Keeping It Simple for the Holidays

November 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Design Space

What is it about the Holidays that make people go a little crazy? There is so much to look forward to; gathering with friends and family, delicious food, gift giving, an exquisitely decorate home, and my favorite – greeting cards that roll in filled with kind sentiments from loved ones near and far. December hasn’t even arrived and already I see the gloomy faces, the stress and tension. Ok – so there is a little more traffic on the roads, the malls are congested, scheduling and rescheduling, it’s hard to get a table at your favorite restaurant, but isn’t there so much more to look forward to? It seems we are all caught up with everything we have to do; we forget about the simple pleasure of doing it. I have a quick solution to this problem. Don’t do everything!  It’s unrealistic to think you can do it all, and do it well. Take a load off this season, and focus on doing a few things right, and forget the crazy.


It’s been a few years now that I have been focusing on the simple things that make Christmas special. It changes every year. I would love to have every square inch of my home decorated in green, silver and gold.  I imagine extravagant dinner parties with an endless menu. Gifts stacked high, wrapped in rice paper and giant silk ribbons, and homemade cards with beautiful words written in the finest penmanship. But who has the time for this? I became one of those people honking at the person in front of me to hurry up, stalking pedestrians for a parking spot at the mall, and then walking around on such a mission, I looked like a marathoner coming in for the home stretch. And the disappointment when the cards didn’t turn out right or the ornaments out of stock, was heart breaking. I finally decided I was ready to give less to some of my favorite Holiday rituals, and focus on doing one or two things really beautifully. Some years I make cards and some years I buy them, some years it’s gift bags, others it’s pretty paper and big bows. One year it was just a tree, and another a banister filled with garland and hand made arrangements. You see where I am going?


I can tell you that I am a changed woman. I look for parking as far away from the store entrance as possible and take a long crisp walk to the front door. I take my time and smile, open doors for strangers and sing Christmas songs out loud while I shop. I celebrate, from December 1st to Jan 1st and really make it the most wonderful time of the year.

I thought I would share with you how this Christmas Season is wrapping up for us.  It’s going to be simple and fabulous!


Last year my children were in ornament eating mode. This year I am happy to report that they will not be eating decorations, so I can get a little creative with the tree. That isn’t too say that they won’t break anything, but at least it will look good for a short while. I was thinking ornaments of the home-made kind that will fill my tree with colour and memories. I’ll be hanging the beautiful wreath I made previously, and can focus on creating inviting arrangements outdoors. I also love the idea of ornaments in a glass bowl, it’s simple and it makes a great centerpiece. No pretty garland or baluster décor since it’s too tempting for the little ones.


I was a little too ambitious with the handmade cards last year, I ran out of steam and didn’t get to write the warm sentiments I normally like to share with friends. This year that isn’t going to happen. I have already got my eye on some cards that look like they are handmade, and my mailing list is ready to go. I am starting a little late, but they should all be done in the next couple of weeks.

Nov092Oh how I long for a formal cocktail party, with fancy appetizers, fine cheeses, delicious wine and mixed drinks. It looks like I’ll be longing a little while longer. Since everyone has young children we are sticking to the less formal, intimate gatherings. This is fine by me! A beautifully set table, with holiday favorites on the menu, and decadent desserts will please any crowd. I am a big fan of appetizers, and I enjoy surprising friends with my latest discovery. This year I am thinking, tiny scoops of goat cheese, rolled in fine chopped walnuts, sitting on top of a mini shortbread cookie.

gift wrapped life 2

gift wrapped lifeGift giving is definitely one of the highlights of the holidays for me. I don’t stress about buying presents for everyone, we live in a world where we already have too much and are wasteful. I tend to give very simple and useful gifts, occasionally splurging on someone special. Half the fun is in the wrapping, with bright colours, pretty bows and embellishments. I haven’t had a lot of time for girlfriends this year, so I am planning a little something special just for them, including the fancy wrapping, which I know they will truly appreciate!

This is it, my simple but elegant plan for surviving the Holidays. If I miss anything, I’ll do it next year.

Photo credits: Country Living, Martha Stewart, and A Gift Wrapped Life with our thanks (cursor over photos to see details).

About the Author:

Vitania M Liscio is a small business owner from Toronto, Canada with over 10 years experience running her family’s furniture manufacturing business. With an always apparent passion for art & design, Vitania has created a line of furnishings that is beautiful, timeless and of superior craftsmanship. A devoted blogger, she brings a fresh perspective to the world of fashion and interiors, that includes admiration of the laborious work of designers, artisans and fine artists.


7 Responses to “Keeping It Simple for the Holidays”
  1. Chris Owen says:

    Your description demonstrates brilliantly what Karen and I have been advocating for years!
    Thanks for showing others that Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!

  2. pve says:

    love the holidays- simple ones!

  3. Vitania says:

    Thank you so much Chris. Perfection is overrated, the most amazing things in the world come when perfect goes bad.

    Thanks Patricia – Me Too..:-)


  4. beautiful settings! May be simple but they have a touch of heart!
    Thank you for sharing them.

  5. Anne Maybus says:

    What a lovely article. I really like the way you approach Christmas. This year I think we will be stipping it back to basics and I am really looking forward to it. Take away the stress and add in the joy.

  6. Vitania says:

    Thanks Anne and APG.
    I started letting go few years ago, and I am a better person for it. Just a few days into the season now and it’s just lovely.


  7. Oh Vitania, what a beautiful and inspirational article, thank you!

    When you talk about your kids being in ‘ornament eating mode’ I remembered the year I found one of my favourite glass balls lying shattered under the tree. It wasn’t until later that we found out my youngest had thought the balls looked like wonderful things to hit with his little plastic golf stick! Imagine his shock and horror (he was about 2 1/2) when the first ‘ball’ he hit shattered! After that, the glass balls went in bowls up high, and the more indestructible ornaments went on the tree :)

    I love your idea to focus on doing one or two things really beautifully, I’m definitely taking a leaf out of your book this year. Now, to decide what those things will be…