Many of you long-time readers may have already realized, but Laurel never posts anything about her own Christmas decorating.
Let me show you how I normally decorate for Christmas.
Seven years ago, when in Boston. Yes, Boston, I bought these two darling little glittery faux trees at Allandale Farm, where my son worked.
When it’s not Christmas, they resided in the Donald Cabinet that blessedly I did not have to deal with when I moved.
Therefore, Christmas decorating for me takes all of 30 seconds. Done. Now I can go and watch ballet on youtube. :]
Oh, wait. One year, back in 2015, I did decorate for Christmas. I went to Home Goods and a florist for some lovely plants that all died by the first week in January. And, that is also when I got Joe at Trader Joe’s, as well as his late twin brother who has no name because he didn’t live long enough.
As an aside, Joe isn’t doing too well. I could use some help there, too. It’s been happening ever since he was transplanted last April. The tips of his branches keep turning brown. I’ve trimmed them twice, but they need trimming again. I have changed his watering habits from every day to weekly. But, I give him a good soaking and then let him drain in the sink.
Okay, back to Christmas decorating.
Christmas is a loaded word for me. But, please, I am not going to delve deeply into it. And, I would prefer that you don’t either. Here, that is.
The problem has always been that I was raised in the Jewish faith.
To a degree.
I mean, it was southern Indiana in the 60s, and our rabbi moonlighted at the Unitarian Church. Okay?
Now, this is where I’m going to stop.
However, I need to mention this, because the last time I wrote about Christmas decorating, a woman drilled a hole into my soul that I’ll never forget. I can’t even repeat what she said; it was so horrible.
Anyway, I have always loved Christmas. And, so does my big sister, HOLLY. She has turned Christmas decorating into an art form.
So, what’s my point?
Well, ever since I left my wasband in December 2012, I’ve wanted to have a Christmas party. But, like my move to Boston, my exodus to Bronxville was right before Christmas; so of course, that wasn’t happening.
The following year, I had found out only weeks before that my BFF had terminal stage four lung cancer. In grotesque understatement, there certainly wasn’t a party that year, either. The year after that, Elaine was in her final weeks. And, then, it just never happened.
But, during that horrible fall of 2013, for therapy, I did this post about 22 magical Christmas trees.
And, also this post about Magical Christmas Decor. Some of my all-time favorite mantels are here.
In addition, I also made a little slide video playing Jesu of Man’s Desiring to accompany it.
You can see the video above or on my lonely little Youtube Channel. Ack, apologies for the strange little videos starring me when apparently, I was on a day pass from Bellevue. (psyche ward)
Okay, I promise to stop rambling and get to the point.
Ever since I moved into my Boston apartment, it feels like I’m about to have a party, and the guest of honor will be Thomas Jefferson. lol My living room is so grand and spacious. Well, I mentioned the idea to a couple of my girlfriends, about three weeks ago, and before I knew it, it was happening.
I’m having a Christmas Party on December 9th for a group of women who call themselves The Chestnuts. The Chesnuts began as an off-shoot of the Beacon Hill Women’s Forum but are now separate. Both are social groups.
What do you have to do to be a Chestnut in Boston?
Well, you have to know and be invited by at least one other Chestnut, and you have to be over 50.
Above is a cake I made (yes, with homemade whipped cream too!) for a Chestnuts event about two weeks ago. The theme was beans and grains, and I figured no one would make a dessert. (Yes, two others did as those are black bean brownies!) So, I made a gluten-free polenta, almond cake with a few dried cherries. I modified it a little from a recipe by Giada DiLaurentis.
I’ll tell you. This move to Boston has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
Seriously. It’s like being back in college. Actually, I didn’t have that full-fledged college experience either. But, now I do! There are so many activities, parties, lunch, brunch, dinner, coffee, book clubs, walks, forums, field trips, tours… I can’t possibly do everything. However, this is what I’ve been longing for my entire life!
Tomorrow, there’s a Chestnuts’ lunch and Thursday evening is a Chestnuts’ house party.
In five weeks, it’ll be one year since I moved here, and when I’m not falling on my face, I’m still pinching myself at my good fortune.
Okay, back to the Christmas party and Christmas decorating.
I thought it would be fun to tell you what I’ve done so far. And then, I think it would be fun to hear what y’all do for the holidays.
That can be anything from a tradition you do every year. Or, if you’d like to share a recipe for something insanely good, I think that would be fun, too.
I have fantasies about making something like this.
Haha! What is that?
C’est une croquembouche and on top of something else, equally decadent. I could definitely eat the entire thing myself. Yes, they are cream puffs. But, you could fill them with whatever you like. Traditionally, it’s vanilla custard.
My problem is that I have such a poorly appointed home. I’m serious. I live like a woman who just graduated college.
Okay, yes; it’s an exaggeration as it doesn’t seem that way. But, in terms of cooking and gadgets, I’m faking it. I spent at least 100 dollars making that cake because I didn’t have the proper cake pans. (I needed them for the extra cake.) ;]
Now, Lisa and Wendy, my two buddies who immediately took me under their wings when I moved here, have promised to help with the Christmas decorating for the party. But, they’re busy too! Plus, I want this to be memorable.
Maybe not quite Babette’s Feast memorable, haha, but this is going to be very special for me!
Therefore, the first issue at hand, before we get into the pretty stuff is my dining table.
The table comprised of two demilune tables is kind of small. And, I’d really like to get six around it. So, to make that happen, I got a 48″ round table pad. The demilunes are a little smaller at 42″ wide. So, that means a gap in the middle and a small cantilever past the edge of the table.
I pushed the pad apart so that you can see what’s going on underneath. You can get extra-strong pads, but they weigh a ton. No, wait. They really weigh two tons, and these are much easier to manage. Plus, since they are only cantilevering 3″ all the way around, I think it’ll be fine. And, yes, I will use some museum putty to keep the pads from moving.
Now, with the new pad, the table VERY comfortably seats six.
The pad comes in two pieces, but there are magnets that hold the two ends together. Brilliant!
Above and below, two more images of the dining area with my ridiculously huuuuuuuge windows that I adore.
Yes, there are two new tables. And, yes, there are two pairs. I’m working it out. But, whatever stays upstairs, I think, will look better painted. The other table will go downstairs to my bedroom. And the current bedroom tables will go to the den.
I’m awaiting the new lampshades for the yellow lamps. But, I’ve already received two darling finials.
Sunday, I spent nearly the entire day obsessing about what I would wear.
Finally, I settled on this dress.
Oh, I just love the reindeer! They look so happy! Wait until you see my headband—no fair looking ahead. ;] But, I also bought a huge ruffly petticoat so that I will be very swishy as I glide through the room.
Now for the table cloth.
As most of you know, I’m not terribly big on red. Although, I’ve done at least 8 red rooms for clients. I like red for other people. lol
And then, I found my tablecloth—the one.
But, the one does not come in a round shape; it’s square. Drat.
Alas, I’m not too fond of a square over a round table. But, they also have a runner.
So, I got the runner and then found a beautiful plain linen cloth to go underneath the runner.
Giardino Naturel Prewashed – runner
I’m not linking here in the interest of time, but if you click on the image in the widget, at the bottom of the page, you can get more information. You’ll also find the plain, round tablecloth.
fresh cedar garland-photo: Erica George Dines via Southern Living
This is such a pretty Christmas decorating look.
However, I’m noticing a lot of asymmetrical garlands on fireplace mantels.
What do I think?
For the most part, I think they look like someone ran out of money and couldn’t finish it.
Let’s take a quick break for a little Christmas decorating inspiration!
I love the simplicity of this faux eucalyptus branch with the tiny fairy lights. The link will be below.
Oh, I could see my living room looking like this. However, I would need a crew of about six burly guys. That would be fun. ;]
It ain’t happenin’.
Just a few more inspiration Christmas Decorating images.
Photo – Annie Schlecter Country Living- Nora Murphy My Connecticut Country Home
I’ve always loved Bailey Quinn’s (McCarthy) decorating. She’s the owner of Biscuit Home.
Okay, it’s time for the widget.
Here, I’ve linked to over 30 items. I want all of them. Some of them I’ve already ordered. I also tried to find some lower-cost items that don’t look cheap. Please click on any image for more information.
Alright, that’s a wrap of Christmas decorating, for now.
Can you tell I’m a little excited about my party?
The next time I have a holiday party, this place has to have gone through its renovation. Therefore, I need to keep going with that.
Please be sure to share a Christmas decorating tradition or recipe, if you like. (It’s several hours after publishing. I forgot to say to please avoid commenting with any links. I have to approve them manually. Much appreciated.)
PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES
And, the Laurel Home HOLIDAY SHOP for 2021!
You are not alone with not liking red at Christmas! I can deal with small amounts of it, but really prefer pink-red.
Growing up, most of our ornaments were bought in the sixties and they were colors like pale green, blue, pink, silver, and gold. Happy colors. That’s still my favorite color scheme.
Last year, or the “Covid Christmas” I was not able to host our big family Christmas gathering at our farm. Instead of the usual big Christmas tree, I had two small flocked trees up on either side of my mantle. They had their own white lights and looked beautiful. That year, I had seen a beautiful fox on the side of the road that had been hit and killed. After checking with my vet to make sure I would be safe, I picked him up and took him to a taxidermist who did a beautiful job with him in an elegant seated pose. The fox went up on my mantle and that started the theme of a woodland winter mantle with garlands of farm greenery and berries, and a faux pheasant as well. It actually ended up being one of my favorite mantle decorations of all times. It also was soothing in that very very strange Christmas year.
Late to reading this but thoroughly enjoyed and can relate. I had a Jewish step-father who did not mind celebrating Christmas,but he refused to observe Easter. I think it was the rising of the dead to heaven.
Hope I can find a recipe for your Polenta almond cake. Happy Thanksgiving!
Gl, Thanks as always for your delightful comment!
Dang, I should’ve ignored the e and realized with all of those balls that croquembouche is a masculine “un”. hahaha
I used to decorate my tree with star ornaments in bright pink, green, turquoise, purple and silver. But one day I saw a basket full of large mercury glass pumpkins and bought a dozen. So for the past 5 years I have had an artificial, rather narrow pre-lit tree in a cachepot. It has pinecones and glitter that I sweep up for weeks after and the pumpkins make it so pretty! I use a Mackenzie -Child’s checkered ribbon for a garland every time I look at it, it makes me so happy.
I also dislike red and use one of my greener April Cornell tablecloths with a runner with lots of color on a black blackground. I have working hearths and do not put real greenery around my woodstoves, but I have a few trees like your little ones that I find spots for. I have a really difficult time putting my tree away.
This is totally FUNNY~!!! You should do stand-up…well, i have not watched you on U-Tube yet, but we need you to do stand-up. no one will put a fireplace in my home and i have no idea why i’m being tortured. i’m only 1/2 jewish…but…my name is CAROL. if HOLLY is still alive, have her email me. i found those glass fireplaces and they’re only 3K so that’s it, right? Hohoho…xoxo Carol
I think you will have a wonderful party! Love your dress and the table runner! We like to decorate with mostly natural pine boughs, fresh tree and giant pinecones ( that I ordered online). I am definitely going to add the fairy lights! My Grandchildren say our Christmas is magical. My sister-in-law has a set of the 12 days of Christmas balls. We pick one out of a bag, group with a few others and have to sing our part. We all sing “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me”…and then whoever has the first ball has to sing their part. As it goes along we forget when it is our turn, sometimes change the words, and laugh our heads off! So much fun!
Just to tell you that you can buy those pastry balls at Costco in Canada for the Croque en Bouche. If they have them in Canada, I’m sure they have them in the USA. I think they are filled with ice cream though so you may have to assemble then freeze. Or maybe a bakery near you makes them filled with cream. Here’s a link to a picture and instructions to make a Croque en Bouche.
Might need to practice making it first…in all your free time, haha.
After so many years of thoroughly enjoying your posts, I just HAD to watch the little YouTube videos so I could hear your voice! LOL….love you, and hope your holidays are magical!
OMG Laurel- Did you grow up in Bloomington? I can’t think of another place in southern Indiana where there would be both a Synagogue and a Unitarian Church! I lived in Bloomington for a short time and my daughter went to IU.
It’s wonderful that Boston is turning out to be just your cup of tea Laurel! You Chestnut girls sound like a lot of fun.
We have a 6 foot artificial tree that I decorated with berry garlands and lights. Very pretty and natural looking. We wrap it in clear plastic and store it whole in the basement. Also – for those who find the scent of paperwhites overwhelming, but love the look: This year I found “Inbal” paperwhites, which are said to have much less scent. I ordered them from Terra Ceia Farms. It takes 3-6 for them to bloom, so we shall see.
I so enjoy your emails. They are informative and have great photos. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas celebration. For the person who was rude to you about being Jewish and celebrating Christmas, they should remember that Jesus told us to love one another. We, your readers, love you.
For me, NO GLITTER thank you very much. And make sure your decorations are kid-safe and pet-safe. Scour the thrift stores for decorations and save a bundle of money. I got some Christmas mice that in the catalog were set of three for 40 bucks. Got them at the thrift store for three dollars each.
Target has the white ceramic houses and they aren’t expensive (5 ea) and some of them even come two in a pack. I also think they look pretty good compared to some other more expensive ones I have seen. You can get a total of 7 different houses for $20-$30.
Delighted to hear about your full schedule socializing with the Chestnuts. You will be so adorable and lovely in your holiday finery and your home will be exquisite. Love all the decor you have chosen for your party. All the greenery, lights and that runner will be grand in your home. Have fun!
SOOOO happy for you Laurel that you love Boston and are having the time of your life! You sound wonderful and I adore your dress, headpiece and table runner! BRAVA!! xo
One other advantage to decorating in green & white colors with gold or silver accents (rather than red and green): you can decorate ONCE– before Thanksgiving– and leave the decorations up through New Year’s! (Helps to use fake greens for this rather than real greens.) It’s fun to decorate– but once a season is enough for me. I have better things to do with my time!
Laurel, I am SO happy to see you settling in your new home and making new friends. Your dress is absolutely stunning! It will look wonderful on you.
We all have different ideas for decorating. I’d love to see a complilation of them from your readers.
My family lost old, treasured decorations in a house fire years ago. My husband and I also lost treasured decorations when they were stolen from our storage building. This year, we are trying some different tweaks.
PLEASE could we ask Patti from NC (my home state!) to show us pictures of her aqua room? I love those colors and am SO curious to see her room!
The dress is divine! Have a wonderful party with your new friends! And thank you for inspiring me with every post.
One solution to the Christmas dilemma for non-Christians is to celebrate Yule (or ”Jul”) as they so in Scandinavia- no specific religion required. And the decorations are just the best – very natural, evergreens, ornaments made of straw, lots of candles and the colors red and white. Lovely!
So happy to hear of these positive things happening for you! It’s about time! The “Chestnuts” sound like a bunch of fun and clever girls. This party is going to be unforgettable and you in that dress will be the belle of the ball. You mustn’t mention where one could purchase this dress, or there will be thousands wearing exactly what you wore, then it wouldn’t be so special, you see. I love Ms. Skidmore’s thought on wreaths for the windows. I was thinking the same thing only one wreath on the wall in between the windows. The gorgeous Mercury glass ornaments would look dazzling hung from the garland and string of lights on the fireplace. As I looked at your table set up, I imagined the table dressed in it’s new cloth and runner and thought wouldn’t those chairs look smart if they were donning tartan, navy blue, or dark green thick ribbon just wrapped around the back and tied in a bow.? I also love the look of those candles in people’s windows. Gives the home a warm welcoming feeling for sure.
No matter what the decor, you will dazzle with your radiant smile and delight with your hilarious stories. And that’s what your guests will take away with them. They will be full of good food and Holiday cheer!
All the Best to You Laurel
Laurel, as a retired florist, I have to say that decorating your fab home for Christmas would be a dream! Those windows are crying out for wreaths on fat velvet ribbon, as others have mentioned.Do you have an opportunity to decorate outside? If so, please check out the Dirt Simple blog, by Deborah Silver, a landscape designer in the Detroit area. She has magnificent “light rings” which are perfectly simple and, perfectly beautiful. They can be used in the ground, in window boxes and containers. I have my ring in a large (4ft. tall, 25in. diameter) ceramic pot. I decorate my house, inside and out and, change it up every year. If you are looking for the easiest appetizer, I suggest hot pepper jelly, poured over cream cheese or, goat cheese, served with Ritz crackers. This is always a big hit and takes two minutes. I, also, enlarge my 52″ dining table slightly with a version of the pads you have. Instead of museum putty, I use a thin rug pad, cut to size. This may not be worth it, if using the demi-lunes is a one time thing. However, if you anticipate using them this way more than once, it would definitely be worth it, for peace of mind. Before doing this, I would have pictures in my mind of a dinner guest with soup in her lap because the pad shifted, LOL! I love that your move to Boston is working out so well! Happy Holidays!
What a visual feast! I love Christmas decorations. Mine are mostly “homey” things that we’ve had for decades. But I’d love to have something more sophisticated; I just don’t want to spend the money! I really want the recipe for your gluten free almond cake! Please, please consider sharing it with us! :]
Lovely posting, have a great party! I don’t remember what type of plant or family that Joe belongs to, would you post a close up picture? Alot of plants are sensitive to municipal water supply chemicals (like floride). Fill your watering pitcher with water and let it sit for 24 hours so the chemicals evaporate. Be certain after watering the pot drains the excess water into the sink, some roots get waterlogged easily and turn the leaves brown. I am looking forward to seeing the Xmas dress ensemble.
What a great post! No source for the fab green dress??
That’s exactly what I was thinking for those beautiful windows. 2…or even 3 wreaths on velvet ribbon would look dynamite.
Hi Laurel, what a great post! Could you share the source for the table pads? Have a very blessed Thanksgiving!
Love this post!
I, too, am Jewish and I’d love to see a blue and white Chanukkah bush 😉 and decorations!! LOL
Good luck with your party. I’m sure it will be wonderful.
-How nice to find a kindred soul who also dislikes all the RED of holiday décor! I love mixing shades of greens, and keeping holiday décor on the more minimal side, too. A bit more complicated since I discovered it was the Christmas tree & real greens inside that were giving me allergies . . . but I’m thankful for the improved quality of fake greens (and thank you for the suggested items in the widget).
-Since 2020 fall, I’ve begun to put the cordless LED candles in the front windows starting when daylight savings time ends, rather than waiting for Christmas– I really enjoy the cozy feeling they create from outside and inside. (Hammacher Schlemmer has some very nice ones with sturdier bases that go on automatically.)
-About poor old JOE: maybe it’s the lack of humidity inside that’s turning his leaves brown? I used to have this problem when I lived in New England, too. Try setting his pot on top of a tray filled with gravel and a little water in the bottom of the tray.
-Enjoy your new group of girlfriends and the party!
Beautiful ideas. I have to applaud your success in finding new friends. I have recently moved to the Phila suburbs and have not been as successful, mostly due to Covid, I think. I think a great Chestnut group could be formed from some of your readers! They sound like fun. Anyone from Valley Forge PA area here?
Hi Laurel…Look at you! Getting all fabulous in your new life – an inspiration for sure. Just wanted to suggest something here – could you hang two wreaths on those HUGE windows? Some wide velvet ribbon, maybe in the dusty blue from the runner to hang with? Those windows are the focal point in that room. Everything about your plans is exquisite! (Can’t wait to see that kitchen!) Enjoy your party! With love from Jersey.
I’m spending a luxurious morning in bed with my cat and my coffee, after a long haul of gardening yesterday. This is such a fun post to read and shop from. Oh my! I love your dress. I do hope you’ll wear the reindeer headband with it—at least for greeting your guests—or one of her marvelous wrist corsages. Demi lune table hack—brilliant! Gold, green and cream color scheme—gorgeous. One of my favorites. My favorite Christmas ritual is hosting an annual “Stitch n Bitch” gathering for women friends to come over for an afternoon of wine, appetizers, talking and working on any sewing, knitting, art, craft projects desired. I always have a tree, decorated with over 100 tatted snowflakes that I’ve collected over the years. I vary the lights on the tree—last year I used red and white rose shaped lights. This year I will use clip-on remote controlled candles. I put single cordless candles in all the windows—these I leave up until the equinox. Hang a small collection of wreaths, always with a fresh one as well, in the combined living room/dining room area. Dress the table throughout December using different arrangements of table clothes and candles. Before mailing, I put wrapped presents under the tree (this year I may just mail them since transit times are so prolonged.) I like to switch it up. Have a blast at your party and enjoy the process.
Thank you for sharing your love of Christmas! The Chestnuts might have already suggested two churches nearby with fabulous music, Church of the Advent on Brimmer St. and Trinity.
Now for a secret! Costco has frozen cream puffs! Instant croquembouche! Just stick them together and viola! French hostess extraordinaire!
Love the tablecloth! I also love to use fresh garland as well as plants with the tiny lights for sparkle. Then after Christmas there is less to store and you are free to choose something different the next year.
My Christmas decor is a single white beaded snowflake ornament that is hung on my front door. We are so much alike! Hahahaa…
This post was a feast. My favorite mantel is Annie Schlecter’s. Who can resist the birds nests?? And those tartan stockings?
I had the pleasure of decorating a Christmas tree once for a client’s grandchildren. They were Jewish, but her grandchildren were Christians. They were out of town, so I got free reign to be creative. Woot!
I chose an African safari theme, with hand-sized plastic giraffes, tigers, zebras, etc that I attached to the limbs with pipe cleaners.
I also added icicle-shaped paper containers that held hidden candy.
And I finished it all off with extra-wide red and burlap ribbon and twinkle lights of course! I so wish I still had those photos…they got lost in a computer crash, darn it.
Thanks for getting me into the spirit of the season, Laurel. I’m probably going to purchase one of those cute deer headbands.
Healing hugs to Joe.
Especially love the tablecloth! Ordered it. Hope you get some compensation for it! Put it in the party fund.
Hi Mary E. – I empathize with your limbo statues. I’ll share that in my most difficult year (2010) I forfeited holiday decorating and just about everything else. However, one day I was in Rite Aid and saw this 2 foot white, terribly fake, Christmas Tree. It spoke to me. I added a string of red lights (which turned it pink at night) and it gave me such joy, comfort and peace and I was amazed. My wish for you is that one thing speaks to you this season and you find yourself peaceful.
Love the dress and headband!!!
Up until a few years ago I always hosted @ 20 women business owners for the holiday. This group of women in my 50s-60s were wonderful company and inspiration. Now, with pandemic and starting my 70s (and still working as a full time designer) I find it a bit tiring to decorate the entire house, etc. Simplicity is the name of the game here. I recommend you add anything you love – especially any of the first 13 pics – and utilize mini lights and candles (we all look wonderful in hazy light, don’t we). I have found that using garland w/wo lights gives the most bang for the buck. Also a very skinny corner tree (lightly flocked?) is marvelous and easy to handle. As for an asymmetrical mantle or hearth – I have successfully created beautiful designs by using the same shapes, albeit different flowers/ceramics etc. So, although not matchy-matchy there is a similarity in the shapes/sizes/theme. Two items I suggest considering – something lighted and sparkle in the bathroom and kitchen – even if its just a bit of garland or a mini-sparkling tree. And lastly consider tucking a bit of
tiny red berries (like you see in holly) in some of the greenery as a finishing nod to Christmas.
I cannot wait to see what your final designs look like. Thank you for reading.
Always love your blog…and humor! On tablecloths, for holiday company I add DR table leaves and it becomes 97″ x 54″. A few years ago, I purchased a beautiful x-large table cloth (Italian linen) from Williams-Sonoma, with a print I love. However, I’ve only used it a few times because it is such a bugger to iron!! Recently I purchased 2 fleece throws from Amazon and used them as a tablecloth, overlapping them, which wasn’t noticeable. (Throws: Arus Highlands Collection Tartan Plaid Design Throw Blanket Olive 60″ X 80″…$28.99 / There is a number of colors/designs.) What an incredible difference in ironing and expect washing as well. Now ordering tartan plaid cloth napkins, also found on Amazon. It’s so easy & manageable that I am considering cutting my x-large table cloth into 2 pcs. to actually use it again. With it’s print, a seem wouldn’t be noticeable either.
On another note, I mentioned the huge (88″ x 51″) DIY antiqued mirror I was working on. It came out great; what a WOW factor in my DR. Highly recommend to considering trying antiquing mirrors, or even plain glass works, with the addition of mirror spray paint. It was actually quite easy, and where buying antiqued mirrors would have cost between $85 & $130 each, making the cost between $1,500 & $3,000…supplying my own frame (free on Craigslist). I ordered 5 sets of 14″x14″ mirrors…of course from Amazon for a total of $145. Supporting wood, brackets & adhesive came to less than $50, for a total cost of $200ish. I’d send photo with mirror and throw tablecloth, but not sure how to do that, if possible at all.
Lastly, Thank You, Thank You for all your wonderful advice & inspiration. Have a beautiful, blessed first Thanksgiving in your new home. Warmly, Sheila
So glad you’re having a party because having taken this big step of moving to Boston and coming into this new, expansive part of your life, is reason to celebrate! So glad all that Boston has to offer in terms of culture and friendship has found you and is enriching your life, you deserve every wonderful thing. I just want to say I am Jewish (Observant!) and LOVE Christmas for the beauty and often buy merchandise meant for Christmas to decorate and celebrate the winter season. It so enhances my quality of life. I love using the new type of lights, put into beautiful lanterns and containers, (esp those with timers!!!) to bring light into my home when its do dark for so many hours. I also have integrated many fall, winter items into the Jewish holidays esp my Sukkah for fall entertaining outside. The Chestnuts sound like the greatest thing since Ice Cream. Enjoy Enjoy and I can’t wait to see how your renovation moves ahead. WIshing you health, joy and Peace ALWAYS.
Sometimes, all of the food is so heavy/rich. I sometimes like to make Pavlova (a meringue with whipped cream and fruit on top). Kiwi and raspberries are great for Christmas. For a small group, you can make a small one to cut like a pie, or individual-size.
Thanks for such a festive post! I’m ready to celebrate Thanksgiving after a long, hard slog in life ( too many funerals, for sure). And then Advent season for us, with Christmas at the end! We have some promising young male voices in our family, so I’m going to see if we can learn some carols in parts this year.
Ever since I got married and moved South, all my traditions were turned upside-down by the parties where you can’t have a holiday dance with candles bc it’s too hot…so we turn on the AC on Christmas Eve! But one year we ate Christmas dinner by the campfire and sang carols…that was fun!
The one thing we have done every year pretty consistently is stuffed blueberry cream cheese French toast…very delicious! I make it for our family, and friends from church and deliver it at our Christmas Eve service so they can enjoy it for Christmas morning. My mom used to make homemade puff pastry for Christmas morning, so this is my nod to that tradition.
I hope you have a delightful party, and make many wonderful memories, and perhaps launch a new tradition!
You have already decorated your home with your lovely new friends. Nothing you might buy will shine as brightly as their smiles around your table. Enjoy these holiday treasures.
I have this Giardino tablecloth which just arrived. It is even more beautiful in person. The runner will be gorgeous. I think you need the Frontgate ornaments too!
Adore your beautiful spirit and thank you for sharing your joy with us! My family has always had a live tree. The ornaments are not coordinated but made over the years at school or home, or bought on trips; we have a large snow white winter owl with a gold crown that sits atop. For the last 8 years or so we have had very large, free range trees (we chip, chop and recycle for bird habitat afterwards). My husbands refusal that it will fit on the car, or down the stairs while my daughter and I jump up and down in excitement is definitely part of the tradition! I love real greens of all kinds and white flowers with gold, silver, crystal and warm candle light or lights. I’m intrigued with some of the audacious asymmetrical mantels- the ones with movement upward as well. Seems like lots of outdoor collecting, skill and budget to pull those off (would be fun to try one year)!
I can’t believe it’s almost been a Year! I am so happy that you have immersed yourself so enthusiastically to all of the fun options this little “town” has to offer. You have the perfect space for entertaining! Enjoy your party and we will celebrate your one year anniversary!
Thanks so much, Maureen! For anyone reading this, Maureen is my wonderful realtor who talked me down from the ceiling when my mortgage company was giving me angst.
Dear Laurel, what a beautiful post! I’m so glad Boston has turned out so well for you. I spied your two new end tables. They are lovely. I have to comment on your fabulous Christmas dress. It is just terrific! You should wear it every Christmas from now on. I hope you will post a photo of yourself wearing it. The Chestnuts group sounds wonderful. All the best to you and hope you have the best holiday season ever.
Loveeee…..the chosen dress for your special upcoming party. You definitely have exquisite taste and enjoying your post so much….do I dare ask?????…but must for curiosity only where or where did you find the DRESS?………no source was mentioned that I spied🤔
Saying……”Yes to the Dress”…..enjoy your holidays and party
I’m quite delinquent in my comment reading this week. However, my sister clued me in that people want to know about the dress. The reason I didn’t put in the source is because the dress is ridiculously cheap. But, here it is.
Thank you for this timely post! I just redid my living room in aqua with navy, green and white accents so the simple greenery is the way I want to go this year. We go to the mountains to cut our tree and use some of the greenery for the mantle (I keep my usual mantle decor and put the greens around it). I have heard that Lowe’s has greenery free (cut from their trees) if you don’t have access to it. I also want to incorporate my grandmother’s ornaments that are vintage so may pile them in a bowl or find a small tree. I also have some crystal Christmas trees to add. My husband and I come from Winston-Salem, a Moravian founded town, so we also include Moravian stars and candles and have family foods that must be included: Moravian sugar and ginger cookies and sugar cake. I am sure you can find them online for shipping from Old Salem. There may even be some natural decor on their website to view. Southern Living always has good recipes and every year has a white cake for Christmas. I bet a big white cake would be a great addition to your table! Enjoy your party! That dress and headband are fabulous!
Oops, I meant to say croquembouche……..croque Monsieur is a delicious sandwich.
Laurel, my favorite part of this post was reading about how happy you are in Boston! But I was smiling the whole way through because it’s like you are in my brain every week! I love simply elegant holiday decor too, just a few special things, a little shimmer, something organic and light! I’m not a red person either but I love just one red velvet pillow in the perfect hue as we at Dovecote Home make! Take a peek at our small, tightly curated holiday shop. I promise you will enjoy! Warm regards and enjoy your party!
Thank you! I ordered the Eucalyptus garlands and can’t wait to decorate a family party with them. Hope your dinner is fun and fabulous. I love to pick up ornaments from travels. I get to relive our past trips as I decorate the tree.
What fun, Laurel! I adore Christmas decorating and have had as many as 6 decorated Christmas trees in my not very big house in years past. I’m down to a dull roar with 2 these days. I do some commercial Christmas decorating for continuing care facilities and it is always interesting…our crew is often the entertainment like decorating is a spectator sport LOL. And I’ve done holiday house tour decorating and Christmas decor for a bed and breakfast inn as well – all to say I do love the season and the decor that goes with it! Wishing you there very best and beautiful season in your gorgeous condo here!! XO Janet
Laurel, thank you for sharing your joy! So glad that you found the Chestnuts – and that they found you! And that dress is GORGEOUS!!!
You’ll look beautiful in the dress. And I’m with you on the asymmetrical mantel decor. Unfinished and unbalanced. Nope! Congrats on the Chestnuts. Wish we had a group like that here.
Your enthusiasm is contagious, thank you! I can’t believe you’ve been in Boston for a year, so happy that you have found new friends and are thriving. Wishing you wonderful holidays and continued happiness in the coming year. And thank you for all the inspiration.
Hi Laurel, My favorite Christmas ornaments are the vintage glass balls. The original colors have faded to soft versions of blue, red, green etc. so they blend in with any existing decor. You can find them easily and inexpensively online or in vintage shops. “Shiny Brite” is a common brand name. I fill crystal bowls or tall glass vases with them. Simple and elegant. Now that kids are grown I do a pencil tree with all vintage ornaments. They would look lovely in your beautiful home. My one must have at holiday time is live pine or fir, be it a wreath or branches. Just for the lovely smell. Have a wonderful party!
Hi Laurel, love your new home and windows. I think you can’t go wrong with simple, elegant botanicals and vintage glass ornaments. All can be found for a song, tucked into containers and baskets dressed with little white lights. Bulbs, greens, pinecones, add some white or blue hydrangeas. Cambridge antique market at Lechmere station is a gold mine for vintage glass ornaments. Trader Joe’s often has amazing bulb gardens that you can tuck into an old ironstone tureen that you will find at the antique market. Enjoy every moment, you deserve this and we are all sending you much warmth and happiness!
Merry Christmas Laurel! Your home looks lovely already and when it’s filled with friends it will be even more so. I recommend a wreath for the front door. Whatever kind you like and whatever ribbon color makes you happy! Our family always makes a Buche de Noel (Yule log cake) for Christmas Eve. You can get one at most bakeries but it’s been a fun tradition to do it ourselves even if it doesn’t look as pretty. Enjoy your party!
I’m not a fan of glass doors,however to have a gas fireplace in my village glass doors are to code. Since the flue shouldremain open with a gas fireplace, it is a safety and “heat” friendly directive. I use a beautiful screen in front of the doors so they don”t look terribly obvious!
That’s a great idea, Caron!
Love your enthusiasm! It is all about spirit and sharing it. So happy that you are having a positive experience in your new home. I have always been a big decorator for holidays eventhough some have been laden with heavy hearted events. The ability to create some positive magic is a gift!!Thanks for passing it on and keep on creating. Enjoy
Laurel, I think this is my favorite post ever, because you are radiating such joy! I’m so happy for you and the Chestnuts. Your Christmas decor is so gorgeous, and OMG! LOVE the dress & headband!!!
My recipe: GF Almond Shortbread. So easy & REALLY yummy. Just 5 ingredients. Cream 3T butter. Add 3T confectioner’s sugar, 1c almond flour, 1t vanilla and a pinch of salt. Mix until it forms a dough, past the moment when you’re sure it won’t. Drop spoonfuls on a cookie sheet; press with a fork. Bake at 350 for 9 minutes. Makes 8 cookies.
I do hope you’ll post a party picture. It will be divine!
Beautiful ideas as usual. My daughter used to live in Bronxville…. But now that daughter, who lives near Sleepy Hollow, and her sister, about to move from Hoboken with her new husband to far away Florida, are coming for what could be our last Christmas all together in our home. I want everything to look beautiful but we got two kittens, now cats, last year, who just loved our artificial trees. One liked climbing and one liked chewing. I am afraid to decorate with the glass, crystal and other breakables. What would look pretty and be cat proof? I wish I could have my beautiful blue and white tree in its full glory. Most of the ornaments on it were chosen with an Arctic theme – snow, ice, animals, Eskimos, and finally shades of blue, white and silver.
Here’s an idea, Jan.
Thank you for this fabulous Christmas post, Laurel. It brought up a problem I have been struggling with. Maybe you’d like to do a post on it?
The advantages of a gas vs wood burning fireplace –
In my later years I don’t want the hassle of wood, but I don’t care for the glass doors that go with a gas unit. In your Christmas post there is a photo of a gas fireplace with no doors, and I am highly intrigued!
I would be grateful for your comments.
Laurel, I loved meeting you and LOVE your blog/website! Have already turned many friends onto it…the only issue is that it’s already costing me money 🙂 You have exquisite taste. XXOO
I empathize with your comments. I know a couple people in the same position and who do the same thing. Anyway, it is supposed to be about caring and sharing not decorating right? Though I love to learn how to decorate better and thus I read Laurel.
I’m so excited about your upcoming party. And you’re going to look so festive.
My life is in sort of a limbo currently. So I won’t be doing any decorating this year. But I certainly love seeing all the inspiration photos.
I love your minimalist faux tree decor and the fact that you’re nesting with vigor in Boston! Have a beautiful party! I ALWAYS get a rosemary Christmas tree (tiny – 8-10″) and put it atop the commode. Makes the powder room smell divine!
Oh, I love that idea, Téa!
I’m so happy for you, Laurel! It’s wonderful to have such special friends and exciting to have a party. I’m having a few friends over for lunch in December and think I will make a butternut squash soup. The rest of the menu is up in the air. Your cake and that croque monsieur look delicious.
Thank you for all the Christmas inspiration and your dress is fun!
Laurel – It just doesn’t seem you have been in your new home a year. All the dream pictures are what I love – no bright red and so delightful to see.
I am overjoyed for you as your personality attracts like kind. You are happy now and yes, I wish you a Merry Christmas.
Please take some pictures at your party and with proper permission, please post some.
You are a joy.
Laurel, really, really lovely photos – and your dining grouping is perfect. Am jealous! So I just love Christmas. My parents emigrated from Germany after the war. My brother and I were born here – we had no family other than ourselves. Christmas more than any other holiday was very, very special for us. Now my parents are gone, my brother lives in another state – and I married a wonderful man, who is Jewish and really doesn’t have the same feeling for Christmas as I do – but he tries. We had no children which makes the reason for decorating even harder. So over the years I have decorated less and less, seeing decorating as “omg now I have to pack everything up again after a month and it took me days to get everything just so”. Your post helped to ignite my holiday spirit – am going to get the lights out for our trees – great post thank you.
Laurel, you make my mornings! You are so entertaining and your style of writing never fails to make me smile. As a southerner, I so appreciate your use of “y’all” in your posts. It’s such a lovely, soft and
Now to Christmas – There are way too many comments to be made, but I will include a link that might need to be on your party menu 🙂
C’est très bon!
Happy Christmas to you!
That sounds seriously yummy. As for y’all. There is a lot of southern influences in Evansville, IN as it borders Kentucky. And we really did say y’all. I imagine they still do!
Tablecloth is divine. The windows, dreamy. Christmas brunch is a tradition and there must be Sausage and cheese grits (make ahead!)
One tree already up…helps ward off seasonal affect disorder. Hate the shorter days!
I light ALL the things. Okay, not all the things. But I drape the side entrance/mudroom/hallway ceiling with dimmable string lights; then intersperse hanging crystal-ish and faux mercury ornaments.(It’s actually really pretty in person and not half as garish as it sounds.) I must’ve been hormonal the first time I did it, and my pronouncement of “one and done” was met with family consternation…so it’s become an anticipated tradition.
I wistfully enjoy your beautiful posts of simple, understatedly elegant decor, not to mention the thought of only a day or so to put up and take down. We have a tree in every major room, each with it’s own decor style: icy/crystal, nutcracker, woodland, kids’ tree, etc. We also have some sort of manger scene in each room. Admittedly, it’s a lot, but my family really does appreciate it all. And “if you give a mouse a cookie..”
Love that you’ve been embraced by the Chestnuts and are so happy! Have a wonderful party!
I love you Laurel. And, I love your former rabbi. One of the most spiritual moments this atheist ever had occurred at a Unitarian service. By the way, the reindeer dress is fantastic fun. Have a joyous December.
Sorry that I asked about Christmas decorating–I forgot that you were raised Jewish. But holiday/seasonal decorating…I think everyone can enjoy that! Your ideas are as always fantastic and I’m so happy for you as your move to Boston has changed your life for the better! The party for your friends will be full of joy. The dress and headband are wonderful.
All of your comments are wonderful, Ivis!
Great roundup of items! Laurel, I adore that Garnier-Thibaut runner and tablecloth pattern. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season this year, and many more to follow. Thank you for all the inspiration and beauty you offer us. I can’t adequately express how much I look forward to your posts and the positive influence you have had on me and my home. xxo
I understand not decorating for Christmas. I live alone, and don’t entertain at Christmas. Instead, I’m the aunt who visits around during the holiday times. There’s not much point in trotting out bucket loads of holiday trim for an audience of one, then packing it all away again. Years ago I had a small faux fir tree pre-decorated that I pulled out of the basement and stored away again, but after a few years the tree began to look a little tired. Now I live in Florida, and have no storage space. I am perfectly content looking at others’ decoration during the holiday season. (I am very sorry that some troll lady chewed you out. I wish those unpleasant people would just sit on their hands.)
Your windows. I love them too.
We have three tall windows.
Could you email source of the window treatment and the fabric details?
Thank you but the apartment came with them. I actually spent a couple of hours the other day looking in vain for them and came up dry. However, the valances at Monticello are the same style. The only difference is they end with jabots,(a long tail) not full-length drapes.
I put up three Christmas trees, yes three. It started off because of a sale. It was a Martha Stewart white Christmas tree for $20!! So I had to buy it and thus my tradition began. I suggest when decorating for Christmas start EARLY so you can focus on one room,/area. This gives you time to add/subtract items etc. I know sometimes it can overwhelm one if you try to do multiple things. I don’t use traditional colors inside my house for Christmas. I use colors that go with my family/ living decor.
Christmas food recipe my family loves is peppermint dip. It’s crushed peppermint candy I think it’s better to use the blender/food processor instead of how we use to crush it -with a hammer-( kids liked using the hammer 😜)then you add it to cool whip and it’s finished. Stir until well blended. We serve it with pirouette cookies, by Pepperidge Farm.
Some lovely ideas here, Laurel. But first: Joe. This sounds like transplant shock (from what I’ve read). Not much you can do about it except keep up your new watering regime and don’t trim the brown bits, even though they look awful. Trimming will simply make the next section of growth go brown too. And don’t fertilize. Joe may survive, and maybe not. Perhaps time for Joe II?
Now the fun part: an endorsement for the company that makes your round linen tablecloth — I’ve bought fabric from them and it’s really good quality, and their colours are lovely. But I’ve pretty well given up on round tablecloths even though I have a round table. It’s impossible to iron them without getting a point in the centre, no matter how carefully you fold on the straight grain. I’ve moved to square for the unextended table, but getting a big enough square is difficult. I have to stick to round for the big table, and you can’t imagine the fun I’ve had in the past trying to explain to some salesperson that my table doesn’t become oval when extended!
Christmas? I love decorating for it and use an artificial tree with a clear conscience since it’s 40 years old. Food? The one traditional thing I make nowadays is a Christmas jam adapted from the queen of French jam, Christine Ferber.
Oh, and (sorry) another oups! C’est UN croquembouche. The pic is lovely (and as the original source says, will stun your guests) but you’d need to have a stain-resistant tablecloth to attack that construction, given that the choux puffs are held together with caramel and the pyramid tends to make a mess even without a squidgy cake below!
Christmas decorating is my life, literally. We do it all year long. It’s so fun for me to see your favorite decorating ideas. I’ll be sure to design some more simple decor items for the collections we create. Love your dress and headband, can’t wait to see photos of your party, have a wonderful time!