DELMARVA ALMANAC

Getting Ready For The Holidays - Delmarva Style

by Keyanna Bowen

Did you know that some of the most common words used to describe the holidays are hectic, busy, and stressful? Keyanna Bowen will help us get ready for the holidays with Delmarva Style.

What happened to it being the most wonderful time of the year? From decorating and shopping, to getting your house ready for the influx of guests, it's easy to lose focus on what the holidays are really about-- celebration, love, and family. So I've put together a few tips that will help get your home ready for the holidays while making it an enjoyable experience for both you and your guests.

One of the things I love most about living on Delmarva is our casual lifestyle. But during the holidays, things tend to get a little fancy. Even a fashion lover like myself gets tired of dressing up for holiday party after holiday party. So we started a family tradition of dressing down or even wearing our pajamas for Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner. Trading a little black dress for yoga pants is hands down one of the best decisions ever made. So my first tip is to have a "come as you are" dress code for you and your guests. This not only takes the stress out of figuring out what to wear, but makes gatherings much more enjoyable, and not to mention, comfortable.

Continue to carry that laidback Delmarva Spirit into your home by creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere. Too many holiday decorations can make a home feel stuffy and cluttered. Instead of going overboard with fussy décor, use music, aromas, and lighting to make your home sound, smell, and feel like the holidays. Create a playlist on your ipod with your favorite holiday tunes, dim the lights, and let a crackling fireplace and the smell of simmering cider on the stove evoke sentiments of comfort and joy.

Is it just me, or do you hate being the first person to arrive to a party? That's mainly because your forced to sit and entertain yourself while the hostess finishes preparing the meal. To prevent those awkward moments for your guests, have small tasks that they can help you with such as, make the punch, prep a salad, light candles, or put silverware on the table. Don't feel like a bad hostess for putting your guest to work, it actually helps them feel more welcomed. Just remember to keep the tasks small and easy, and refrain from giving them cleaning duties -- nobody wants to wash dirty dishes. Another way to keep you guest involved, as well as take some of the hostess pressure off yourself, is having a DIY beverage bar. Stock a bar cart with ingredients for cocktails and let your guest create their own. A hot cocoa or coffee station is sure to be a hit for young and old, alike. Fill jars and canisters with cocoa, marshmallows, cinnamon sticks and other essentials for your guest to enjoy all night long.

Growing up, I used to hate going to holiday parties with my parents because there was never any activities for the kids. You want your holiday gatherings to be a fun time for everyone, so create a little station with board games, uno cards, and small activities for the little ones. If you have a designated kids table, use craft paper as a tablecloth and let them draw and color on the table while they wait for dinner… this also makes for easy clean up.

For the adult table, add a little Delmarva flare to your tablescape by incorporating outdoor elements. A sand dollar or seashell can make a beautiful place card. Just simply write your guests name on the shell using a metallic permanent maker for a festive and beachy look. Or for a rustic touch, gather a few pinecones from outdoors and spray paint them with a festive color, then stick a nametag in the pinecone.

Another easy DIY is to collect a few pretty fall leaves and write your guests names on them. Punch a small hole through the top of a leaf and use ribbon to tie the leaf around their chair. Remember to always keep a few extra place cards just in case an unexpected guest arrives.

Housing overnight guest can be overwhelming…especially if those guests are your in-laws. Just because your spare bedroom doesn't look like a 5 star hotel, doesn't mean you can't make it feel like one. A few essential items in your guestroom will help make your visitors feel right at home, and put you at ease knowing they have everything they need. First, always have a few extra pillows, blankets, and towels. Your guest may be embarrassed to have to ask for extra toiletry items, so turn a drawer or cabinet into a mini drug store and stock it with soap, tooth paste, razors, and even aspirin.

The DIY beverage bar I mentioned earlier works great for the guestroom. Stock it with bottle water, light snacks, and candy for any midnight cravings your guest may have. In case your guests have trouble sleeping, place a few good books and magazines on the nightstand. I also like to spritz the linens with lavender spray for sweet dreams.

Nowadays, you can be certain that your guest will come with some type of Smartphone or device. High-tech guests will definitely appreciate an iPod docking station, an outlet strip for extra cords and a small note on how to use the household wi-fi. And finishing touches like fresh flowers and scented candles will make the space feel alive and inviting.

So this Holiday Season, let's put the Happy back in Happy Holidays by bringing the calm and comforts of the Shore into our gatherings. For these tips and more, your can visit my blog at EastAndLane.Com. Happy Holidays!