1) Spend a good part of your Diwali morning at a flower shop, buying flowers to adorn your house. The heady fragrance of the flowers will hold you under a spell. Buy flowers in dozens- the choicest roses, lilies, jasmines and string string them into garlands. It will lend a spiritual enchantment to the puja. Put some flowers in glasses, pen-stands, glasses or almost anything that would enhance the beauty of your house.
2) Get away on your own for gift shopping- and ask a stranger for help with the choosing. Before you know it, you will have made more new friends in a few hours than you can count on both hands.
3) Lend a festive and an ethnic touch to your dresses. To really stand out, layer your chikan kameez with zari-bordered silk dupatta instead. You can also wear a delicate chikan top and add a brocade jacket or tote.
4) Add your own signature motif to all the gifts going out from your family this year. Choose a relevant motif-perhaps a peacock feather for color and good luck.
5) Make Diwali bonfires your reason to make sunset-viewing mandatory for the whole family. Everyone has to be on the terrace, on time- no excuses allowed. Bring up tea, snacks and sherbet on trays, or make a picnic of it.
6) Who says mehendi is for just weddings? Using this beautiful body art to accentuate party outfits- a pretty paisley (it need not be elaborate) instantly puts you in the celebratory mood. You can also throw a "mehendi afternoon" for friends. Sit out in the sun with spicy munches and tangy drinks.
7) Hang up a bell at the entrance to your house. Let the visitors ring it instead of the electric door-chime. The naturally melodious tone gives every arrival that "puja-festive" feeling.
8) Rangoli is the ritual that people like to follow, but find cumbersome. For a simple version, soak rice in different colors overnight; dry in sun the next day. Trace the design with wet chalk and simply fill in colored rice.
9) Go for marigold this year. Dress up your home in gold and green (money plants for luck). String curtain rings, hang from ceilings and wreath lights.
10) A creative way of keeping the enthusiastic youngsters away from mischiefs is to draw Lakshmi's feet in sindoor mixed in a little milk. Let them follow her footsteps up stairs and all over the home, starting at the front door and meandering off to visit each room in turn.
11) To all those people you do business with, to the parents of your children's friend, to your beautician, to your family doctor and your vet, send out a bottle of wine or a non-alcoholic sparkling drink.
12) Instead of the mandatory nut-and -dried-fruit, why not gift family, friends, neighbors a pretty tray of spices this year? Order superior quality cardamom, vanilla and pepper online. Arrange in a pretty tray or tie in a bundle with a ribbon bow; seal with cling-wrap to give away. If you can add more exotic aromatics and make a really large box of it, why not get them all arrayed in a lightweight custom-made tray with a fitted glass cover? That way, your friends and relatives have the option of proudly framing it to hang up above their dining table for extra savor at meal times.
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