on a personal note: my favorite (holiday) things

As a designer, I am always sharing my secret sources, professional shortcuts, handy tips and amazing finds.  This time I thought I would share some of my favorite things for the holidays.

SWEETS: As I was growing up, my mother made pounds and pounds of fudge... divinity... hard candies... cookies... etc. around the holidays.  It was marvelous!  I haven't tasted anything like her fudge since (... well, my sister does have my mother's recipe for fudge and it does taste the same - but I rarely get it). SONG: Mary Did You Know by Mark Lowry. A close second would be Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby and David Bowe version. TREE TRIMINGS: I am a huge fan of monochromatic themes, especially in tree lighting, hundreds of little white lights... the only way to go inside and out! FOOD: I don't think it could be a Christmas without a large group of the family meeting at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Maggiano's Little Italy... yes, it's a chain and I am not a big fan of chain restaurants but the food there is amazing and it is served family style.  We sit for hours (just like dining in Italy) and enjoy the wine, the food, and the conversation. COCKTAIL: Disaranno, soda with lime... I just think of this cocktail and I think winter. TRADITION: Christmas Eve dinner is always a very formal occasion.  We dress for the meal with candlelight, four or five course menu, etc. etc.  Yes, Christmas Day has its big traditional meal but that could be eaten in our pajamas around televised football games! DECORATION: I have a Department 56 porcelain Santa Claus sitting in a big overstuffed white chair.  He has on his long-john red underwear, his red house slippers and red Santa cap. Beside him, sitting at his knee, is his trusty Dalmatian dog who has a red ribbon tied around his neck. My children gave it to me one year for Christmas and it holds a VERY special place in my heart every year when it is unwrapped with the decorations. MEMORY: Christmas Eve Candlelight Service with my parents.  We went to a beautiful old church in a small town in Ohio. Beautiful woodwork, balconies, large thick railings... and when we lit the candles at midnight and sang Christmas carols, the whole place became magical. MOVIE: Every year since I can remember, Irving Berlin's 1954 musical White Christmas (from start to finish). It was my mother's favorite movie.  I can remember staying up late with her and watching it each year.  Now I watch the DVD each year with my children while we decorate the tree. GIFT-GIVING: I am not an 'exchange name' type of gal... I want to give, give, give. I actually ('collect') purchase gifts all year long and store them away on a shelf in our basement.  When I see something that screams a name of someone on my list... I have to get it!

This was fun... What are your favorite holiday things?

Here's to a wonderful season of inspiration and love.