Deck The Halls (Tastefully)

There’s holiday cheer, and there’s holiday cheer on Zoloft. Here’s how to get it right.

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I’ve seen living rooms that look like the aftermath of a pinecone/tinsel explosion—twinkling lights on every doorway, tree-shaped dishes full of candy kisses, the lot. I am the other extreme. My holiday décor usually consists of a vodka bottle wrapped in snowflake graphics and some disco ball ornaments scattered through the room. Sure, I could put in more effort. But that requires, you know… effort. 

This year, however, I’ve decided to give my surroundings a festive face-lift so I can invite my friends over without listening to them commiserate my wreath-less existence. No more “Wino Wonderland” for me. Instead, my home will be the essence of seasonal style. Of course, I have no idea how to do this. 

So, I contacted entertaining, design, fashion, food and drink extraordinaire Susan MacTavish Best. When it comes to holiday decorating, her mantra is “keep it simple, to allow for more time with friends over cocktails.” My kind of lady.

Here are her surefire tips that, if you’re as clueless as me, will help you find the right balance between fa-la-la and FAIL.


1) Deck yourself happy.

Figure out what kind of vibe you want to convey. Whether it’s ‘Visions of Sugarplums’ or ‘Sparkles & Snow Globes,’ it’s your space, so decorate for yourself first, then worry about everyone else. 


2) Stick with what works.

Choose a theme that you’ll like year after year, and make it yours.  If you’re undecided, try white and silver, with glass accents and clear lights. It’s straightforward, timeless and elegant.


3) Be lazy.

If you string white fairy lights on your balcony or in your backyard, you can leave them up year-round—even during mid-summer cocktail parties. Then, when December rolls around again, your lights will already be up. You can also hang big, blown-glass baubles from your ceiling, and they’ll look just as eye-catching the rest of the year.  Make sure they’re high enough, though, so as not to coldcock your taller friends.  (Note: You can find inexpensive baubles at Cost Plus World Market.)


4) Light up.

Candles, that is. White candles in clear or silver hurricanes are a stunning way to make any home or apartment feel cozier.  Plus, everyone looks better under candlelight—even you, after a night of Aunt Kathy’s Ho-Ho Punch.


5) Add some blooms.

White orchids are your best bet. While they’re more expensive upfront, they last forever. Tulips are pretty but often die quickly—especially if you have a black thumb. Pine tree greenery adds an aromatic touch, and it’ll last a few weeks.


6) Go easy on the tree.

The bigger the tree, the bigger the work. So, unless you plan on harboring small woodland creatures, don’t get in over your head. Once you’ve found the right sized tree for your space—real or fake—the decorations are fairly effortless.


7) Make it a party.

Booze = barter.  Feed your friends cocktails, and they’ll help you with just about anything—including hanging up the ornaments or taking them down, post-holidays.  


8) Finally… relax.

Remember: this shouldn’t be stressful. Fuss less over festive knick-knacks and more on having your friends over.  After a few cranberry martinis, no one will care whether or not your décor is perfect.


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