Privilege Blog

Wrapping Up The Presents And Your House

Seems like a year to double down on Christmas wrapping. And I don’t just mean presents. I wish Christo would come wrap my whole house in crinkle foil and twinkle lights. Or red felt if the crew were so inspired.

No, I haven’t bought even one present. I’ll do my shopping in a rush next week or the week after that. But decorating beckons, “Red me, green me, let me sparkle to my hearts content!”

OK then. Accoutrements required?


I need new outdoor lights. I like to mix white icicles and individual red lights for a candy cane effect. It’s ever so tasteful. I’ve resisted LEDs so far but I give up. These will do.

But wait, why focus on tasteful? Tasteful is so last century. I feel the urge for gilt and gaud. How about a light-up reindeer? I suppose someone might steal it but life is short and reindeer imaginary anyway.

As for the tree, maybe it’s time for a few new pinecones.


Surface Accoutrements

In years past I’ve hung an evergreen garland over the door to the study, and layered individual boughs underneath our crêche, but I’m tired of sweeping up needles. Again, tasteful?


Or like the reindeer, gold and glitzy?

Also this year we need both a new Baby Jesus and a menorah because we’re celebrating Chrismakuh. We’ve got a menorah from when the kids were in school so perhaps I’ll rely on our dear guests for anything more elegant. The Baby Jesus would replace the one we lost from our crêche. Although I’m an atheist, it’s the myth-loving variety, and I cannot resist a scene in which all the adults and even a bunch of animals gaze adoringly at a baby.

One asks again for the baby, tasteful or gaudy, faceted or rustic? This question is perhaps broader than I knew.


Last Christmas I thought, “Hmm.” Enough with monochrome. Let’s bust out.” So I’ve ordered eight Cornishware breakfast plates to put on top of my white and gold Lenox. Kapow.

plate_breakfast_red_1050px_3You might prefer an affordable, and more subtle illustrated version, here. Or for something quite over the top in both cost and style, count on Versace.

And, Yes, Eventually All That Goes Under The Tree

I will not be rushing to CVS for flimsy ugly paper this year. Some presents will be wrapped beautifully. Or in this.


Maybe with illustrated ribbon.

Others, reusably. I have ordered a set of these. Stretchy fabric in several sizes, to pull over boxes.


And I’m dying to see if they work.

So much fuss may seem extravagant. Unabashed, I want a winter holiday that warms the cockles of my heart. Preparing for family.

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52 Responses

  1. If I still did a tree, I’d be all over those pinecone lights. Though I do often put up some “winter solstice” decorations, maybe those would work on the mantle with some pine boughs? Now I just need a fancier menorah to go with…

  2. Hello Lisa, Thank you for the first Christmas-decorating post that made me laugh. And by the way, just how did you lose your crèche baby figure?

    One of my saddest “didn’t buy it” stories was the antique market where I didn’t buy a 19th century hand-made brass menorah for $25. I wanted to go back and get it, but my friend was in too much of a hurry. I admit it was gross negligence on my part.

    1. @Parnassus, I am honored to make you laugh. And I wish I knew how we lost it! One year we unpacked to decorate and it was gone:(. A 19th century menorah! That could be cause for regrets indeed.

  3. At our house we have many nativity sets but baby Jesus only appears on Christmas morning. The kids, when they were little, loved being able to reunite the baby Jesuses (Jesii?) with their appropriate sets. Maybe that could solve the baby Jesus issue at your house? A simple baby doll that only appears on Christmas morning.
    And who would steal a baby Jesus?

    1. @Nelson Bartley, That is really sweet. I just lost our baby. I don’t know how. It’s teeny weeny, so I’ve just ordered the rustic one in this post. I think it will contrast nicely with my grandmother’s second husband’s Austro-Hungarian painted ceramics:).

  4. My husband is also an atheist who loves Christmas. I confess to not understanding this.

    This year I may cave and allow him to get a tree for the first time. As a Jew, the Christmas season does annoy me in its pervasiveness, but this year I feel we need all the cheer we can get.

    Enjoy your decorating and wrapping. That paper looks beautiful and I say go for the gold :)

    1. @Danielle, Growing up in an agnostic non-church-going family, Christmas came to mean the tree, the presents, the quiet of the streets come Christmas morning.

  5. Your post made me laugh too. The balance between tasteful and gaudy is a precarious one during the holidays. One year I bought a lighted star for my tree. It was very sparkly. My family was horrified. Now I second guess every choice.

    Before Thanksgiving is forgotten, I have to share a quick story about my elderly mother. The day before Thanksgiving, I was helping her make the cornbread stuffing we all love. She pulled out a few papers and began reading. The voice sounded like yours. It was your Thanksgiving post from a few years ago that I had printed out for her. She read the whole thing to my brother and me, laughing the whole time. Her favorite part is about the pie recipe being on the can for a reason. Thank you for bringing joy to her again!

    1. @Kathy, No second-guessing. Families are made to horrify!

      And I am so touched that your mother liked that Thanksgiving post! It means so much to hear. xoxox. Thank you.

  6. I’m a Jewish athiest who adores the holiday season that centers around Christmas. I love the decorations. I love the shopping, gift wrapping and gift giving. I love the holiday parties. In short, I love the good cheer.

  7. This year I’m planning to wrap white mini lights around a few birch branches left over from the fall wind storms. Some will go on the mantle. If I stand them upright in a container, they may even function as a tree.

    I am also an atheist and appreciate you mentioning this along with the religious traditions.

  8. Hi Lisa- my former mother in law had the best crèche I ever saw- Hummel in bisque porcelain. Beautiful in its understatement. She kept it in an Empire secretary all year long. Now much enjoyed by my children and grandchildren.

  9. Loveth your tasteful and gaudy…Oh do we need gaudy this year!!!…How about for the front yard, a pink flamingo with ear muffs?…Tasteful, understated…
    My treasure is a hand made manger…..Meaningful and full of memories…
    Sigh…let’s get this decorating party started…Thanks to you…

    (Author’s Note: My Lucy was Charlie Brown variety…However, your wise observation of Lucy and Ethel brought a great smile to my face and hey I am willing to be Ethel…I would be anyone if it brought a smile…
    So, from now on, I gleefully sign my post ETHEL…How about that Lucy?…)

    1. @Deede, We can take turns! I’ll be Ethel today. Did you ever see my early post on my 40th birthday and the flamingos in the front yard? :)

    2. @Deede, I didn’t start reading your blog when you were celebrating your 40th…You have been blogging a few years, my…And the gaudy flamingos make such a statement at a 40th or a gaudy decoration…Hang in there, Lucy!…

  10. A lighted reindeer sounds very “Christmas Vacation” you can never have too many outdoor lights!

    That wrapping paper is pretty…when our children were small we decorated craft paper with potato stamped gold accents.

    I tend to use natural accents here in Our Humble Bungalow but love to see brights and baubles in the homes of family and friends…

    our cats cannot stop climbing our tree when we bring it inside…so we only put white fairy lights on it…blasted cats they think they rule the roost…(and they do!)

    I have done some shopping but have more to accomplish and will get to it gradually before Xmas Eve.

    Happy decorating!

  11. This is the year for lots of cheer at Christmas, presents, decorations, food and loud Christmas music. Love the red and white plates, gorgeous. And the wrapping paper, I have to say I’m not very talented at wrapping presents but I love doing it and buying nice paper helps.
    Happy start of the season to you Lisa xx

  12. Love this post. I got a new twig, rustic “wreath” for our front door, and this post made me go on the hunt for a new Menorah, which I found on Etsy, just now – a very cool, 1970’s wood one. I’m making a big deal out of the holidays, both Hanukkah and Christmas this year too, also pretty much an atheist, but it’s so much fun with our grandchildren and like everyone else – feel we can use all the good cheer and distractions we can get.
    Curious what your menu is going to be as we’re doing Chrismakuh as well.

    1. @Kathy, My BIL is largely in charge. Last I heard brisket and latkes were involved, and a grandmotherly sauce. My sister and I will convene soon to discuss, I suspect…What are you having?

    1. Betsy, I am sorry to hear that. For me it’s a time to see family and for reflection. Each to their own.

    2. @Betsy, @StellaA, thank you. I was preparing to write, “Probably for the best.” I am so glad you chimed in to uphold our tradition of civility.

    3. @Betsy, Perhaps you never heard of Saturnalia or the Winter Solstice.

      Merrymaking in December was around for eons before Christianity. Many of the trappings of Christmas were in fact co-opted by the Christians.

      The roots are much more ancient than that.

  13. I love getting out all the decorations. Our tradition is like Nelson’s – baby Jesus appears on Christmas morning. And the Wise Men start their journey in the back of the house. The kids get to move them forward every night – until – on January 6th they appear at the Manager.

  14. I love that wrapping paper. The tasteful one :) Those pinecone lights are cool too. We haven’t done any decorating but need to get going. If I wait for the spirit to strike, it might be too late.

    I was in the CITY TODAY!
    NOTHING That really POPPED AT ME……but I was there to meet with another BLOGGER for lunch.WHICH WAS DELIGHTFUL and the woman next to our table RECOGNIZED ME from INSTAGRAM!!!!!!!!!!WHY you are the ANTIQUE GODDESS!!!!!!HYSTERICAL…….I LOVED IT!
    I Know you will get it DONE!

  16. I had tasteful outdoor decorations, very subtle and white, but my neighbor has a multicolored neon wonderland, that made my decorations look worse than having nothing at all. I’ve been secretly coveting a group of sparkly deer however. Maybe this is the year.

    Increasingly I think tasteful is overrated, but I can only dip my toes in a little bit at a time. A few years ago I was given a treetop Santa that lights up with a multicolored sash and sparkly wand that makes a halo of color above his head. It is incredibly gaudy and I have come to love it. It is also the perfect foil from my rather rustic unglazed ceramic crèche set.

  17. Christmas is a time to be joyful and I believe you have got it right! Love the comments here. Tasteful or gaudy, to each his own. When walking through my neighborhood, I always find it sad when a house is devoid of any decorations. I would rather it be gaudy than there be nothing at all.

    1. @Jane, To be joyful, exactly. And all the comments add to my own experience of Christmas – it’s broader and deeper because of this blog. Thank you.

  18. Poor Betsy. As I get older and more affirmed in my atheistic beliefs, I, like you Lisa, also recognise the symbolic tradition of the myths around this time of year, whether we necessarily believe them as literal, we enjoy them because it is, quite simply, tradition. And please let us remember, it was a well established PAGAN Ritual well before the Romans decided they would hijack it as their “Christmass”, same as Easter for that matter. So decorate, embellish, and enjoy. To give, celebrate our loved ones, enjoy each other, dote upon, receive from others, and spend time listening to old traditional songs and eating foods that we only eat once a year. Because we can. What a Privilege! What shall we become if we surrender all tradition entirely? The answer is not worth considering.

    1. @Tracey, “I, like you Lisa, also recognise the symbolic tradition of the myths around this time of year, whether we necessarily believe them as literal, we enjoy them because it is, quite simply, tradition.” Clearly I couldn’t have said that better myself. <3

  19. One year my husband surprised me by wrapping our backyard birch tree with white lights (non LED). Next to it he placed one twig based, white lit reindeer nose to the ground.
    In the quiet dark of the backyard with us as the only audience, I probably have never seen anything as heartfelt as this gift was.
    Like most, we all love to feel the childlike joy of the season for all beliefs.

  20. Personally I’d wear those pinecones around my neck. They really look like jewels. I know that the holidays are safe in your creative hands. Hm, I guess it’s time for me to post my potato pancake recipe.

  21. I do my own version of tasteful at Chrismas. Colored lights mixed in with the white and touches of glitter here and there. Not much though, it tends to hang around.Basically, I’d say its traditional/vintage.Got rid of my larg nativity this year. Would like to find a downscaled one without so many pieces.

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