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Christmas and New Year's Decorating Trends for 2012 from Pottery Barn

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Most of us like to change our home's decorations with the seasons, but we put extra attention to decorating around the year-end holidays of Christmas and New Year's. Some of us like to add a little bit of old-fashioned charm to our holiday centerpieces and some of us like to make everything look shiny and festive. And each year it's always worth taking the time to add something fresh to our usual decorations, since there are subtle trends that change from year to year. To help us stay on top of those trends for our holiday decorations in 2012, I consulted with the experts at Pottery Barn, Kendra Stewart and Nathan Turner, for this year's best decorating tips for the holidays.

Set the Table with Festive Holiday Tableware

According to Kendra Stewart, stacks of festive plates and napkins like the Graphic Reindeer Appetizer Plates set, or the Christmas Tree Crewel Napkins, instantly set a holiday tone guests will notice and appreciate. Kendra also recommends that a tall cake stand is great for serving cake and cookies, and hors d'oeuvres too. It lifts food up off the table, creating visual interest with different serving heights and extra room with an upper and lower level. Make your table shine by including a mirrored tray or a silver serving tray to your table decor. Place candles on those trays and watch your tables glow.

A Relaxed Host Sets the Mood for Festivities

Nathan Turner believes that the best way to create a festive atmosphere is for the host to be at ease. These tips from Nathan will help you to plan a memorable evening.

Flowers create a fresh and welcoming party atmosphere. Place a variety of flowers in a clear vase, such as Pottery Barn's Square Vases, and place them around your home. Add warmth and sparkle with votive candles.

Add to the festive mood with chic top hats and tiaras set out for your guests to wear at your New Year's Eve party. Find inexpensive versions at costume shops or a local vintage store.

Greet your guests with champagne cocktails set on trays right by the front door so guests are ready for the first toast with bubbly in hand as soon as they arrive. Make sure you have enough champagne flutes to last throughout the night.

Host a New Year's Open House

Invite your friends to a holiday open house, offering all of the fun without the stress of a set timetable, allowing friends and family to arrive as their schedule permits. Get your guests into the holiday spirit before they even set foot inside your home. Hang a seasonal wreath on your front door to welcome them such as the Pottery Barn Lit Twig Snowflake. Add warmth to every room simply by lighting candles. Add faux snow or tiny jingle bells for an inexpensive way to bring a lot of cheer to entryway tables, mantels and sideboards. Wrap garlands of greenery, either fresh or faux, around banisters or drape them over doorways.

Plan a Small and Cozy New Year's Eve Party

Kendra Stewart suggests a few essentials for this intimate party.

Employ a chic, monochromatic color scheme using linen napkins and tablecloth in coordinating colors.

Get in the spirit of the the end of the year countdown with Pottery Barn's clock plates for appetizers.

Serve fresh shell fish on ice in a large bowl.

For an easy appetizer that always looks beautiful, arrange a cheese board on the Chancellor Cheese Board and serve with the Chancellor Cheese Knives.

Fill large white pitchers with ice water, one for every four dinner guests.

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