How to Create a Beautiful Holiday Tablescape with Items You Already Have!

By MaryAnn Skaro

tablescape1One of my favourite ways to decorate a table is by using things I find around my house.  For a last-minute holiday look, I went into my recycling bin to see what I could find.  I picked up a few empty beer bottles, one empty wine bottle, and a string of white lights I found in our garage.  I was going to let these few items guide my inspiration.  Of course, I had my doubts, but I didn’t let that stand in my way of creating something my family was going to love.

Using these and other items I already had in my home, here’s how I created this festive tablescape:

I already had a red and green festive tablecloth that was going to serve as a backdrop to my creative scape.  On my way into the kitchen, I noticed martini glasses that I knew would somehow add to the ambiance of my table.  

Next, I soaked the beer bottles and peeled off the labels. I had a feeling they were going to act as a vessel for my lighting.  I knew I wanted greenery, so I cut off a few fresh branches from our Christmas tree, and grabbed some pine cones I had lying around in a decorative bowl on my coffee table.  I had left over gold and silver ribbon that I was going to use, as well.

I placed all these items on the table and, before long, a rustic theme emerged!  

tablescape2I filled the beer bottles with the white lights, and filled the martini glasses with the evergreen cuttings and pine combs.  I used the leftover ribbon to wrap the wine bottle, which became my candle holder.   I also decided to mix and match the placemats, so I ended up using festive green and red napkins. (By the way, my kids ended up loving these placemats the best.)

To be completely honest, I surprised myself with the quality and the aesthetics of our holiday table!  I turned on the lights, and the subtle yellow glow from the beer bottles transformed our dining experience.  It was a fun table, a great conversation piece, and, best of all it was easy, effortless, and inexpensive.

About MaryAnn Skaro:

 

maryannskaro-headshotAs a joy coach, I’m here to inspire you through great food, delicious conversation and elegant ambience.

I host healthy, beautifully crafted luncheons for busy Moms who are ready to pause, find their joy and reconnect to the things that matter most. As a busy Mom myself, I know the importance of recharging my body, mind, and soul.

As your hostess, I am ready to feed and serve you, so that you leave my table feeling inspired and filled with a sense of purpose to fuel the success of your business. You can find me online at www.maryannskaro.com.


4 Tips for a Fun & Festive Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Christmas decorations, beautiful lights, Santa Claus parades, Holiday parties, and the hustle & bustle in the stores as we search out for that perfect gift… all while carols sing to us. I am in the Christmas spirit… this year!

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I have to admit that, until recently, I actually dreaded this time of year. I felt over-worked, over-obligated and overwhelmed! The joy had been sucked out and I simply went through the motions without any enthusiasm or holiday cheer.

It has been five years since we had a Christmas tree, because the thought of picking it out, decorating it and then tearing down – with needles all over the house – was just too much!

I know I am not the only woman who feels this way, and here’s why:

We do most everything around the holidays! The cooking, the baking, the shopping, writing the Christmas cards, planning the parties, decorating, and and and… the list goes on.

“WE CAN DO IT ALL!” we tell ourselves – and we do.

But maybe you are like me and have come to a point where you’re feeling burnt out and overwhelmed before the season even begins. I longed to sip on glass of wine while sitting in front of my fireplace in silence, wearing my navy blue flannel pyjamas adorned with cute little penguins – which for me, a self-confessed social butterfly, was definitely weird!

Here are 4 ways I brought the spirit of the season back into my home and heart:

1) Don’t try to do it all!  

Invitations will be coming from all directions with the added hand-written note, “We need to get together before Christmas!”.

Why?! Is the sender going to disappear on Boxing Day?! Not likely.

Be choosy; only accept the invitations that you truly want to attend.

I completely understand that is actually easier said than done and that certain functions are essentially mandatory, but often a gracious “Thank you for the invitation but I am unable to attend” will suffice. Save some socializing for mid January and February when things have settled down and everyone is feeling blah and needs a party fix!

2) Delegate!

My husband has been doing the Christmas cards for a few years now. If he doesn’t do them, they don’t get done and I am ok with that. I don’t hound him. I simply let it go. Same goes for shopping, decorating or cleaning: ask for help, or even hire it out if it’s within your budget!

3) Host potluck dinner parties!

Take the pressure off both financially and time spent in the kitchen) and have some fun tasting your friends’ favourite dishes! Plus, any guest on a special dietary plan can accommodate for that themselves. Food really brings people together, and potlucks seem to do so even more. Lots of recipe exchanges happen during a potluck, so have a few copies on standby in your purse. Oh and by the way – don’t feel bad if you buy something to bring, instead of making something from scratch!!

4) Take time to do things you enjoy!

I love to bake any time of year, but especially during Christmas season. Even during my “Scrooge” years I still baked up a storm!

I feel at peace baking, with candles lit, music in the background and the kitchen a disaster zone of flour, egg shells and empty chocolate chip bags.  Family and friends would disown me if they went a year without a tin full of goodies, I’m sure!

Self care is important all year round, but it’s easy to let it slide and make ourselves a lower priority while trying to meet all our obligations. Schedule your “me time” in now and make it non-negotiable.

What other tips do you have for making sure the holiday season is your most wonderful time of the year? Leave a comment to let me know!


How to Crack the Dress Code on Event Invitations

 

Has a wedding or event invitation ever left you confused as to what to wear? Themed events and parties are on the rise; Great Gatsby, Disco Glam or Back to the 80’s just to name a few!

These decade-themed parties are pretty straight forward, encouraging a guest to go ‘all out’ in an outfit or costume. Weddings, cocktail parties, galas, fundraisers and New Year’s Eve can be a bit trickier to decipher the language on the invitation. Here’s how to crack the code so you’ll never feel over- or under-dressed again:

Wedding Attire Etiquette

First rule of thumb: as a guest at a wedding, remember that today is ALL about the bride! The beautiful bride is the star, so dress and act accordingly. Although wearing black is no longer considered a faux pas, white should absolutely be avoided. Every religion and culture has customs and traditions; when attending a wedding outside your own culture, reach out and ask for specific guidelines. Your host will appreciate it and you will feel so much more comfortable!

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“Dressing well is a form of good manners.”

Tom Ford

Black Tie

This indicates a very formal event and usually means it is an evening affair.

For him: A tuxedo, a black bow tie, a cummerbund, and patent leather shoes.

For her: A long evening gown or a chic cocktail dress.

Formal or Black Tie Optional

This event is slightly less formal but still suggests dressing accordingly.

For him: A dark suit or tuxedo; conservative, not flashy.

For her: A long dress, chic cocktail dress, or dressy separates.

Semi-formal / Smart Casual / Dressy Casual

This one is a lot trickier to decipher! Take cues from the time of year and time of day during which the wedding or event is being held.

For him: A suit – light or dark, depending upon the season; colourful, trendy shirts and ties. A vest can also be worn as an alternative to a suit jacket.

For her: A cocktail dress, maxi dress, skirt with a top, or dressy pants and a blouse.

Beach Formal

This suggests an elegant beach wedding, so dress to impress while still keeping sand and exposure to sun in mind.

For him: A summer suit with a linen shirt (no ties required), linen pants or khakis, and sandals.

For her: A maxi dress, a lightweight summery cocktail dress or a dressy sundress, and sandals.

Casual

Consider the purpose of the event when deciding what to wear! Jeans, t-shirts, and shorts are acceptable when a casual dress code has been indicated for a friend’s birthday BBQ or a Euchre tournament at the community centre. When it comes to attending a “casual” wedding, unless specified as acceptable on the invitation, steer clear of jeans and shorts!

For him: Dress pants, chino with button-down shirt or polo shirt.

For her: Dress, skirt and top, or a blouse with dress pants.

When in doubt, remember this advice from Karl Lagerfeld:

“One is never over-dressed or under-dressed with a Little Black Dress.”

Do you have questions about what to wear to your next special event? Schedule a complimentary Style Success Session with me!