You remembered to put the turkey in the oven at the right time, and the silver is polished. But did you give any thought to decorating your table for the Christmas feast?
It's too late to go out and buy anything, but here are some last-minute ideas from Decorator's Insider, an interior design newsletter.
* Use collections to dress up your table: candlesticks of all sorts and shapes, or figurines arranged on a mirror.
* A container like a small antique toy wagon or an interesting old basket filled with small, brightly wrapped packages makes an engaging centerpiece.
* After places have been set, add ornaments and ropes of glass beads. Use colored votive candles, and "imagine that you're dining under a Christmas tree."
* A single item that you wouldn't normally think of as a table decoration can be striking. A ceramic garden ornament, for instance, or an old marble bust decorated with greenery could be a dramatic beginning for a buffet table.
Not everyone has a marble bust around the house, of course, but the point is that if you look around you might come up with some unexpected finds.
A serious bird feeder, at a serious price
Bird feeders made by Backyard Sanctuary were originally sold only to arboretums, parks and botanical gardens. That's because the sturdy, top-of-the-line feeders are expensive, starting at $600. But visitors to the parks were so enthusiastic the company decided to widen its market.
Backyard Sanctuary's premium feeder is handcrafted of copper and brass laid over hardwood cherry. It stands 8 1/2 feet tall, has 12 seed ports with twig-shaped perches and holds 30 pounds of seed.
Obviously, this isn't the bird feeder for everyone. But serious bird enthusiasts can call (800) 247-3735 to get an information package for $2 shipping and handling. It includes a full-color poster, "How to Attract Birds to Your Yard," and literature on creating a wild bird sanctuary.
Long after you've put your Christmas decorations away, holiday plants can still give you pleasure. Here are some tips from Amy Watkins at Mount Washington Florists for taking care of the three most popular:
* Poinsettias keep their "blooms" (actually colored leaves) for three to four weeks. Don't over-water -- allow soil to dry between waterings because the roots rot easily. Bright sunlight will improve the plant's color. Keep away from heat ducts; the leaves will dry and curl up.
* Cyclamens also should dry out between waterings. They like bright morning light, but direct sunlight all day may burn the leaves. Many people don't realize that cyclamens are a bulb plant. If you want to keep them, let them dry out until you're ready to force them next year.
* Christmas cactuses need lots of bright sunlight and can be kept in a sunny window all day. Keep them on the dry side; they're a real cactus and should be treated as such.