Holiday Helpers: Decking the Halls – and the Kitchen
THERE IS NO HIDING NOW — unless you’re referring to hiding spots for the presents. The holidays have officially found us. It’s time to set up the gift-wrapping station (or, if you’re like me, cover the living room floor with crafting supplies) and hang those stockings with care. While the majority of us are hastily scanning Pinterest for unique ideas to spruce up our mantels and planning outfits for the barrage of holiday parties about to hit our calendars, the blur of modern-day December still evokes warm and fuzzy familial feelings. Therein lies the need to decorate and the blessing of celebratory evolution.
VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS
While hiring experts to deck the halls on your behalf does, in fact, mean you can turn your living room into the window front from Gimbels department store in “Elf,” it more realistically means you can create a storybook holiday home in the time it takes to send an email.
“[The holidays are] always special because it celebrates hope, joy and family,” said Gloria Lester, owner of Custom Christmas Designs. “It’s a magical time that makes being fresh and creative so easy.”
The catch? Not everyone has a knack for creativity and a lot of us don’t even make it past the Pinning phase.
For people wanting to decorate extravagantly, without the hassle, word spreads extremely quickly according to Bob Evans, owner of Property Creations, Inc. For his clients, that meant hanging 15-foot wreaths at the top of a 10-story building, installing trees on rooftops and stringing hundreds of lights. Some of that work is tedious and risky, so hiring a pro may keep you in one piece through the New Year.
“If you’re decorating your own home, just think simple,” Evans recommended to those of us with only a few stories to consider. “Don’t spread the lighting out too much. Focus on one spot, like your entryway, and work outward from there.”
Lester advises all of her clients to create a vision first. Without one, you can’t produce anything on a staircase, the mantel or a tree. Her team takes that vision, fleshes out the details and installs it. “As professionals, we can recognize the design elements of your vision,” Lester added. “We know how to listen to what a room is telling you it needs and we can see the execution from beginning to end before we even start.”
Although some of Lester’s projects start as early as April, installations usually take place between mid-November and early December.
PEACE OF MIND
“We started doing Christmas decorating more than 20 years ago,” said David Korstad, president and general manager of the Atlanta branch of Sedgefield Interior Landscapes, Inc. “We realized we had a substantial potential client base and the business just took off from there.”
The difference in what Sedgefield does is a matter of where you want the behindthe- scenes to happen. Their team creates décor themes in-house, which take away the stress of storing fragile ornaments and impossible-to-pack greenery. Plus, by leasing décor instead, clients have the flexibility to change their color themes from year to year, increase or decrease the magnitude of their idea or change directions with their design scheme completely.
“They never have to worry about any problems either,” Sedgefield said. “It may cost a little more year-to-year, but the flexibility outweighs the cost.” We can hear sighs of relief from every corner of North Atlanta.
Since that means you have access to the latest (and one of the greatest) collections of décor on the market, we like this idea more and more. Sedgefield sources from Atlanta to Chicago, Ill. long before the lights on this year’s tree start to flicker. Here’s another perk: when you’re not ready to celebrate Christmas in July, Sedgefield’s elves — err — designers are getting settled in their workshops, already starting projects inside their warehouse; so when it comes time to turn on the holidays at your house, all they have to do is move it in.
“My favorite part is seeing the final products from my designers,” Korstad said. “Especially the big trees — 12-foot to 30-foot trees completely decorated are just spectacular.”
LAST MINUTE TIPS
Whether or not you’re sitting down to a cup of eggnog now that you’re toying with the idea of letting an expert handle the fake snow and animated light shows, these guys have advice for homeowners still feeling the need to tackle the decorating task alone.
“The most important advice I could give someone [decorating their own home is] to be very choosy about the greenery and decorations you buy,” Korstad said. “There is a huge difference in the quality of Christmas products. The cheapest is that way for a reason. It doesn’t last.”
Lester agreed and added, “I can and will work with some clients’ existing decorations, but the worst thing a client can do is hold onto décor long past its time. Everyone wants to get longevity out of their materials, but if lights aren’t working, if needles are falling off — get rid of it.”
Most importantly, we learned that if you’re only going to decorate one spot, make it the front door. It’s the first (and perhaps the only) thing people see. If you’ve decided to spend your money on just one thing, buy the best tree you can find. The tree is something you can build on every single year. That’s a doable tradition we recognize from holidays of old … and that nostalgia (including years of my family’s homemade ornaments) offers peace on earth amidst a whole lot of merry mayhem.
KEEP CALM AND ENTERTAIN ON
written by DAWN BURGESS • BLOGGER OF 5:01 DINNER CLUB
Here I sit peacefully, just like every year, basking in the calm before the whirlwind that’s about to blow through my life. I am referring to the flurry of activity that typically characterizes the holiday season. It is a joyous time of year but after months of parties, reunions and entertaining, it is also an exhausting one. Join me on a quest to make this year different. Southern chef icon Virginia Willis, Lake Lanier Islands’ Executive Chef Michael Klein, and I share tips and recipes to make holiday entertaining less stressful.
MAKE-AHEAD FRENCH TOAST Y’ALL PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM VIRGINIA WILLIS, COPYRIGHT (C) 2015. PUBLISHED BY TEN SPEED PRESS, A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, INC. PHOTOGRAPHY (C) 2015 BY ANGIE MOSIER.