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Tips for last minute Diwali preparations

india Updated: Oct 16, 2009 18:33 IST

Hindustan Times
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Check, check, check. Are the crackers in? The sweets you need to give family and friends - are they all packed and ready? Ditto for gifts. Hopefully, the diyas have been soaked in water, and are ready for use. But if there is any last minute shopping you need to do, here are some final tips. Also, a few suggestions (very easy to implement) to give your home the warm, sparkling, festive look it needs for the big day.

Even if you end up running around the whole day, start winding down by the time it's early evening. Get ready in your most festive outfit (traditional clothes, please), light the diyas and candles, do your puja and take out the crackers (we vote for phuljaris, charkhis and anaars). If you're expecting people over for cards and dinner later, then make sure your packs of cards and counters are ready, along with the food. Above everything else, have fun and enjoy yourself!

Do up your house
Some quick, last minute, easy ways to do up your home tonight:

Clean up: Since you can't get your house whitewashed every Diwali, at least make sure all the corners are dusted, and your home is free of clutter.

Light the exterior of your home with mashals, suggests interior designer Sashwati Guptaa of Architect Consultants. "Mashals last longer and are low-maintenance." Pick ones with an aluminium or cane base.

Put up traditional torans at entrances to welcome Lakshmi into your home. Torans made of mango leaves and marigold flowers look lovely but don?t last very long. You could opt for cloth torans embellished with beads, sequins; mirror work, shells and coloured paper.

Give lamps a new lease of life by throwing brightly coloured dupattas on them.

Arrange the furniture of your living room to make cosy corners where people can sit in groups. Place floor cushions, Diwali goodies next to the seats so that your guests can easily sit in groups and play cards.

Place diyas at designated corners. Make rangolis.

Sweet temptation
Chocolates and wine may have become increasingly trendy, but nothing can beat traditional Indian mithai. Khoya burfi remains an eternal favourite, with different flavours, from chocolate to coconut. Says Bhushan Jain of Bengal Sweets in Bengali Market, "We give new shapes to mithai, like matkas or apples."

Small additions like anardanas, pistas, or tiny rasgullas are added as garnishing. Mithai must last during this season. That's why soan papri, soan halwa and Karachi halwa are ideal as gifts (between Rs 200-350 a kg.)

Mithai in decorative thalis is always a good bet (Rs 650-700 at Nathu's Sweets). As for that other favourite, dry fruits, buy wine glasses and fill them with nuts. Or stuff six juice glasses and jug with a variety of dry fruits.

Bought your gifts?
Diyas and candles: Nothing like giving friends and family decorative diyas in terracota, or even silver and brass. Many of the diyas are embellished with colourful stones or pearls. (And please use candles and diyas for your own home, don?t use electric lights). You can also pick up very pretty tea lights. Candles are lavishly decorated as well. Gold and silver were the hot colours for diyas and candles last year, this year the spotlight is on colour.

Gifting someone with just a Ganesha or both Lakshmi and Ganesha is considered auspicious. Choose from metal, glass, even crystal.

Chocolates are always welcome. Available in a variety of options like dark, bitter, filled with nuts or wine/liquor, buy them from leading hotels or good, stand-alone chocolate shops. And if you are calorie conscious, go for sugar free chocolates. In any case, there?s always good old mithai (see above).

Frankly, you can give whatever you like as a Diwali gift, whether it?s something for the home or a more personal gift (sarees and jewellery for women, for instance) or bottles of fine wine/whisky... Just let your imagination go!