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Design Notes

> Ho-ho-whoa!

For those who can't get enough of those air-blown holiday yard decorations, take a look at some of the new ones out there.

For starters, there's the Home Depot Car with a "crew" of three snowmen ($76.99). Home Depot also suggests amusing the neighbors with an 11-foot "Light & Sound Show" ? a trio of trees that plays a light show choreographed to the music of four songs ($149).

Lowe's features a one-piece 7-foot nativity scene that inflates in seconds ($78). And who can resist the inflatable animated archway ($150) that leads guests to your front door?

> Party tips

Planning a holiday party? Here is some advice served up by innkeepers interviewed by The Washington Post:

* Invite a crowd. Have people who know each other and people who don't. Mix age groups. It will make for more interesting dinner conversation.

* Forget ironing. If you have a nice wood table, invest in some attractive woven straw mats or some matelasse place mats that require a minimum of upkeep.

* Set up your music in advance. Start the evening with something lively, hip and fun. Then, for dining, switch to classical background music.

* Keep centerpieces simple. The flowers should not distract from the food or the setting. And you should not have to remove a fancy, large arrangement from the center of the table so guests can see one another. Place several small, low vases in the middle, filling each with a cluster of peach roses or one pale green orchid.

> And finally ?

"Everyone in my family loves squirrels. Maybe it's because they are the state animal in North Carolina, where we grew up. I like that squirrels think about storage, like I do." -- Amy Sedaris, comedian, in House & Garden magazine

Compiled by Home & Style Editor Susan Martin from News and wire sources

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