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  • Kathie Scalf

Holiday Do’s and Dont’s


Is it just me or is time now flying by so quickly it’s not even happening? When this article is published we will be halfway through November and my mind is still trying to process July. Bearing that in mind, the holidays are basically here, so if you’re not ready it’s probably high time to get that way. This time of year can quickly spiral from “the magical season of giving” to “stress fueled dumpster fire” without some type of game plan. Luckily for you all, in my decades of holiday hosting I’ve learned a few valuable lessons I can share. The rest, you’re going to just have to learn from experience. Behold, my abridged list of holiday do’s and dont’s!

My first DO- decorate your house in a tasteful, elegant, minimalistic, monochromatic color scheme! Which leads me to my first Don’t- DON’T listen to me, or anyone else! That is how I like MY house to look, but you feel free to go as overboard and loud as you want. If you want your house to be lit up like the Griswolds, go for it! The Christmas spirit is all about feeling warm and fuzzy, so whatever makes you feel that way is the ‘right’ way to decorate. I do request you keep the inflatable yard décor to a minimum because, respectfully, they are a bit much. But otherwise, create a Christmas scheme that is authentically you.

However, DON’T leave your decorations up ‘til the groundhog can see his shadow beside them. There is nothing more depressing to me than seeing a dilapidated brown wreath hanging haphazardly on someone’s door beneath one sad string of lights a month after the glitz and glamour of the holidays has passed. If I made the rules, it would require breaking everything down on New Year’s Day, but since I don’t it isn’t mandatory. I think a week following New Year’s is plenty of time to have enjoyed the décor and then stashed it away until next November. The way time is flying, it’ll be back before you know it anyway.

DO put your tree up whenever you’re good and ready. I have always been staunchly against Christmas trees before Thanksgiving and one of my favorite traditions has been spending black Friday picking out and decorating a tree with my family. But times and circumstances have changed, and this year with mom and dad coming to Nashville for Thanksgiving instead of me coming home plus a lack of storage space, I had to go ahead and put my tree up November 10th. It’s not so bad, and will leave time for other activities during my parents’ visit. If you love basking in the warm glow of the tree, put that sucker up and enjoy it as long as you want.

While there may be many reasons for the season, we all know food is the real star of the show. Whether you’re cheffing the main event or just contributing a snack, everyone wants to have a standout dish. But the holidays are not the time to try out a new recipe. DO make the meat of your menu classics that stand the test of time. People wait 365 days to eat Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner; DON’T throw everyone for a loop because you decided to be adventurous and switch up their favorite fried turkey for a spicy curry slow roast bird. However, I do encourage you to throw in at least one new dish for everyone’s sampling. Whether it’s a specialty cocktail or a side dish, you never know what might become everyone’s new favorite classic for years to come. There’s nothing wrong with exploring, just don’t stray so far off the beaten path that it throws everyone for a loop.

Speaking of guests, it’s time to tackle the toughest do’s and dont’s of them all- with whom and where you will spend your quality holiday time. It’s a fact that being forced to mingle with people you only see once a year can get dicey or in some cases downright ugly; for some it’s what makes the holidays miserable. If that’s the case, DON’T do it. Just because someone shares a blood line with you doesn’t require suffering through an evening of dry turkey through gritted teeth and tears in the bathroom. DO surround yourself with people you love who bring you joy, whether it’s family or friends or the bartender down the street who can’t get back home this year. People put way too much emphasis on sharing these special occasions simply because ‘blood is thicker than water.’ I say to heck with that; sometimes you just aren’t compatible no matter who the person is. But in the spirit of forgiveness, DO make an honest effort to mend any burned bridges that might be weighing on you. While it’s not healthy to let any old person back into your life, if you find yourself missing someone or you’re just being petty because someone you genuinely enjoy shares a different view than yours politically, let that stuff go. Life is too short to hold grudges.

Finally, DO put a focus on tradition and making memories. People get so caught up in material things during the holidays, when the real joy and magic comes from the feelings within. The glow of lights, the smells of yummy desserts, the playful bickering while trimming the tree…this is what leaves lasting impressions, not how many likes you got on the Instagram video unwrapping the latest Jordans. Each year, DO resurrect the things from years past that are unique to your family, whether it’s watching a certain movie, playing board games or a recreating Grandma’s classic Grinch punch. But DON’T be afraid to start a new tradition! Maybe this year everyone is saving money so you draw names, or someone gets a karaoke machine and spikes Grandma’s punch and it’s a hit; if something new is fun, bring it back the next year.

Don’t let the true values of Christmas get lost in the commercial BS of social media and television. Do things that make you feel good on the inside and you can guarantee the best holiday season ever. Give to those less fortunate, forgive those who deserve it, spend time with the people you love and decorate as little or as much as you want. Keep it simple and low stress and remember, if worst comes to worst, it’ll be over before you know it! Happy Holidays!



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