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Take Feng Shui Home for the Holidays
As you get ready for the holidays this year, try following a few Feng Shui tips to balance the energy in your home and create more good will toward men and women—and a lot more fun.
Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”) is the art and science of arranging your interior surroundings in harmony and balance with the natural world around you. Our surroundings have a powerful effect on what we attract into our lives. When the energy around us—called chi in Feng Shui—is blocked or unbalanced, our relationships, prosperity, and family harmony can be profoundly affected. Feng Shui changes work like acupuncture for your home, unblocking the flow of energy and making you feel more comfortable in your indoor environment.
Based on an ancient Chinese practice, modern Feng Shui offers common sense and real-world guidance for placing furniture and objects and for using color. And that is especially important during the holiday season, when we add new colors, shapes, aromas—and people—to our interior environment.
Feng Shui gives us advice for surviving the entertaining, decorating, and gift-giving that surround the holidays.
Holiday Entertaining: You Are What Your Eat
The holiday season kicks off with Thanksgiving, the ultimate food holiday. The colors, aromas, and tastes of food are strongly related to good Feng Shui. Here are a few tips to help you create a peaceful and harmonious turkey day:
- • Use your dining room often during Thanksgiving because it is considered a place of wealth in Feng Shui; this is not the time to wolf down leftovers while sitting in front of the TV.
- • Bring out the good stuff—the china, crystal, silver, and all the other pieces hiding in your cabinets and closets. What are you saving them for if not for the holidays?
- • Use a centerpiece of orange flowers to encourage conversation, or a display of fresh fruit and vegetables to symbolize good health and longevity.
- • Entertaining guests is associated with wealth, so hang a mirror that reflects your dining room table and you will symbolically double your wealth.
- • Place bowls of nuts, dried fruit, and candy throughout your gathering spaces, and pitchers of wine, sparkling cider or mineral water in a central location to represent the prosperity to continually feed guests.
In Feng Shui, we divide energy into yin (the dark, heavy side), and yang (the bright, lighter side). Since the winter months are the yin side of our energy, we need to balance this darker, lower, colder energy with strong yang energy in our food for the holidays. Cooked foods, spices, and hot foods such as chile peppers, ginger, and garlic, are the perfect yang choices for Thanksgiving. Foods like raw vegetables and fish are yin, and are better used in moderation during this period.
A round or oval table is best for Feng Shui-friendly dining. The absence of sharp corners and hard edges helps conversation flow freely, and keeps the energy flow gently through the room. If you do have a rectangular dining table, avoid seating your guests close to the pointed corners where they could feel uncomfortable during the meal.
If your family is prone to arguments, keep the yang energy to a minimum where you eat: invite an even number of guests, keep the lights low and soft, and decorate with soothing earth tones like orange, gold, green and brown. And be sure to keep shiny surfaces and sharp edges to a minimum—remove the knife from the table after the turkey is carved and you will avoid sharp words and arguments.
Holiday Decorating: You are What You See
What do the colors, shapes, and textures of your holiday decorations and lights say about you? In Feng Shui, we call these the colors and shapes The Five Elements. Each Element has distinctive colors and shapes, so the tones and hues you choose to decorate your holiday home have particular meaning.
For example, the traditional Christmas colors are a combination of the Fire Element (red) that represents passion and emotion; and the Wood Element (green) that represents growth and expansion. The triangular shape of your tree is a Fire Element shape—whether it is a traditional pine or an artificial tree. And when you light up your house and your trees, shrubs, or even the saguaro cactus on your lawn, you add additional Fire Element energy to warm the dark winter days and nights.
We can also use Feng Shui principle to help decide where to place your Christmas tree. In Feng Shui, we use a chart called a bagua to divide a room into nine equal areas, then locate furniture and objects in these areas according to their colors, shapes, and meaning (See The Bagua chart, below). To use this bagua mapping chart for your tree placement, stand at the main entrance to the room, draw the floor plan, then divide it into nine equal area.
The ideal place to locate the tree is either in the Power/Wealth or the Fame/Future areas of you home, because triangular shapes displayed in these areas bring passion and emotion into your life. Another good area for the tree is the Family/Community area, because when you display objects made of wood in this area they help connect you to friends and family.
If you place the tree in the Self/Career area, use blue lights and decorations and a blue/black patterned tree skirt to help bring water energy into balance.
If your tree must be in the Creativity/Children area, or in the Helpful People area, decorate with metal ornaments, tinsel, white lights, and a silver or gold accented tree skirt.
If your tree is in the Love/Relationship area or the Knowledge/Wisdom area, use ceramic ornaments, yellow and red lights, a red skirt, and skip the tinsel.
If you place the tree in the center of the room, known as the Grounding/Balance area, chose a yellow or gold tree skirt and a bright yellow star or golden angel at the top.
Wherever you place your tree, because the triangular shape of a Christmas tree is such a powerful Fire Element symbol, it is especially important to place it far away from seating areas to ensure that it does not ignite your relationships with friends and family.
Avoid overdoing the decorations. Many people think they have to put out all of their decorations, whether they like them or not, because of the emotional attachment to them. In Feng Shui we recommend that you surround yourself with only those objects you love, and holiday decorations are no exception. If you truly do not like an object, no matter who gave it to you or how long it has been in the family, it is best not to display it. Try varying the objects you display each year and you decorations will become more meaningful.
Even if you do not have a tree, bring a bit of nature indoors by displaying evergreen branches or poinsettias to counterbalance the winter darkness and limited light of these shorter days.
If you decorate for Hanukkah, choose the traditional colors of blue (Water Element) to make your holiday flow smoothly, and silver (Metal Element) for strength. The candles in the menorah will help to gather people together, so place it where you want to create a focal point and it will draw everyone a little closer for this festival of lights.
For New Year’s Eve, decorate with the Metal Element (gold and silver), which represents creativity and focus. These are the colors of valuable coins, so displaying shiny, metallic objects on New Year’s Eve symbolizes your intention to attract wealth in the coming year.
Holiday Gift Giving: You Are What You Give
A participant in one of my workshops asked about giving her mother a gift of a high-quality kitchen knife, since she knew her mother would never spend that much money on it for herself. She had heard enough in my lecture to be concerned about sharp edges and points.
Gifts of knives or anything with a cutting edge are considered Feng Shui no-no’s because they symbolically cut the relationship. Instead, I recommended that she give her mother a gift certificate and enclose a picture of the knife she wanted her to buy. She could also place the gift certificate in a red envelope, since in Feng Shui these represent honoring the recipient.
Here are the top six gifts to avoid during this holiday gift-giving season:
1. Sharp Objects. Never give knives, scissors, letter openers, or can openers as gifts since they represent cutting a relationship; if you are the recipient of any of these as a gift, hand over a coin to the giver to symbolize that you bought the object and restored the bond between you.
2. Empty Wallet. Avoid giving an empty wallet, purse, or briefcase; instead, fill it with dollar coins (or a $50 bill if you can afford it) to send the message that your gift will always be overflowing with wealth for the recipient.
3. Thorny Flowers and Plants. Never give cactus or other spiky plants, and avoid giving roses with the thorns still on the stem because they can pierce a relationship. If you receive roses, be sure to remove the thorns to symbolize a smooth romance.
4. Stunted Trees. Avoid giving Bonsai trees or other miniature plants since they represent stunted growth; instead, choose full, healthy plants with rounded leaves that symbolize prosperity and long life.
5. Clocks and Timepieces. Gifts that show the time symbolize a limited life span or stealing time from others; but because watches make such a good gift the modern Feng Shui application is to give a gift certificate and a picture of a watch so the recipient can choose his or her own timepiece.
6. Handkerchiefs. Avoid giving handkerchiefs because they symbolize wiping away tears and suggest that you expect the recipient to be doing a lot of crying in the future.
Re-gifting is Feng Shui-friendly because it removes things you do not want from your home and sends them to a place where they are welcome. Just be sure to avoid re-gifting if you have negative feelings about the gift or its original giver, since you might be passing along your negative thoughts to the next recipient.
Cleaning Up After the Holidays: You Are What You Keep
By the end of the holiday season you will probably be drowning in a sea of packing peanuts, boxes, and bows. Although you might be tempted to save them for next year, it is good Feng Shui to throw them out. They clutter your closets and cabinets and take up room that should be kept open for new, better things to flow into your life.
As you take down the tree and remove the ornaments, be sure to throw out any burnt out strings of lights, damaged ornaments, and holiday decorations that are so out of style you don’t use them anymore. Remember to scrape the candle wax off of the menorah.
Bring a little Feng Shui magic into your home this season and your holidays will sparkle with peace and harmony through the coming year.