Making a list

Home Stager with Claudia Jacobs Designs LLC, Goshen, NY

By Claudia Jacobs

this is my weekly column written by me for the Times Herald-Record

Published: 2:00 AM - 11/28/10


Shhhh. I'm going to let you in on a secret. If I could get away with it, I would not decorate my house for the holidays. I know what you're thinking: "But, Claudia, you are a decorator!"


Here's the thing: Over the years — with live trees toppling over, gigantically tall pre-lighted trees that never fit back in the box, and me nearly falling off ladders — I lost that warm and fuzzy Christmas decoration feeling.


The "less is more" holiday decorating suits me best. Decorative holiday tablecloths and candles dress my dining table. Holly Christmas plates set the table along with my grandmother's silverware. Stockings are hung by the chimney with care. The Christmas tree has downsized.


It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, just less and less fuss every year. And that's OK.

It is important to keep in mind the reason for the season. Make your own traditions that reflect you and your style, traditions that best suit your family's needs. Send in your new traditions to share with other readers here in the column (but send them in quickly!).


While making my own list, I put out the word about gift suggestions. Surprisingly, it is not things that are making the following list, but experiences. Here are a few ideas that my Facebook friends sent in:


  • Gift certificate to boot camp at the Culinary Institute or a gift certificate to The Elements Spa in Vernon ... both awesome gifts! — Millie Augeri, Chester
  • I like to make up a basket filled with someone's favorite things — gift passes and candy for the movie buff; wine and glasses and snacks for the entertainer; pasta, sauce and garlic spread with a few cooking utensils for the cook ... you get the idea. It's nice and personalized and can be made to fit into any budget. The "basket" can be creative too! Dishpan, cute wastepaper basket, salad bowl — use your imagination! — Karen Mills, Pine Bush
  • I used to make baskets. It was fun, but took some time and planning since I used home-canned and -baked goods instead of store-bought items. Now I prefer to make charitable contributions of behalf of others. We simply don't "need" any more stuff, no matter what the retailers say. — Jackie Clarke, Winston-Salem, N.C.
  • Quite some time ago, several friends/family and I decided we would much rather see each other for a nice lunch or dinner rather than exchange gifts. It has worked out really well. Now we spend the time and money enjoying each other's company rather than in the stores. — Donna Stebbins, Teaneck, N.J.
  • Our children have asked us to consider giving "experience" gifts to our grandchildren this year — soccer lessons, memberships to the aquarium, a special dinner and shopping date with the girls individually, tickets to a play, etc. — Faye Covington, Seattle, Wash.
  • I like it when people buy something in my name that is going to help someone else, like a goat for a family in Africa, donations to great not-for-profits, a tree to re-grow a forest, or a bunch of Bibles. I have enough tchotchkes. — Lynn Cione, Goshen

    Lynn and Jackie make a very good point. Most of us have enough stuff. The last thing we need is even more stuff. Getting together with family and friends is what the holiday is all about. Try continuing that theme throughout the year by giving the gift of the shared experience. It is all about making wonderful memories. Those memories will hold a longer place in your heart than a bottle of wine or a pair of gloves.

    Of course, buying and giving stuff does help the economy! So if you are shopping for the holidays, please remember to support your local merchants.


    My practical personal pick: The GelPro® Chef's Mat

    At a recent color consultation at a client's home, I walked over to her kitchen counter and onto her kitchen mat. Oh wow! It was so comfortable. After I uttered a few oohs and ahhs, my client Rita told me it was a gel mat. I forgot about it till I saw it in a few circulars. Let's face it, standing for a long time in the kitchen, especially extensively for the holidays, is inevitable and can lead to fatigue.


    GelPro Mats were created for chefs who are on their feet all day in front of the stove or the prep table. The mat's soft polymer gel interior absorbs shock and provides relief for tired feet, legs and backs while a bacteria-killing additive eliminates mold and mildew caused by drips and slops. A nonslip bottom keeps the mat from sliding around the floor.


    The GelPro is available locally at Bed, Bath & Beyond, or online at with even more style and color options. Kohl's has a similar gel mat.


    Don't tell my mother, but she is getting one, too!


    Claudia is a decorator, professional stager, and the owner of Claudia Jacobs Designs in Goshen. Visit or call her at 845-294-8993. Send questions and photos to




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    Menlo Park Real Estate and Homes for Sale
    Wende Schoof - Menlo Park, CA - 650.504.0219 - SF Peninsula

    Claudia, thanks for sharing!  This was a good read - got me in the mood to think of "good gifting" this season.

    Nov 29, 2010 01:54 AM #1
    Claudia Jacobs
    Claudia Jacobs Designs LLC, Goshen, NY - Goshen, NY
    Decorating, Staging

    You are very welcome Wende! Glad you enjoyed it. Happy gifting and happy holidays to you and yours!

    Nov 29, 2010 02:01 AM #2
    Amber Boyd
    Novus Real Estate - Wylie, TX

    this is a great post and they have so much information. i look forward to seeing more posts to come.

    Thanks for everything!


    Amber Bennett

    Nov 30, 2010 09:27 AM #3
    Claudia Jacobs
    Claudia Jacobs Designs LLC, Goshen, NY - Goshen, NY
    Decorating, Staging

    You are very welcome Amber. Glad you enjoyed reading it & thanks for commenting. Will post my column weekly. Happy holidays!

    Nov 30, 2010 11:06 PM #4
    Maggie Dokic | Miami, FL | 888.883.8509 X101
    eXp Realty LLC - Miami, FL
    GREEN, CDPE, SFR, Pinecrest | Palmetto Bay |

    Claudia, I love the way homes look all decked out for the holidays and admire the folks who can do it year after year without leaving things up until March.  Now that my girls are in their late teens, they've taken over the decking of the halls and I couldn't be more pleased.  I get the festive decorations with none of the work lol.

    PS, I just saw the gel mat in the BB&B catalog today and was impressed.  Now you're really making me want one.  Happy holidays!

    Dec 01, 2010 02:34 PM #5
    Claudia Jacobs
    Claudia Jacobs Designs LLC, Goshen, NY - Goshen, NY
    Decorating, Staging

    Maybe that's my problem Maggie, daughter is 18 and really is not into it. My son is 13 & is still enjoys helping out with the Christmas decorations. I will admit that earlier in the week I was inspired by a photo of Christmas decorations in a Homegoods ad. It's a woman's purgative to change her mind...right??? :)  

    Happy shopping! I'm definitely getting one of those gel mats for my mom & myself.

    Dec 02, 2010 01:07 AM #6
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    Claudia Jacobs

    Decorating, Staging
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