December 03, 2004 12:00 PM


He’s one of the radical revampers on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but there’s nothing extreme about the way interior designer Michael Moloney dresses up his own three-bedroom home in Palm Springs, Calif. For Thanksgiving he chooses a medium that complements his message. “It’s all about the bounty and the harvest,” he says. “So I am all about gourds, pumpkins and squash. All those wonderful colors—oranges, golds and browns. Go buy three yards of pumpkin-colored fabric and drape a table. Grab some fresh-fallen leaves from your yard, throw a couple of pumpkins on the table and a gourd or two and you’re on your way. The cornucopia of all the fruits and vegetables of the season—to me, that’s what Thanksgiving is.”


Genevieve Gorder’s plan for Christmas decorating can be summed up in four words: Bring the outdoors in. Plants “are a great way to bring in a lot of warmth to your house because it is so darn cold outside,” says Gorder, who goes for “rich greens and reds” in her own Manhattan apartment. But this 30-year-old designer would never be caught with traditional poinsettias—”it’s too grandma,” she says. Instead, she chooses poppies or amaryllises. Using fresh, dried and silk foliage, she covers planters with moss, wraps presents with evergreen accents and pops flowers in water vases planted in a box of wheatgrass. “You have a living garden as your centerpiece and it’s beautiful,” she says. To add to the ambience, Gorder suggests “candles that smell like sugar or spice.” And she believes in a generous dose of Christmas cheer. “Instead of putting a wreath on my door, I put an old family picture that my guests can relate to. As soon as people come to my door they are laughing.”


There are no bells or whistles when Nate Berkus rings in the New Year in his Chicago apartment, but there are fireworks—guests can watch the public display over Lake Michigan while they graze on takeout pizza or enchiladas. “Entertaining should be all about comfort,” says Berkus, a regular contributor to The Oprah Winfrey Show. At his parties, that extends to the dress code. “People come as they care to, in anything from a tux to pajamas,” he says. Breaking all the rules, Berkus never gussies up his home for a holiday. “I like it to look like it looks all year, but I want people to feel special,” he says. “First, the place has to be clean. The music is important, the lights are on dimmers, and there might be more flowers than would be there on your typical Wednesday.” Where does Berkus recommend splurging? “Buy the best wine you can afford,” he says, “and place candles all over the house.” Finally, while it’s fine to have the food delivered, its ix-nay on the pizza boxes. “Everything comes out of its container and is served on white platters, with linen napkins and sterling flatware,” Berkus says. How do guests remember his parties? Not with favors. “I don’t believe in them,” he says. “When you’re with your friends, the gift is just being together.”

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