Debbie Travis talks with Chatelaine

Listen to more of our interview with the design and TV star, plus get her top 10 survival tips

Travis chats with senior style editor Deborah Fulsang about why everyone hates her annual Christmas pudding!

Travis shares her easy ideas for personalized placeholders and quick crafts to occupy the kids.

Debbie Travis’s top 10 Christmas survival tips
Buy frames

“You can get miniature frames at a craft store, frame a fun picture of every family member and hang it on the tree, or use it as part of a Christmas-dinner place setting. The kids can get involved in the decorating. Even your grumpiest old aunt will love them.”

Invest in fire extinguishers

“I nearly burned my house down in the middle of Christmas dinner when I left candles on the living-room mantel. They ignited the Christmas cards and the tree was next. The upside was the kids thought the firefighters were part of the entertainment.”

Be aware of the timeline

“Knowing that a slew of guests is coming always kick-starts me into freshening up the house. Give yourself plenty of time. Remember everyone else is thinking the same thing, so orders are often delayed and tradespeople get very booked up.”

Check the bed

“If you have guests staying over, take a look at your bedding. I don’t mean your linens; I mean what lurks underneath or inside those pillow covers and duvets. When did you last replace your old pillows? It should be every six months. Yes, I can see you blushing.”

Make odd ornaments

“One of the most inexpensive and fun decorations is snowflakes made from pipe cleaners. Grab six white pipe cleaners, then take a seventh one and wrap it around the centre of the bunch. Now twist the ends out and there is your funky snowflake.”

Have a Boxing Day party

“My mother always had a Boxing Day open house and I’ve started doing that, and it’s a highlight. People are traipsing in, the booze is flowing and the stress is over. Boxing Day is perfect; by New Year’s, you’re fed up and you just want to go back to work.”

Send holiday cards

“Sending a card to someone you haven’t spoken to in years can rekindle or validate a friendship. I even give a card to my garbage collectors and they always seem thrilled. Though it might also be the bottles of Scotch I give them.”

Redo the powder room

“If you’re thinking of a little decorating for the holidays, try the powder room. Everyone takes a peek at it. Try an oversized wallpaper, spectacular in a tiny room, or a brilliant jewel-toned paint that you may be too nervous to use elsewhere.”

Buy Kraft paper

Wrapping paper is the biggest waste of money. The cheap stuff ends up in shreds before the big day and expensive sheets often cost more than the gift. I buy white kraft paper and dress it up with a red wax seal and a velvet ribbon.”


“There are so many organizations that are desperate for an extra pair of hands over this stressful time of year. Involve your kids in some form of volunteering that is age-appropriate and I can guarantee that you will cherish the holidays so much more.”