Ready to take your Christmas decorating to the next level? Here are some pro tips that can elevate your holiday embellishments from merely so-so to full out sublime.
Choose your palette
The pro-decorator’s cardinal rule? Choose a palette and stick to it. Make sure your ornaments, ribbons, lights, stockings, gift-wrapping and more are made up of hues from your chosen palette. Here are a few color combinations to try:
• Traditional. Tried-and-true, red, green and gold make up the classic Christmas color scheme.
• Jewel. A vibrant palette of green, purple, orange and red.
• Metallic. A glittering and regal palette of silver and gold.
• Monochrome. If simple and elegant is more your style, consider a color scheme made up solely of whites.
Choose your theme
Next to palette, the most important decorating decision you’ll make is in regards to theme. The idea is to take an evocative word or phrase and let your imagination go to work. Here are a few examples:
• Winter wonderland. Think white and lots of it. Include elements like snowflakes, tinsel and wintery animals such as reindeer and moose.
• Rustic farmhouse. Use logs, sticks, pinecones, greenery and other natural materials. Plaid patterns are a fitting accompaniment.
• Christmas cheer. Combine festive colors like red, green and gold with classic Christmas imagery.
• West coast Christmas. Bring the charm of the seaside indoors with shells and starfish and a color palette of soft pink, blue and beige.
Once you’ve found your starting point—whether it’s a color palette, a theme or both—you’ll find that your ideas start to flow. Happy decorating!
Father’s Day lineup: a day dedicated to Dad
Does your kids’ dad deserve more than a tie and a hug for Father’s Day? This year, help your children celebrate their old man by dedicating the whole day to him.
If he loves his car almost as much as he loves his kids, treat him to a car wash at home. Once the car is looking shiny and new, take a ride to the activity of Dad’s choice. The whole family is sure to enjoy whatever he picks, whether it’s mini-golf, the ice cream shop or the park.
End the day with a movie marathon at home. Let Dad decide what you watch and nosh on. If he loves Mexican food, make nachos. If he appreciates the classic movie snacks, you can’t go wrong with buttery popcorn. And don’t forget to pick up his favorite candy so he can satisfy his sweet tooth.
The changing face of fatherhood
The days of men “babysitting” their own children are a thing of the past. Today’s fathers are more nurturing and more likely to contribute to child care and housework than ever before.
Starting when their kids are first born, modern dads are, in fact, more involved in rearing their children than their fathers and grandfathers were. As recently as the 1970s, it was rare for a man to be present when his child was born. Now it’s uncommon for a dad to not be in the delivery room when his child comes into the world.
The trend of fathers playing active roles in their kids’ lives continues throughout childhood, and today’s fathers spend more time caring for their kids. One study found that fathers from 11 wealthy western countries spent about an hour a day on child care activities in 2012, but that dads in 1965 spent an average of just 16 minutes a day actively parenting.
Contemporary fathers are also more likely to contribute to household work than previous generations were. American fathers do an average of 10 hours of housework a week, compared to four hours a week in 1965.
One specific task in particular that men have embraced is preparing family meals, and 43 percent of men regularly cook.
When men take on a more active role in parenting, their kids benefit. Studies show that children with involved dads perform better academically, have higher self-esteem and are less likely to have troubles with the law later in life.
Notable famous fathers
For Father’s Day, here are three famous fathers worthy of note.
Charlie Chaplin (1889 – 1977)
Silent film star Charlie Chaplin had 11 children, 10 who survived childhood. His youngest son was born when he was 73 years old, making Chaplin one of the oldest famous fathers in history. Performing clearly ran in the family. Many of the Chaplin children followed in their father’s footsteps and became actors themselves.
Stephen Hawking (1942 – 2018)
Prince William (1982)
The future king of England has a very important job that has nothing to do with the crown. It’s raising his three children with his wife, Catherine. His mother, Diana, was famously intent on giving her sons a normal childhood, and he’s carrying on the tradition with his own kids. He’s even gone as far as asking for the Queen’s permission to break with royal convention in order to travel on the same airplane as his kids.
Happy Father’s Day to all dads, famous or otherwise.
what to love most about dad
Psychologists say fathers give children a sense of well-being, self-control, inner strength and all that good stuff.
But forget all that. Let’s get real. Dads are fun. Maybe there is a Dad School somewhere that teaches them basic Dad stuff because they more or less tend to have some things in common.
When the kids are young, Dads are perfect for story-telling and story reading. Deep voices make the characters come to life (and the listeners giggle). And those stories last forever.
Things that make Mom go “Eww!”
Dads make a great counter-point to moms. There are things she hates: Pull my finger! We know what happens there. Toe lint: Use your imagination.
Dad magic tricks
The ever-popular thumb removal trick, which works best on 4-year-olds but continues well past its shock value.
The lift trick: Lift me up! You can do it! You grab Dad around the legs and lift. Dad stands on tip toes. You did it! Suddenly you are a strong man.
Dad’s driving down the highway. Passes a go-kart track. Makes a U-turn. Because who can pass up a go-kart track? Or Dad, taking you someplace boring, until Dad sees an ice cream place and just like that, it’s a great Saturday afternoon.
Or the day he teaches you to fish.
Contribute! (That was Motivational Dad.)
I’m going to go into the living room and hold down my chair so it doesn’t get away. (After work Dad)
Remember this: I love you. Your Mom loves you. And God loves you. (Eternal Dad)
Landscaping with willow branches
Willow branches are an ideal material for DIY garden projects because they’re slender, flexible, long and durable. As a result, they can easily be interwoven and formed into all types of garden structures. Here are some of the things you can make with them.
Fences and hurdles
If you’re ambitious, you can build a unique fence for your property with woven willow branches. A little too large-scale? You can also make woven hurdles and use them to make a wall around a garden bed or to conceal less attractive elements in your yard such as a compost or water heater for a pool.
Willow structures can be expected to last between 10 and 15 years. They age gra¬cefully, retaining their strength and appearance, even through rain, snow and high winds.
Trellises, gazebos and more
Willow branches are also perfect for making trellises and other support structures for climbing plants, including simple stick teepees and elegant latticework. And if you really develop a knack for working with willow branches, you can even make gazebos and sculptures.
Willow branches are a great addition to a DIY gardener’s toolkit. Moreover, they’re a highly sustainable resource, as snipped-off branches from weeping willow trees grow back quickly.
4 types of patios to enjoy this summer
When the sun’s out and the weather’s mild, luxuriating on an outdoor patio is an irresistible indulgence. To make the most out of this summer pastime, be sure to try out these four types of patios this summer.
You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world from the peak of an office building or hotel overlooking the town. Take in the magnificent view, have a drink or two and enjoy chatting with friends.
Swilling back beers while listening to live music at an outdoor music festival is a great way to spend a day. Many shows even include covered patios for concertgoers to get out of the sun.
Visiting a local winery with friends is a great way to spend a summer afternoon, and the idyllic setting will undoubtedly make the wine taste better. After a tour of the vineyard, settle on the patio for a bite to eat and a glass or two of your preferred vintage.
No matter which venue you choose, patio dining is invariably a delight. Be sure to enjoy this summertime pleasure freely and frequently.