Share this article

print logo

Prep course Keep things ?running smoothly this holiday season (and next!)

There are many reasons to have a camera ready during the holidays. One of them: To record a decorative setup you would like to duplicate again next year. It might be a mantel arrangement you finally got right, a pretty table setting or even the staircase garland that looks especially stunning this season. If you say so yourself.

Snap and save. What could be easier?

This is just one of the holiday pointers we drummed up this week, as November comes to a close and the holiday preparations really take off.

Yes, it's time to swing into action, if you haven't already. Here are some ways to do so in style:

* When choosing a door wreath, keep size in mind. You want it big but not too big.

"I've seen some door wreaths that are huge, and it's overbearing. You want it to be a focal point when people are walking up to your door. You want just enough to make it look stately on the door," said Dave Whelan, owner of Floral Explorations, 1448 Hertel Ave.

A 24- to 26-inch wreath is pretty standard, he said, but with a 36-inch-wide door, consider bumping it up to 28 to 32 inches, at tops.

Huge doors need bigger wreaths but nothing that is going to take up the whole door – or completely cover the window, if the door has one, he added.

A lot of it depends on the style of the wreath. Remember, too, that alternatives to round wreaths include triangular and oval ones, Whelan noted, as well as unique touches.

"A lot of people think the bow has to be at the top, but it looks great on the side with the tails hanging down or at the bottom. I've done them myself with a grouping of feathers at the top or on the side in place of the bow. Or try a grouping of ornaments or a big cluster of pine cones in one spot," he said.

* Wreaths aren't just for front doors. You can hang one on the wall above the mantel, in interior windows, in a hallway. Better Homes and Gardens shows an ornament-covered wreath hanging on a ribbon in front of an illuminated glass-front display case ( wreaths also can be hung from doorknobs and drawer pulls.

* If it's holiday decorating inspiration you're after, check out what creative types have done. Just two options: The Historical Association of Lewiston's eighth annual Lewiston Tour of Homes takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday ( Tickets are $25 each; buy them tour days at Barton Hill Hotel & Spa, 100 Center St., Lewiston, or at area Wegmans.

And the ninth annual Christmas Tour of Homes in and close to the Town of Hamburg is planned from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25 tour day at Hamburg United Methodist Church, 116 Union St. (visit

* One way to keep decorating simple yet stunning: Use just one or two colors for ornaments and accents, whether it's white or ivory, metallic gold, silver or bronze, or something on the brighter side, such as blue or lime green. You can also choose variations of colors from the same color family.

* Select interesting places for displaying ornaments – other than on the tree or in bowls. Pottery Barn shows them piled in a decorative bird cage, for example. You can also hang them in windows. Sparkle!

* Aimee Beatty, the in-house stylist for Pier 1 Imports, offered this tip to the Associated Press: For entertaining, focus your decorating on high-traffic areas.

"Simple additions, such as garland to an entryway, adorning a table setting with ornament place card holders or perhaps adding beautiful embroidered pillows to the living room sofa can set the tone for the holidays," she said.

* If you haven't experimented with battery-operated candles, try some this year. They're safer than flame candles, and many are quite realistic-looking.

* Display Christmas cards in interesting ways. Umbra sells the "Photoline" on which you can display cards (or photos) on a wire cable that expands to 33 inches ($10 at Better Homes and Gardens shows them attached to garland framing an interior doorway.

* Group themed collections together for visual impact, be it Santas, nutcrackers or stuffed penguins.

* Keep shopping receipts in one place, not tucked here and there in pockets, purses and dresser drawers. Local professional organizer Linda A. Birkinbine, who files all of her receipts by month year-round, does the same for holiday purchases; all receipts go in the November or December file, sometimes with notes scribbled on top. It's convenient to keep track of purchases, check them against statements, have them handy for returns.

Another tip: Each year, keep track of gifts and how much you spent – on everyone from baby sitters to nieces and nephews.

"I keep a list every year of what I bought for people, and I refer back to it so I know what I did last year. There are all kinds of cools apps now if people aren't into paper lists," said Birkinbine, who runs a business called Keep It Organized!

* Don't wait until after Christmas to shop for storage items such as ornament organizers.

"They will be gone," said Birkinbine, who recommends using clear storage pieces.

* Create a temporary "holding place" for items you want to set aside during the holidays to make room for decorations. The idea, again, is to keep everything in one place, whether it's in the basement or a closet.

* Have plenty of clean dish towels on hand. You'll be needing them. Now also is the time to clean and reorganize the fridge.

Finally, want the dog groomed for Christmas? Your hair highlighted for the office party? Your nails done for New Year's Eve? Make any appointments now, before everything is booked.