I hope everyone had a chance to catch the final airing of my holiday special! If not, you can still watch it online here. Kathie, Brian with HGTV, and the whole crew at Al Roker were great collaborators, so thank you to all of them for including me in the project! Working in props at Food Network, then doing the Halloween special in October, I've found that knowing what goes on behind the scenes is almost always just as entertaining as what's on screen. So before there was this…

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or this…

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…there was this. 

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And lo: "We Three Trees of La Quinta," the hotel my crew and I stayed at in Stamford, CT during production.  

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On a normal day, a "suite" at the La Quinta might look something like this… 

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Ours, however, looked more like Craft Central with rented chairs and tables so my team could turn out Christmas…in September. 

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It took a village to pull off this production: As our intern Meagan turned shirts into ornaments, friends Amy and Michael tied bows for the tops. There's Mom wrapping gifts with white paper and ribbon, while Jaithan prepped wreaths with pine cones and baubles. The stockings I made with green felt and glue with monograms for the GIffords in gold. Who knew the La Quinta could feel so festive?

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So from one grand estate…

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to the other we went.

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Here's the view from above…    

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and a sliver below.

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Once there, prep was the name of the game! With only two days of shooting, it was the only way a production like this could have run as smoothly as it did. To begin, here's Mom and I prepping the feather tree with handmade ornaments. Bigger ones to the bottom; smaller at the top. A mix of watery blue plaids and coordinating solids to enhance Kathie's house without breaking the bank.    

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Meanwhile, here's Jaithan and Meagan on candy patrol, prepping a sweet buffet in pressed glass compotes I brought from home.   

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Places! And we're rolling…wreaths on windows, garland up.

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Flash forward to the end, and volià!

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Next came the trees. 

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Two in all, like dueling firs. So while I tended to this room…  

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Jaithan and Meagan took care of the stairs.

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Here's the foyer all finished with a tabletop tree and a candy buffet.  

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The star my mother made by hand. Such craftiness! I wonder where she gets it.    

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Here's a close-up of the candy buffet, thanks to our friends at Hammond's

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Soon it was time for the Big Reveal. Thankfully, Kathie loved it, especially the plaid shirt ornaments we made by hand. Here I am showing her how we did it.  

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And here they are all done! 

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Now back to the other room to set the table…

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turning a mix of new and old, silver and gold…

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into an eclectic and festive table for four. To Creative Candles and Juliska—thank you! 

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But before pre-dinner drinks, a gift for Kathie from my home to hers. It's a porcelain plate and spreaders to add to her collection. WIth the room all ready and the guests about to arrive… 

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I grab a quick nap… 

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before the mayhem begins. Here's Kathie and I welcoming guests with Hodah and Frank sampling sweets. 

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Soon it was time for the food and drink, courtesy of Watson's and my dear friend, the unsung caterer, Sue Scully. Her cocktail was a hit and her food divine!

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With laughs all around…

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and pictures for days…

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the show may be over, but the memories live on!

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