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I wanted to share some ideas I brought to a local morning show last week. Tara Lynn, host of My News 2, asked me to share some table decorating ideas for the holidays. And just as when I put anything in print, my first thought was, "What will be most helpful to viewers this year?" 

"This year" being the key consideration. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that when it comes to the realm of home ideas, every year is different. And not just because it's part of my job to keep content fresh and new, or in keeping with trends. It's because every year, we want and need something different. For example, in late 2008, when the economic storm had just begun to brew, we were looking for cheap. As in, "we don't know what to expect, so let's just not spend anything." That year, I concentrated on where to find deals, how to reuse or recycle items, and get creative with old ideas. 

Then, in 2009, we were a bit more seasoned at this recession thing. Readers seemed to find comfort in the homemade again, and crafts were the way to go. Load up the cart at the crafts store and spend a few hours fashioning something by hand.

This year, it's different again. Sure, we're still old hands at this budget-crunching thing, but it seems we're all working a little harder to make life work. "Busy" is what I hear from every person I meet and it's written all over the faces I see—spending half the day handcrafting your own candles just doesn't seem to quite fit.

What works in 2010?
Remnants of holidays past (no-cost, plus plenty of comfort)
Hints of magic (glittery, Dr. Suess-like elements for kids--a good reminder of the sparkle of the season)
Ease (projects that calm, rather than add to the rush)

Here's a sampling of what I came up with:

Christmas Past Placecards: I simply scanned and printed old family photos from childhood holidays. I glued each to card stock, and bordered the photos with pretty adhesive ribbon I found at Michael's (from Martha Stewart's craft collection). No names on these placecards, though—better to let each photo speak for itself.

Jingle Bell Napkin Rings: These are great for the kids' table. I found the glittery bells at Michael's and threaded them with a kind of floral wire made to look like twine. The curled ends and the colors have a Dr. Suess-look to them that I love.

Stenciled Runner: Another kids' table idea. I found this plain table runner in our prop closet, but this project would work just as well for placemats. I first cut out holiday-themed stencils I downloaded online (HOLIDAY SANITY NOTE: cutting out shapes is fantastic for a stressed mind. I was in the middle of a thousand projects when I did this, and cutting out precise shapes was as good a therapy as any). Then I took regular acrylic paint and a foam brush and painted in the shapes on the fabric. Once that dried, I added adhesive beading to the whole thing, which made the snowflakes sparkle, the ornaments shine, and the tree drip with garland. I recommend giving the kids the supplies and letting them take the reins for their own kids' table runner.

Simple Centerpiece: These tulips were $6.99 at Whole Foods. The eucalyptus was $8.99. I'm a big fan of pulling together a collection of vases and letting flowers just be. The red makes it formal enough for holidays, and the eucalyptus smells amazing. I was cutting it in my office and several people walked in to ask if I was putting up a Christmas tree, just from the scent of it.

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