December 14, 2013

Image © Dima Sharif design

The Holiday Season. Literally, a time when many people take holidays, a period of the year marked by special events or activities. I think it’s a wonderful time to express something about who you are in the world. Take the time to set a table that is special to you, take the time to visit with folks you love and adore, take the time to slow down and reflect on everything you have accomplished—and the lives you have touched this year.

The holiday spirit is contagious whether that spirit is full of joy – or full of stress. Some excellent suggestions for how to ride out the season on the joyful side of things are to remember to take time for yourself, to remember what’s important, to give yourself permission to let go, to eat well and to laugh or smile. In fact, decades of research have shown that even a fake smile will definitely improve your mood. Imagine how much better to share a smile with a friend.

Gift giving at its most perfect is when you get that smile of delight from a friend or family member as they open something you brought. It can be a token or it can be a major opus of a present but if it truly shows you cared then you hit the sweet spot of the cliché “it’s the thought that counts.” One of my favorite gifts to give is a hostess gift. It’s a chance to step out of the routine of the usual bottle of wine. I love this small vase from that is a thoughtful and unusual way to say “thank you” to your host or hostess.A brown cermamic vase.

Image ©

In a previous post I wanted to look at how to create a modern Thanksgiving table and it makes perfect sense to follow that up with a few suggestions for the Holiday Season.

One of my favorite approaches is fast and easy—and you will likely have everything you need already stored in a box you have hidden in a closet. Basically, take a collection of ornaments and create a centerpiece for your table as in the image below. This particular setting was enhanced by paying attention to a limited color palette of green and silver. It’s a very sophisticated look.Christmas tablescape with candles, dark green color scheme.

Image sourced from BRIT + Co.

On the other hand, it is possible to create something that is simple, charming and casual by stringing glass balls from a branch over your dining room table. I love this one for its flexibility: use blue and white (or silver) for a Hannukah celebration, add red and gold for Christmas. It would be equally gorgeous, completely seasonal and neutral if you strung pine cones from the branch. Consider spraying them silver first.


A table with a branch decoration hanged above it.


Image sourced from

I have a weakness as a designer that I have to admit: I adore birds. A friend of mine who repurposes old furniture and refurbishes it—often creating works of art in the process—has told me that she can sell anything through her company Wild Salvages if she simply paints a bird on it. I am probably her ideal customer. Certainly I was charmed by this tablescape, not just for the natural simplicity but also for those irresistible little birds perched on the cherry blossom branches. I want to be at that dinner table—don’t you?A nature-inspired tablescape with branches and pink petals.

Image sourced from BRIT + Co.

Pine cones definitely bring out the natural side of holiday decorating. I am incapable of taking a walk in the woods without bending down to pick up at least one or two. Consequently, I have a growing collection at home and I’m always on the hunt for interesting ways to use them. Here are a couple ideas gleaned from late-night voyages through the internet. Pinecone-themed door, table decor.

Images L-R: Mary Swenson,, Christmas wedding ideas



Please enjoy the holidays, find the moments when you can calm down and reflect on the quiet joys of the season, have some fun with your family and definitely take the time to dress up your table, even if you are doing it more for yourself than anyone else. Finally, consider wrapping up something small to give yourself as a gesture of appreciation and recognition for all the lives you have touched this year. There is a reason that It’s A Wonderful Life is a movie classic: it reminds us that we do make a difference in the lives of the folks around us.



Happy Holidays to you and yours from all of us here at



Written by Catherine Holliss



Interior Design Blog Writer,, LLC



Director of Interior Design, Sander Architects LLC.  







Photographs © Catherine Holliss unless otherwise noted. 



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