The New Year’s Eve Table: variations on the theme

On the set of “The Thin Man”

It is almost New Year’s Eve, and like most I love greeting the new year with the people I care about.  But I try to stay away from big crowds; small gatherings are more my speed.  An elegant dinner with a toast at midnight is perfect.  We opted to have dinner out a restaurant this year, starting with Champagne and caviar at a friend’s house.  But had I hosted a dinner party at home I may have added in the perfect movie “After the Thin Man”, one of my favorites with William Powell and Myrna Loy at their best.  There the formal New Year’s dinner table is set with an array of glasses, in generous support of the heavy drinking often displayed in the series, and elegant china on a white table cloth.  Seventy plus years later holiday dining tables have since been infused with color and creativity.  Let’s take a look at the varied expressions for New Year’s Eve: Continue reading

December 26th, an international holiday

Today is just another workday for most or perhaps a banking holiday since Christmas fell on a Sunday; but for many around the world December 26th commemorates special holidays.  Since the 5th century Austria and other Christian countries observe St. Stephen’s Day or “Stephanitag”, as is called in German-speaking nations, to honor St. Stephen.  In Great Britain, Ireland, and South Africa it is Boxing Day, African Americans start of a week-long celebration of Kwanzaa, and the eastern Caribbean islands kick off Carnival with J’ouvert. Continue reading

Christmas Eve is almost here, and look what design bloggers were up to

My “Christmas” tree in my dining room

Christmas is only days away, and in Austria the Christmas tree is still not up.  I have the fondest memories of my childhood when the big surprise was the reveal of the tree on Christmas Eve.  It was ablaze with candles and sparklers, yes real candles and real sparklers, and loaded with ornaments and candies of all kinds.  I loved the anticipation during the Advent when we made Christmas decorations and cookies, opened the Advent calendar every day, and lit a new candle on the Advent wreath each Sunday, all counting down the days to the big event. Continue reading