Cottages & Bungalows
Set Up a Sweet Treat Station
Your holiday guests will love that you went the extra mile for extra smiles.
“Tartan plaid feels like Christmas to me,” Anne says.
How do you turn your small Christmas gatherings
into a fun and memorable party for your guests? By adding hot cocoa and craft stations! Homeowners Anne and Frank Ventura added this new tradition with the help of their friend, blogger and stylist Claudia Reese (blog: Ciao! Newport Beach, Instagram: @CiaoFabiana).
Anne and Frank have lived in their Storybook and Cape Cod cottage style home in Newport Beach, California for the past 35 years. The décor's neutral color palette made the task of transitioning the rooms from everyday to holiday much easier.
“I wanted to do fairly simple Christmas décor with mostly natural materials and then highlight with plaids, which I love this time of the year,” Anne says. Claudia styled the rooms to incorporate Anne's requests and added many of her own inspired ideas.
“Anne wanted to keep it true to her style. I went through her holiday items and tableware and picked things that aligned with my vision for her home for the holidays,” Claudia says. “I also brought in a lot of extras to fill in where we needed them. We used a lot of tartan plaids and natural textures and brought in deer [elements] as a cute holiday touch. Pretty tartans and sweet holiday deer are just so classic for the holidays and are favorites of Anne's,” she says.
The classic tartan pattern is generously woven into the fabric of the holiday home. "Tartan plaid feels like Christmas to me,” Anne says. Her most cherished ornament is a sentimental keepsake: “I have a Christmas card my husband sent from Vietnam when he was fighting that war in 1966,” she says. “It always goes in the tree every year as a reminder that he came back home.”
HOT COCOA HAPPENS HERE
Anne and Frank wanted to make this year's celebration extra special for their guests, so Claudia decorated a station for hot cocoa treats in the family room and one outdoors for potting plants as gifts.
“We set up a tray on the coffee table with Anne's plaid mugs filled with hot cocoa and I added fun snowmen marshmallows. Guests can help themselves and garnish as they wish with extra marshmallows, peppermint stirrers and candy canes,” says Claudia. “You'll want to have lots of cute holiday mugs on hand, so why not just set up a cute hot cocoa station in your kitchen?”
“Christmas is a season of giving. There is nothing better than a handmade gift. These are the ones I cherish,” Anne says. “I like to give something living that can be planted or potted that serves as a memory. For instance, a sweet pine in a container or paperwhites that can be used indoors all season. Because we live in California, it’s fun to make our gifts outside while the weather is nice.”
Anne finds the creative camaraderie of crafting gifts with friends even more rewarding than seeing the results. “I enjoy gathering with friends who like to put things together with their hands. Crafting with them always gets my creative juices flowing,” she says. “I have a shed full of things we can pull from and they often bring what they have on hand. But most of all, it is especially fun to just sit and laugh as we bring back old memories. What a great time of year to do that.”