I love decorating our home for the holidays. It’s another way to express my designer disposition. We spent the last week getting our house ready to welcome friends and family, and we started outdoors. The temperature decided to do a nose-dive that day, so my fingers almost froze, but all that is (nearly) forgotten now that the house is sparkly and bright.
Nothing says “Christmas” quite like red and green. And a little white doesn’t hurt, either! Our front stoop was looking quite festive in the snow.
The red wreath, with faux berries and flowers, enlivens our navy front door.
The side door got a dose of holiday cheer, too. Boxwood and berries are a classic holiday combination.
While I tend to gravitate toward the classics, I also like to add a touch of whimsy to our holiday decor.
Gathering several types of greens — along with stems with bright berries — creates an interesting melange.
Inside, our Christmas tree is adorned with a mix of sentimental Christopher Radko ornaments collected over the years, brightly colored balls and tiny white lights.
Our kitty, Princess, obviously approves and often reigns over the living room from her favorite spot under the tree.
Look how the white lights dance on the wood floor. Magical! But I also have a soft spot in my heart for the large, blue lights from my childhood — and probably many of yours (the multi-color strands were popular back in the day, too). Does anyone else remember those blue bulbs? If you look closely, you can spy them in the background in this throwback photo of me, age 4:
The retro lights are making a comeback and always stir up special memories whenever I see them. There’s so much tradition and meaning associated with the ritual of decorating a Christmas tree — or creating and lighting a menorah.
All this reminiscing about Christmases past got me wondering how the Christmas tree tradition started in the first place. I’ve always heard the tradition began in Germany, but didn’t know much history beyond that. So I googled it, of course. I found a great video and in-depth article here. I learned so much! Here are a few of the highlights I gleaned:
- Yes, the Germans did indeed start the Christmas tree tradition in the 16th Century. They decorated the first trees with apples, inspired by the Garden of Eden, and called them “Paradise Trees.”
- Martin Luther, the 16th Century Protestant reformer, is believed to be the first to wire lighted candles to tree branches to mimic twinkling stars.
- Queen Victoria helped to spread the popularity of Christmas trees. In 1848, she and her German husband, Prince Albert, along with their children, posed around their decorated tree (reminiscent of the ones Albert experienced growing up in Germany) for a sketch that appeared in the Illustrated London Times. Others soon began copying the fashionable royals.
- Thomas Edison’s associate, Edward H. Johnson, developed in 1882 the first electric Christmas tree lights, as a safer alternative to lighted candles (thank goodness!).
Who knew, right? Well, I digressed a bit, but I think these facts are so much fun. Back to my Christmas decor…
Entertaining friends and family is a big part of the holidays, and I enjoy creating festive tablescapes for each event. Here is our dining table, decked out in holiday splendor for an intimate brunch:
The pale green, goose-feather tree (from a past Martha Stewart Christmas collection) and the Santa’s Reindeer dinnerware (from a past Pottery Barn collection) add light-hearted whimsey to the more traditional elements.
Setting a holiday table always takes me back to 2007, when I created a tabletop display to be auctioned for the Georgetown Jingle, then a fundraiser for Georgetown University Hospital’s pediatric cancer programs. I wanted to create an elegant tablescape that would capture the imaginations of guests of all ages. My theme was ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
A handsome Henredon table served as my base (the chairs are Henredon, too). I commissioned the custom acrylic from Spectrum Limited, so the reindeer and sleigh would appear to be flying over the table. Oh, what fun!
I mixed dinnerware in the Grand Tour pattern (discontinued, sadly) by Home James with several small red and green floral arrangements and white candles. With its timeless theme and color scheme, the tabletop display still resonates today, 10 years later.
How about you? Are you ready for the holidays? I hope you enjoy special times with loved ones this season. Happy holidays to all!