Season for the Senses

Season for the Senses

Holiday decor that appeals to more than just the eyes

  • Nov. 23, 2011 10:00 a.m.

By Sarah Massah

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s time to pull out the boxes of tangled strings of lights, tissue-wrapped ornaments and other decorations that have been stashed away for the last 11 months.

While decorating is often associated with what looks nice, there are four other senses that tend to be forgotten when December arrives. To ensure such neglectful behaviour does not occur this year, we’ve compiled a list of festive decor ideas for the home that will tickle and tease all five senses.


The favourite of the five, this sense has long been showered with attention during the holidays – and this year should be no different. Art Knapp Plantland’s decorating gurus, Shawneen Esson and Chris O’Connor have a few pointers for people looking to jazz up their tree this holiday season:


• Make colour your starting point. By choosing one main colour that will show evenly through the tree, it is easy to establish a theme, then pull in other colours.

Match two or three major ornaments to create a pattern.


• Use sinamay ribbon to weave through the tree, then add ornaments to fill in the holes.


• Get creative! Use silk flowers, leaves, egg or tree ornaments, to add a unique touch

But the decorating doesn’t have to end with the tree. Esson suggests using garland to carry the holiday theme throughout the home. Adding it to the mantle or above the sink in the bathroom can add just the right amount of festive touch. And when it’s time to pack up, using tissue and tupperware will keep the decorations safe and clean.



The sense of touch is used so often, you can forget how important it is. Around the holidays, touch is associated with warmth; a toasty fire, comfy mittens and a soft blanket to help cope with the temperature drop.

But for decorating, it can be a bit tricky to try and focus on touch. One easy way to give a bit of attention to this sense is by using textures. Wrapping presents in textured paper to put under the tree will have people grabbing at the boxed goodies, but not to open, rather to feel the paper. Embossed and textured wrapping paper can be difficult to find, but there are many places online to order or Paper-Ya on Granville Island has a huge variety of wrapping papers.

This simple touch can make a great look for under the tree and for the person wrapping, it can make a tedious task a little more enjoyable.


Tasting good food can bring people together in a way that the other senses can only dream about. Hot soup can make a sick person feel better, ice cream on a summer day can help to cool down and chocolate around holiday time can make you forget that your in-laws are coming to visit for two weeks…for a little bit, at least. Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut has taken a centuries-old tradition and put a delicious twist on it with their chocolate Yule log.  Made out of chocolate and then filled with an array of delectable goodies that will not only satisfy a sweet-tooth but will add a festive twist to the table. And for those who want to try something new, try the truffle recipe listed below. The delicious spheres can be stacked in a pyramid formation, making a beautiful centerpiece at the dessert table.


When holiday songs first pop up on the radio, people turn up the dial when their favourite songs come on – some even sing along.

After the fourth week of hearing Mariah Carey say that all she wants for Christmas is you, the volume begins to decline and by the second week of December, it’s all news radio, all the time.

But that doesn’t have to happen this season. There are many artists who have recorded holiday albums that are not overplayed and overdone. Emmy-nominated composer and three-time Canadian Music Award winner John Lee Sanders has incorporated gospel aspects with blues and jazz to create a compilation of Christmas classics with a few of his originals.

One song in particular stands out, the album’s title track, Christmas with the King, which Sanders – a White Rock resident – wrote while driving to Kelowna from San Francisco using a tape recorder and the solitary hours he had on his trip. The song tells the story of a down-on-his-luck musician, stuck in a winter snowstorm in Tennessee, who is picked up by a black limo that takes him to Graceland to dine with the king, Elvis Presley.

Describing the idea behind the song as “It’s a Wonderful Life meets rock-and-roll fantasy,” Sanders said he did an arrangement in a style Elvis may have recorded in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s. Sanders made the move to White Rock in 2006 and when he is not touring, he is teaching piano and saxophone lessons at Tapestry Music, 1335 Johnston Rd. Sanders will be performing a Christmas Concert in White Rock on Dec. 16 at First United Church, 15385 Semiahmoo Ave. Christmas with The King is available on iTunes or can be purchased from his website,


There are some very distinctive smells associated with holiday time: cranberry, mint and pine are just a few that come to mind.  When decorating, it can be tricky finding a candle or soap that captures the exact scent you want in the home, but there is another option.

For those who have a creative itch or just want to try something new, there is an abundance of resources available to make homemade soaps and candles which can be tweaked to smell however you like.

And since so many people have caught on to the hobby, buying supplies for homemade soaps and candles has never been easier.  Voyageur Soap and Candle in Surrey (#14-19257 Enterprise Way) has an extensive inventory that can be viewed both online and in-store, plus a knowledgeable staff to answer any beginner’s questions.

Voyageur customer service manager and project guru, Tawnee Bell, had a few suggestions for those ready to try their hand at soap or candle-making for the holiday season.

According to Bell, the popularity of soy candles has grown increasingly over the past few years and as a safe and easy way to decorate the home and scent it with season fragrances. The candle recipe (online at is easily customizable with the use of fragrance oils, essential oils and candle dyes.


Just Posted

Most Read