DG welcomes guest blogger Denise McGaha, President of M Designs, who’s gabbing about all things fa-la-la-fabulous for the holidays!

The Holidays for my family begin early. With travel
and entertaining throughout the South, we are a busy bunch. I like to
begin planning in late October since we have guests and start traveling
to visit family in early December. Below are my top ten tips to help you
create a beautiful home for the holidays and make a warm and welcoming
space for everyone who visits.

1. ALWAYS bring in fresh. If you have an allergy to cedar, then use
magnolia leaves and amaryllis, but always use fresh items in your decor.
I love narcissus, amaryllis, fresh flowers for the table and powder
baths. The “wow” factor is amazing. Every time I smell the scents of the
season, it instantly brings back memories.


2. Candles……but not scented. Low votives are
wonderful on the tables, and I love long tapers for more formal
occasions. I bought beautiful hand-dipped apple green tapers when we
were last in Paris and every time I use them, I remember our romantic
trip that Spring.

3. Make it your own. On the tree, dining table, and tablescapes, inject
your personality. Whether using your favorite whimsical napkins and
napkin rings, your grandmothers silver tea service, or calligraphy on
the place cards, make sure it reflects your personality. You will make
your guests comfortable and it creates great conversation when a little
fun is injected in your decorating.

4. Don’t forget the kids!! Make their table for dining fun with butcher
paper and crayons, small gifts that can be opened AFTER eating, Mac and
cheese buffet- style and games to play until the adults are done. They
will love coming to your house for the holidays and make sure it’s
anything but boring for them! You could even have iTunes gift cards to
download a list of games and music you preview and leave for them to
choose from…you won’t hear from them until dessert is served!

5. Make guests comfortable. Find out what their favorite drinks and
snacks are and have them ready. Give them a place for coats and bags
when they arrive and greet them warmly when they arrive. Don’t get so
wrapped up in entertaining that you forget who you are entertaining
for!! And always have gifts for guests when they leave. I prefer a
natural gift..a bag of nuts with a nutcracker or a plant or seedling.

6. Create a theme each year that is incorporated into your wrapping,
table settings and overall decoration. Whether it’s a ribbon color used
for packages and napkins, or a particular style of font on your place
card and gift tags, it will help create a cohesive look.

7. Change pillows and throws on furniture for the
season. I have great cashmere pillows being made for the sofa this
season. These cozy down-filled pillows will coordinate with my red felt
pillows I already own. I can just imagine snuggling up next to the fire

8. Whenever possible, use fresh fruit and berries for decoration. Try
to stay away from kitschy seasonal decor. This will keep your look
sophisticated and timeless.

9. Create holiday memories and record them in a holiday journal. I have
leather-bound Christmas albums with photos from our friends and family
cards each year. I love going through these albums and seeing how
everyone has grown and changed over the years.


10. Adorn mirrors and doors inside with wreaths and
ribbon. I also love to hang wreaths from drapery rods in our front
windows. This allows me to use the color theme from our ribbon on the
inside of our home as well as the outside.