archihomez.com [http://archihomez.com/dreamy-christmas-living-room-decor-ideas.html]

Whether it's an annual tradition or a simple get-together, hosting a holiday party at your home can be a joy for both you and your guests. Rebekah Johnson, founder of Bergner & Johnson Design, offers five fantastic tips to have your house looking holiday party-ready.

No. 1: Use Decorations in Keeping With Your Existing Decor

"Decorate your home in a manner that is true to your nature and the design of your house," Johnson says. Stay away from glitzy, commercial-looking decor items in a home that calls for restraint. While it may look fantastic in that magazine spread, but it might look out of place in your home. "I'm doing an event at a clean, contemporary home this year and we wanted it to look like Christmas but still fit the lines of the house," she says. "I found red lacquer magnolia wreaths for the front doors which fit the house and theme perfectly."

No. 2: Don't Overthink Tree Ornaments

"You don't want your tree looking like it came out of a department store," Johnson notes. A refined look can be achieved with a few elegant touches while still using some of the kids handmade ornaments. "Items like cording, ribbon and a mix of similarly colored ornaments can be on the branches close to the stem of the tree, with all your collected ones on the outside boughs so they can be seen," she suggests.

No. 3: Coordinate Your Mantel

"Mantel tops are a great opportunity to mix in unique items that coordinate with the room or artwork above the fireplace," Johnson says. "I have mixed in raffia and small straw ornaments in a garland with an interesting art piece that was made of wooden pieces and roping." Another of her clients had a still life of pears above her mantle, so she filled a garland with wooden pears and deep red ribbon for a striking yet coordinating effect.

No. 4: Keep Stair Rail Garlands Festive and Natural

Stair rail garlands remind everyone of traditional holidays. "When designing the look for the garlands, I like to keep them as natural as possible, starting with gorgeous fat pine," Johnson notes. Pine cones, tallow berries, holly berries and Florida berries are her preferred elements to place along ribbons that coordinate with the room. "I like to use rusty red ribbons in yellow rooms, silver or gold in formal areas, blues and silvers in blue rooms, natural cord in French inspired settings and bright red in darker rooms."

No. 5: Don't Forget Fresh Flowers

"If there's a large party during the holiday season, it's a good idea to go back and add fresh flowers to garlands, wreaths and even the tree," Johnson says. "I have filled a stair garland with dripping orchids for a lush party feel." She also recommends placing clusters of coordinating roses on the tree with existing ornaments to elevate the festive sensibility.

ferodoor.com [http://ferodoor.com/decorating-table-for-thanksgiving/]

How to take the stress out of Thanksgiving entertaining: 5 great tips for a special Turkey Day

Pro Tips for Thanksgiving

Although it may be daunting to cook for a tableful of people, Thanksgiving can actually be the least stressful of the upcoming holidays. Rebekah Johnson, founder of Bergner & Johnson Design, offers five great entertaining tips to help avoid stress on Turkey Day.

No. 1: Keep Decor Simple

Save time to accomplish other things and don't dedicate too much time to decorating for your dinner. Johnson says to keep things simple and suggests decorating the table with baby pumpkins and vases with autumn colored tulips.

"I am very enamored with all of the new varieties and colors of pumpkins," she says, "so I use them by my front door piled up with lots of candles on my porch and in my yard." If decorating for your Thanksgiving dinner seems too overwhelming, Johnson suggests "calling a professional to send over some simple arrangements to place in the key areas."

No. 2: Plan the Meal Ahead and Do Your Prep Early

Johnson advises to dedicate time to carefully planning your menu, although says to remember not to be over-ambitious. "Don't try and make too many dishes unless you have a staff of prep chefs or you'll just end up exhausted," she says.

You can also save time by doing any necessary prep in advance to avoid a marathon of chopping and peeling on the morning of.

No. 3: Accept Help from Friends and Family

Although you may have rebuffed assistance in years past, don't be afraid to accept help from friends and family when planning your Thanksgiving dinner. "If they want to bring a dish, let them bring it, even if it doesn't fit in with your Martha Stewart ideas of a perfect menu," Johnson says.

"I've given up fighting my aunt about her Jello marshmallow salad and now rather expect it as part of the day," she adds. "Remember, if you put Jello salad in a lovely container it becomes something else visually."

In case your guests don't want to bring something, Johnson suggests buying side items from the grocery store or catering pantry and serving them as if you slaved over the dishes for hours.

No. 4: Share the Wealth of Leftovers

Although guests might not want to think about eating ever again after a huge Thanksgiving feast, Johnson says guests will regret not taking leftovers home. "Have some takeaway containers so you can easily send food home with guests," she suggests, adding that having two containers — one for savory food and another for sweets — is an excellent idea.

No. 5: Have a Plan for Beverages

Johnson suggests preparing a fun, light cocktail to serve guests upon arrival. "Something with a hint of sage or rosemary can be a pleasant surprise," she says.

Also, be prepared for different tastes by having champagne, white wine and red wine on hand. "I usually talk to one of the wine experts at Spec's to get suggestions on wines that will pair well with the menu," Johnson adds.

StorybookCostume.com [http://www.storybookcostume.com/tips-on-how-to-decorate-your-home-with-jack-o-lanterns.htm]

Throw the most ghoulishly glam adults-only Halloween party ever with these 8 great tips

The Perfect Party

If you think Halloween is a holiday for the kiddos, then you haven’t been to the right parties. Rebekah Johnson, founder of Bergner & Johnson Design, shares eight tips for hosting the most happening Halloween party on the block.

No. 1: Get Specific with Your Spookiness

Kids can have the trick-or-treating, but adults get to party. “Fall-themed events such as Halloween parties are probably more fun for adults than Christmas,” Johnson says.

“Fall-themed events such as Halloween parties are probably more fun for adults than Christmas,” Johnson says.

“Creating a narrow theme can make for a gorgeous ghoulish event. Once I created ‘Mrs. Havisham's Wedding’ for a Halloween party. It allowed for a tattered elegance: broken chandeliers, dripping moss, dead vines growing all around, and black roses hanging on a broken tarnished silver candelabra.”

Another idea: Vampire themes. These can be modern vampires or the traditional, cape-wearing kind. And your setting can be an upscale neighborhood or an old mansion, respectively.

No. 2: Keep a Few Fangs Lying Around

Johnson reminds party hosts to have a few extra costume pieces around, such as masks, fangs, makeup, top hats, etc. so those guests who didn't really think about it can spruce up their costumes. When you send out the invitation, encourage guests to dress up and send a link to a costume rental store to make it easier.

No. 3: Ice, Ice Baby

“Have fun by placing dry ice in drinks to create smoking cocktails,” Johnson says. Silver trays with rock salt or dry ice can also be fun serving platters. “Dry ice in pumpkins works well too. I also like putting votive candles in mini pumpkins,” she adds.

No. 4: The Monster Mash

A great playlist is necessary for a party. Says Johnson, “I always mix in some vintage classics with new tunes, so there are surprises all night long. For Halloween I mix in vintage Disney Haunted House tracks to take the group back to childhood. If it’s a large event, get a band or a DJ to do all the work.”

No. 5: Keep Costuming Consistent

Johnson reminds us to ask the wait staff to dress appropriately so they mix in with the party theme.

“Normally we avoid green lights for events, since it turns skin an unflattering shade, but at a Halloween party, it's the perfect hue to achieve a creepy effect.”

No. 6: Go Green

Johnson says lighting is key for a Halloween themed party. “It’s what turns a normal setting into something scary and dark,” she explains. “Normally we avoid green lights for events, since it turns skin an unflattering shade, but at a Halloween party, it's the perfect hue to achieve a creepy effect.”

No. 7: Halloween Alternatives

Maybe you’re not into the October holiday but like the whole idea of dark theme. Johnson says that an alternative is a “Day of the Dead” theme. “It gives a Mexican flavor to the party with the food, costumes and drinks. It could be a party of deceased luminaries like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera,” she says.

No. 8: Keep the Good Times Coming

“Remember the key to any great event is creating a fun and exciting environment that makes your guests want to dance,” Johnson says. “Never lose sight of the top priority: having a blast.”

Learn more about event decorating solutions on by visiting Bergner & Johnson Design online and on Facebook.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Gigantic 50-foot shark's jaw-dropping debut tears into Houston's top stories of the week

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Gigantic 50-foot shark dives into Houston museum for jaw-dropping new showcase of Earth's greatest predator. Visitors can meet these fin-tastic friends via a 360-square-foot virtual “shark tank,” where sharks of all shapes and sizes swim by.

2. Esquire toasts Heights watering hole as only Texas spot on 2023's Best Bars in America list. The bar takes its inspiration from classic dives like Alice's Tall Texan and the Shiloh Club.

3. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo makes history with election of first female chairman of the board. She takes over for departing chairman Brady Carruth..

4. Houston Tex-Mex institution serves up opening date for long-awaited West University location. It joins sister concept Adair Kitchen in the Kroger-anchored shopping center.

5. This is how big Houston apartments get for $1,500 a month. If you head to neighboring Pasadena, residents get an average of 1,180 square feet of space for the same price.

Meet the gifted chef showcasing authentic, home-grown Greek fare to Houston, plus hottest food news

What's Eric Eating Episode 285

On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Mary Cuclis joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Kriti Kitchen. The Pondicheri veteran opened the family-friendly Greek restaurant in January.

The conversation begins with Cuclis explaining how she entered the world of professional cooking. Prior to opening Kriti Kitchen, she trained at Bo Innovation, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Hong Kong, and spent 10 years working for James Beard Award finalist Anita Jaisinghani at Pondicheri, the acclaimed, Indian-inspired restaurant in Upper Kirby.

At Kriti Kitchen, she honors her Greek heritage by serving dishes she's experienced when visiting family in Greece. Sandler asks her about the ways in which her cooking is different from Houston's other Greek restaurants.

"A lot of the Greek food I found in Houston was very delicious but very much street food. The kind of food I'm wanting to portray is more homestyle, things that I eat with my relatives," she says.

"For example, when you go to a taverna in Crete, a lot of times it's a couple running the whole thing. They invite you back into the kitchen to smell the stew. It's stewed meat and a lot of fresh vegetables with beans and lentils. I don't think too many people see that side of Greek food. I wanted to share a little bit of what I see with my family and what we eat when we're there."

Listen to the full interview to hear Cuclis explain why Kriti Kitchen offers both dine-in options during the day as well as heat-and-serve options that customers can pick up for dinner. She also discusses her goals for the future.

Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Rebecca Masson, chef-owner of Fluff Bake Bar, discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Nobie's owners Martin and Sara Stayer's plans to open a new pizzeria; Roswell's Saloon opening in Montrose; New York City's Lady M establishing a permanent presence in the Galleria; and Masson's experiences during Austin's Hot Luck food festival.

In the restaurants of the week segment, Sandler and Masson share their thoughts about meals at two new Italian restaurants. First, they recount the highs and lows of a meal at Triola's Kitchen. Then, they share first impressions of Bari Ristorante, a new restaurant in River Oaks District that serves classic Italian dishes.

Mary Cuclis Kriti Kitchen

Photo by Ajna Jai

Chef Mary Cuclis is this week's guest.


Subscribe to "What's Eric Eating" on Apple podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify. Listen to it Saturdays at 2 pm on ESPN 97.5.

Famed luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo steps into Houston with stylish boutique in first outlet locale


Local favorite Houston Premium Outletshas exciting news for fashion-forward and price-conscious shoppers. The renowned luxury brand Jimmy Choo has recently opened its doors, bringing its signature high-end styles and accessories to Houston.

Shoppers will be delighted to find an extensive range of Jimmy Choo's coveted collection, including trendy shoes, chic bags, stylish eyewear, cute small leather goods, and other must-have accessories.

The luxury footwear brand hit the scene in the 1990s and quickly became a favorite of Princess Diana. Carrie Bradshaw and Sex in the City catapulted the shoe to a household name and the shoes became synonymous with femininity and luxury.

With more than 200 stores worldwide, Jimmy Choo is no stranger to the fashion scene. However, this outlet store marks its first in Houston, making its elevated shopping experience more accessible to a broader array of discerning buyers.

Savvy Houston shoppers will be thrilled to find top-notch designer pieces at prices that won't break the bank. Jimmy Choo joins other luxury brands at Houston Premium Outlets, such as Armani Outlet, Burberry, Tory Burch, Coach, and Cole Haan. It's the perfect excuse to make the journey to Houston Premium Outlets and stock up on summer wardrobe essentials.


Jimmy Choo

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Choo/Instagram

The Jimmy Choo boutique at Houston Premium Outlets includes shoes, bags, stylish eyewear, small leather goods, and other must-have accessories.

Jimmy Choo; Suite 955, near Armani Outlet; Houston Premium Outlets – (Suite 955, near Armani Outlet); 29300 Hempstead Rd. in Cypress.