Holiday Decorating by the Experts!

The beautiful tablescape in this month's Martha Stewart Living magazine that had Joni hyperventilating.

Join us at Skirted Roundtable this week as we fumble our way around the topic of holiday decorating with an emphasis on the fall season now upon us. We three are no experts as you will soon learn - it's lots of laughs as we talk about Linda's gilded walnuts and shrunken cranberries and Megan's Christmas tree named Ramona. Poor Joni is left out in cold with a few Radko dreidels. Join in the fun and leave us a comment of what you do about holiday decorating - we can use some new ideas, that's for sure!!

We all thought this was a gorgeous way to decorate a fall mantel.

Joni's big idea for fall decorating, taken straight from Martha Stewart: put yellow food coloring in apothecary jars.

What NOT to strive for when decorating for fall!!

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That’s a brilliant idea putting food coloring on the glass transparent vase to add more color in the room.
it jobs said…
Stunning decorations, I love the pumpkin and the artificial leaves.
Anonymous said…
Well, I'm with Joni.

I've always thought that the shelter mags (or now, blogs) should have a feature on SEASONAL decorating. I figure that since I bring in seasonal flowers in the spring and summer, I could do so for autumn and winter without the fear of having xmas overtones.

In Victoria magazine (during its first publishing run a decade ago) they featured this parlor decorated for summer by draping mosquito netting around the chandelier and slipcovering the furniture in white. So I'm thinking that for winter out come the cashmere blankets to drape across the couch, oodles of candles to compensate for the long evenings, fresh pinecones in bowls....

I wish someone with more talent than I could take this idea and expand upon it!

And by the way. Joni is correct, of course. You do not decorate for Hannuka. We go to a Hannuka party every year at our neighbors...the best atmostpheric enhancement is the brisket, which is so tender it literally melts in your mouth....

When I saw the title of this, I was afraid to listen! I just want to thank y'all for not coming to my blog to copy pictures to post for what NOT to do with holiday decor! Anyone who comes to my blog knows that I am a WAY over the top holiday decorator! I'm afraid that I am probably known for tacky indoor holiday decor-not so much outside. However, I don't do themed Christmas. I use the same decor every year-just move it to different places in my home - and LOTS of it! And yes, I have a tree in almost every room, and yes, I use homemade ornaments from our childhoods, our children's, and my grandchildren's. Joni, I'm so sorry, but you really need to stay away from my blog for the next few months! Actually, maybe everybody needs to stay away from my blog for the next few months!!laurie
Red Door Home said…
Loved the gorgeous fall mantel!
Debra Lea said…
You guys are entertaining lol :0)..I'm a huge Christmas decorator, and make most things myself. We don't have the beautiful fall colors in the desert so I just long for them and like to add a little orange in so that I can pretend, haha! The most important thing is that we all enjoy the holidays in our own way:0) If we all did the same, then nothing interesting could ever be inspired! I love listening to you ladies and I hope you have a wonderful season!
Great post, I feel that all decorating should include things with soul...something old ect. The last photo just looks like someone went shopping at hobby lobby came home and put it out. I love real and think simple is best...all the time.
Despite that it's HOT here still, I do decorate somewhat, here and there, for Autumn. {just did my mantel you can see on my blog} But, I agree. I don't love Halloween decorating, nor orange. But I do love seasonal, more natural decorating. It just has to be attractive, and make sense inside our home. Great discussion.
xo Lidy
Linda in AZ * said…
* My heart just went out to JONI when expressing her wish to enjoy Christmas trees, etc. Funny, I "found" you, sweet Joni, DURING the holidays, when you wrote a truly inspirational, interesting blog on Hannuka~~~ I was ENTHRALLED, & when I marked it as a "FAVE", it always came up to that particular blog. I finally "updated" it (eventually), but I sSTILL remember it, & HOPE you publish it again THIS year!

Every year as the holidays approach, I decide, ONCE AGAIN, that "less" really IS "more". I ADORE SIMPLICITY then, IF I can DO it!!!~~~ Memories of a beautiful childhood, Christmas's past, family no longer here, new friends and new young family members who ARE, make me yearn to somehow "relive" those happy times, tho, and I end up spending days upon days trying to "make memories"... I am just COMPELLED it seems, to open soooo many boxes of "joy"!

We all, THANKFULLY, have our very OWN, dear, special memories in lives, and I believe they can be celebrated, at ANY time of the year, if we let our hearts lead us there. It doesn't just HAVE to be during the holidays, tho~

Like so many, I love "the season" & look forward to it all (& DESPITE allllll the work, I l-o-v-e DOING it all!), and our Jewish friends are ALWAYS invited to any & every function we host~~~ and they usually come, too!

ENJOY whatever makes your hearts, and those of your family and friends, "SING"!!!

Love and thanks,
Linda in AZ *
Linda in AZ * said…
* Note: LAURIE's home I*S "full", during EVERY "special occassion", and visiting is like going to a "civilian's" form of Disneyland.... warm, loving, fun, gracious and BURSTING at the SEAMS with what reeeeally counts~~~~ GENUINE LOVE & LOVE OF GIVING... to family, to friends, and those she has yet to "know"... She's a CHAMPION in MY EYES, & ALWAYS opens her heart & hearth to any & everyone... God bless her!!! *
liz said…
Halloween is huge here and I go all out with a graveyard in the front garden, ravens, skulls in a birdcage, heirloom pumpkins and twinkly white lights. I also got some creepy folkloric stuff on ebay.

I was so sick of our tired Christmas decorations I now do a peacock themed tree and tabletop including silver peacock napkin holders. It makes it more fun to set up. Those same twinkly lights outside at Halloween are there at Christmas.

Frankly, I'm glad when it's all over.
Megan said…
You are all so funny! Re: Christmas at the beach - you should get some Australian magazines because Christmas is Summer here - there are great ways to embrace it with Summer style.

I agree with the comment above re: changing out things with the seasons rather than just a "day" i.e. Christmas, Halloween etc. and making changes for Autumn and Winter with throws, pillows, slipcovers, floral arrangements etc. It's a good chance to change things around a bit and freshen up the room. Put some things away for a bit of a rest and bring some things out. Otherwise you stop 'seeing' what is in front of you.
Terry said…
I listened but I'm blocking it out of my brain until December 18 which is still too early to decorate for Christmas.

I weep when I see the Halloween stuff at Kroger. In the urban environment I live in, Halloween decorating is not to be believed.

I do enjoy the tree competitions, for Christmas festivals.

I'm always on a quest to find homes with religious themed outdoor decorations. Alas, there are almost none.

I presume y'all have the upside down decorated trees in your neck of the wood: so wrong it's right.
annechovie said…
i can so relate to your no-seasonal-change situation, Megan. Loving the Blythe photo!
Anonymous said…

I loved this discussion! I went to Michael's the other day for my daughter to get art supplies and wanted to cry/throw up at the site of all the silk mums and other hideous flowers!!! And, even more tragic were the many people in line buying them. I would LOVE for you all to comment on your feelings about these as well as your readers.
Anonymous said…
Joni's last comment said it all! In Texas we do Holidays big! Some tasteful, some cheesy, the same as decorating houses! Example lets say a Ralph Lauren looking fall decoration maybe a table with a chocolate linen table cloth with a brown and white zebra hide draped on top, white pumpkins, gourds, pewter chargers, stoneware, ivory handle silver, brown handblown stemware, horns, antique leather books, 2' handblown huricanes with French leather candles, bittersweet, small chocolate satin wrapped gift boxes in each plate with a small gift and a note saying why you are thankful for them! It is hard to imagine designers not getting into seasonal decorating, it is about all the senses, sight, sound, smell, texture! It was alot of fun to listen to you! I quit decorating others homes for Christmas a few years ago, because it ruined it for me, I didn't want to do my own home.
Tina Ramer
Jeeves said…
That was hillarious! Next episode: NASCAR (or some other subject y'all have very little interest in...) No matter what the subject, I always enjoy listening to your conversations. Keep up the great work!
Tracy Watier said…
So funny!! Could you guys be LESS enthusiastic!!
I wrote a post yesterday about not feeling fall and updated it with a link to your podcast today. So gald I listened. I don't feel so alone anymore!
Alex said…
It is a bit funny how down it sounded on holiday decorating (I'm not hating). Believe me I'm tired of seeing the gross overdone kitsch.
Ornament exchange? C'mon that sounds like a pink elephant exchange. Plus, I can't tell you how many ornaments I've gotten over the years (I swear everyone knows I don't celebrate Christmas) and yet I get them anyway. So please please no more ornaments for me--any suggestions for not getting them??
Joni-- perhaps it is all my years working in hospitals but the jars look like specimens floating in pee -which is a hoot and a real conversation starter IMHO. By the way I totally agree with you -keep the lights up during the winter.
Gilded walnuts -are they like brass balls?? ;-)
Kathysue said…
Ladies I am with you all when it comes to overly done Michaels decor for any holiday but I do feel you can make changes for the seasons with changing of accessories in the home. In the Spring I use pinks and greens and summer blues and greens and then in the winter I bring in some black and hues of my color scheme.For instance on my dining table I use a large outdoor urn with a very large green pumpkin and white winterberries on top of a fully skirted round white table cloth it replaces a group of blue and white vases and jars from the summer. Simple but elegant.It does not have to be over the top but change is motivating and that is an inexpensive way to make a change. I was hoping for some motivation from all of you talented ladies but I actually felt a little down after this round table. I hope you all can perk up and enjoy venturing out a bit on your seasonal changes. I could tell that Joni wanted to be a little more helpful in the motivation of this talk and I appreciate that. I love the Martha decor of simple pumpkins and gourds and the hydrangea wreath, now that is a seasonal change done simply and elegantly. It is possible to make a change without making it look like a Walmart aisle and martha did it so well.
Hi Megan, Linda and Joni, This is the first roundtable I can think of where there were a few pauses where no one was saying anything for a few seconds. I laughed out loud when toward the beginning Joni said, "Well, let's pretend..." LOL Joni, you didn't say why you quit putting up a Christmas tree after you did it one year. I have a friend who is Jewish and her husband is not...they celebrate both holidays. If you did that, all us non-Jewish folks would be jealous of you each year! :-) I say, go for it! I looked at Martha Stewart's website after Joni mentioned it and I'm not sure which was more disturbing...the sculls under the cake dome or the hanging dead body "curtains." YIKES! Some Halloween decor is just plain bad!
SusanCC said…
I must say I have an enormous pumpkin fetish, the uglier and more unusual the better. I even grow black ones from Japan. I also have a thing for skeleton parts I have glittered and put under fabulous domes and on antique cakestands. My youngest son talks about all of my headbones (skulls). Frankly my children adore it and get hugely excited when we start to decorate. We have seasons and it is crisp and cool now so maybe that is what gets us going. I think it is ok to decorate and celebrate the season, I don't go silk anything or deeply tacky but we enjoy every moment of it!!
This whole 'Halloween' decorating trend is completely 'money-driven' can we make more money? It's a business. It's about the 'bottom-line'. Sad. I don't think Martha really likes the over-the-top weeny stuff, although her products are much classier than what you see in dollar stores! Every year I get less and less interested in holiday decorating. I am longing for the simplicity of the season. Good food, good friends, good music, candles, fires...If I had to choose just one thing to do, it would be snuggling while watching the movie 'White Christmas'. That would be enough. (really...I'm not a Scrooge!!!)
Pamie G. said…
I used to do the over the top but now I scale back using the less is more way of thinking. I do some halloween but very little, I decorate for Fall the last week of September with some fall things, browns, oranges, etc. and then add some halloween within those things. I love the neutral natural things.
Lauren said…
ok just had to jump in mid-conversation: I LOVE that cabbage!!! I could put it anywhere & just love it!!! And white spider mums-- so pretty to me. haha ok will be back!
Elizgonz said…
I really enjoyed this discussion. My Christmas decorations have always been very simple and traditional, but have become even more simple after spending a Christmas in Italy. I was married at Christmas time in Rome a few years ago and seeing such a beautiful, Catholic city celebrate the holiday with such understated and elegant decorations was really moving. A few white lights strung between buildings and small, fresh trees outside of restaurants, hotels, and other buildings. So beautiful!
Unknown said…
I loved your discussion, I had to laugh and smile lots of times...
First: I hate how commercially stuff for future holidays goes in shops literally 3 month before the actual date! It kills the waiting for such days, the mood and I am fed up with it way before the time comes for decorating.
We do some decorating for Halloween, but it usually stays only for a week, not much to begin with, but my kids love some stuff.
Some mums in pretty pots and a pumpkin or two. But it's more about autumn.
My entrance looks nice like that. I do not plant it...
Christmas is different. I like it not too xmas-y, usually no theme, like all white or the likes. We love our real tree, all our collected beautiful glas ornaments and we make it pretty German/Polish traditional. I do love to decorate with natural elements. And candles and scent is so importent to me. Anyway, it is so fun to hear all your opinions, hilarious!
Thank you all!
Interesting read, thanks for the ideas
Lauren said…
I'm a nut for holiday decorating. (not that I always do it but I love seeing it & it gets me excited for the season.. yes, I'm a cheeseball!!!) I have so many great memories decortaing my grandmother's house for Christmas every year (I lived with them.) We did garlands on the bannisters, pinecones around... one of my favorite things was going outside & finding the things we'd use in their woods. My grandmother always makes beautiful wreathes too..

Megan, my mom did the same thing for me growing up & by the time I got my first apt out of college I had a tree full or ornaments that were so special to me. I remember every one of them & still get excteid explaining them to my husband (who thinks our tree looks ridiculous.) I would love one of those beautiful picture-perfect trees one year but I'm really attached to all of my childhood ornaments & plan on doing the same thing for our kids..

As for Fall... I love pupkins & gourds... all colors & all shapes. We already have a ton outside. This year we got a few bails of hay for our 2 year old to play on (they make a great bench too!) and they're all piled up with pumpkins. Stuff like that just makes me really happy. I don't break out the Halloween stuff until right before Halloween. Then the day before or so, we'll carve pupmkins. We always have a Halloween party & it's then that I break out all the really cheesy/ tacky stuff: spiderwebs, spiders, skulls, the usual... I've even black trash-bagged my entire walls & ceiling for a party... but it only stays up for the party. When my kidsw get a little older I can't wait to do a haunted walk through the wods in our backyard. ok, I'm sorry but I can't stop!! hahah

But I think I notice the beauty in my home more when things change, especially seasonally. I just love for my house to feel really appropriate: cozy & snug in the winter/ fall and open & airy in the spring/ summer, so I do a lot with accessories & switching up fabrics to get the mood I want..

Had so much fun listening to this one!!! I feel like I'm there!! :)
Kimberly said…
Just want to say, thank you, this was sooo much fun to listen to!! And actually, Joni, this makes me feel so much better about my not-so-enthusiastic holiday decorating :-). This year, if nothing else, think I'm going to hang bay leaf or boxwood wreaths on my french doors. See it in magazines and it always looks so pretty. And Linda, love the idea of using cranberries.
Thank you!
Linda Merrill said…
Finally! Someone likes the cranberries!! Thank you Kimberly!
Susie Q said…
Okay, so I am over the top at times...but I try to reign it on.
I do not live at Hobby Lobby and Michael's this time of year I swear!But I do have kids and they DO love twinkly lights so I added a strand of them to the hutch...and oh yeah, I am a more is mor eperson. Dang. I am just worng where everyone is concerned aren't I? But I DO try to restran myself and I have yet to add Halloween. Won't do that until just before and only a tad here and there.
I love the colors of Fall and like to use things I can have around me September through the end of November. Mums and gourds, pumpkins and leaves...
Laurie? I have yet to meet you (I am going to visit yo after this)
but I can see your smile and feel your joy in your post.
Joni? We include several Jewish friends inour festivities and they include us in theirs. We always have...we also know foks of other faiths who share our hoiday fun an dthey include us in theirs. Our kids have just always been exposed to many faith's celebrations and think of it as part of THEIR hoiliday tradition.
Okay, so now I will slink away and hide my *ver the top* almost decor...and I really DID restrain myself this year! I swear!
Sylvia said…
This post had me chuckling and remembering. I lived in Houston 30 years ago and in a little gift shop visited with a lady who said she gave her daughter a special ornament every year and then when she married the daughter had a wonderful start to her Christmas tree ornaments. I thought that was a wonderful idea because I hated that my tree had no history--married just 3 years. Since I had a 6month old celebrating her first Christmas I began the tradition, continueing it when my second daughter was born. So my tree is filled with "special ornaments", specially selected by each girl,some handmade, and all have a story. We even place them on the tree in the same order each year! Fast forward to present--both girls are married now and I'm coming up with excuses why they can't have their "special ornaments"--wait till you have a house, or more permanent etc.-running out of excuses!! The problem is my tree would be NAKED without the girls' ornaments!! AND I would have to resort to some KLITSCHY THEME tree!! Guess the grandchildren (that I don't have)will have to visit their mothers' ornaments at my house!!
I'm not a big seasonal decorator at all, except for Christmas. I put it all out for that Holiday. Halloween doesn't interest me in the least, so I do nothing for it. I did get some white pumpkins last year to display on my foyer table for Fall and that is it for me.

Fun to listen in on your debate. Joni, I wish you could do Christmas trees, I know you'd have fun with it too.
Anonymous said…
I probably got through five minutes of your show before I had to turn it off!

After seeing the "What NOT to strive for..." picture and reading the comments while listening, I was truly disturbed that the picture ACTUALLY came from someone's blog (copyright issues?). You took a picture from some poor lady's blog and publicly humiliate her. Truly tacky! You really couldn't find a picture from Martha's website? How about Woman's Day? Or any other dozens of magazines out there featuring Halloween/Fall decorating?

Second, so what if people want to go overboard with their decorations. I figure it's not personally affecting me or harming me physically. If it makes them happy, good for them. No damage done to me.

Third, since all three of you live in hot/mild climate places and admit to being humbug about the coming seasons because "You just aren't feeling it", do you really think you should be the best people to offer holiday decorating tips? It would make better sense to me to listen to someone who actually likes and enjoys the holidays. Call me crazy!
Linda Merrill said…
Hi Anon ,

First, I'm in Massachusetts, so, global warming notwithstanding, I do live in a colder climate.

Second, if you'd kept listening, you would have realized that our post title was most definitely tongue-in-cheek. We were having fun with a topic and were very quick to say that we're not experts and are curmudgeons and we're the last people to be giving holiday decorating advice. That said, we did have some tips and experiences to share and we simply had fun with it. And, we acknowledged that everyone should do whatever they want if they are enjoying themselves.
Mary Margaret Beck said…
First, I love your podcasts and your blogs. You are talented women, sharing your abilities and insights, and I hope you are making money off your various enterprises, because you deserve some kind of reward for sharing your time and your talents!
That said, I was quite disappointed with this version of the round table. I felt offended by your tones of voice when you condemned basic autumnal things like the color orange, or pumpkins. For many people, decorating evokes strong emotions. I walk into a room and feel deep peace, or twinges of nostalgia, or excitement, or curiosity about the objects in the room. Seasonal decorating can add to these emotional responses.
I decorate our front yard for Halloween with a single false headstone I made myself. I put it near the sidewalk, where parents stand when their children come to the door for treats. It says, "D. Cade -- if you were dead, you'd be home now." It's spooky for the kids, and it makes the parents laugh. What's so wrong about that? Kids love Halloween, and relish all the holiday acoutrements. And the headstone comes down at midnight on Halloween.
Listening to this podcast, and reading the comments afterwards, makes me feel like the uncool girl in school. The "popular" girls (you three) express disdain for something, call it tacky, and everybody else jumps on the bandwagon, writing scathing criticism of others. Yes, some seasonal decorating is in poor taste. But to condemn all seasonal decorating goes too far. And yes, you said these were just your opinions, but your attitudes were obvious, and not benign.
You all have legions of followers and the gift of a talented eye. I hope you will consider your comments in the future, and not feel a need to put down others' choices in such an obvious manner.
Frankly, since your disdain for holiday decorating was so strong, I wish you'd not done the subject at all.
Now I have to go outside, retrieve my pumpkins, and paint them all white so I can be just as cool as y'all, and get invited to your next slumber party.
mary margaret
Emily said…
What was the candle combination Joni mentioned for Christmas? I believe she said it was similar to the scent of a real Christmas tree.