Hope you all survived and enjoyed the Thanksgiving holidays and have rushed blissfully into the Christmas holidays: your tree is up, the wreaths are on the door, the shopping list is completed and filled, the packages are wrapped, and that you are having fun!
If that is your situation…. I am jealous because I have done NOTHING and must admit (after a killer cold that is now starting week three) I am not feeling inclined to do so. But I guess I must rally… a little Christmas spirit is important (I think I should be ringing a bell for the Salvation Army). After 58 years of decorating — I started actively when I was age 4 — thousands of gifts bought and wrapped, hundreds of parties and events from small to really big, countless menus planned, cookies decorated, trees, garlands and wreaths trimmed, cards sent or purchased (or made and not sent — they are hard to send when the card is dated — 2002,1994, or whatever year — I loved the card but could never get around to addressing those envelopes) here we are with no plans whatsoever! Whew… was that a run on sentence or what!
I am ( was) a Christmas fanatic. So much so that for years I always thought I would do a small book on preparing for the holidays, but that is another story. I loved the planning, the doing, with ALL that that embodied.
I use to say to my grandmother and then my mother when they moaned about doing the tree ” how can you not put up a Christmas tree–you are a Grinch, Ebenezer Scrooge personified, the ghost of Christmas future, swathed in black with fog swirling, un-American, you are just getting lazy!!!” —–and now I understand. There comes a time in one’s life where the amount of work for the amount of enjoyment is disproportionate. Total disclosure: I do not have children and grandchildren and I am not sure, other than a good steak bone, that the dogs really care how tall the tree is or what the color theme all the decorations will be.
All that said, I used to love to do the decorating —- here I can truly say I enjoyed the ” journey ” as much as the end point. So in the spirit of Christmas, here are a few thoughts and ideas … go away to a deserted island! (Just kidding, I think!)
I always select a color theme for Christmas, as it makes life so easy. It changes every year, this year it shall be colored invisible — just kidding again sort of. I, the “early planner of Christmas past,” have no idea as yet but it is only the 11th December, so what’s the hurry? This is the new me…good thing I took pictures before.
These next two posts, God willing, I will give ideas for different Christmas color combinations: red, white, green, blue and white. I do have a lot of pictures and I might just crash your hard drive (jk, again— must be the antibiotics and the red wine). So I will stop yacking and start downloading.
SILVER AND WHITE:
This one of my favorite themes and probably the one I shall do with variations this season. My mother is jointing me in Aspen this Christmas. While the above picture was taken at Weatherstone, my silver reindeer will work beautifully in the mountains. In that more casual and rustic environment I will use pewter rather than antique sterling.
I love the layers of texture, from the table to the detailing of the mantle to the 18th century trophy over the fireplace.
They say ” God is in the details,” and so the silver glitter theme is detailed on the little packages as well, and even the typeface for the place cards is in a soft grey.
The glitter deer are some of my favorite decorations…you know me, anything to do with animals! I added the extra glitter to the wreath to tie in with my gift wrap theme.
The first three photos are from a Christmas in my Paris apartment. Notice the use of carnations. It was while working in the flower shop in Paris that I learned to love and appreciate carnations. Don’t groan….after you have inhaled their wonderful spiciness and witnessed the beauty of the varieties they offer in Rungis you also would rethink them. As I tell everyone at all of my lectures there are NO BAD FLOWERS, only people who do them badly, including those convinced that inexpensive can’t be beautiful. Unfortunately, those we get from Central and South America do not have the same clove fragrance of their cousins from Grasse in France. But they last forever, mix beautifully with other flowers, have a lovely shape and silhouette, and offer a wide variety of beautiful variegated color combinations. If they don’t have the French fragrance, so what? A loss, but not a deal breaker in my mind. I can also buy them in the grocery store, which is my ‘ flower shop’ in Aspen.
I like mixing different sizes of carnations, the regular size with the spray minis. I tucked just a few pink roses in the bouquets above. A few will go a long way!
As I did not do a Christmas tree in Paris, I used the mantle as the spot to mound the presents. Obviously, there were no bicycles this year!
Above, the prosaic red carnation: behold the swirl of the picot edged petals. To me it looks like red tissue taffeta ruffles!
When I can find them, I like to use two tones of red carnations. I made the tree on a base of oasis, soaked the block in water, and then built the tree. If you place the tree in a pan, you can water it from the bottom up. You can also mist the tree with water and store it in a cool location at night to keep it fresh.
The two pictures above were from my first book, A Passion for Flowers. I was the first to use carnations back in the 1990’s. I always loved this wreath I made paired with the the Irish Regency crystal filled with matching carnations.You can see that there are three colors of red used here.
One year I did a red and silver theme at Weatherpebble, my mother’s cottage on the estate. The above photo shows red and silver used for several tables of six. I twined ivy-sprayed silver in candle sticks and massed a cloud of glittery stuff on top. I used this wonderful stuff (not sure what it is, therefore ‘stuff’ ) sprayed in glitter. I use it often in different ways and can guarantee that you will be still finding glitter in your house the following summer no matter how diligently you vacuum. Below, I massed it in a sterling tureen at one large table.
Another favorite combination is red and gold.
In my apartment at One Sutton in NYC I had a set of book cases that housed predominately red books. The bindings on those old books inspired this red and gold theme. I used boxwood, lemon leaves, small limes and nuts all sprayed gold (you should have seen me doing that on the back stairs of the building — a wonder I didn’t get evicted) to make the wreath.
Yes, I always match my gift wrap to my theme — always have and always will.
Just as I used different colors of reds in the carnation bouquets I do the same with roses. To accentuate the gold, I sprayed Galex leaves and and cosseted some of the roses with them just to add the element of sparkle to the rich velvety roses.
Another Christmas at mom’s house the theme was all red on red. It is difficult to see here, but even the mantle and the painting are decorated in red Ilex berries. (Sorry I could not find a close-up photo; it was really pretty!)
The table cloth was a beautiful red shawl I brought back from India, complemented by red Ilex as a large centerpiece, red candles, red napkins, Pottery Barn red glass plates and glasses, and of course the gifts at the table were dressed in red as well.
For a simple, more country, and very affordable decoration: magnolia leaves and gold pine cones make a complementary frame for the shiny red apples.
This is the living room of Weatherstone before the fire.
I have endless examples of the silver and white and red themes, but I hope you enjoyed the mix of high and low elements. I shall stop for now and within a few days do the blue and white and green Christmas ideas, and I’ll hopefully find a couple of pictures for those of you who celebrate the holidays in warmer climates. If not, you will just have to wait until I start doing my southern Christmas decorating in good old Charleston. Happy decorating — and please come and do mine as well in your spare time! -cr