Three simple tricks to bring a festive glow to your home
Here are some of Marjorie Reed's favorite ideas for dressing up her own home during the holiday season. They do not necessarily appear in her new book. "To make the whole house ready for the holiday season, I have three simple tricks that really set the mood. I change the lighting, the [flower] arrangements, and the table settings.
"From the harvest moon to New Year's Day, I use lots of candles of all sizes.
"In the fall, I carve out eggplants, bell peppers, gourds, and pumpkins to use as votive candle holders.
"I set large glass cylinders over thick red candles and use scented ones in the bath and front hall. For special occasions, I drape the lamps with colored squares of China silk.
"As winter arrives, I get out the tiny white Christmas-tree lights and use them on pine boughs across table tops.
"I also make good us of wreaths all season long. I make them from pine branches, grape and wisteria vines, fall leaves, or lemons and lady apples. And they don't have to stay on the front door, or over the mantel.
"I put them on the dining table around casserole dishes. Or I place them around bowls of nuts and fruits on the coffee table.
"As for changing table settings for the holidays, I use textured linens in warm colors to capture the feeling of autumn, and choose plain taffeta tablecloths for Christmas and New Year's and other winter holidays.
"I also like to replace traditional dinnerware with something more informal and very different.
"For that element of surprise, I often use terra cotta pots, or the bottoms that go under pots.
"I use the plate-sized flatter terra cotta containers at place settings and place colored glass or plastics, or even paper plates, on top of them.
"Small, lined flower pots can hold a lemon mousse, and large flat ovals, lined, can be used to serve a steamy rice dish.
"Just for contrast, and to add sparkle and interest, I also get out all my odds and ends of silver -- such as gravy boats, creamers, cruet sets -- and use them to hold flowers, crudites, breadsticks, or dips.
"During holidays, I prefer to use gold-covered stainless-steel flatware to complete place settings.
"I don't feel that setting up for the holidays has to be time-consuming, and I think everyone can develop a few fool-proof techniques that produce their own style and dramatic sense of clecbration.