“Sure!” I said too soon. FoxTV had called late in the day to ask if I'd come to the studio the next morning to demonstrate ways to decorate for July 4 using stuff viewers had around the house.
I hung up. Then reality hit like a string of firecrackers. What had I done? I hadn't even decorated my own place for the holiday, and now I'm supposed to be the expert with a demo!
At home that evening I start rummaging. “Why get worked up, Mom?” my teenage daughter asks. “You always just fling a bunch of stuff you have lying around together. It's what you do.”
“Well, maybe I do,” I said, “but not on live television.”
She was right. Pulling together looks on the fly and on the cheap is what I do, but I'm not saying that's any way to go through life.
Next day I called my design friend Lisa Quinn, host of Live Well Network's TV show “Home With Lisa Quinn” to ask what she kept on hand to pull off a quick festive look.
Like me, Quinn is a semi-crazed working mom with high standards and less-than-no time.
After comparing notes, I soon realized we had almost the same emergency occasion decor stash. Here are our must-haves to make holiday magic minus the migraines. Pick your theme colors, then add the following:
Tea light candles. Buy plain white in bulk. Read on to see why.
Hurricane lamps. Fill these clear, glass containers with water dyed with food coloring in your theme shades. Float tea lights. This decor works great outdoors, because lamps don't blow over and candles don't blow out.
Clear 4-to-6-inch votives, plain martini glasses, and colored pebbles. Buy solid-colored pebbles by the sack. Put colored stones in tumbler-size votives. Place a tea light in the middle.
White or brown lunch sacks, acrylic paints, and stencils. Have your kids paints bags with stripes (outline with masking tape) or with symbolic shapes using stencils (pumpkins, stars, hearts). Add a tea light to make luminaries to line the front walk or deck rail.
Festive fabrics. Get a yard or two of several festive fabrics. No need to sew the edges, just tuck them under and scrunch fabric beneath centerpieces and platters. Go for solids rather than themed prints.
Tulle by the spool. Bunch up thick widths, tie in big bows around kitchen chairs, and instantly take them from ordinary to dressy.
A mirrored ball. No home should be without one. They add a festive touch of bling no matter what you set around them.
Cardboard and spray paint. Cut a large cardboard stencil of your school's letters on game day, or of “USA” during the Olympics. Then spray paint the image on the front lawn. It will go away after the first mowing.
Bandannas in assorted colors. These make great, cheap napkins. Colored metal buckets. Fill them with sand or rice to make bases for sticking in team pennants or skewered foods.
“Don't do the whole house,” said Quinn. Decorate the front entry, and the areas surrounding food and drink, and that's it. Then you'll have fun, too.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.