Wow! Hard to believe its all over. That incredible build up, that frenzy we all work ourselves into, the stress, anxiety, the gift buying marathons, the present wrapping sessions, the hemming and hawing over what to cook, holiday outfit dilemmas, last minute doubts about gifts bought….its all over. I must admit it was ALL worth it…..Christmas day was exactly as I had hoped, it was above all else, relaxing, beautiful, enjoyable, and even therapeutic…. filled with great food, family togetherness, movie marathons….and doing a whole lot of nothing. Except the mounds of dishes, and cooking for hours. I wouldn’t change a thing…it was a day of rest that we all needed. How about you? How was your special day? As you had hoped? Only thing not planned was husband getting sick…started feeling sick towards the end of the day and is in bed hopefully not with the flu! I managed to take a few pictures which are below………supposed to go away but now the trip is very questionable. I am kind of enjoying this second day of rest admittedly its a bit unexpected but wonderful. Hit a few early sales at nearby local shops this morning to take advantage of stocking up some pretties for next year, that was fun! But nearly fainted when I saw, get this….VALENTINES DAY merchandise..I kid you not!!!!!! Had an insanely great turkey sandwich and nibbled on a bunch of leftovers after which I polished off a few bites of some heavenly pies from a nearby farm. Yep….this is a great day! Just hard to believe its all over, we are having stormy weather right now, so probably will be staying in though I had plans to go see Le Mis tonight, may have to wait a day or two. What’s cooking over there on your end? Do tell! Here’s my table set for Christmas day dinner, elegant and understated was the theme and of course my darling napkin rings took center stage! So how long do you keep your Christmas decor up? I like to keep mine around awhile, a week or two….why not enjoy and savor the season just a little longer? Its too pretty to not enjoy, and heck it keeps you feeling the spirit and magic of such a beautiful season! I actually learned a few things this season, some or all you might know but “revelations” for me…here it goes- I WILL absolutely start planing out Christmas 2013 in NOVEMBER! You read it here first, please remind me of this next year! I did A LOT of last minute shopping, looking for hard to get items (case in point scoring an i Mac on Christmas eve) the stress o meter was in high gear, I would love to know all my gifts are purchased by Dec.4th. That’s my new deadline for 2013! It really does pay to take advantage of those day after Christmas sales and stock up for next year, I had fun pulling out previous purchases from last year and to get half off of things like paper, ribbon, holiday decor (which can get very pricey) pays off in spades! I also picking up great little doo dads when on sale and adding them to gifts, such a pretty and inexpensive way to jazz up a gift! I will be sure to get a great family picture or at least a picture of my three boys sometime in the summer or fall to avoid the last minute chaos and arguing that ensued trying to get them to take pics 5 days before Christmas! Wish I could say its a joke but it’s not….yes this year was way behind! Ended up only taking it of my youngest son and Teddy…at the rate we are going, Teddy will be the last man standing next year, LOL! I WILL get those done early next year! You know how at the last minute..the UPS man or mail lady shows up, or there’s a teacher or garbageman you want to give a little something to but you forget and then frantically run inside rummaging through your wallet for change? Happens to me all the time! A little tip……this is the ONE thing I did in an organized fashion this year and it was so convenient! I filled about 5 or 6 blank envelops with a generic holiday card and a twenty dollar bill in each. I kept them in a convenient drawer in the kitchen (easy access) It was so nice knowing this was taken care of and believe me I used up every single envelope! Love watching things grow from “the ground up”. I planted my paperwhites a little late this year but a great rule of thumb is to do this for Thanksgiving, that way you are guaranteed beautiful blooms a week or so before Christmas. Not to mention it is a very inexpensive alternative to buying things already in bloom. I get such enjoyment out of watching something literally come to life, and the smell is heavenly! My breakfast room Priceless things like great pictures and videos still make to me, one of the best gifts. Whats better than getting a treasured picture of those you love in a gorgeous silver frame? It’s a great gift and easy! I received such a gift and have to say it was quite possibly my favorite! I think the most effective way to decorating is using nice quality fake greens with real greens. In nearly every one of my vignettes I did this, every single one is in fact a combination of good quality faux holiday greenery with real……less mess, more economical and longer lasting! Pinecones to me, remain one of the most inexpensive and elegant ways to decorate for the holidays. I have them everywhere, love filling urns with them adding them to vignettes, buying both big and small. They are in my living room, bathrooms, kitchen and dining room….get a glue gun and add them to just about anything, their impact is amazing! They make perfect adornments to gifts as well. Super functional and multi purpose…I pack them up in big plastic bins and reuse them every year. My family room So that’s a recap of things I have learned this year…….what are your tips? Feel free to add them, I love sharing information and especially if its something we can all benefit from! So come on….it’s your turn to talk! Hope your holidays were super merry and very relaxing……cheers to the end of a great year and to the start of an even better year ahead!