With the holidays fast approaching, our thoughts not only turn family and friends, and all that we have to be thankful for, but to our “to do” lists of all we need to get done, presents that need to be bought, food that needs to be prepared and any remodeling projects that need to be finished (or started) and any traveling plans……Is it any wonder that our thoughts, and wishes are for January to hurry up and get here?
With all that we need to do, how can we get everything done and still keep to our commitment to being eco-friendly? First, let’s look at eco-friendly travel to and from our holiday destinations. Whether you are staying with friends and/or family, or planning a holiday getaway, it is possible to travel without the fear of becoming sick from unhealthy interiors. When booking a hotel or other lodging look for places that offer filtrated water, organic bedding, bans of cologne, perfumes and any other scented bath and body products. Another question to ask is if they use natural cleaners in housekeeping, organic pesticides and repellents. From a design and architectural standpoint, the use of GREEN building materials, furniture and textiles should have been used in the space’s build. Bedding should be made of organic cotton, bamboo or jute. Mattresses should be made from wool, cotton or of rubber latex.
***Check out the Safer Travel Directory (www.safertraveldirectory.com) to help find lodging.***
If you are driving to your destination, check out hybrid options for a rental car to help save on travel costs. Most car rental companies offer hybrids as part of their fleet now.
In regards to any unfinished remodeling projects, if they haven’t been started chances are they won’t be finished in time for the holidays. If you were planning on purchasing new furniture for a new look, at this late date if you were planning on purchasing a custom item, you won’t receive the item by the arrival of your first guest. Most custom pieces need to be ordered anywhere between 4-12 weeks in advance to ensure timely delivery. You can purchase an “in stock” item that can be delivered in time if you find one that meets your needs. Any and all major renovations need to be put off now until next year. Obviously if you need a new roof, a tree falls through a window or your furnace breaks you need to get it fixed ASAP. I’m speaking about the need to refinish your cabinets, getting a new countertop or putting in new bedroom flooring.
***In planning for next year, all renovations need to be started by September to be finished by the holidays-no matter what your contractor may tell you.***
OK-now on the good stuff…food and decorations! After all, that’s what really drives us during the holiday’s right? What neighbor has the most over-the-top light decorations and what party has the best buffet. You can implement Integrative Lifestyle Design principles to achieve a great color scheme for your holiday decorations, a great seating chart for family harmony and a colorful, balanced menu.
Thanksgiving, and all of November, is a time of abundance and giving thanks for all that we’ve been given over the past year (or harvest). In Feng Shui, an integral part of Integrative Lifestyle Design, the colors of purple, green and any metallic color are symbols of Wealth and Abundance. The shape is organic, free-flowing lines and the element is Water. Therefore, in your “Thankful for the Abundant Harvest” color scheme use the abovementioned colors for the “perfect” décor. Many decorations include pumpkins, scarecrows and cornstalks-in Feng Shui terms wouldn’t work (although pumpkins are OK for Halloween). Scarecrows are meant to “scare away” crows and other birds that would eat the crops, in FS terms, you don’t want to “scare” away anything, but rather bring it towards you. You want to cultivate good energy and new opportunities. Cornstalks typically used are dried and dead, literally. If you remember from previous articles, you don’t want to use anything “dead” in your décor as you don’t want “dead or stagnant” energy in your space. Instead, use chrysanthemums in a variety of colors as mums are the Chinese flower for Fall, plus they come in many colors to create a vibrant atmosphere. A cornucopia filled with flowers, gourds or anything else that represents abundance to you can be a great tabletop centerpiece that by its nature invites abundance to you. Any type of vines or branches with leaves can be draped in a free-flowing way, to represent water, around entryways, on curtain rods or on railings to bring in the Water element to the design décor. Use accessories that embody abundance to you-it doesn’t matter if it makes sense to anyone else. A friend uses sunflowers as sunflower fields represent abundance to her. To another it could be lots of table linens. What works for one, doesn’t work for all. What represents abundance to you? Then use it.
The decorations or party favors should be in purple, green and can incorporate metal accents. Use deep, saturated, jewel-tones here. Personally, I like to use silver as my “metal” of choice. This time of year though, gold is the most popular choice. Gold is warm, along with copper and bronze, while silver and platinum are cool. Gold therefore should be used for smaller more intimate gatherings, while silver should be used for larger gatherings to promote more mingling.
For your party or Thanksgiving menu, you want to include foods that represent the colors purple, green and metals (silver/gold/copper).
Examples of green foods are:
v Lettuce, celery, artichokes, green beans, broccoli, peas
v Green bell peppers, zucchini, spinach
v Olive oil
v Green grapes, kiwi, limes, pears, green apples
v Tofu, curds, natural yogurt
v Peppermint, parsley, tarragon, garlic, fennel, comfrey, oregano
Examples of purple/violet foods are:
v Purple grapes, plums
v Beets, radicchio, purple cabbage, globe artichokes
v Purple sage, thyme, feverfew, lavender
From the above examples I’m sure you can already envision a veggie plate and appetizers. Now I’m not telling you to forgo the turkey, but you can make these additions. Here are some menu suggestions to try (recipes can be found on-line or in cookbooks):
v Spinach pasta (or any other green pasta) and asparagus salad
v Avocado dip w/chicory
v Lemon and zucchini quiche
v Glazed baby beets (personal fave!!)
v Eggplant puree
v Purple plum pie
v Purple broccoli salad
v Lavender tea
v Lavender ice cream
It’s most important to remember in planning any type of holiday party, that the object is to be able to spend time with your guests. Make dishes that are easy to prepare and can be shared amongst the guests. Buffet tables that are set-up in different parts of the room for appetizers, main courses and desserts can also get people mingling and moving around the party instead of sitting in the same place.
***For a more formal party, it may be worth it to hire someone to help clear and serve so you can pay attention to your guests.***
You can also create a great ambience using aromatherapy. Each element also corresponds with a particular scent. The water element can be “activated” by using Bergamot and Geranium scents. When using any type of aroma fragrancing in your space, make sure you are using essential oils and/or candles that are made of natural ingredients and burn cotton wicks. My products division, 3E Products, offers Environment Sprays that correspond with the Bagua Board in Feng Shui. The Wealth/Abundance spray is Bergamot. The November “pick 3” offers: Bergamot (Abundance), Ylang Ylang (Relationships) and Lemongrass (Family). Visit www.bantedesign.com for more info.
Incorporating any of these tips can help to make a great holiday party or to decorate for Abundance in this time of harvest and giving thanks for all we have. We are in some crazy times right now and it is important that we keep our family and friends close, and give thanks for all that do and still have. And in keeping with the theme of this column, THANK YOU to all of you who choose to read this column and my family, friends and people who have supported me personally and professionally!