Five Steps to Simplified Christmas Decorating - Countdown to Christmas


Convert Holiday Decorating from overwhelming to a memorable, joyful and creative experience.    Just be sure to take enough time to formulate a clear vision, articulate your plan and follow these FIVE essential steps to minimize the stress of the holiday period.

1)  Focused Clutterbusting – Just the “Hot Spots” (link to The Organized Life).

2)  Open the Cupboards Early and Give a Quick Spit and Polish  (link to Universal Stone and C is for Clean and The Shine Shack).

3)  Prepare your Holiday Decorating Tool Kit  ( Link to Home Hardware)

4)  Do a Room-by-Room Assessment with an Outsider’s Eyes  

5)  Decorate the “Hot Spots”

1) Focused Clutterbusting

·       Set a goal of December 1 to purge your home of clutter.  Especially in the “hot spots” where your guests will gather: front hallway, living room, dining room and kitchen.

·       Clutterbust the Hot Spots: Remember that your kitchen is the hub of your home especially during the holidays.  Always clutterbust the kitchen first.  Minimize the clutter in the room where you place your Christmas tree as it will also be an activity hub. Outerwear and packages compete for space in the front foyer so this hot spot should be clutterbusted prior to the start of the festivities.

·       As you clutterbust, remember to keep only the possessions that you love or that you use.   The key to a Clutterbusted house is to get rid of anything you do not love or use. Give it away, sell it, donate it, dump it.  If possessions are sentimental but not particularly useful, find ways to refresh and repurpose them.   

·       Clutterbust your Holiday Décor by mid-November.  Eliminate dated décor that no longer suits your needs, taste…or looks tired.   Give it away prior to Christmas as most of the charities will not take it after the holidays.

2) Spit and Polish: Open Your Cupboards Early 

·       Open your cupboards now.  Drag out your precious heirlooms, serving dishes, candlesticks etcetera. 

·       Polish up that silver, sparkle up the crystal, and iron those linens… (or better still; send the linens out to the dry cleaners to be pressed…).  

·       Try deep cleaning one room per week along with your regular cleaning.   No time for deep cleaning?  Remember a decluttered house looks cleaner than a cluttered but clean house.

·       Cleaning Essentials: C is for Clean for almost everything and Universal Stone for the toughest stains.  

3) Prepare you Holiday Decorating Tool Kit

Don’t be caught mid stream without the proper tools.  Pull together your own decorating kit before you start.  In a small tool box dedicated solely to this purpose, include the following basics:

·       Scissors

·       Wire cutters

·       Green 26 Gauge Florist Wire

·       Fishing Line

·       3M Command Hooks and Ornament Hooks  

·       Thumb Tacks and Push Pins

·       Hammer and Nails

·       Measuring Tape

4) Room-by-Room Assessment Checklist

Complete an assessment of your home, indoors and out, to come up with a pared down list of the essential holiday decorating opportunities your home offers.

Begin by spending a few minutes early in November and take a walk through each room in your home.   Try your best to observe it as an outsider would.    

5) “Hot Spots” for Christmas Decorating

Concentrate your energy, time and budget on the key “hot spots” of your home.   This decluttered, simplified approach will result in a higher impact more successful look.   Focus on the:

·       Entrance – Front Foyer Table and Mirror

·       Staircase Banister – or just the newel post

·       Living Room – Tree, Coffee Table and Mantelpiece

·       Kitchen…Centrepiece for the table, fresh flowers on the counter.  

·       Dining Room – Centerpieces for the buffet and table, boughs above the china cabinet, garland the chandelier…c’est tout!  


Musings About Why Shopping Local Matters

Come out to our shop for Small Business Saturday, October 20, 2018 – to Support our Community!


When my family decided to start Kate’s Garden over twenty years ago, a variety of reasons motivated us.   Some were personal, some were entrepreneurial; many have evolved over the years.   We could never have imagined how our small business would give us a unique platform to help our community in so many diverse ways.      

On a personal level, it is no secret that I am passionate about all things botanical.  Kate’s Garden has given me an unparalleled creative, artistic outlet.    Owning our neighbourhood business also literally grounded me (please excuse the pun from the owner of a gardening-focused business).   My job as a senior executive at M.A.C. Cosmetics was so fulfilling but, as a frequent flier, my travel schedule proved a real struggle with raising a young family.    Owning a small business has kept me on “terra firma”; slightly lessening the “juggling” struggle that so many working mothers experience.     


From a business and community perspective, like so many small business owners, our tiny firm allows us to hire locally.   During high season each spring, our numbers swell to over 30 talented gardeners, retailers, instructors and students.   (show one of the staff photos)  In addition to beautifying local homes and gardens, our staff stays busy improving the beauty of our historic neighbourhood on Main Street Markham.    In addition, our creative little hub provides an outlet for so many clients; giving them time and space to explore their creativity, learn new skills and establish friendships during the many make-and-take workshops we offer every week.


We are also motivated by a desire to help our community thrive.   In addition to helping to guide Kate’s Garden, my husband Jim is a gifted sales and marketing executive who works for a well-known Canadian IT firm.    Jim has a fundamental belief in the power of inclusion versus exclusion.    An inclusive approach to both marketing and business is, simply put, a winning proposition.   Consequently, in addition to a fierce commitment to respect for diversity, we frequently band together with other local entrepreneurs for a variety of marketing campaigns.  In so doing, we help ensure that our neighbourhood economy strengthens.     

Equally importantly, Kate’s Garden has given us a platform to make charitable donations to give back to our community.    Our small business allows us to “tithe”; ensuring much-needed supported for predominantly health-related local charities.    As a side-note, research indicates small business owners donate significantly more to their communities than national, big-box chains. 

It is a small thing but by shopping at other local firms and restaurants and services, we also take tiny steps for environmental sustainability.  

Our Kate’s Garden family works hard at keeping dollars in our local community.  This coming Saturday, we ask you to consider doing the same.   Celebrate our small business and other small local firms.    Some of my very favourites include companies that give back so much to our community: Markham Home Hardware, Peppertree Klassics, Main Street Greek, the Dress Diva, Station Pizza, Mother’s Deli, Salon Nate, Farmer Jack’s, Ski and Ride, Physiobility, Markham Family Physicians and The Village Grocer

Please join us for our 20 th Anniversary version of Small Business Saturday this coming Saturday, October 22nd.   From 9 to 5, we offer a huge sale on almost everything in the shop reduced by 25% to 75% off.   We are planning a Sip and Snack day so please expect some delicious nibbles and a gift with every purchase.    Clients who make a Small Business Saturday purchase in-store will also receive a 10% coupon for all Garden to Bed Services and Winter Pots. 

Sponsors of Small Business Saturday:

Canadian Federation of Independent Business  


Markham BIA