Your Home

by Mel Selcho

Epic Entertaining

Embracing the unexpected with tips from design and floral experts

When planning a gathering, where do you start?

Consider the type of event and determine a style. Two styles we find easy to execute are family traditions or fancy and sparkly. In either case, we have tips to think outside-the-box to put some wow in your celebration.

What are some of the family traditions you celebrate?

One of Wallace’s favorites handed down from her grandmother is “Holly Pudding.” It’s not a pudding at all, but a bowl full of greens hiding small gifts attached to ribbons going to each plate. Someone calls “ready, set, go,” and each guest pulls their gift from the “pudding.”

While families celebrate in different ways, we can always embrace traditions from others when visiting. Lisa likes having Jesus’s birthday cake and blowing out the candles to remind her family of the reason for their Christmas celebration. Of course, it’s angel food cake.

Holiday decorating can be intimidating. What makes a home look styled?

Layering is key. Put candles of different heights and shapes on the mantle or a sideboard. If four are good, eight are better (make that 12). Fill in with greenery from the yard or market. Explore outdoors for interesting textures like pinecones, seed pods, dried hydrangeas or rose hips to tuck in the greenery. For more drama, add gold or silver ornaments in with the candles and greenery. Keep adding and layering until it looks abundant.

INTERIOR DESIGNERS and co-owners of Decatur’s Trinity Mercantile and Design Co., Lisa Turner and Wallace Bryan have been helping clients bring design elements to their homes and gatherings for the holidays. We caught up with them to share ideas to turn your holiday gathering into a memorable event.

What are your tips for making a home look more special?

Begin with the unexpected. For instance, the tablecloth could be a quilt that would bring back family memories, a sari with gold

embroidery for glam or even a pristine matelassé bedspread. Consider collections you have that might move off a shelf onto a table or hang by ribbons from a window or mantle. Small enameled boxes, a collection of ornaments, tiny vases with a single bloom and intertwined down a table center with votives create a whimsical and possibly unexpected tablescape. Even beautiful shells from the beach can be used with holiday greenery.

Just like in other decorating, it’s important to make your holiday home your own.

Bringing the outdoors in

Catherine Anderson, owner of Les Fleurs Partout, a Decatur floral design studio, also shared thoughts on decorating with local flowers and greenery.

Why choose seasonal flowers as part of holiday décor?

Incorporating local flowers and your own greenery can add beauty to your home this season, not only for the guests you entertain, but also for the people who call your house a home.

Local materials have a seasonality and authenticity that enhances the overall look of your flowers and your home. Some ideas of flowers and greenery that are good this time of year are dried hydrangea blossoms, rosemary, grasses and fall leaves in Thanksgiving arrangements. For winter arrangements, try camellias, holly, magnolia, evergreen boughs and pinecones to create a distinctive, local charm.

What are some ways to incorporate natural elements this season beyond the traditional tree?

The first place to consider adding greenery and flowers are the entrances that your guests will be using. Look at it with fresh eyes asking if there is a spot for a wreath, a swag of evergreens or a seasonal planter?

Inside the house, think about the rooms you are going to use and where you want to draw people’s attention. Depending on the type of event you are hosting, this might mean placing a tall arrangement on the kitchen island or decorating the mantle or staircase. For a seated dinner, be sure that flowers are low enough for people to easily see and talk over. 

Consider the new and fun trend of elevating your flowers. You can do this by adding greenery to your chandelier. Just be careful to keep floral material away from the lightbulbs.

What tips do you have for decorating with greenery?

We are so fortunate to live in a place with plenty of natural beauty. Look around your own yard and see what you can cut to enhance your decorating this season. Magnolia, boxwood and many of the local evergreens will last a week out of water or will dry nicely.

What’s one easy-to-implement suggestion?

One of the nicest ways of telling overnight guests, “I am so glad you are here,” is to place a small arrangement on their bedside table. Similarly, a small flower arrangement in a powder room is an unexpected delight.

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