Photo by Salt Water New England

Friday, December 17, 2021

Christmas Decorations

The essence is restraint.

Classic New England preppy Christmas decorations have two flavors.

The first is very simple and elegant, erring on solemn.  One wreath on the front door, with just a red bow.  A few white candle lights in the lower windows, and perhaps the same on the second story.   A tree with lights and ornaments.  

The second is a variation of the first, but with a bit of wit or whimsy.  In my house growing up, all of the stuffed owls and water fowl (given to us by a Yale taxidermist) and decoys (carved by my grandfather) got little Christmas hats.  

The essence is restraint.  Basically, decorations are done right when they are easy to miss.   

Dressing one's house, or heaven forbid one's pets, in such a way that competes with the local shopping mall is as unthinkable as smothering oneself in perfume or cologne and then stepping into a crowded elevator. 

A bit of wit.  A bit of ingenuity.  


 Photo credits:  Muffy Aldrich

24 comments:

  1. The person who invented those inflatable lawn decorations should be drawn and quartered. Hideous.

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    1. I agree! Same for the person who invented the blinking lights!

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    2. And the person who invented those laser light displays, as well.

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    3. I agree they’re not something I want. Perhaps drawn and quartered is a severe penalty for someone who wants to do something for their children. To each his own. As my grandmother used to say “why do you care that others don’t dress as well as you do ? Enjoy the variety of life. Enjoy that we are a small unique minority “

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    4. Aw, c'mon. I always get a hoot out of seeing an uninflated Santa, face down on the lawn. Looks like he got too far into the eggnog.

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  2. Thank you! Restraint, moderation, and taste in all things. The final paragraph nailed it to a T. And RCJH, you read my mind.

    Kind Seasonal Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  3. Superb in every respect! Timeless elegance always wins out! Thank you so very much! Cheers!❄

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  4. And what about the tree, tinsel or no tinsel?

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    1. Absolutely no tinsel! My perennial choice for holiday decoration is the northern European (read Scandinavian or German) way: evergreen, simplicity, cosiness, and Hygge!

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    2. Judicious use of tinsel is the preference of both long time family tree trimmers and knowing professional decorators. There’s good reason. However, one must hang tinsel strand by strand. A little bit goes a long way. It, yes, takes some patience. The stuff tangles easily, everyone knows. However, once hung, even the tiniest wisp of a waft of passing air will move ever so slightly each tinsel strand. These movements create constantly changing reflections of the tree’s lights. Watch what happens. Tinsel makes your tree come alive. Try it.

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  5. Agree with all about restraint and good taste. My young gradchildren like mulit-colored lights, blown up anything, and lots of everything. You can tell you're old when you disagree with young people.

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  6. Tinsel is a no...what a mess it makes! Although I would not have them on my house, I really enjoy driving around looking at the really tacky light displays. Someone decorated the tank in front of our local Community Center with about a million lights this year, and tethered a giant inflatable reindeer to it. It cracks me up every time I see it, and it has the added chuckle factor of making my dog nervous. My personal Christmas decor taste runs to a balsam fir tree and thick garland, white lights, copper ornaments, candles, beautiful music, bonfires, gingerbread cookies, tea, spiked eggnog, Christmas cookies and stollen. I would love the season to last longer, but it is really bad for my figure!

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  7. I also like the little wreaths on the front of cars, and the car reindeer nose and antlers.. so cute! Our local school bus driver has the Grinch on the front of the bus. My 86 year old aunt has a light up plastic santa from the 1960s that she puts in front of the house...it goes "Ho Ho HO" does a little bow...kind of freaky and cool at the same time. My elderly neighbor used to put two giant light up candles in his front door and invite the neighborhood over for punch, served in a cut-glass bowl, in front of the fire. I love old fashioned colored lights too...I used to have those on the tree when my boys were little. Did you ever see the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge MA or Trapp Family Inn in Stowe at Christmas with the Christmas trees on the porch roof? This year we really need more reasons to smile!

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  8. Ok, if we are talking tacky. . . I admit to having a 20" version of the infamous leg lamp from the film A Christmas Story (1983) here on my desk for the season. But otherwise, our decor inside and out is pretty simple in the Northern European mode as TwistyTree notes. We even woke to a few inches of new snow outside this morning here in Mid-Michigan. A pre-Christmas treat.

    Kind Regards,

    H-U

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  9. Muffy, I hope your disapproval of dressing up pets for the holidays does not extend to the red berry wreaths I place on the necks of the two stone whippets which flank our entry.

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  10. We are over the top this year with the tree up already (usually it is Christmas Eve). There are colored lights and a lifetime of collected ornaments. We have three (!) poinsettias and have changed out the candles for red ones. Of course there is a wreath on the door. The fruitcake has been aging. We made cookies for the neighbors and ate a few. Otherwise it is tranquil, as Advent should be. I think I'll put Bach on the record player, some solo piano.

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  11. sigh .... yankees .... [wink from a Midwesterner]

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    1. SIGH...Midwesterners. Who asked? (no wink whatsoever.)

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    2. Midwestern...Lexington?

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  12. hahahahaha. I guess some of us put our gaudy Christmas decorations on our houses and Christmas trees, and others, yankees, put them on a pair of bright red pants. "'C'est la vie' say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell."

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  13. Yale!?
    Oh hell no. That is scraping the bottom of the definition of New England. It is in the small pocket of NYC.
    Harvard or YTFO.

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  14. The Coco Chanel MO--decorate, then take one thing down.

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