12/17/2012 05:56 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2013

My Top Home Decor Tips for the Holidays

The holidays are my favorite time of year. I'm on the road a lot, so I especially enjoy getting to spend time with my loved ones and focus on some of my own personal projects. This year, to make things even sweeter, I got to do something I've never done before -- provide insight and inspiration to the design of a life-size gingerbread house at Great Wolf Lodge. Throughout the month of December, families can dine inside this enormous edible creation, and similar gingerbread houses at each Great Wolf Lodge resort around the country, for a $20 donation, in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Life-size gingerbread houses at Great Wolf Lodge are part of the resorts' annual Snowland celebration. This year, when Great Wolf Lodge invited me to help bring something new to the gingerbread house project in my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, I had to say yes! I worked alongside the resort's culinary team to bring some of my fairy tale ideas for the edible house to life. We made icing icicles to drip from the roof, "wallpaper" for the interior of the house made from candy buttons, and "growing" poinsettias made of gingerbread for the window boxes. We even repurposed a traditional snow sled into a gingerbread sleigh to sit outside the house and add some candy-curb appeal.

Families can visit the 11 Great Wolf Lodge resorts during the month of December to check out these awesome gingerbread creations and really get into the holiday spirit. They might even find inspiration to create their own winter wonderlands at home -- something I'm often asked about this time of year. Here are some of my favorite home decor tips to share during the holidays:

  1. Spread the cheer throughout your home by introducing staple, seasonal colors to decor. Strategically placed red, green and silver accents can give your home an updated holiday feel. You don't have to break the bank -- try incorporating pieces that are interchangeable with your regular decor like throw pillows or blankets.
  2. Create a holiday music playlist to set the tone for your get-togethers. Don't forget to mix in fun favorites like "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch," Alvin and the Chipmunks' "Christmas Don't Be Late," or "Feliz Navidad" with the classics -- music is one of the quickest ways to get your guests in a festive mood.
  3. Add a dimmer switch in the dining room to create seasonal lighting. Dimmer switches can save you money on electricity and are a simple trick for enhancing the seasonal mood of dinner parties.
  4. There's nothing more inviting than a sweet-smelling home. Use holiday scents like cinnamon, pine and butter cream to create a cozy atmosphere that will keep your family and guests alike feeling right at home.
  5. Incorporate holiday photos from years past for a personal touch on seasonal home decor. Take it one step further and get the entire family involved in a fun craft to frame them. Start with a simple wood frame (found at a local craft or second-hand store) and gather up your favorite seasonal candies like spiraled peppermints, cinnamon hearts, candy canes or red and green Nerds. Adhere the candies in a creative pattern to the frame using spray adhesive, glue or even icing, and you get the perfect treat to hold your holiday family photos all season long!

For more holiday design inspiration, and to see the life size gingerbread house for yourself, head to your nearest Great Wolf Lodge, or visit

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