House to Home for the Holidays

The holidays are upon us and we all want to have our homes welcoming and warm for our friends and family.  What to do to make your home instantly come to life?  Here’s my list…

10 Easy Things to Get Your Home Holiday Ready

  1. Candles, candles and more candles. The more the merrier…. Put them on your windowsills, on the mantelpiece, in your front hall, on a coffee table, dining table or other places that are visible. If you’re worried about fire, and especially if you have pets or young children, consider the very cool-looking battery-powered candles. If you want real candles, I use no-drip candles in hurricane lanterns with a mirror under or behind for more illumination and sparkle. For color I put cranberries in my hurricane lanterns with a candle nestled in the middle. Add some greenery underneath and it’s an instant centerpiece.
  2. Change out your pillows for warm holiday colors. If you like purple, use purple! You don’t have to use red and green. Use velvets, shiny fabrics, beading, some bling. You’d be surprised at how fast a room can come to life with just a change like this. Ok, I couldn’t resist – dressing up your family pet always makes for more fun!

  3. A vase of flowers in bright reds or maybe all white. And of course evergreens with their wonderful smell. Live plants give the room a special feel.
  4. Adding garlands to overhead lights and sconces adds a lot of texture and interest… but please be careful to keep flammable materials away from bulbs.
  5. Quick and easy craft: Got an old lamp you don’t like? Re-paint it in a bright holiday color like this one.

  6. Spruce up your lampshades …. Consider replacing those white and off-white shades in warm, festive colors like red or gold, or use this as an opportunity to add some bling with beaded trim.
  7. Buy some red, gold, silver, or rich-colored napkins, placemats and tablecloths – if you’re not crazy about bright Christmas-red, consider maroon or burgundy. Add some festive napkin rings.
  8. Gather some pretty colorful leaves, or snips of holly, making sure they are clean. Scatter them on your table. Or buy a few roses and scatter the petals at the last minute on a white tablecloth. Gorgeous, clever and inexpensive.
  9. Of course you’ve considered a wreath on the front door. How about a wreath as a centerpiece on your dining table? Or hang wreaths in front of your windows with beautiful long velvet ribbons.
  10. Buy some silver or gold lamé slinky fabric at a craft store. Use it under your tablecloth for a little bit of zing. Or drape it over a side or end table. Drape the fabric over your dining chairs and tie it with holiday cording or wired ribbon and voilà! a fabulous-looking dining setting.

Now you’re all done. Time for some holiday cheer!

Here’s my favorite Egg Nog: (no, it’s not an old family recipe, but one I learned hunkered down on a snowy New Year’s Day watching Ed McMahon from the Johnny Carson show). No one has ever topped this mixture in my humble, and happy opinion!

Ed McMahon’s Egg Nog

    1. 12 eggs, separated (save the whites: see below)
    2. A fifth of rum:
      You can use less rum to pack less punch to this, if you prefer.
      A fifth is 4/5 of a quart, or 25 3/5 fluid ounces.
      I prefer dark rum for its smoother flavor
    3. 1 cup brandy
      Don’t be shy about using a good one. If using less rum, use proportionately less brandy
    4. 1 shot of triple sec
      A shot is about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ ounce
    5. 1 quart of half and half
    6. 2 quarts French vanilla ice cream
    7. 2 pints heavy cream, whipped
    8. 12 egg whites, whipped

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large punch bowl.
Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
Add, in dollops or globs (globs means just that; leave them lumpy, that’s what makes this eggnog special) the ice cream, the whipped cream, and the egg whites.
Serve immediately.
You can sprinkle with nutmeg, allspice, or my favorite, cinnamon. Or, just put each spice out and let people choose to their own taste.
My southern addition: add red small cinnamon candy – just a few on top for color.

Makes just over a gallon, about 10 to 30 servings