By now, Christmas tree trimming is in full swing and stockings should be hanging by the chimney with care. It occurs to me that most people put up the exact same decorations in the exact same place every year. I even have a friend who positions her ornaments in the same place on the tree—yes, she’s in therapy, but my point stands. The only thing that changes in my holiday decorating is that a piece from the manger seems to go missing each year: I’m down to Joseph, a wise man and a couple of goats.

Well, bemoan your holiday decorating rut no more. Party planner extraordinaire and the Royal Wedding’s unexpected star, Pippa Middleton, has written a column for Party Times listing her top 10 ways to decorate a festive holiday house. Let me state for the record that it is quite clear Miss Middleton has neither children nor a budget, but perhaps we can glean some nuggets.

FIRST TIP: Light pathways and porches with tea lights, light sticks and fairy lights wrapped around tree trunks and branches. Hang a red berry wreath and place snowflake cutouts, reindeer and greenery around windows. Fill your front hall with cross-stitch paper chains and put twinkle lights around the fireplace. If you start right now, by the time you’re finished, your New Year’s Day visitors will be quite impressed, and your house will be seen from space.

NEXT ON THE LIST is sprucing up the tree. One of the ways to do this: edible ornaments like cookies and chocolates. Okay ma’am, let’s try this again. Tell me one more time how your Christmas tree fell over, trapping your two young sons beneath it? TIPS THREE AND FOUR are baking goodies and building a gingerbread house. Baking, yes, but if you’ve ever tried to build a gingerbread house, you realize rather quickly it’s a good thing you didn’t pursue your dream of becoming a contractor. Mine always look like they’re about to go over a cliff in a mudslide. The article encourages us to decorate a festive dinner table. Use holiday-themed tablecloths and placemats, fill glass bowls with peppermints and adorn your “seven-tiered cake stand” with an array of tasty treats. Sadly, I lent my seven-tiered cake stand to Marie Antoinette for a last-minute dessert buffet she was putting together at Versailles and never got it back.

NOW WE GET TO THE GOOD STUFF: winter brews. The article suggests hot chocolate, warm milk and mulled apple cider. Well, sorry but if you expect me to untangle the twinkle lights for tips one, two, five and seven, sister is going to need a cocktail. MY TIP: a lime wedge and a raspberry or two turn an ordinary gimlet into a festive Christmas libation.

The rest of the tips were mainly organizational—shop online, don’t wait until the 11th hour—but considering I sent a child to school last week in pajama bottoms, I may be a lost cause in that department. I think for the meantime, I will stick with my usual decorations and usual lights on my usual bushes. Of course, that’s assuming I can get them untangled.

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