The Natural Christmas

Julia Reed December 11th, 2012

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When I was growing up in Mississippi, Christmas was all about fires and fir trees, the pinecone wreaths my mother and her friends made, the vases full of holly adorning the mantle. When I moved to even colder climes, I decorated my apartments in the same way. But then I got to lush New Orleans, where the camellias were already in full bloom and citrus was hanging heavy in the trees. Some years it was still so warm the pine or cedar garland I hung from my balcony turned brown. Clearly, it was time to adapt my decorations to the climate.

I’m a firm believer that décor should match location. You’d never put a shell wreath on a front door in Aspen or snow-flocked tree in an apartment in South Beach. My first Christmas in New Orleans, I stuck with a traditional tree but decorated it with nothing but white lights, fresh kumquats hanging like so many orange jewels from the branches, cheap silver balls in varying sizes, and gingerbread cookie stars I’d iced and studded with more silver dragoons. It remains one of my favorite trees ever. These days I still use kumquats everywhere—in bowls all around the house, wired to the wreaths along with the satsumas and lemons I pick from my trees, in arrangements in which I mix citrus branches with branches of hot pink and red camellias (see “Deck the Halls…And the Tabletop” on Fetch this week).

On the table I love to mix porcelain or silver fruit with the real deal, usually more citrus and pomegranates, but you could also go with red and green pears or apples that abound elsewhere. Spray paint a bag or two of walnuts silver and scatter them around as is or in pretty porcelain or glass bowls. This year, I plan to add William-Wayne & Co’ s silver birds to my own tabletop landscape. After all, they do plenty of munching on the citrus outside. I might as well bring them inside too!

About Julia Reed

Julia Reed is a columnist at Garden & Gun magazine and a contributing editor at Elle Décor. She also contributes to The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, and The New York Times, and makes frequent appearances on MSNBC. She is the author of five books, including But Mama Always Put Vodka in the Sangria, Adventures in Eating, Drinking and Making Merry and the upcoming One Man’s Folly, The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood, which will be published by Rizzoli on April 1.

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