Category Archives: Holidays

Selling Out

You know you’re a grown-up (or a Grinch?) when you start to seriously consider getting a fake Christmas tree.

Always one to cling to tradition, I never thought I could imagine a Christmas without the piney scent of fresh needles, the sacred process of selecting just the right specimen (never too bushy), tying it to the top of the ol’ minivan and finally, the art of fitting the boughs with an aging strand of C7s so that as little of the cord as possible showed between branches. It was all so darn magical. I couldn’t understand why my dad did all that sighing and cussing every year.

 The December after I moved out, Mom and Dad bought an artificial tree. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them happier. Dad definitely seemed to have a new bounce in his step. As for me, I thought they were traitors. I made a promise then that I’d never sell out. And I’ve kept it…until now.

 We knew we needed a tree for our holiday party on Sunday, so we figured we’d take care of it first thing in the morning. It took. all. day.

First there was an epic search for rope – I now know that grocery stores, drug stores and Targets do not carry it, but hardware stores do. Next we learned there was a silvertip shortage in these parts, so our usual tree farm was a no-go. Our local tree lot was all but sold out. The next nearest lot was charging $80-90 for a six-to-seven-foot silvertip. Even the little five-foot firs were going for $50. The boyfriend claimed this was normal, but I refused to believe it, so we moved on. We finally found a decent-sized noble fir for $40 at Home Depot, but when we got it home, it wouldn’t stand up in our tree stand because the trunk was too heavy. Somehow he wrangled it into position and carried it into the house, at which point it toppled over, permanently warping our little metal stand. So the boyfriend went out into the cold rain for a new stand. I guess December is far too late to buy a stand, because the first three or four places he hit up were plumb out. It’s a good thing he finally found one at Home Depot (the second time they saved us that day). Otherwise our tree would be laying in the front yard instead of aglow in our living room.

 So instead of dreaming of a white Christmas, I’m dreaming of a white aluminum Christmas tree for next year.

Apartment Therapy

Or a silver tinsel tree.

Target

Hell, maybe I’ll go turquoise. I figure as long as I know it’s fake, there’s no point in trying to be naturalistic…might as well go all out.

                Amazon

Or maybe I need to take a cue from Charlie Brown and remember what Christmas is all about.

        Target

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Filed under christmas, Holidays, living room, retro

Christmas Coke

 As long as we’re breaking out the Christmas decorations this week, I thought I’d share our almost-DIY holiday project.

 

It’s no secret that my boyfriend has a major Coca-Cola crush. So major that it actually inspired this summer’s Southern sojourn, which included a stop at Coke headquarters in Atlanta in addition to the mentioned Nashville and Asheville. Some kids have bedrooms painted with puffy clouds or zoo animals; the walls of Paul’s childhood room were covered in red and white Coca-Cola wallpaper (yes, there is such a thing).

 So when we came across a dusty collection of his family’s old National Geographic magazines, we had to check the back pages for cool retro Coke ads. And these three Santas from 1956, ’60 and ’62 just begged to be framed.

 

We carefully removed the ads from the magazines, but that’s where the DIY ended. Since we had a 60 percent off coupon for Michael’s – and since the framer at our store is pretty talented – we opted to have them professionally done. But we probably could have achieved a very similar look ourselves with some basic black frames and matting.

 I think the end result is more subtle and cozy than your generic store-bought snow globes, reindeer, or even Coca-Cola merch, but still manages to feel extremely Christmas-y.

 

Unfortunately, I had a heck of a time getting a photo with decent lighting. This time of year, we only get sun in the living room from 5 to 7 a.m – and the new light fixture that was supposed to arrive Nov. 1 has been backordered twice, finally convincing us to cancel our order this afternoon. It’s back to the drawing board on that one, I guess.

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Filed under christmas, Holidays, interiors, retro, vintage, winter

I Saw the Light

After browsing the fourth different version of the Pottery Barn holiday catalog (sometimes I think they just rearrange the order of the pages and slap on a new cover every week), I decided that our porch needs a little update before Christmas.

I’m not talking about PB’s lanterns and garlands and light-strung topiaries and $90 wreaths. Not that I don’t admire those things – I really, really do – but a pair of poinsettias and some strands of C7s are more in my price range right now.

 No, I’m thinking of a more lasting improvement, like replacing our rusty, cobweb-encrusted porch light (though, ahem, touching up the trim around the door might not hurt, either).

A new light fixture is a relatively small update that will look extra warm and inviting in the winter, but will also add some much-needed class to our porch all year round.

 As usual, though, we can’t make up our minds. 

 Do we want to go for arts and crafts flair, like one of these lamps from Old California Lantern Company? On the one hand, it would be a perfect match for our new Craftsman door. On the other hand, these guys don’t come cheap.

 This one feels like something a 49er might carry down into a gold mine.

Then there’s the classic black arts and crafts lantern from Rejuvenation.

But I’m also drawn to this simple clear globe  from Pottery Barn – which just so happens to be on sale.

This coppery PB lantern isn’t bad, either.

Or how about Restoration Hardware’s elegant Victorian lantern, complete with faux candles?

 It’s hard to say. In the meantime, the plan is to wrap so many Christmas lights around the front porch that visiting friends and relatives won’t notice our tarnished light and nicked-up trim (fingers crossed).

Photos from Pottery Barn, Old California Lantern, Rejuvenation and Restoration Hardware.

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Filed under bungalow, California, christmas, exteriors, Holidays, Victorian, winter

Making a List, Checking It Twice

I’m such a hypocrite when it comes to Christmas shopping. I curse the premature holiday displays, but find myself browsing them before November. I shake my fist at store speakers blaring Christmas music, then go right home and put holiday tunes on Pandora. Sigh.

So it should come as no surprise that I’m already browsing potential holiday gifts and goodies to give and get.

Maybe I can’t afford one of these amazing houses for Christmas. But surely I can manage one of these.

Or, in keeping with my current letterpress obsession, some of these. You’ve got to admit, they’re a lot quirkier than your standard snow village.

Though most of the year I stick to natural colors and wood tones, something about the holidays makes me crazy for rainbow brights. The saturated hues on these picture frames turn what would otherwise be a basic gift into a statement piece.

Or how about a brightly-colored custom plate? This tree-trimming version is cute, but there are other holiday – and non-holiday – silhouettes and shades to choose from.

Personally, I’m thinking about buying these kitschy retro napkins for my parents’ newly remodeled kitchen.

As for my own retro kitchen, I’ve been coveting these shiny Sur La Table tumblers and sundae bowls for quite some time now. They remind me of the aluminum glasses we always used at my grandparents’ house.

When it comes to holiday decorating, I have this ridiculously anal rule about using only vintage-style ornaments – our tree  typically features just  glass and lights, with no crafty felt ornaments or whirligigs in sight. Basically, if Charlie Brown wouldn’t have put it on his tree, I don’t want it. (I think I was brainwashed by Mom and Dad, hardcore blown-glass ornament enthusiasts who only grudgingly put up the pieces we made at school with glitter and popsicle sticks for a few years before packing them away for good with our other sub-par school crafts.)

Fortunately for folks like me, Anthropologie is making it easy this year.

The best part about being an early bird list-maker is that I don’t usually have to scramble to get my shopping done at the last minute. The worst part? With so much time left until Christmas, my list usually keeps growing…this is just the beginning.

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Filed under Holidays, old houses, retro, vintage