Matthew Mead's favorite holiday decoration is the wreath.
"It has that sense of tradition with it, but then there are so many things that you can make a wreath with," says the 42-year-old lifestyle guru and home decorator. Vintage jewelry, small fruit, flowers and miniature packages are among the wreathmaking supplies he recommends.
Wreaths can also be made out of scrapbook paper, just like the one on the cover of his recently published magazine Holiday With Matthew Mead, which includes instructions for making holiday crafts and desserts. He hopes to publish a similar magazine quarterly.
"The whole project is really born of a real desire to connect directly with the readers," he says. "A lot of the traditional magazines have gone away in the last couple years because of the economy, so I just really wanted to get back in touch with the readers."
Mead is also the author of the books Entertaining Simple and Matthew Mead: Halloween.
Before launching his own projects, the New Hampshire resident spent 12 years as style editor of Country Home Magazine and has contributed to Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Women's Day and Better Homes and Garden.
We recently spoke with Mead about livening up a home for the holidays. Here are excerpts.
How do you decorate for Christmas?
For Christmas, I really like to use fresh greenery and green wreaths and lots of ribbons to hang things.
What are some examples of how food can serve as decorations?
I love to do a simple centerpiece where I fill a bowl with pomegranates and red apples. Then I fill the bowl halfway with water, and then I just put clippings of flowers and evergreens into that. And the fruit actually holds all the flowers and all of the cut stems nicely. You end up with this beautiful centerpiece that almost anyone can make, and it takes about five minutes.
What holiday-decorating traditions does your family have?
We like to go cut a tree down and gather evergreens from outside. And then we'd decorate by making garlands for the windows or filling our window boxes with evergreens and colorful berries. We also like to have a cookie-decorating contest where we bake a bunch of cookies and then we make royal icing and get different kind of candy.
What are some fun crafts for kids to do?
Kids really enjoy cookie decorating. You could also take the same concept and apply it to making ornaments for the tree. You can gather lots of different paper and wooden cutouts and paint from the crafts store, and you can have the kids create their own ornaments. That's easy and fun. And the techniques aren't terribly different from having a cookie-decorating party.
What are three craft supplies that every crafter should have?
The glue gun is definitely the number one thing that people should have. Number two would be the product called Zots. They're like a glue dot that you can use for all kinds of crafts because they allow you to stick things instantly to other things. The last one would probably be a paper punch, because your paper punch allows you to do so many different things, to create tags for gifts or elements, to create a garland.