Western Living Magazine
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Soha Lavin of CountDown Events shares her holiday decorating expertise.
‘Tis the season! Well…almost. Get ready for the upcoming holidays with these tips and tricks from CountDown Events’s principal planner Soha Lavin. Whether you’re hosting an intimate Thanksgiving dinner, a corporate Christmas party or a big New Year’s Eve bash, it’s all about creating an experience for the guest.
Holiday decorating is about subtle details and creating cohesion. “You don’t need to spell out everything about your theme at the door,” says Lavin, “but you should preserve the experience throughout the entire space.” She suggests layering different elements throughout (pinecones in one room, a garland in another); even the bathroom can be adorned with candles or a single bud placed in a tiny votive.
“Holiday decorating and entertaining is a lot more sentimental,” says Lavin. “Even a scent can trigger a slew of memories for someone.” She suggests thinking about what guests will see, smell and hear—“there has to be music” as they walk through the door. Her go-to tricks include strategically placing scented elements throughout the house (Jo Malone has a great selection), and using lights and candles to create a glowing ambiance.
According to Lavin, your table is one of the first things guests will see. Make a good first impression by filling the table with an elegant mix of materials and textures. (Photo by Rebecca Amber Photography.)
When it comes to creating the perfect tablescape, Lavin is a huge fan of mixing materials and fabrics. “People think you have to mix gold with silver or crystal—I disagree,” she says. Try instead to mix in textural elements like wood to create a more informal, cozy atmosphere. Plaid can also be used to cozy-up the dining table. “It runs the gamut of colour schemes,” says Lavin, and is one of the top trends for the upcoming holiday season. Another trend she suggest trying your hand at? Trading flowers for foliage (eucalyptus and fern are especially popular).
Setting the table with name tags and whimsical keepsakes (like this gold horse figurine) is a simple gesture that will make your guests feel extra special. (Photo by Ellen Ho of Hong Photography.)
Include small details that make your guests feel welcome. A simple way to do this, Lavin says, is adding place settings and name tags: “It makes guests feel special to know that they have a seat at the table.” This doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. “An extra five to 10 minutes of your time can add a layer of luxury,” says Lavin, suggesting walnuts and leaves as simple, yet effective, elements. Lavin also suggests giving guests a keepsake, “I always want people to leave with something. It can be something edible, it can be a mini ornament—anything that takes a piece of the party or experience and extends it.”
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