Don't let the joy of the holidays get shuffled beneath a pile of presents to be wrapped. Be courteous to others while trapped in a sea of cars exiting a mall parking lot. Sip your peppermint mocha slowly to savor the flavor.
And visit with friends and family centered on the true meaning of the holidays - togetherness, goodwill, festive décor and loved ones.
Spend an afternoon at four Lake Oswego homes dressed for December. The 13th annual Holiday Home Tour - put on by the Lake Oswego Junior Women's Club - is set for Wednesday, Dec. 6, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The tour is a fundraiser for women's and children's charities in the greater Portland area.
'The people who go on the tour have a great time, and we make a great deal of money for our charities,' said Caroline Albertson, LOJWC president. 'My membership (with the LOJWC) has brought me in touch with a wide range of women in the community and surrounding area and really reminded me of what good we have in each of us and that together we can make a difference.'
This year, tour a stately riverfront home, an Old World European with a contemporary twist, a mid-century modern and a cottage along the shores of Oswego Lake.
Due to limited home accessibility and city parking regulations, guests on the tour are required to use the Home Tour Shuttle service. Locations and parking information is detailed on each ticket.
Down a windy road, past a vineyard and around a circular driveway sits a house on the corner of the world. Weaving details of metallic, wine and plenty of elbow room under one roof resulted in an estate fitting for entertainment of all kinds.
Home to Mike Erickson, the 11,000-square-foot abode overlooks the Willamette River and features game rooms, a home theater with tiered seating and plenty of seating.
The home combines masculine details with sultry surfaces and gold and black fabrics. Note the wrought iron railings with grape cluster details and two-story master bedroom with Sky Lounge.
A basement wine cellar boasts a grown-up Disneyland appearance - bumpy cave-like walls with protruding tree branches encircle a centered table, used for tastings. Glass lanterns illuminate an orange glow. And a skylight from within the caves peeks into the living room above.
Woven wood and metal form the backsplash in the kitchen and ceiling in a powder room. The pattern combines natural elements in the home - wood, stone, river rock - with iron and copper surfaces. Notice the pebbles, frozen within a countertop in a powder bathroom.
Wherever possible, balconies overlook panoramic views of the Willamette River, sandy beach, private vineyard, pool and hot tub.
In the forest glen
Nestled on a sloped lot overlooking a wooded backyard, the Newmans' home is also an entertainers dream. The home is bright with natural light which illuminates entertaining spaces indoors and outdoors on a wrap-around deck.
Mixing modern designs with an Old World European style, an elongated fireplace with a lion relief is the focal point in the living room. Above, circular chandeliers add ambiance to cozy seating around a grand piano.
Close-by, a media room displays old fashioned movie cameras and bright artwork above a checkered carpet. The cameras remind Shari Newman of her time working for Time Warner. A family member created the rustic cameras from steel.
Don't overlook the leather walls in the den, circular dining room table that twists to add or remove leafs, two-sided mural doors and secret door leading to a suite behind a bookshelf facade.
An artistic pallet
Sleek lines mesh with comfortable textures in the Meads' mid-century modern ranch. Chalkboard paint on doors allows room for messages and quotes. Katherine Mead - a graphic designer and artist - chose the pallet for the home, a blend of soft peaches and taupes.
Accent lights illuminate artwork, many pieces by Mead. Paper was decoupaged onto a cupboard in the dining room and used as a border in the kitchen.
Slip covers, decorative boxes and built-in cupboards allow for easy clean-up and artistic expression.
Don't forget to view the cabinet housing Kevin Mead's caffeinated collection of Illy espresso coffee cups.
Dave and Debbie Selby's 1919 cottage is located along Oswego shores and incorporates French country accents to a black, white and red color scheme in the living room. Beneath exposed beams, the room is cozy with oversized dark wood furniture and light walls.
A gourmet kitchen was added to overlook lake views and provide needed food preparation space. The addition blends seamlessly with the original structure and provides natural light to illuminate modern appliances - a built-in cappuccino maker - a farmhouse sink and butcher-block island.
Just beyond the kitchen, a covered outdoor porch features built-in heaters and lights.
The purpose of the LOJWC is to unite women of Lake Oswego, and promote their common interests in the civic, cultural, educational and social welfare of the community, according to the bylaws.
'The women in this organization are smart, capable and busy and they still find time to give to others whom they will never know. It really speaks volumes about the character of the women who join this organization,' said Albertson.
Since 1991, the club has raised more than $1.5 million for agencies in the Portland Metro area. Instead of the usual boutique this year, the LOJWC will hold a purse auction party in mid April.
'I've worked alongside people who are capable, generous, fun and incredibly committed to helping others,' said Ann Tucker, LOJWC 2006-2007 publicity chair. 'I've made friends I hope to be playing bridge with when I'm 80. My skill-set has improved and my family has learned new meanings for the word 'giving.''
Tickets are available for $30 each and are limited.
They may be purchased at the following Lake Oswego merchants: Accessories from the Heart, Andrews Fine Furniture Galleries, Buddies Flowers, Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce, Lambs Palisades Market, Oswego Lake Gallery, R. Blooms of Lake Oswego, the Grand Papery and Gifts, Westlake Gifts, Wizer's Oswego Foods and Wizer's Lake Grove Market. Tickets are also available for purchase in West Linn at Dragonfly Greetings and Gifts, West Linn Dance Center and Design Within Reach. Lucy at Bridgeport Village will also carry tickets.
For more information, visit the LOJWC Website at www.lojwc.org.