Running Out Of Time?? HOLIDAY Stress NO MORE!

fullsizerender-11Image from Found and Favour

For whatever reason, the holidays have snuck up on me (again) and I seriously need another three weeks to get my house, gift buying & wrapping, holiday dinner menu and life handled. I see all these posts with amazing seasonal decor, beautifully decorated trees, perfectly planned holiday parties,  insanely wrapped gifts ….like many full-time working mamas out there, I just wish I had more hours in the day to accomplish these things. I am all about lists and finding ways to maximize time so I can be that awesome homemaker too.  Here are a few cheats to help tackle your holiday to-do list and to gain a few extra minutes so you can enjoy some egg nog with your loved ones.

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ONLINE SHOPPING – JUST DO IT all ready!!!  Do not, I repeat, do not find yourself in a mall, waiting for help after spending 20 mins trying to find parking…and let’s be honest, the store won’t have the size or color you need anyway! The other night I went to Nordstrom.com and Amazon.com (while laying in bed with hot cocoa – mental mommy break) and got 2 of my 3 kids’ christmas lists completed. I would also like to note that my Amazon goods were delivered in 2 days and the Nordstrom items in 5 days!!   I was able to find the best prices by buying online.  ALL FREE SHIPPING!!  THANK YOU INTERNET!

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GIFT WRAPPING – My kids are older now but when they were younger and I had sitters for them, I would have my sitter wrap gifts once the kids were in bed. This is a great way to get every penny out of your sitter and get one more “to-do” off your list.  Just set up an area with the gifts, paper, etc ahead of time and make sure you let them know what/who they are wrapping for.

fullsizerender-16Williams Sonoma (online catering)

DINNER MENU – I know we all love cooking for our family and friends but it takes up the whole day and the kitchen clean up takes another.  Luckily for us, there are a ton of options when it comes to delicious pre-made food.  Just recently I received a catalog from Williams Sonoma with incredible options for gourmet, pre-made dishes. You can also order amazing quality meals from Honeybaked Ham (more than just ham, I love the turkey breast), Neiman Marcus (yes, they have food), your local market/grocery store or Costco. You can order anything from groceries, to platters, to just a few dishes or an entire meal.

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TREE DECORATING- I’ve had an artificial tree for years but this year some of the lights were acting up and I decided to change things up.   I picked up a  real tree a few days ago. After squeezing it into the backseat of my SUV and driving home with it hanging out the window,  I threw on the lights and ornaments with my kids.  While I love a fresh tree, I am starting to love the idea of a faux tree for three reasons – 1) no needles to vacuum up and 2) it comes pre-lit and is ready to go right out of the box and 3) I don’t have to stuff it into my car.  Comment if you want to see pics of the fiasco!  These types of trees usually come in 3-5 pieces that you snap together.  From there, you just plug in and you got a glowing tree. If you are running out of time, make this investment and have your tree delivered. There are so many options for great, fake trees. Both, Frontgate and Balsam Hill have beautiful, “real looking” faux trees. AND…if you worry you will miss the smell of having a tree in your home, there are incense for that – link below:

Pine Tree Incense

My Favorite Christmas Candle – Thymes Frasier Fir Pine Needle Candle

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INSIDE DECOR – Running out of time to decorate??? Keep it simple by swapping out your usual candles with holiday themed ones, add a wreath or cut some branches from your tree for greenery. Lastly, buy some florals at your local supermarket to complete your room.

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OUTSIDE DECOR – Decorating your whole home with lights would be amazing, but costly and time consuming.  Below are some simple ways to get your home in the holiday spirit and quickly.

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WREATHS – Buy a few, as these work great on front doors, windows and garages. I found some great boxwood wreaths today at Trader Joes for $9.99.  They are easy to hang with over-the-door wreath hooks, ribbon or wire.  I personally love using the Command hooks with adhesive backs – link below:

Large Command Hooks

Brushed Nickel Command Hook


house-litImage from Young House Love

 WINDOW CANDLES (battery operated )- This is a pretty way to add light and literally not have to hang, measure, find an outlet, or deal with messy cords. Home depot and Amazon have these – here’s the link:

Battery Powered Candles


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VELVET BOWS – The best part about these inexpensive bows is that they usually have plastic, wire tie backs that make it super easy to place on fence posts, stair railings and windows. Red bows are a great way to dress up wreaths too. You can buy these at Amazon and Home Depot as well – link below:

 2 Pack Holiday Bows Under $10


DIY LANTERNS – Simply fill paper bags with sand and tealights or LED candles to give your driveway or front yard a holiday glow. Here are a few helpful guides below:


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DESIGN TIP:  Trim off the bottom branches of your tree to add greenery on your fire place mantle, kitchen table or even hang from your front door in place of a wreath.  A little greenery, red ribbon and a few pinecones can make any space look and feel festive.   

My top items used for decorating (budget friendly too)

We all wish we could have a personal chef, live-in housekeeper, stylist, nanny, decorator…..but the odds are, we don’t.  I may not be able to give you advice on some of the categories above but the one thing I can is, decorating on the cheap.  I am a realtor by trade and a lover of design, decor, architecture and all things pretty.  One of my favorite tasks as a realtor is staging homes.  I stage new homes and old, model homes and apartment lofts, big mansions and small spaces. When it all comes together, there is no better feeling, but not all jobs are easy.  With that said, I have found a few tricks along the way that seem to work for any project.  Below are my #FAVORITE items to help elevate and enhance a space.  If you use a few of these tips, you will be able create a beautiful and inviting room in no time. Oh, and did I mention that none of them will break the bank.  Your hubby can thank me later!  🙂

Item 1 – Books

Books are cheap and can fill up empty space. They add color, can be stacked vertical or horizontal and are great in numerous rooms throughout the home.  I will typically find books for my staging projects at garage and yard sales or Goodwill.  You can also use your latest hard cover novel.  Just make sure you take the paper cover off!  Again, this is a REALLY INEXPENSIVE way to accessorize your space.

Item 2 – Vases and Urns

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These vases can be grouped together or alone.  They have lived in living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and dining rooms.  I especially love these white vases because they are neutral and work with any color palette and many genres – classic, contemporary, mid-century, modern, shabby chic. The vase on the far left is from Jonathan Alder and the other two are from Target.

Picture 1) West Elm  2) HomeGoods  3) Nordstrom @ Home

These pieces add color and a little drama to the room.  They work great on shelves, fireplaces and countertops to complete a color story.

Picture 1) Striped Vase – West Elm  2)  Large White Carson Jar with Lid  3) Small Blue & White Morgan Box with Lid 4) Large Blue Floral Jar – Home Goods   Picture 2) West Elm

Item 3 – Candles and Votives 

Let’s be honest, the first thing you notice when you walk into someone’s home is the smell and ambiance.  To create an inviting space, you need warmth. Candles and fireplaces give off a feeling that make you feel cozy, relaxed and at home. On the other hand, I have sold many homes because of the smell of freshly baked cookies, breads or great clean smelling candles. You can certainly create this mood for less than a few dollars. Votives are from West Elm and Z Gallerie.

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One of my favorite smelling candles you can find on Amazon for less than $40. I feel the price/value on this item is incredible and you will love it like a Jo Malone but won’t have to spend as much coin. Another plus, the packaging is pretty and it comes with matches! (great holiday gift, just saying)

Great Gift – Kobo Candles

Item 4 – Trays

Trays are wonderful because they can be filled with objects or left on their own.  They fit in smaller spaces, like under an open coffee table or console shelf.  They look pretty on a bookshelf, in a glass cabinet or simply left on the counter top.  I have filled the deeper trays with lemons and limes, the plate-like trays with money, car keys, etc. and the serving trays with drinks & bottles or candles, magazines and fresh flowers.  Their uses are endless and can also help in organizing or grouping items together like remote controls. The brass tray is from Target, the white tray comes in several colors and is from West Elm, the blue is from GateHouse No.1 in Orem, Utah and the Rosanna glass tray is from Nordstrom.com and on sale now!

Gold Dot Mosaic Tray

Item 5 – Pillows and Throws

I have a ton of pillows in my storage area.  I swap them out depending on weather, time of year and design space.  Throwing a few pillows on a boring couch or one with a simple slip cover can really change the whole look of a room.  Plus, if you like to buy neutral furniture pieces, a colorful pillow will go a long way.  Target, West Elm, CB2 and HomeGoods is where I usually find my best pillows at a low price. If you would like the sources for any of the pillows shown, leave a comment and we’ll get back to you asap.

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Similar to a pillow, this is an easy way to add texture, color and complete the vibe you are going for.  Sometimes I use a throw to cover a spot on a couch or give a little love to a not-so-cute chair.  Look how much better Great Grandma’s Mid-Century rocking chair looks when we add a pillow & throw! Our not-so cute chair is transformed by using items I already had around the house.

Item 6 –  Shapes and objects

Perfect for shelves, cabinets, coffee tables, book toppers…the list goes on.  I find objects that will add texture and dimension to the room.  I love abstract objects and animals as they both add novelty and interest.  Sources: Brass Cube West Elm, Agate West Elm,  Origami Star – Gatehouse No.1 Orem, Utah or Amazon see link below.

HomArt Ceramic Origami Star, Large, White

Item 7 -Plants and fresh flowers

My Favorite Jo Malone ‘Lime Basil & Mandarin’ Diffuser 

Must Read- My Journey Donna Karan

The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane Von Furstenberg

The easiest way to add color and bring nature indoors.  Real or fake, you can find both on the cheap.  These fake succulents (picture on the left) were all found at Target and the air plant in the gold terrarium is from West Elm; however, with cacti trending, you can find these types of potted plants just about anywhere. I find most of my fresh flowers at Whole Foods or my local farmers market for under $10. Below I used the white jar from our vases & urns section and added some high quality artificial flowers.  It’s all about reusing items you already have on hand!dscn4917

Large White Carson Jar with Lid

Item 8 – Pictures and Mirrors

You will definitely need to add art, mirrors and pictures to your design space to make it feel lived in, add interest and dress the walls up.  Both hanging pictures (in picture on the right), I framed myself.  I got the prints for less than $10 – one from Ikea and one from an art gallery in NY. I bought the frames at Michaels and my overall spend for each piece when completed -$30.

I rarely buy art that is already framed.  90% off what I hang on walls was once a poster, print or a picture from a calendar that I framed myself. Some of these were handmade but the purchased pieces came from Minted.com.

Mirrors reflect light and make a space look and feel larger than it really is. I just found this amazing heavy, brass wall mirror (on the far left) at HomeGoods for $130.  Also, I use the dark wood floor mirror in many of my homes….it is  a lot of mirror for under $100 from Ikea.

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Find frames that will add texture and interest to your room.  Don’t go crazy buying colorful frames; let the picture add the color to your room and let the frames add the dimension and novelty. All of my picture frames come from HomeGoods, Target or wherever I see them on sale.

Item 9 – Food

This is a very, very inexpensive way to decorate unless you choose to have an entire “candy room”….. I wish!  For now, I’ll stick to filling up trays, bowls or jars with any type of fruit (my favorite – lemons and limes), candy, cookies, bottles, pretzels, dog treats, sugar….and you instantly have color and/or a “space filler”.  Obviously these types of props work best in a kitchen, butler pantry or bar.

MacKenzie Childs Cookie Jar with Courtley Check Enamel Lid

Glass Candy Jars

Item 10 – Rugs

Probably the most important item to enhance and warm up a space.  It sets the mood and helps create the color palette and design story. If you have a rug that is  small for your space, try layering it over a larger natural fiber rug.  Photo by House of Jade Interiors.

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For beautiful Turkish Rugs visit decorator Caitlin Creer’s site Proper – Finishing Touches For the Home

Handmade Eco Natural Fiber Rug

DESIGN TIP: Be careful of 100% Polypropylene, Polyester and Viscose rugs.  They often have a sheen that makes them look inexpensive. If at all possible, look for leather, wool, cotton or other natural fiber rugs.  

For help or additional info, leave me a comment or email me at info@withinwalls.com

Happy Staging!! WW