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Published: Thursday, 11/30/2006

Deck the Halls Like a Pro

(ARA) - Professional decorators have fine-tuned their design plans for the big "holiday buzz." As the weather cools, anticipation and preparation will begin for festive celebrations, intimate get-togethers and savory feasts.

With enthusiasm and a little guidance, any homeowner can become a design star and achieve a touched-by-a-pro look. Whether your style is glitzy garland and gilded ornaments or plush greenery and glowing menorahs, the following tips will help anyone deck the halls like a pro.

A Theme that Says it All

Every great design tells a story, and every story needs a theme. Begin crafting the theme of your holiday story by perusing magazines for inspiration on a style choice and for assistance when choosing a color palette.

If you're that single trendsetter who wants to make a statement, perhaps splurge on an edgy pink tree complemented with hues of turquoise and Tiffany-esque crystal balls. An ever-busy mom with no time to spare may consider colors and design options that will last throughout the winter.

For example, rather than decorating just for the holidays with bright reds and greens, create a whimsical wonderland of neutral snowy whites, soft metallics and lightweight fabrics. Put some time and thought into your holiday d cor theme. It should reflect the main character of the story -- you!

Check the List, Check it Twice

Once the theme is set, the real fun begins -- shopping for items needed to bring the holiday story to life. Take an inventory of existing decorations that fit the theme and make a list of those fetching components that will transform your ideas into a feature animation. Shop smart and invest in staples that may be used year after year.

One pro trick is to use timeless hues, such as clear, gold and silver, which can easily be incorporated into most designs. Remember to always stay focused on the theme. With the plethora of holiday d cor available, it's certainly easy to get sidetracked. Remaining on-target will help streamline the purchase decision process and prevent impulse buys.

Centerpieces Make a Splash

After the d cor is purchased and the halls are decked, look around to determine the final edits needed to perfect your holiday story. Professional decorators often include eye-catching conversation-starters into their design plans. Simple elements such as striking centerpieces allow anyone to mimic the signature of designer flair.

This season, consider making a centerpiece for the dining area, living room or foyer by utilizing the element of water. Found at national home improvement centers, a container fountain kit accompanied with ornaments and wreaths can transform an everyday bowl into a magical, artistic focal point sure to impress even the most discerning guest.

Create a festive container fountain with the tranquil sounds of a flowing cascade by placing the pump included in the kit into the center of a bowl. Surround the pump with artificial poinsettias, color-coordinated ornaments or a wreath made of waterproof greenery for all to enjoy.

With these tips, feel assured that you can deck the halls like a pro. All it takes is some thoughtful planning, diligent focus and creative vision. An abundance of inventive Web sites offer insight and instruction to do-it-yourselfers taking on design projects. Courtesy of ARA Content

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