****This post will be it until Sunday, taking time off to enjoy Christmas and some post holiday relaxation with my family, please come back on Sunday for my Seven on Sunday post!**** Hello friends and Merry Christmas! Personally I am relieved, the crazy chaos of this month is officially behind me and for the first time in weeks, I will be able to sit down in peace, knowing what is done is done and what is not…oh well, too late! This year more than ever I was forced to succumb to the pressures of working full time and trying “to do it all”. It is a lot of work and and next year I will need to start much, much earlier! Did the best I could and since I work well under pressure got just about everything done (not those elusive Christmas cards though…argh)! Hopefully next year! I am looking SO forward to sitting down with my family on Christmas eve to a nice cozy meal and even bought a box of Table Topics which is such a fun game to play. It is a conversation starter game, everyone pulls a card and asks the person next to them the question. It even gets those reluctant young adult/millennials who think game playing is old fashioned, into the spirit and promises a lot of laughs. Those kinds of moments mean a lot to me:) Though Christmas is a bit different for us this year, I will still wake up feeling really very grateful and knowing I am surrounded by the love of my boys and husband is enough for me, this year. It will be a lower key Christmas and you know what, I have embraced it and am actually looking forward to it. If I want to stay in my robe all day and watch movies, I can! So, here are some more of my holiday decorations this year, lots of fresh greenery which to me is always the crowning touch. Nothing like the touch and feel of fresh greens! In the end it pretty much all got done but I sure do have some takeaways to remember for next Christmas (shared at end of this post). Plus included a few party prep pictures (taken right up until the party got started). Even managed to slip in a few pictures of my Christmas eve dinner table which came out unexpectedly beautiful! Hope you enjoy…. Paperwhites bloomed on cue…..then went back into the garage at night:) Love blue and white at Christmas! Fresh greens and white roses always make a timelessly elegant combination The fresh magnolia, fresh greens and sugar cones were front and center this holiday Love that late afternoon sunlight and the golden glow it casts Fresh greens and blooming like mad white amaryllis on the mantel in the living room Finally hung my beautiful stockings (fabric Scalamandre) Poinsettias and pine cone topiaries found a home And some party pictures just as it was about to begin…. Thankfully have a lifetime of beautiful large silver serving trays, this particular one is one of my most favorites..so elegant! Ditto pretty serving pieces! Prepping for the Christmas party Tuned on all the lights and lit the fire and oh what a pretty glow it cast Just before our party guests started to arrive, there is Joe our favorite bartender who is a fixture at any party we have, he’s the best! I couldn’t complete this post without showing you this beautiful arrangement. Who remembers me seeing a pretty arrangement at The Met in the city in early Nov and I cam home to duplicate it? Well, it was still going even up until Christmas with the exception some magnolia that had dried up, so I took them out and replenished with fresh magnolia and a little seeded eucalyptus, added the fresh garland and voila, a beautiful Christmas arrangement is reborn! Just love it…. Love the glow of candlelight Kind of obsessed with all my etched glass hurricanes, one of my proudest achievements! The glow of the candlelight really highlights how beautiful they are! And our gates got their big red bows on the wreaths (thanks to my husband:) And hot off the presses a few glimpse into my pretty Christmas Eve table that came together so unexpectedly and Iove it! Started a new tradition of wrapping small, inexpensive gifts for each family member, adds so much to the table setting….. And one last look at my front door which I just can’t get enough of, as long as it’s green, it is staying up! MY TAKEAWAYS- 1 There is not such things as planning too soon! 2. Next year, mark my word, my planning will start in August stay tuned I will do a fun planning blog post series starting late summer so that we can all be organized together! 3. I have always loved and used fresh greens, they “make” the holidays. Whether you get them at your local floral shop, nursery or Home Depot, keep them in a cool spot (outdoors) until maybe 5 days before Christmas. 4. Using a product like Wilt Proof does seem to help and always have a plastic water bottle filled with water to spray them every other day Keeping them from drying out is paramount to having them stay green and healthy. A daily or every other day spray will greatly help retain the moisture. 5. Keep envelopes handy with $20 or$40 in a convenient drawer for last minute gifts like the UPS guy, the mailman, water delivery,etc…takes one little stress away! 6. Using fresh flowers? You can literally design them and keep them a week or sometimes even two before Christmas just……the key is to leave in a very cool spot overnight or in my case, my garage refrigerator, they lasted almost 2 weeks! 7. Bulbs blooming? Plan those at least 2-3 weeks prior to holidays. Keeping them in a warm spot will accelerate the blooming,once they bloom if you need them to slow down, keep them in garage at night. Use pretty ribbons or raffia to tie the stems of paperwhites or amaryllis that get too top heavy and start to flop. 8. Christmas card planning will happen in Sept. I am going t o get that elusive family picture and get my cards ordered extra early to know its done. I am determined in 2020…and by saying it here, it will happen! 9. Take time out for yourself, even if just a few minutes. I have gotten better at doing this. We tend to run ourselves ragged during this time and it is so important to take small self imposed “time outs’ to recharge. Even if its 10 or 15 minutes for a coffee break or a manicure/pedicure, just give yourself a little “me time” put your feet up and pause. Whatever it may be, take care of you. 10. Remember those less fortunate, never forget how even a very small gesture can be enormous to someone who needs it most. The spirit of this season is giving and to me, also means helping those that need it. There are so many in need and so many ways to help, even a small something is helping someone. You just never know who’s life you may touch and how profound that change might be. 11.This might sound off topic but bears taking about-someone I know almost lost their mother in horrible house fire right around Christmas. Why? Because the fire alarm had no batteries. Such a preventable disaster. Holidays would be a good time to have all the most important things checked, fire alarms/smoke detector, carbon monoxide detectors, etc…..if you can associate the holidays with spending just a few minutes to do an annual maintenance on these vital life saving devices, it will bring you such a peace of mind for yourself and those you love. 12. And last but not least, always find and look for that silver lining. For me this year, my silver lining is getting to have a more intimate Christmas with just having my sons and husband with me. It is not the Christmas it normally is. Typically, we have family coming in, a very full house by this time ,non stop activity and that buzz and energy are what I miss most this year. But I have resigned myself to the fact that this year, it is different and have accepted it. I am looking forward to a smaller more intimate Christmas dinner with my family and even have a few games planned, going to watch old movies when they were young then we will play for the family title of ping pong champ. This will likely end with another round of yummy dinner and who knows, maybe even another slice of pie:) And this is sounding pretty good! I have a few friends who are having “different” Christmas’s then usual also, some for illness, a few have spouses that needed surgery/are sick, some for similar situations like my own, and for anyone else out there, who is also trying to come to terms with things not going as planned, I hope you too will work hard to find the silver lining. It is there, trust me- you just need to find it:) At the very least, it could mean getting to stay in your pjs and robe all day! Once you find it, it somehow takes away a lot of the stress and negative energy and to focus on what is good. And that is a wrap on Christmas 2019! Hard to believe it has come and is almost here. I am soooo looking forward to a few days of pure relaxation, good food and togetherness with my family. I can’t ask for more. Wishing you and yours, a most merry Christmas, hope it is filled with laughter, love and peace. Thank you to all for stopping in. Until next time……….ho ho ho! Our big 50% Christmas sale will begin the evening of Dec. 25th and run for 4 days (subject to availability) A great time to stock up for next year!!