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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Economic Hardship Causes Families to "Celebrate Home" By Janet Davison

When I was a child growing up in Vacaville, my Dad, a self-employed contractor and the father of eight, had a fluctuating income. I remember times – especially around tax-time when my parents would call us all together, sit us on the couch and tell us it was “Nuts and Berries Time.” Having almond trees and blackberry bushes in our Chestnut Street backyard, we all knew that this meant that we needed to “tighten our belts, eat the food that was already in the cupboard, and pitch in together to save money” -- at least until after the taxes were paid. As kids, our contributions were no doubt small, but we felt the pride and satisfaction of joining together and being a part of the solution.

Today, there is similar trend on the rise where families are banding together to combat the challenging economic times. My 35-year career as a decorator has brought me into the living rooms of hundreds of Vacaville homes and given me a “front row seat” to observe families as they adapt to changes in the economy. When our country first started experiencing the problems associated with recession there was the typical stress that accompanies uncertainty, but as time goes by families are rising above the stress and creating their own “nuts and berries experience.”

From what I’ve observed, I really see a silver lining of optimism emerging. People are “settling into the economic situation” and are turning recovery into a positive process. Families are being brought closer together as they go “back to basics.” Family members are not just pitching in and cooperating, they are working together with a hardy resilience – intentionally doing things together and enjoying each other’s company.

Because staying home saves money, the place we call “home” is taking on a greater importance.The way I see it, there are three trends forming:

1. Families are enjoying spending time together
The evidence of families enjoying each other is spread across their dining room tables in the form of puzzles and board games. It is reported that the sale of games has increased during the recession. Families are watching movies together, cooking, shopping and eating together. With the release of Wii Fit®, some are even exercising together!

2. Home improvement and decorating are on the rise.
The physical condition of the home itself is taking on a greater importance. Rather than going on vacation or making big ticket purchases families are sprucing up the place where they spend their time together – their homes!

My partner, Jennifer Griswold, and I see this evidenced through our business, Cozy Chic Design & Home Staging®. While we offer a full range of decorating services, our most popular ones today center around “interior redesign” which is an thrifty way to help people bring life and excitement into the decorating they already have. The process, which can be done in as little as a “Power Hour” involvesboth of us using our trained eye and experience to reposition existing furniture and accessories, and suggest minimal purchases where necessary to create a whole new look on a very reasonable budget.

3. American families are doing more entertaining at home.
Inviting friends over has replaced “going out” as a form of entertainment. People have returned to playing cards and visiting together -- sharing everything from information about good buys they have found, to sales events, family stories and recipes.

Ironically, one industry that is feeling the reverse affects of the failing economy is the home party industry. With more and more people looking for second jobs to supplement their income, the home party industry is as strong as ever. Couple that with the fact that “shopping locally” through a home party representative is excellent way to support members of your local economy, and you may think twice about buying items through a “big box” store next time. Neil Offen, president of the Direct Sales Association reports that the “home party industry is flourishing as friends gather together in each others’ homes to fellowship, learn something new and shop together.”

Cozy Chic Design married decorating and entertaining together by creating our signature party-event, the “Home MakeOver Party.” After completing a redesign project” we invite the homeowner to host a Home MakeOver Party – providing her an entertaining format to unveil her newly decorated room at a party with her friends. By using an accessory product line from “Celebrating Home”® we are able to offer the homemaker the added money-saving benefit of receiving some of her decorating items for free. Created in March 2009, at the height of the recession, Celebrating Home® was built on the foundation of two industry icons, Home and Garden Party and Home Interiors and Gifts. It is the largest party-plan home d├ęcor company in the nation. Heather Chastain, president of Celebrating Home® says, “We share a passion for the home. We believe that the home is the center of family.”

Even though times are tough, the American can-do attitude is alive and well – and very evident in our Vacaville homes. Families and friends are coming together, caring about each other, getting back to basics and pitching in with a “nuts and berries attitude.”
There is a silver lining to this recession and you’ll begin to see it too, once you take the time to once again, “celebrate home.”

Janet Davison is the daughter of the late Ted Chancellor, former mayor of Vacaville. She is a co-owner of Cozy Chic Design and a Senior National Executive with Celebrating Home®

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