First Hints of Holiday.

By: Jen Shoop

*Image above via At Home in Arkansas, a reminder that Christmas need not always been red and green! I love the way they’ve arranged greenery and pine cones into ginger jars on a traditional polished wood buffet table, and of course I always love a good boxwood wreath, here so cleverly tied to a chic mirror (my favorite picks for mirrors here) with an enormous and easy to DIY bow (I might use a burlap ribbon). And that vintage silver set! Swoon! Invest in your own here. If that’s not in the cards, consider this silver plated brass set atop this butler tray for a similar effect.

I was reassured when many of you told me I was not too early to be sharing Sugar Paper’s holiday gift wrap collaboration with Target, because come the first hint of frost in the air, and I am ready to listen to Christmas music and map out gifts for everyone on my list. I will try not to get too far ahead of myself here (the week leading up to Thanksgiving feels like the appropriate launch into holiday season) but then again — we are living in 2020, and I think we have all earned the right to go overboard with the (sparse few) celebrations we have on hand this year. Further, there are already a couple of amazing seasonal scores that are worth checking out before they sell out or so that they arrive on time…

+I have wanted to set up a little “village” on our sideboard for several years now. My mother-in-law has a few of these that she arranges on her mantel and I have loved them for years. I was ecstatic when Target released a highly affordable, darling set of white-painted metal houses. I bought the entire set, including (my favorite) the barn, this modern house, this Victorian, this petite home, and this chimney house. I can’t wait to arrange them around a garland — possibly this canvas one, currently in my basket for Thanksgiving. These houses are sure to go quick!

+Stocking holders can be hard to come by for some strange reason. We have a set of adorable reindeer similar to these (look for less with these), but since our family has expanded, we are in need of an extra hook or two. I’m torn between mixing in some additional reindeers, or revamping the entire look — I am in love with this nutcracker style and this white house set, too. My mother-in-law always decorates part of her living room with enormous white metal letters that spell JOY so I was also taken by these.

+We have Pottery Barn’s quilted velvet stockings (we have the ivory with red script personalization) and I love them because PB carries them every year, so it has been easy to add new stockings as we add new members to our family or if we need replacements for any reason. They are also machine-washable (has in fact come in handy with grubby little fingers!) and roomy enough to tuck big presents into. (Mr. Magpie always goes crazy on my stocking — sometimes the “big” gifts are in there!). I also love that they coordinate with our personalized tree skirt! That said, I have to be honest and say that the quality of Pottery Barn’s personalization has gone way down hill in the last few years. I’ve had to have multiple items sent back and re-stitched, and have heard the same from several of you. Hoping they work out their quality control issues, but just a heads up.

+If the PB stockings aren’t your style, a few other options: first, thank you to the reader who shared the gorgeous personalized needlepoint stockings from Bauble Stockings! These are stunning, and you have to read the story behind the business. The stockings are stitched by artisans who are also single mothers in Haiti, and a percentage of proceeds go to a children’s shelter in Atlanta. I am in love with this business and its big-hearted founder. Note that these stockings are small in size (read the background to find out why). For another full-size option, I love this cable knit (personalizable) style or this similar one (without the personalization).

+Hanna Andersson just released their holiday jammies! These always go quickly. I am eagerly awaiting the launch of TBBC’s Christmas night-night collection — some of my absolute favorite Christmas pajamas have come from here. I think I’ll be getting these for mini and these for micro. And this nightgown from Petite Plume is already in my cart!

+I love greenery in the home for the holidays, and these rosemary trees in their sweet woven pots would be adorable tied up with an enormous velvet or grosgrain bow. I also bought several of these mini boxwood wreaths to hang in our windows last year, tied up by black and white striped gosgrain ribbon. It looked so festive and handsome! And, finally, I love a pair of mini moss Christmas trees like these I found years ago that I usually arrange in the center of my dining room table, surrounded by mercury glass votives and pillar candlesticks. So chic.

+Related: in love with these simple wreath place cards, and I have just added these elegant garland/branch ones to my cart for my Thanksgiving table!

+The first of many festive holiday wear finds…I had to have this sweater with the adorable bow buttons!

+If you are celebrating the Christian tradition of Christmas, good to get your Advent calendar and nativity set ordered sooner than later so they come in time. We have a precious peg doll nativity set that mini has absolutely loved to play with every year that is similar to this (love that the shop owner will customize per your request). I also love this elegant wooden set and this simple white set. Maybe one day I will start collecting the Lladro porcelain nativity set, which my mom has slowly acquired over the course of her life — it is stunning! Note that you can often find pieces of the Lladro creche for a great price on Etsy, like this king!

+For an Advent calendar, this one is currently in my cart, as we give mini a small present every day of Advent (sometimes just a few crayons or a pack of raisins, other times a Christmas book or little toy) and I like the size of the pockets on this one! This wooden one with drawers is also cute, but probably too small for us.

+I shared this earlier this week, but this personalized baby’s first Christmas ornament is absolutely gorgeous. The classiest ornament I’ve ever seen along these lines!

+Swedish dala horses are a seasonal classic for Scandinavians, and this one or a few of these wooden ones are chic on a mantel.

+Mr. Magpie and I buy a new ornament for everyone in the family every year (may eventually shift to just buying one for the entire family as we are quickly stocking up), but this is a recent favorite I bought for my bivalve-loving husband last year. This year, I am eyeing this caviar tin for him and this set of handmade felted Nutcracker characters. Beyond!

+I write about this every year, but this tree stand changed our lives for the better. Those rinky-dinky plastic ones with the metal screws that they sell everywhere are IMPOSSIBLE. We always got netting stuck in them, the tree was never straight, and it was just a total pain to maneuver. (Also, I was always skeptical they could support the weight of the 12 foot trees Mr. Magpie insists upon…). These are a CINCH to use, super sturdy, and has circumvented many marital squabbles over getting the tree in the stand.

+So many of you bought the mini pumpkin-shaped waffle iron I bought for my children and have mesmerized/delighted their own broods with it. (I already used it for a special Halloween-themed breakfast-for-dinner for mini, and she went wild.). I noticed that the brand also has a snowflake shaped waffle iron available for the holidays ($10). Conveniently cute for fans of the Disney Frozen franchise.

+I love Nest’s classic holiday candle, and am eyeing their orange and clove one as an alternative.

+Mini absolutely loves this classic Christmas book (great illustrations) and we read this one year-round.

Just writing this post has left me giddy with excitement. Let me know if you’re looking for anything else in particular heading into the holidays!

P.S. If you’re not yet ready to lean into the holidays, Halloween is just around the corner, and you still have time to snag some gear to make it extra special for your little ones.

P.P.S. I often need to re-read this post to remind myself to “think of the howling wolves.”

P.P.P.S. Also: affirmations.

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22 thoughts on “First Hints of Holiday.

  1. Hi there! Thank you so much for including Bauble Stockings on your list. I am so humbled and overjoyed by women sharing their light with our company- it has made all the difference in being able to create more full-time fair trade jobs in Haiti! Customizable full size stockings coming next spring- woohoo!

  2. Oh those felt ornaments! How do you choose just one?Thank you for linking to that shop. I’m going to get a cardinal for my mom.

    1. Heart is swelling for those felt ornaments! Ordering the airplane for my son. Tempted by the Advent Calendar as well. Will you embroider your last name? It’s beautiful!

  3. I just have to thank you for the variety of options in this post! I am Jewish, and my husband is Christian, so I try and do a more “winter” decor for our home to satisfy his nostalgia. The little tree was immediately added to my cart – our daughter’s name is Rosemary!

    1. Hi Ava! So sweet – I love that name and love that tree, too 🙂 Yay! Glad you find lots of wintry options for your home that suit all kinds of religious traditions. xx

  4. Yes! Already thinking of the holidays too. I’ve been paring down the list in my phone where I make gift notes as family and friends mention things all year. Just added my annual Nest 3-wick holiday candle to my cart!

    1. Amy! I was so moved by this — the thought of you dutifully working through your list of loved ones to find the perfect gift. They are probably engrossed in their days and have no idea that you are sitting there, shining with love for them. So incredibly sweet.

      Yes to that candle!


  5. Thanks for the reminder to get stocking holders! We’ve made do the last couple of years (actually hung them on antique brass animals, but it was always a precarious balancing situation). We actually received the same PB stockings as a gift when we got married, but I am a loon sometimes and ended up cross-stitching stockings for all of us – waiting to get the baby’s back from the finisher next week!

    1. Wow!! How chic is that!? So envious of your skills. What a treasure for your family.

      Stocking holders are totally the kind of thing that slip your mind until they are suddenly very difficult to find around mid-December…


    2. I go on these crafting sprees – made a nativity scene last year too out of polymer clay. In an antique chest I bought several years ago, we found a crystal lladro nativity set the previous owners had accidentally left, and my husband always has fun making a little “scene” with Playmobil figures, those little green army men, and the crystal set.

      We also started a Dickens village when we got married, buying a house a year. You can often find these at antique shops too – a great way to beef up the collection. The only problem is storing all of them!

      Btw, I think Bauble stockings is coming out with full-size stockings. And I’m ordering my stocking hangers stat!

  6. I think about the holidays quite early, too! I’ve already made my gift-giving pivot table — haha!

    This will be the first year since 2017 that we’ve had a tree (!) — so I’m going to finally take the plunge with that Krinner stand after hearing you sing its praises for years! <3


    1. Yay! You will not regret. I love the idea of the gift pivot table — would make my husband’s Excel-loving heart sing.


    2. Hi Molly! Haha — perhaps my use of the phrase “pivot table” is a bit eager, because it’s not super complicated. I have a tab for each person for whom I plan to buy gifts, and then a summary page that shows the total amount I plan to spend, with totals per person and then a grand total. It has helped me SO MUCH to budget — Christmas, for me, is an expensive endeavor! But gift-giving is honestly my chief love language, so it’s also great as a place to collect ideas for each person throughout the year.

      Hope this helps! I’m such a nerd about spreadsheets and I never mind talking about them; I have them for so many things in life (budget, wardrobe, etc… !)

    3. That’s still using a pivot table though!

      My mom has always had an excel spreadsheet of gifts – helps her to not buy the same thing for my dad’s brothers and other hard-to-buy-for people! But I love incorporating a budget into it as well – last year I set what I thought was a high budget for Christmas gifts and managed to exceed it. Thank you for the early holiday inspo!

    4. Any time! I hear you re: exceeding a budget … I fell into that trap many a time before I created this system 🙂

  7. Glad to hear that I’m not the only one thinking about Christmas! So many good picks. My father-in-law is downsizing, and my husband and I recently inherited his family’s Waterford nativity set, tons of ornaments, angel tree topper, tree skirt, and Spode Christmas dishes (!!!!!). I can’t wait to use them all 🙂

    However, I’d also love an Advent wreath (and coordinating candles to light each week). Any recommendations?

    1. Hi Megan! Woohoo — not alone in this over-eagerness for the holidays 🙂 Oof the advent wreath is always a challenge to find — I feel like they are always super clunky/look like they could actually be in a pre-vatican Church or covered with fake pine. They are simply not carried by mass retailers! The best I have found (will keep looking) is this simple one from Burke Decor, which is kind of pricey:

      But I like its simplicity.


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