Simple DIY Holiday Decorating (and Cooking) Tips

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Although I love the first blooms of spring in my yard, fall is my favorite season. Besides creating cozy spaces, my second love is cooking, and as the weather gets cooler, I like to break out the Crock Pot and baking sheets.

I also love to decorate for each season, and the warm colors of my fall decor blend beautifully with the golds, greens and russets of my home. In the spirit of giving, I’d like to share a few of my favorite holiday decor and cooking tips.

Easy DIY Holiday Pine Cone Wreath

I just spotted this beautiful wreath (right) online and the directions are so simple, I think I might make one to welcome my guests! What’s more, this wreath is festive enough to work for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I have a ton of pine trees—and thus pine cones—in my yard, but you can pick up a big bag of pine cones at a craft store when you pick up the wreath form and burlap ribbon. Get some gold metallic spray paint (or just some glitter glue for the tips of the pine cones) and then hot glue them onto the form along with a few twigs from your yard and you’re all set.

Ornaments Are For More Than Just Christmas Trees!

Inexpensive glitter and metallic ornaments in a pretty bowl add a bit of sparkle to a china cabinet.

You can also pick up battery-operated lights and candles with built-in timers to brighten up those winter evenings.

Simple Thanksgiving Table Settings and Decorations

Carry the nature theme indoors to create a lovely holiday tablescape. Add candles, painted gourds and baby pumpkins and voilà! I found this lovely table setting (below) online and had to look twice to notice that those are Chinet paper plates on the gold chargers. That sure makes clean-up easy!

 Source: https://www.mychinet.com/whats-new/make-your-own-metallic-tablescape-thanksgiving

Source: https://www.mychinet.com/whats-new/make-your-own-metallic-tablescape-thanksgiving

Of course, a lovely table setting is nice, but let’s be honest—all that pretty decor gets tossed for my favorite part of any holiday…the FOOD!

I’m not sure if it’s because my family is Italian, but we spend most holidays eating. For Thanksgiving, it’s antipasto, a pasta course, turkey, ham and all kinds of sides (my sister-in-law’s artichokes and my mother-in-law’s peppers with alici are soooo good!).

On Christmas Eve, it’s the feast of the seven fishes, and Christmas day is yet another big feast. Here are some of my favorite kitchen tips.

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Save Money and Time On Holiday Meals

You can rinse and toss all your dishes in the dishwasher as you clear the dinner table so they’re ready to go for dessert. For appetizers and desserts, I prefer to use festive paper plates with matching dinner and cocktail napkins. Takes the stress out of making sure the dishes are clean and ready to go for the next course and ensures a fast and easy clean-up.

Plan ahead

Although most dishes should be prepared the day before or the day of, there are several dishes that can be made ahead and frozen. Many soups, sauces and some desserts freeze well, saving you time when it’s needed most.

If you’re not sure how something will hold up in the freezer, make a batch ahead of time and freeze a portion or two. Defrost after a week or so and see how the dish has held up.

Keepin’ it hot

So you’ve cooked all this great food, now how do you keep it hot? If you don’t have the luxury of a warming drawer, try an outdoor grill on low or an insulated cooler lined with towels.

Not enough burners to cook? Heat the gravy up and store it in a thermos until time to serve. Use the slow cooker to keep the mashed potatoes warm. Have another cooler on hand to keep drinks cold and make space in the fridge.

I hope you found these tips helpful. I’d love to hear some of your favorite holiday hacks. Please feel free to share them with me on Facebook or Instagram! And stay tuned for next month’s blog where I’ll be sharing more tips on how to make the most of your holidays!

Debi