The Holidays: 10 Tips from Around Tampa Bay

The holidays are a time to be with the ones you love.  It's an opportunity to make memories and start traditions. My husband always says, "the right music can make your dinner party memorable and fun", so one of the things we emphasize during the holidays at our home is listening to lots of Christmas music. 

Here at Tantalizing Tablescapes & Decor, we LOVE the holidays!  Although we decorate all year long for our clients, the holidays are a time for us to share what we do with our family.  Beautiful decor and tantalizing tablescapes definitely enhances the festivities, but its really about being "present" with the ones you love!  The holidays should not be stressful!  It should be more about the meaningful interactions and conversations and less about perfection.  Your family will always remember how they 'felt', but not necessarily how detailed you decorated the house.

As a former New Yorker, I've always enjoyed different cultures.  New York is such a melting pot of people from all different places.  Living here in the Tampa Bay Area, I find it to be much of the same.  Overtime, I've enjoyed meeting new people, building relationships and embracing new experiences.  It's always a joy to experience something new or a different way to do it. The friends that I've made here in Florida all have their own unique way of celebrating or entertaining for the holidays.  I figured why not ask a few friends for a few tips and share them with you!  One of the things I always teach in my "Tablescape Workshops", is to "Invest wisely and buy locally" as it relates to tablescapes, but the same can apply here.  My friends featured here, offer great services and products. Check them out and use them!  I hope you enjoy reading their tips as much as I did.

Photo by Madison Harrison, Photos With Madison

Photo by Madison Harrison, Photos With Madison

1. Karen Gillman, Vice President, On Point Executive Center: "Our Christmas traditions encompass the many personalities of our family. One of our favorite traditions is taking a trip down memory lane while unpacking our Christmas decorations. Every year we love reminiscing over the days of our daughters first year and the many shoes she sported with her adorable outfits. In fact, they were all so cute we couldn’t part with them! So, we strung them on a variety of ribbons and hung them on a tree."

2. Yjean Ligon, Owner, Amazingly Creative Events.  "When entertaining for the holidays consider your guests at every area of planning; location, venue, food, decor, and entertainment. You should make your guests feel valued and special, after all they are taking time out of their schedules to celebrate with you. That is accomplished by being prepared when they arrive."

3. Christina Campbell, CEO, The Mommy Spot Tampa Bay. "Avoid the overwhelm! Entertaining during the holidays can be very overwhelming especially with small children. As a mom it's a great time of year to treat yourself with some extra help whether it is hiring a sitter or asking family for help while you run errands, having a cleaning service come before you have family over, or ordering a grocery delivery service. This way you can spend more time with the family and enjoy the holiday season".

4. Becca Genna, Team Leader, Independent Beauty Consultant, Mary Kay. "Perfect is over rated. Don't obsess about doing everything and don't obsess about it being perfect. If something is out of place or you forgot the dinner rolls in the oven, it's OK. Focus more on the quality of time you have with one another. Learn to be flexible and enjoy your day - come what may."

5. Jessica Rivelli, Founder and President, Working Women of Tampa Bay. "It's easy to get caught up in your hostess duties and forget to have fun. The biggest joy of entertaining is celebrating with friends and family. Don't allow perfection to get in the way of you enjoying your loved ones.  P.S. You can always do the dishes later"

6. Jodi Avery, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty. "Expect the unexpected. I always make sure I have some small gifts ready just in case any unexpected guests pop by. I like to buy little Christmas treats. Candles, specialty chocolates, and shortbread cookies, make the perfect last-minute gift!  Homegoods, TJ Maxx, Fresh Market and Target are the perfect places to shop".

7. Ayasha Teague, Travel Consultant/Owner of Blueprint Travel.  "My best tip for entertaining: keep it simple!  Simple certainly doesn't mean plain, just not fussy. When planning for my holiday party at home, I like to stick with the five senses: smell, sight, taste, sound, touch.  For example, candles or aromatic food, decorative theme pleasing to the eyes, appetizers or desserts, low background mood music (encourages conversation), and soft throws and pillows.  These are all simple touches that guarantee your guests will have a good time."

8. Tracy Croushorn, Executive Consultant, Rodan + Fields. "Don't stress about capturing every moment of the holidays, whether you are having a party or the family over for dinner make it fun for everyone. Leave disposable cameras all over the house and make sure everyone knows to take some candid shots. The best part is seeing the holidays through everyone else's eyes!!"

9. Cheryl Pullins, Business & Brand Strategist for Women Coachpreneurs,  Cheryl Pullins International.  Entertaining guests at your home takes planning and organization. Do as much as you can well in advance of your gathering.   Plan, shop, prepare and organize in advance so you get to enjoy your guests and they get to enjoy you. Free yourself from having to be the "hostess with the mostest!"

10. Madison Harrison, Child Photographer, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Photos With Madison.  "Make memories with your children.  I like that my mommy allows me to create the "tablescape" for the kids table.  It allows me to be creative and make memories with my mommy at the same time."