Charles Dickens, in a Preface to The Christmas Carol

“I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly.......” Charles Dickens, in a Preface to A Christmas Carol

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Decorating the Christmas Table--with Department 56, Target, and Michaels

Donald Miralee/Getty Images
We returned Tuesday from the Fiesta Bowl....sigh.  We shall speak no more of that.  Oh, yes, we shall!  Why not!?  Phoenix was sunny and warm; I spent time with a special friend from grade school who was also "down south to avoid the cold;" and the game was exciting.  I hope the kicker has recovered.  Virtually everyone we talked to commiserated with the kicker more than complained about the loss.

Needy kitten.

The worst thing about the Fiesta Bowl?  Returning home, to no family asking interminable questions, or grazing through the kitchen, or playing silly games that took up hours of time, or suggesting competing schedules that had to be reconciled.  Instead, we found just needy kittens and a cold house full of Christmas that had to be packed away for another year....

Boxes, empty.

My husband has cheerfully retrieved all the boxes from the storage area; he can do it cheerfully, because all he has to do is return to work, after a week off, to face 438 emails and 67 urgent phone messages, left despite the fact his message machine suggested leaving no messages at all.  I, who am not "working," have to put away a lifetime of memories and "things," all wrapped carefully and preserved in boxes so we can revisit them again next year.

I decided to share with you our Christmas table this year.  Now all my friends know that I don't like to cook.  But I love to have people over and I love to create a beautiful table.  I try very hard to buy nothing just for the table, other than candles, of course.  I try to use whatever I have in the house and put it together in a different way.  This year was a  bit different, since I used a wreath I purchased especially for the centerpiece!  You'll see.....

2010 "Elegant" Christmas Table.

In the past, when the hoards descended for Christmas dinner, I had to have two tables.  I generally did one that was "elegant".....

Elves from "Fun" Table,
Some Year in the Past.

.....and one that was "fun."  By fun, I mean, with toys, nutcrackers, Santas, elves, whatever.......

This year, there were only 10 for dinner, so only one table was necessary.  I threw caution to the wind, and decided to do something I had never done before.  I created a wild and slightly out-of-control color Christmas.  My inspiration and color palate came from both Department 56 North Pole buildings that I have begun to collect in earnest, and a Target Christmas ornament wreath!

Dept. 56 Christmas Stork and
Target Wreath.

The centerpiece this year was one of a Department 56 accessory I had bought our kids as gifts about 5 years ago, a tall, scrawny, feathery stork with a Christmas ball dangling from its beak.  I have two of these storks, since I am storing them until the kids have more permanent homes.  The one I used had billowy feathers that were still pristine white, though one of his long and pointed feet was broken!  I stood him inside a Target wreath that burst with color!  In order to hide the broken toe, I surrounded him with complementary-colored Christmas balls.  I also added a green and gold ribbon around his neck, and changed the Christmas ball that dangled from his beak, using instead a green and gold one suspended by a little gold wire.

Department 56, North Pole Village,
"Crayola Polar Palette Art Center," #56726

Nestled among the flocked "greens" that ran the length of the table were four Department 56 North Pole Village buildings, "Crayola Polar Palette Art Center," # 56726; "Glass Ornament Works," # 56396; "The Elf Spa," # 56402; and, "Santa's Reindeer Rides,", #56748.

Department 56, North Pole Village,
"Crayola Polar Palette Art Center," #56726

Scattered about were multi-colored bells I found on sale at Michaels, beaded chains, acrylic crystals from Target after-Christmas sales in previous years, small crystal "diamonds," and goblets full of bulbs and bells.  Nestled among the flocked garlands were Christmas tree ornaments and glitter flowers and leaves, most from post-Christmas sales at Target and Michaels in previous years.

Dept. 56, North Pole Village,
"Glass Ornament Works," #56396

Because my table featured bright and shiny ornaments, I thought it appropriate to include the Department 56 North Pole "Glass Ornament Works," #56396.  I do know I will never use "Santa's Reindeer Rides" again on a table.  The flying reindeer is too precarious and subject to damage while moving plates around.

I used my Christmas red napkins, added shiny red tapers I must have found in some past-Christmas sale, and I was done!  By the way, the menu was butternut squash/apple/curry soup, mandarin orange and praline pecan green salad, chutney chicken with wild rice, sweet potato casserole, Brussels sprouts, and home-baked Magnolia Bakery cupcakes.  Friends, with whom we have celebrated Christmas for 25 years, joined us. A merry Christmas, indeed.

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