Spruce up your table and let someone else do the cooking for the holiday season

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Does your holiday table for Thanksgiving or Christmas look rather bland with just the basics?

If you like to decorate your table during the holidays, experts say you should start with the centerpiece because it will really set the scene.

"The idea is make it wonderful and make it last.  I like to use faux candles.  They look so much more realistic than they use to and they're safe.  For Thanksgiving I'm make sure there are plenty of fall like items in my center-piece to go along with the candles and tree branches," said Lisa Schwier, owner of English Garden on Post Road.

Schwier loves holiday time.  At her shop on Post Road, it's virtually a winter wonderland.  Some customers go there just to feel like they are surrounded by Christmas.  Schwier starts to decorate right after Halloween.  If you want to decorate your holiday table, be smart about it. Choose the centerpiece for Thanksgiving and then think of ways to change it up for Christmas.

"You don't have to go get new candles, you don't have to get a new base, you don't have to get a tray. It's just your labor. There are many ways to do it, but I like to take out the items that are particular for Thanksgiving and then add in winter berries, a nice Christmas ribbon and carnations for color," said Schwier.

And if you re-use those expensive main parts, it will save you $75.  Just be sure to keep water in the tray or the tree branches or anything else that's alive will start to go bad before the holidays are over.  Aside from the centerpiece, here's something the folks at Market District in Carmel say will save you money and time for your holiday table.

"Holidays like Thanksgiving are important, so invest a little bit of extra time to be a list shopper.  You can still react and still have that impulse buy, but don't walk out of the store without some of the critical things that you need for a holiday meal," says Rick Hopkins, food and beverage director with Market District.

That's why they have a huge checklist that's in store that you can bring along as you fill up your cart.  It will help make sure you don’t forget what you came for.

And don't forget the small things!

"The fresh herbs are one of those things that make it feel like a chef really touched your meal, even if you only cook that one time a year," says Jennifer Bargisen, executive chef at Market District.

The chef says to be sure to use those herbs to finish your meal instead of cooking with them at the start.  If they are tossed into the mix too early, you won't get as much aroma or affect from your herbs.  Also, many stores like Market District now offer holiday meals ready to go.  You get the turkey or ham to start.

"Anything that you like is available. It comes with plenty of sides as well. It comes with all  the fixings to make a party for six to eight people come to life at a very reasonable price," says Hopkins.

Prices range from $50 to $120, with the ready-to-pick-up meals starting three days prior to Thanksgiving.  They last through the early afternoon on Thanksgiving Day for those who wait until the last minute. In case you don't have time to shop--or don't want to--they have curbside pickup and home delivery.

A final tip: once you're done, make ready-to-eat meals from the leftover holiday feast. You'll just need to something to store them in!

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