Holiday Tips From Martha Stewart To Make The Season Even More Festive

The holidays are a special time of year where family and friends gather together, often for meals, parties, and gift swaps. However, the shopping, decorating, and cooking can bring some added stress to our already busy lives. But fear not, the queen of organization, Martha Stewart, has a few tricks up her sleeve to ensure you have a truly special and festive season.

Stewart is no stranger to planning and executing a great holiday extravaganza, and you can find tips for just about every facet of the season, from great recipes, to decorating your Christmas tree, and baking the perfect golden-brown pie. She's also not afraid to throw it all out of the window, give up the holiday season hosting, and have fun in a totally different way, like traveling with the family. No matter where your holidays bring you, Stewart has loads of suggestions to keep in mind. Whether you're sticking to tried-and-true traditions, looking to experiment with new decorations, or hosting for the very first time, Martha Stewart has got you covered.

Get creative with holiday table decorations

Nothing says "the holiday season" quite like transforming your dining room table into a grand and festive place for your guests. It's one thing to sit at a regular table, but seasonal decorations and place settings can totally change the vibe and make the gathering of family and friends extra special. While shopping for trending decorative pieces is a fine way to prepare your table, Martha Stewart has an alternate suggestion.

When it comes to preparing her holiday table, Stewart turns to family traditions and handmade touches. She has given her insight to Today over the years, with tips including reusing vintage plates (which is great when looking for ways to cut down on your decoration budget) and using name cards her granddaughter made.

Speaking of name cards, Stewart also offered a creative and tasty solution on Harry Connick Jr.'s talk show, "Harry." During her appearance, she created snowflake sugar cookies that included guests' names written out in icing. Not only will your guests know where to sit, but everyone will have a personalized dessert after dinner.

Start the Christmas music whenever you want to

You can start quite the heated debate when you ask your family and friends about the appropriate time to start decorating for the holiday season. Whether you fall into the camp of hanging your Christmas lights the day after Halloween or sometime after Thanksgiving, it's an exciting time of year that can bring much joy to your household.

Since the start of the annual holiday season is so special, why worry about how others feel? Martha Stewart has some simple advice about deciding the best time to whip out your holiday playlists — do what you want. In fact, according to Yahoo News, Stewart doesn't even offer a specific timeline, noting that some of the holiday-themed classical tunes can be enjoyed 365 days a year. That includes what many consider to be the official start of the holiday season, Thanksgiving (via Today). So, don't fret when you want to start playing holiday music sooner than your neighbors.

Keep your decorations organized

There is no denying that the holiday season can be a stressful time of year, in part because it involves a big shift in your home decor and organization. Boxes upon boxes of ornaments, lights, and tabletop trees come down from the attic, and closets are turned inside-out in a desperate search for wrapping paper and gift tags. There are plenty of other things to be preoccupied with, such as arranging travel plans and finishing your shopping list, so it only makes sense to make home organization as seamless as possible.

Martha Stewart offers myriad organization solutions, including investing in tools specifically designed for keeping your holiday items neat and tidy. In addition, she suggests making space in your home specifically for holiday storage so you know exactly where to find everything each year, and making sure boxes and bins are labeled properly so you don't have to dig through each container just to figure out what's inside them.

Study holiday party etiquette to avoid awkward moments

The holiday party phenomenon can range from your typical family gathering to a zany office extravaganza, Friendsgiving, and everything in between. While there are no hard and fast rules you must follow at every seasonal get-together, there are a few pieces of etiquette to bear in mind to avoid any potentially awkward situations. Also, if you're a great guest, the host will want to invite you back year after year.

While appearing on "Watch What Happens Live," host Andy Cohen threw a series of rapid-fire questions at Martha Stewart around being the perfect guest at any holiday party. While she discourages re-gifting (because she claims there is no way you won't get caught), she does suggest guests should arrive fashionably late — but never too late — to a holiday function, and always bring a small gift for the host (Stewart's gift of choice? One dozen eggs from her chickens). Swapping name cards at the table is also a big no-no.

Have the wine and cheese ready

One of the most important elements when having people over during the holiday season (or any time of year, really) is the food. Whether you're serving a massive turkey dinner or you just have some light bites on hand, feeding your guests is one of the classic hallmarks of being a good host. A solid go-to option when throwing a gathering of any size is wine and cheese.

Martha Stewart has a variety of tips and tricks, including creative ways to display wine and cheese, as well as what kinds to consider buying at the store (via Yahoo News). For starters, skip the traditional board and come up with more unique ways to arrange the cheeses for guests, like placing them on different height pedestals. 

Also, don't feel pressured to only pour wine in traditional glasses. While wine connoisseurs may raise an eyebrow, Stewart opts for less traditional glassware, including bistro glasses. Another tip Stewart offers is to make sure everything is served at the correct temperature, and to ensure you have your bases covered with a variety of wines to serve your guests. 

Cooking turkey? Follow Martha Stewart's advice

When Thanksgiving comes to mind, most Americans immediately think of a classic turkey dinner. Turkey can also be served throughout the holiday season, of course including Christmas. No matter when you decide to throw a turkey in the oven, it can be a daunting task, especially if you have lots of guests. There's no need to fret, however, as preparing a turkey is simpler than you may think when you have the best turkey tips to hand.

For starters, Martha Stewart adheres by all of the usual dos and don'ts when preparing the perfect roast turkey: Allow ½ to 1 pound per guest, make sure your oven is at the right temperature, have all the tools assembled and ready for use, and keep the raw bird away from other ingredients to avoid any cross-contamination. Stewart says her go-to cooking method for turkey is spatchcocking, or removing the back bone from the turkey, which cuts down on cooking time. You could also get clever with a Stewart turkey cooking hack involving draping a (clean!) butter and wine-soaked T-shirt over your bird.

Don't be afraid if you're new to the turkey game, either. Stewart admitted her first Thanksgiving turkey was a disaster and she burned it (even the pros have to start somewhere).

You can never have too many Christmas trees

Perhaps the most iconic piece of holiday decor is the Christmas tree. There are many decisions to make when selecting and decorating the perfect tree, like whether you should go with an artificial or a real tree, or whether you should have white or colored lights. But one decision you should not have to stress over, at least according to Martha Stewart, is how many trees you should have in your home.

Stewart has 15 or 16 trees, according to an interview with Architectural Digest. That way, each room can have its own tree that she usually themes around a different color. As for the natural versus artificial debacle, Stewart shares in the interview that the ones she uses in her house are pre-lit artificial trees. Speaking with Today, she said she prefers artificial trees as there's no need to worry about pine needles all over the house, or the tree drying out. So if someone wants to give you a hard time for adding a second, third, or fourth tree to your home, you can simply tell them Martha Stewart has well over a dozen trees in her house.

Build some gingerbread houses

You don't have to be an architect to construct a gingerbread house. Whether you buy a kit with pre-made cookie pieces or you make yours from scratch, gingerbread house building and decorating is a fun way to get the entire family together and create something that can be on display all season long. Martha Stewart loves the tradition of making gingerbread houses, or should we say gingerbread scenes. It's perhaps no surprise she takes it to the next level by creating entire landscapes out of gingerbread.

You definitely do not need to go to the extreme like Stewart does, but it might be fun to think a little outside of the box when coming up with your gingerbread house design. The biggest mistake people make when it comes to gingerbread houses is not planning enough. Using a simple blueprint and then embellishing with extra decorations is a great first step, but you can grow from there to try your own recipes (just allow for extra time, as it can take days for gingerbread to properly dry out before you can use it to construct a house).

Don't be afraid to take your decorations outdoors

The weather outside may or may not be frightful during the holidays, but that shouldn't stop you from bringing the holiday spirit into your front yard. Whether you have a house full of guests arriving during the holiday season, or it's just you, you will probably still have neighbors and people of all kinds walking or driving past your home. Why not give them something to admire during the holiday season?

Don't be afraid to go big, either: Martha Stewart shared a photo of a huge apple tree on her Bedford, New York property that she decorates with white lights and oversized ornaments. After all, who said the only Christmas tree worth decorating is the one you bring indoors? If you don't want to go as big as Stewart, even simple outdoor decorations can make a lasting impact if you don't want to string all those lights around a tree.

Use ornaments as decor elsewhere

Over the years, you have probably amassed quite the collection of ornaments to go on your tree. Ornaments come in all shapes and sizes, from classic orbs that can complement any tree to unique and personalized ornaments that hold special memories for your family. If you find your tree is filled to the brim and you have leftover ornaments, don't close them up and put them away in storage. Instead, Marta Stewart suggests using them in more creative ways — off the tree entirely.

Stewart shared several ornament decorating ideas, including filling up glass cake domes with them, or placing ornaments on top of candlesticks and in your windows at home. There are no bad ideas when it comes to ornament placement off your Christmas tree. Stewart once shared a tour of her Hamptons home decorated for the holidays (via Facebook), where she revealed that a kugel ball was placed on the mouth of a fish hung above the fireplace. Let your imagination run wild.

When hosting a party, planning ahead is key

There are many perks when it comes to hosting a holiday party. As the host, there is no travel involved, and you can usually expect some bonus gifts from grateful guests. Those benefits, however, come with the obvious setback of the added stress of setting up, cooking, and cleaning. No need to worry though, as the queen of party planning and holiday festivities has loads of great ideas for hosts-to-be.

It may come as no surprise, but the theme of Martha Stewart's tips for stress-free hosting is to plan ahead (via That planning involves figuring out your budget, theme, menu, and shopping lists well ahead of time so you know exactly what to expect in the days and moments leading up to your event. She also suggests making sure that your bar is well stocked with a variety of beverage options, including wines, liquors, and mixers. How stocked is well stocked? According to Stewart, she follows a two drinks per guest per hour rule.

It's all about the cookies

There are many ways to incorporate cookies into your holiday plans, from decorations to gifting. Martha Stewart has many essential tips when it comes to holiday cookies, as it has become a central part of her annual traditions. She goes as far as to make a buffet of cookies, which includes a variety of different kinds that guests can snack on. And as for decorating, Stewart says royal icing is her decoration of choice when making a batch of sugar cookies.

Stewart is also big on cookie parties, which have been a part of her household for decades. Luckily for Stewart, she has a team that helps her bake and assemble the cookies each year. Once they are baked, she uses them for a variety of functions, from serving at her cookie parties to creating creative name cards at the holiday dinner table (via YouTube). And, of course, cookies make for great gift ideas.

Safety first when decorating

While all of Martha Stewart's tips for having a festive holiday season include creativity, personalization, and thoughtfulness, there is one thing to remember no matter what time of the season it is — and that's safety. The queen of organization, cooking, and decor knows that safety is paramount in everything you do around the house, and that includes setting up for the holidays. Stewart shared some safety insights for fans to study before they head outside to decorate.

When decorating outside, Stewart urges everyone to avoid using a metal ladder when working with lighting. That way, there's no risk of any sort of electricity being conducted. You can also reduce the risk of electrical problems by only using outdoor extension cords and using cable ties to secure lights instead of metal fasteners like nails or staples. While it's great to be crafty, it's even better to be safe, and using proper techniques when decorating can help all of us better enjoy Martha Stewart's holiday tips and tricks.