Around our house at the holidays I suspect we have a little more chaos going on than my girlfriends. We have crazy work schedules (I will be flying to help you and yours get where you need to go to celebrate). We have some of both of our families here and we'll also look forward to time with our own children, their spouses and of course they all need to cordinate with their in-laws schedules. We have visiting children, grandchildren, and even the occasional grand-dog. We have always had a revolving door where friends and family can feel free to stop by for a short visit, or to pull a chair up by the fire and stay awhile.
That being said, it is good to be prepared for the unexpected. A quick and fun treat I like to keep on hand is the makings for S’mores. As soon as it cools off enough, I stock a basket with marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate, ready to go. We like to use Ghirardelli squares and have experimented with some of their special flavors. My favorite is Sea Salt and Caramel. I just bought some S’mores “baskets” at Crate and Barrel. They allow you to assemble your S’more and then get the chocolate nice and melty too. What’s not to like about that? I also keep a basket of small paper plates and napkins on my kitchen counter. This is stocked all the time, ready to go to serve a small plate of cheese and crackers or other simple snack with a glass of wine.
This time of year, we spend a great deal of time outside enjoying the beautiful weather and our outdoor fireplace. My red painted walls already look festive and we add lit garland and lots of candles to the mantle inside and out. Twinkle lights are up year-round on the patio for the softly lit ambiance. (And lest you get the wrong idea here, I don’t do anything really outrageous like leave my Christmas lights up on the front of my house or my Christmas tree up year round.) Outdoor curtains make this “room” very cozy at night and keep the warmth in if we need it. I purchased inexpensive curtains from IKEA; they come in extra long lengths and have held up in the Arizona sun for several years. Of course, you can buy fabric made specifically for the outdoors, but be prepared to spend more money. We used conduit for the rods (from the hardware store electrical department) which can be cut any length and is really inexpensive. Tool storage clips hold the rods in place and make it easy to remove them as needed. I keep a stack of lap blankets in the basket by the door to keep the chill off in the evening. This is the same basket that holds the pool towels in the summer time. You can tell I like baskets for organizing!
Our home is casually festive and a place where we enjoy sharing the spirit of the season with our friends and family. After all, there’s no place like home, especially for the holidays.