by Melissa Jaramillo
With the holidays fast approaching, we know you've got a packed to-do list, spilling over with shopping, baking, cards, events, activities and parties.
What are you waiting for?
Let's get sorting, get tossing, get decorating and get those tasks off your list!
We've put together the essentials and found quick decorating ideas that brighten and warm your home for the season.
Get your house ready for the holidays
While we'd rather just jump right into the midst of the decorating tempest, a few preliminaries save time and prevent problems later. Certainly they're not as much fun, so get them out off the way and off your list today.
✓ Get rid of surplus food. Do you have stuff in the pantry that's "good," but you haven't used it in the last couple months and probably won't in the next few. Box it up and donate to your local food bank.
✓ Clean out the fridge. You know and I know that a few "science experiments" have taken root in that vegetable drawer. Clear out the old stuff to ensure you have plenty of room for holiday food and leftovers
✓ Check the oven. Make sure it's working properly and up to its big job over the holiday season.
✓ Clear out the old, including toys and clothing. Share the gently-used, toss or scrap the less usable. You'll free up room for new gifts and your sharing may just make another person's day.
✓ Stock up on the essentials. Make sure you have everything you need for entertaining, including garbage bags, containers for leftovers, soap, coffee filters, aluminum foil, and other important materials.
Decorate up a storm!
The winter holidays tend to be the year's busiest social season. With a few simple, small but impressive changes you can make your home warm and welcoming.
Add color and texture
Update your room with a change up on the pillows. Use rich, spicy winter colors. Seasonal wall quilts or wall hangings and well-secured rugs contribute an easy,
We've heard a rumor that gold metallic ribbon is the new black for the season. Use it on everything! Wrap around the tree and photos, tie it in knots, add it to votives or wrap extra around packages and use those for decorations throughout the house
Winter tends to be darker outside. Add more light inside. It doesn't have to be bright and blinding. You can switch out lamp shades to warmer, mellower colors.
For thousands of years, candles have brought light into the darkness. Their flame represents hope, anticipation and remembrance. Place a metal plate under or behind a candle to reflect its light.
If you're uncomfortable with a burning flame, add that same bit of magic with safe, led lights poked among greenery and in containers.
Make it cozy
Make a friendly spot for your guests. How? Remove the clutter. That might mean containing toys or banning craft projects from the main living area.
Then arrange furniture in conversation-friendly groupings and add a few small decorations.
Personalize it. If you have kids, bring their work into the decorating scheme. Even if their work seems primitive, it can add a friendly, touch and reap smiles from guests and creators alike.
Take an item, then use as it's not intended, for example an ornament plus a sharpie makes a place setting.
When you decorate are you meticulous or someone that allows kids to add their personal touch?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.