A Last Minute Christmas, High WASP Style

There should be no shame in a last minute Christmas. We all have our reasons, whether it’s work, travel, or difficulty finding the spirit. I remember the rush very well. And I was thinking, could we solve the problem online? Luckily, the Internet loves us unconditionally.

First, let’s assume we find a tree somewhere. That’s part of last minute myth-making. One must visit the Tree Guy. One must purchase surrounded by one’s own condensing breath, under sodium street lamps, surrounded by cyclone fencing and Dodge Darts. Maybe a jumpy house, losing air in the corner. We’ll assume the Tree Guy also locates one last wreath, cobbled together from the branches he saws off. But then what?

Never Underestimate The Power Of An Evergreen Garland, Especially With Magnolia Leaves

I like to drape 9 feet over the double doors between my office space and the living room. You can order fresh evergreens, if you order this morning, for delivery by Christmas. Pottery Barn saves the day, as it is wont to do.

Fresh Garland From Pottery Barn

Wired Ribbon Is Magic

I attach wired ribbon bows to the hanging points of the garland and to the wreath. And anywhere else I fancy. High WASPs do love a bow, case in point: Ferragamo Varinas, Vera Wang picture frames, and J. Crew tortoise headbands for little girls.


We give extra credit for tartan. This is available at Selfridge’s, in the UK, of course.

Selfridges Tartan Ribbon

Glass Ornaments By The Bushel

Ornaments are easy to find. The base layer on my tree is always little red balls, and they are as ubiquitous as chocolate at checkout, this time of year. Target has them packed like festive bubble wrap.


Let me confess, buried in this post, that I beg to differ with Reggie Darling. and his horror of “Retail Red.” I believe that Christmas should be red and green, with gold and silver thrown in for sparkle. Shades of blue, lavender, and taupe make me sad. That said, holidays are for community, and I will not utter a peep should you greet me at a door outlined in pink and bronze. Or what you will. We can find people to be mean to us penny for a pound, anywhere. Let’s try to be nice, en famille.

Yet More Lights

Even when you’re Christmas-decoration-rich you may find you need more lights. At the last minute, you may decide to grant a childhood wish for more twinkle. I have a white pine cones strand from my grandmother that I love. Many are broken, I hang what remains.

Pinecone lights_1630701_fpx

These are LED, but I wonder if the surrounding frosted plastic would warm the glow.

And Finally, A Pan-Belief Nativity Scene

Even atheists like the Christmas story.

Nativity Scene from Novica

It can be used as an allegory of love for your children, or the way politics and jobs, in their best incarnations, make way for family.  Visit Novica, a site that offers handmade goods from artisans around the world. They partner with groups like National Geographic, and Kiva. You can have the scene above by Christmas if you order today. And if you throw your hands in the air for 2013, no shame. Decorating is not required of anyone.

But you might like this crêche, of silver and jade, for next year.

Oh, and by the way, you last-minute children, so does the Internet love you that in the final hours of panic and relief, it puts almost everything on sale. Next year, next year, you are going to be so dang ready.


Garlands from Pottery Barn
Vera Wang by Wedgwood Silver Plate 4×6 Bow Frame via Amazon
Wired ribbon from The Container Store, and Selfridge’s
Glass Ornaments from Target
Yet More Pinecone Lights from Macy’s
Nativity Scene from Novica

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  • Two of your points cheer me greatly:
    1) one can still be “in good taste,” while differing from Reggie on the matter of “retail red”;
    2) atheists can have Nativity Scenes! I am the first and I like the second–but I have stopped putting one out, for fear that it might give my evangelically Christian MIL the wrong idea…

  • I wish I could find magnolia leaves here, they are beautiful.
    I just hung my mistletoe, at least I can but that locally. My goose is coming from the local farm too.

  • Oh I do hate typos, I need to hire a sub ed for my comments.

  • I ‘ve never seen those cute pine cones lights. In my youth we had candle lights that had bubbles moving around in them…so fascinating and mesmerizing when one is young and lying under the tree waiting for Santa!
    I have only bought one gift online…moccasins for wee Henry from Fresh Daily, all the rest have been found at the smaller shops nearby and most are locally owned. I love the personal touch and the shopkeeper interaction….

  • the feral cat nativity out in brooklyn comes closest to warming my heart of tar; i can get behind animals in need borrowing warmth from a fictional child.

  • I’m not buying any LED lights unless I have seen how they look turned on. I have two strings that claimed they’d cast a warm light but turned out to cast a cool light. They’ll do for distant illumination, anything that will cast it’s glow on me has to meet higher standards.

  • We do pinecone lights as well…contribution from my husband’s childhood. We also add lots of painted pinecones here and there, gold mainly. Got married 2 weeks after Christmas and family friends hosted an ornament shower which launched what has become a most eclectic collection 31 years later of all shapes, sizes, colors, materials. Merry Christmas to all!

  • I also believe that Christmas should be red and green, with gold and silver thrown in for sparkle – and a whole rambunctious mix of colours from homemade and hand-me-down decorations (my favourites are the little Jesus-in-a-walnut-shell* decorations my mum made for Christmas when we were small, with scraps of our favourite fabrics, and my granny’s pink glass baubles, brought back from America in the 1950s). The worst thing of all, if you ask me, is a theme.

    (But then being British perhaps hotchpotch is our theme …).

    *like this only minus the eyelashes, with a little scrap of cloth for a bonnet instead of hair and a chickpea for his tiny head, and the whole a bit more decorated, with thin gold ribbon or red rick-rack around the edge of the walnut shell:

    11:34 am
    Lisa said...

    I completely agree. No theme. Theme is Christmas. And hodgepodge is us, High WASPs do like their Britishisms:).

  • As much as I adore a red and green Christmas — which, luckily for me, matches my family’s tartan — red and green clash with the bright blue of my front door, so the evergreen wreath is decorated with silver and white.

  • Naww that little baby sleeping in a walnut shell just made me go all gooey! And I’m an expat Brit. Here in Oz, peeps don’t go much for a well set table with finery, but I do. I formally set the table 3 times a year: Christmas, Easter and my birthday. xxx

  • I used to go to one store (Pottery Barn, Pier One, a department store) and get it all done in one place. A few glasses of eggnog, the place looked pretty good.

    Now it’s a foot-high felt tree from Ikea, my collection of antique Santa figurines and a box of chocolates.

  • Oh, now you’re talking ‘Princess Zone,’ it is almost all last minute here, if not last second. We embrace our inner hodgepodginess, obvious from the tiny wooden singing nuns band (really) to our pine cone carolers, almost all of it showing its origins going back at least one, if not two, generations. But I should so love some of that Selfridges ribbon to wind amongst the nuns and carolers and Rudolph. From the drug store Rudolph. Sigh.

    This one was bliss on a monitor Miss Privilege,

  • Excellent finds! Wired ribbon is truly a Christmas miracle, providing perky bows to adorn my gifts. My decorations are up, it’s the cards I am behind on this year, for which I’m thinking of sending Happy New Year cards to those I don’t get to for Christmas. What a sweet nativity you have, and a lovely shade of red for the ornamanents. We are almost there!

  • I love red, especially red and white, but red and green are good too, and even better if glitter is included! I have a hodgepodge of decorations: a combination of gifts, inherited ornaments from various decades, and treasures handmade by my family members. I once put up a tree that was completely color-coordinated, but it wasn’t me – in fact it made me feel sad. So instead, it’s a riot of colored lights and decorations!

  • Dearest Lisa,
    I was enjoying this post until I came across the photo of the ornaments in the box, and said to myslef “Oh, no, she’s not advocating use of red in this story, is she?” Then, imagine my horror (and, I admit pleasure) in seeing your polite disagreement with my (personal) abhoration of anything “retail red” in one’s house at Christmas! I am sure, m’dear, that red looks perfectly marvelous in your SF house, and I am even more sure that your Christmas will be a lovely one this year. With fond regards (and a tiny bit of teeth gnashing) your admiring friend, Reggie

  • I’m missing my feather tree and collection of medium-sized blown glass ornaments that I still haven’t managed to bring to Spain. Next year, next year. (Plus next year I’ll have a sideboard to put it on…)

    This year we’re going cheap and cheerful, modern and minimalist. For an example, please pop over to the blog to see my Xmas Stix in action.

  • We are going to a local tree farm to get our Christmas tree tomorrow. It is a bit last minute, but we just arrived at the farm tonight for the holidays. We have thousands of trees at the farm–but only the cedars would look right—and they are not good trees indoors.

    I have scaled way back in my decorating. This year it will be only the tree and our stockings.

  • Yay for pre-Christmas sales! I snapped up a half price wreath for our front door yesterday – it’ll only be up for a few days this year, but there’s always next year.

    (PS – our tiny fake tree is covered in green and gold decorations… and I managed to find some holly with berries so I triumphantly picked a bunch to bring home.)

  • I confess, I find the traditional Christmas red and green to be a bit ponderous, unless diluted with a lot of white. I steer toward pinky reds and pale greens punctuated with lots of silver.

    8:05 pm
    Anon said...

    @Patience, I really love pinky-reds too. I just couldn’t find any ornaments I liked in that color.

  • Yikes. Lots of red at Christmas gives me hives.

    My ornaments are turquoise/gold balls, silver acorns, lime green balls, gold/silver owls, squirrels, deer, clear snowflakes, and smaller amounts of red balls with pinecones painted on them.

    For me, a touch of red spices up the tree, but relentless red and green depresses and agitates me.

    Besides, what about aquas for people who live by the water? Seems appropriate. I also don’t think it looks quite right when people impose red and green Christmas decor in rooms that are otherwide devoid of those colors. Looks better when the colors inthe room at least show up somewhere on the tree.

  • Magnolia leaves–what a great idea! I’ll make a note for next year. Thanks and warmest wishes for 2014 ~ Susan