • WATCH THE TEMPERATURE- Most people want to have a roaring fire going for ambiance, but lots of people are wearing velvet outfits for Christmas parties.  I actually turn on the AC at these kinds of parties.  There are so many people placed in a couple of rooms and it can get quite warm.  It’s the worst to be warm at someone’s home.  Think about this ahead of time and how you will handle this.

What kinds of things have you learned from hosting your own parties?  I’m sure you have several tricks up your sleeve that you’re willing to share with us.  Leave a comment below if you have a great tip to share. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

8 Tips to Make Your December More Enjoyable

Christmas is just around the corner.  As the song goes it is my favorite time of the year. There is so much to get excited about, but with that can also come a lot of stress and feeling overwhelmed.  There is a lot of pressure associated with pulling off a spectacular holiday for your family.  Busy moms deserve to have an amazing stress free December with their family.  The key to making things go smoother for me is to have a plan of action and be organized several days or weeks before the event actually occurs.  I am not good at waiting until the last minute to throw something together.  Here are some tips that I have found helpful to make my December more enjoyable.

Tips for a stress free December. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

Tips to An Organized December

  1.  Decide what Charities and groups you will help early on.  There are lots of opportunities to help others around the holidays.  Our family is very involved with a group called PIN (People In Need).  It helps the homeless community get back on their feet.  My husband has been a huge part of this charity for quite some time.  Although we help them year round, we have also made it our family Christmas project. We save toiletries all year and then make care packages to hand out at Christmas to the homeless shelter.  If you don’t know of someone personally in need or don’t have a charity you can always give to Toys for Tots or the Angel Tree.
  2. Make your lists and shop early–  I try to make my master shopping list in late October and get a jump on my shopping in early November.  I like to have the majority of it done by early December so I can actually enjoy December.  I love for family members to give me a list of items they would like to receive. This makes my job a lot easier and my family gets what they want. I even keep my kid’s lists each year and we have fun looking back at the letters they wrote. It’s fun to see what they wrote to Santa when they were younger and what kinds of things they asked for each year.  If you can shop early, I would say that is the one thing that could save you from being overwhelmed in late December.
  3. You can’t do EVERYTHING in December if you want to stay sane-  You have to learn to say No.  There are certain events that you just are not going to be able to attend if you want to do what’s best for your family.  This one took me a while to get a grip on. There are so many extra events and parties between Thanksgiving and Christmas that you just want to cram everything in.  Well that’s when the bad moods and meltdowns are going to occur.  Stick to your family traditions that you enjoy and are a “must do” and a couple of other events.  Say NO to the rest.  Then you will have time to get your list done.
  4. Get your family traditions scheduled on the calendar ASAP-  There are things my family does each year that we want to continue doing.  Some things need reservations and if I’m not on the ball prior to the Thanksgiving break then we are out of luck.  One year, I was too late on setting up the brunch reservation at the place we eat each year.  We get dressed up and go to the hotel and look at all the holiday decor around the property. It was completely booked on every Sunday in December by the time I remembered to call.  You would have thought I had boycotted Christmas the way my kids acted.  But you can guarantee I will never forget to book that brunch because my family loves it so much. It is just part of what we do in December that makes it Christmas to us.
  5. Wrap your gifts as you buy them-  Wrapping your gifts as you purchase them can really keep you organized. Sometimes I actually forget what I have already purchased or lose small things like gift cards or jewelry.  Keeping the gifts wrapped as I go gets them out of my closet and under the tree.  I also use different paper for each child so it’s easier to pass out gifts on Christmas morning. Plus they like choosing their paper each year.
  6. Finish your Christmas Cards Early–  This is a hard task for me each year.  I don’t want to leave it until the middle of December. I really have to start thinking of this in October or my photographer will be booked.  I try to have him take the pictures and do a custom card for us.  It is just easier for me and I always love what he does. However, Minted offers such great cards and prices that you can create something amazing to show off your family to your friends. I like to start addressing them by Thanksgiving break and send them in early December.
  7. Make all special gifts for teachers, neighbors, and party hosts early- Get your ideas and supplies together for gifts you need to make for the special people in your life.  When my kids were younger we used to make DIY gifts for their teachers, bus drivers, and our wonderful neighbors.  It was fun to get them involved in the process.  We would throw some Christmas music on and get in the crafting zone. They took pride that the gift came from them and the teachers always loved something personal.  Of course it always came with a gift card.  Come on…. I’m a former teacher so I know what teachers like… There are only so many coffee mugs full of candy you can get in a season. But it’s the thought that counts. 
  8. Try to Shop during the week or online if you can- Shopping online saves so much time and you don’t have to go out and be bothered by the crowds.  Most sites are offering free shipping now so look for those deals.  Also try to search for coupons prior to your shopping. Most sites will actually have coupon codes that you can print out to take to the stores.  It’s worth a couple minutes to do a quick search.   

Do you have any tips that could help us save time and money this holiday?  Leave a comment below. I am always interested in learning something new.  Christmas is my favorite time of year and I would love to get through it with the least amount of stress as possible.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Be Our Guests

  The Ultimate Guest Room

If your home is like ours you probably host a lot of guests during the holiday season.   There is one thing you can be sure of, after I travel 8 hours with two teenagers for Thanksgiving, I am the perfect one to describe items that weary travelers need when they arrive at their final destination.  You don’t want your guests to have to ask for items they may need or have forgotten to pack.  This guest room has a coastal design and is just amazing.  The furniture is from Outer Banks Furniture and was in Tara Preston’s Homearama home this year.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to help decorate this home.

The majority of this house is done in blue tones. However, I think the yellow accent color makes the room so bright and cheery.  Of course a guest room needs to be aesthetically pleasing, but there are several necessities that I immediately think of when I entertain overnight guests.

Blue guest room with a coastal design. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

Musts for your overnight Guests

1.Have closet space for guests to hang their clothing-  Lots of us use our closets for storage.  However, when guests come to spend the night at your home, they will have clothing that will need to be hung up.  Always have empty hangers in the closet and make sure there is room for their clothes.  Nobody wants to open a closet and have an avalanche of your items fall on them.

2. Luggage rack- It is always a good idea to have at least one luggage rack for the guest room.  It makes it very convenient for your guests to place their bags on the rack and not have to put their suitcase in the floor. These are easy to find and don’t cost very much.  Plus you really don’t want luggage placed on your nice furniture so it is just easiest to have this for your guests.

Guests need a luggage rack and place to hang their clothing. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

3. Lamps-  Having lamps by the bedside tables give your guests the proper lighting they need.  Some people like to read before bed and this gives them the opportunity to do that without having to keep the ceiling light on.  Plus, if they have to get up in the middle of the night this gives them the option of having a light source. Sometimes, I even leave night lights in the bathroom especially if the guests have small children.

4.chair-  When I visit other people’s homes I love when there is some type of furniture in the room.  You can use it to layout clothes for the next day, sit and read, or just rest a few minutes in between activities without having to get into the bed.

5.tv- This isn’t a necessity, but I think it is a luxury most people would appreciate.  There will definitely be down time and time at night where your guests will have time to themselves and they can unwind by watching tv in their room.  It doesn’t have to be large or the latest smart tv, but your guests will appreciate the option of having one in their room.

6. Reading Materials- My mother in law has the best magazines for us when we visit her house.  I always take a book when I travel, but when I go to her house I never have to take magazines. We all know how much the decorating magazines cost so having several out for your guests would be greatly appreciated.

7. Wifi Password-  If your home has a password to use the wifi, you need to make sure your guests have instructions on how to use their technology. This is something you don’t want them to have to ask about.  You could even put this in a basket of goodies.

8. Basket of Goodies– Sometimes guests feel insecure asking for food or drink at other people’s homes.  To make this less awkward, leave a basket of goodies and water in their room.  Then they can access this whenever they feel hungry.  I’ve used nuts, granola bars, trail mix, and water to name a few.

Coastal decor for the guest bedroom. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

9. Extra Toiletries- Of course I always have things in the shower like shampoo, conditioner, bath gels and soap. I also put out enough fresh towels for my guests.  However, I leave a glass jar of extra toiletries just in case they forgot some things such as a razor, toothbrushes, toothpaste, q-tips, hand lotion, mouthwash, and small shampoos in case the large ones have agents they may be allergic to.  My son is allergic to lavender and lots of products have scents that bother me to the point where I get migraines. This makes me very sensitive to that issue and I try to put out things that I would normally pack myself.

10. Clock- Even though your guests are on vacation it is important to have a clock in their room.  some activities you may be doing have time constraints like dinner or theater plans and guests might need to be ready at a certain time.

11. Extra blankets– It is a great idea to leave extra blankets of varying weights and pillows in the room so guests can control the temperature.  I’m allergic to feathers and always prefer the down alternative options at hotels.  It is definitely something to think about when buying linens for your guest room.

12. keurig station-  Having a coffee and tea station set up in the guest room would really make your guests feel at home.  They could wake up and get the caffeine kick they need first thing in the morning.  Or in the evening some hot tea might hit the spot right before heading off to bed.  I know I would really appreciate this amenity.

Other Guest’s Amenities

I have insomnia and unfortunately am a late night snacker. Therefore, I know what it is like to be up late at night when everyone else is sleeping and you wish you had something to eat or drink. I like to stock a little basket of healthy snacks such as granola bars, nuts, fruit snacks etc… along with bottled water for guests. It also makes taking medications easier on guests if there is water in the room. Also, place some current magazines in several different genres for your guests to read during down time.

 Royal Treatment

The most important thing is to let your guests know up front that you are there for them and wish to make them as comfortable as possible. If you establish that from the start, you’re bound to have an amazing visit with your guests. The best thing to do when preparing your guest room is think about the things you would like or need when staying away from home.  Then you really design a beautiful, but functional room that you and your guests are happy with.

From Casa Ely we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and travel safely.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

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