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From the Desk of Dixie

Paper Petal Plates Tablescape Series: Campagne

The Dixie Design team certainly has an affinity for all things blue and white. So it was no surprise that we were immediately drawn to this gorgeous tablescape that donned a French blue linen with white lace overlay. A delicate metallic thread woven on top of the overlay emitted the slightest shimmer in the fabric. The table linens' elegance allowed table lead Kalee Baker to carry through a romantic and tailored theme with metallic and ruffled elements throughout her design. The Annieglass gold ruffled chargers beautifully frame the Herend Fish Scale dinner plates and the custom Sasha Nicholas salad plates. The mercury glass vases and the Juliska Florentine Gypsy Gold napkins give the table additional metallic dimensions.

The inspiration for this exquisite table at our Paper Petals Plates event was drawn from designer Holly Hollon's "Campagne” wedding paper collection which features hand-drawn illustrations inspired by vintage French ephemera and a blue and gold color palette accompanied by delicate typography. The Campagne suite may be customized to the bride's color preference.

 

CREDITS :: Table Lead, Kalee Baker | Florist, Laura McCarty | Linens, Decor to Adore | Place Settings, Glassware and Napkins, Bromberg's | Flatware, Event Rentals Unlimited| Photogrpahy by Alisha Crossley and Mary Margaret Smith

Dixie's Guide for Your Handwritten Thank You Notes

With the holiday season now behind us, thank you note obligations can seem daunting. But our Southern mothers raised us to know that this form of etiquette was never to be overlooked. We were taught to always acknowledge our thanks in a written form.

Our mothers’ opinion on this matter was not unfounded. The queen of etiquette herself also mandates the handwritten note: According to The Emily Post Institute, the “the handwritten thank-you note speaks volumes simply as a medium and sends the message that you care enough to invest yourself personally in acknowledging another.”

So if thank you notes are still lingering on your January to-do list, please allow us to share a few of our guaranteed-to-make-them-smile thank you note tips... 

  • Designate a Special Spot - Create a cozy nook in your home specifically devoted to your note writing. Our Creative Director, Holly Hollon’s beautiful secretary desk (pictured above) has inspired us to do this very thing:

Last Christmas my mother gave me a secretary. I have an office in my home, but it is full to the brim with art supplies and my work, my address list and stationery would easily get lost in there and delay in me writing thank you notes. I filled the secretary in my living room with my stationery and all the things needed to write a note. This helped me in having a designated spot to pen notes promptly, consider a special place in your home to store your stationery, a nice pen and stamps.

  • Thoughtfully Choose Your Stationery - While we certainly have a plethora of lovely personalized options available here, the possibilities are endless! Have fun with your notes, so that they reflect your personality in the design. Also, we have learned so much from Holly Holden’s take on the traditional approach to thank you notes from her tutorial here. Fun fact... Holly designates the fold-over stationery card, rather than the the flat note card, as the most formal note.
  • Date It - Etiquette Expert Lee Cordone, of DoSayGive, says to always include this when you are writing notes you think someone may keep. 
  • Greeting - This may seem completely obvious, but check and re-check the spelling of your recipient’s name. You do not want a misspelling to be their first impression of your note!
  • A First Line Challenge - Holly Holden, in the same video mentioned above, challenges thank you note writers to never begin the first sentence with the word “I.” She says it presumes you are more important than the person to whom you are writing. So we encourage you go beyond the formulaic “thank you so much for xyz” to creatively express how much the gift meant to you and why. We always love to read how our gift is being used in thank you notes we receive.
  • Make Your Recipient Smile - We borrowed this advice from the talented Kalee Baker of Kalee Baker Events. She is a firm believer in the power of a well-written thank you note: "Each day is a gift, so always include a memory or leave them with a kind, positive thought."
  • In Closing - Depending on the depth of your relationship with your recipient, “Sincerely” is always a safe option, but we also love to use “Best” or “With Love.”
  • Late? - Don’t Fret! - We are of the mindset that a late thank you note is always much better than no note at all! 

Still overwhelmed by the long list of thank you notes that may even include note writing for your children and your husband? We love this idea mentioned on The Emily Post Institute of getting your entire family involved in the thank you note process:

The smallest (ages 4-6) drew pictures of their gifts, and Mom and Dad added dictated captions and thank you’s. The 7-8 year-olds wrote one or two sentences, practicing new writing skills. The 9-and-olders were able to work more or less independently. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad helped with spelling words and addressing, and, in the quiet moments, wrote a few notes themselves. When everyone was finished, there was hot cider and banana bread. The kids were involved, the notes were done and the family had time to be together and talk about their holiday, friends and relatives.

Happy note writing!

Fondly,
The Dixie Team

    Chatting with Interior Designer James Farmer

    A Southern author, gardener, floral and interior designer, cook and garden-to-table lifestyle expert, James Farmer seems to do it all. Known for his "classic with a twist" interiors, his work has graced the pages of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Southern Living Magazine, Traditional Home Magazine, and many more. In Spring 2013, James opened his design firm and antique store in Perry, Georgia. 

    As one of our Holiday Tastemakers, James worked with Dixie artist Gina Langford to design his stunning Christmas cards this year. He has very graciously agreed to share with us some more about himself including his holiday traditions and what he always has on hand when working on his design projects.

    Favorite Holiday Tradition: My family eats sushi on Christmas Eve because my grandmother had finally had it with turkey, dressing and ham.  She wanted the complete opposite!  We have eaten at a Japanese Steak House for as long as I remember.

    Dream Dinner Date: I would love to have dinner with Truman Capote, Babe Paley and their friend group. Or perhaps, Jackie O and her sister Lee.  However, if none of them were available I will settle for Thomas Jefferson.

    Favorite Last Minute Holiday Gift Idea: Books!! I love giving books…hint hint, James Farmer books!

    3 Favorite Coffee Table Books: Furlough Gatewood’s One Man’s Folly; An Updated Emily Post book because we all need to mind our manners; Of course, I am biased, but one of mine!!

    Last great film you saw? Home Again with Reese Witherspoon! I love Nancy Myers films! Or, I am on a major Florence Foster Jenkins kick.

    Comfort Food: Soup and corn bread.

    What inspires you most? Creative Ingenuity!  I love when someone does something so simple yet so great!

    Prized PossessionMy Mimi’s every day silver or old family photos.

    Most sentimental Christmas tree trimming: True confession: Christmas trees are not my favorite.  I love decorating my mantle, though!  I have my grandparents, parents and my siblings’ stockings which go great on my mantle.

    Go-to hostess gift: Snips and Clips from the yard in a fun container! People love fresh flowers especially seasonal garden flowers.

    Hidden Talent: The Uncanny ability to sniff out a bakery or antique mall in any town. I can tell you anywhere to eat below the Mason Dixon line or East of the Mississippi.

    Coffee: I love coffee with a heavy hand of cream.

    What did you dream of being when you were a kid? Who I am today, honestly!

    What is your number one tool of the trade? That blue stuff – Putty! I fixed a Christmas decoration with it just this morning! Its great for hanging and for cabinets that won’t close, anything really!

    Elisabeth & Butter's Elisabeth Farris

    

    We are so excited to help you get to know one of our favorite Southern bakers! Elisabeth Farris, one of our 2017 Holiday Tastemakers, is the face behind the fabulous Elisabeth & Butter baking blog. We loved working with Elisabeth to design her beautiful holiday cards this year. Dixie artist Shanna Masters was inspired by several of the themes of Elisabeth's very recent fall wedding while designing the Bartlett Heraldry card collection

    Elisabeth kindly shared some fun tidbits about herself below...including the baking tool she cannot live without!

    Favorite holiday tradition:  My family makes a big Christmas Eve dinner with beef tenderloin, lots of good side dishes and a Buche de Noel. We all open one gift afterwards and it is such a special tradition!

    Dream dinner date:  I think my dream dinner date would be exploring a new city and going to a restaurant I’ve always wanted to try. It would definitely have to involve good food and wine.

    Favorite last minute holiday gift idea:  A wooden cutting board  or cheese board is always a good idea in my family.

    Favorite Christmas morning tasty treat:  Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting!

    Last great film you saw?  Lion

    Comfort food:  Thanksgiving turkey, dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce. I could eat it year-round.

    What inspires you most?  So many of the wonderful creatives that I’ve gotten to meet and work with through my business. They constantly inspire me to dream big and keep growing.

    Prized possession:  My mother’s sugar cookie recipe

    Favorite baked item to gift someone:  I usually go for banana bread or cinnamon rolls since they are great for an easy breakfast.

    Go-to hostess gift:  A loaf of homemade bread and a bottle of good olive oil.

    Hidden talent:  I’m pretty good at making fancy cocktails.

    Coffee:  I like to switch up the brands of coffee but I typically mix it with an almond milk creamer and a little bit of honey.

    What did you dream of being when you were a kid?  When I was really young, I wanted to be a “baby nurse,” and then I dreamed about being an actress.

    What is your number one tool of the trade?  I love my icing smoother tool. I use it on every cake I make and it is perfect for the “naked cake” look.

    Dixie's Guide to Spectacular Holiday Cards & Invitations

    The Dixie team has pulled together a list of answers to frequently asked questions and some advice from our card designers as a guide for our customers to reference when they create their Holiday cards.  Here are our suggestions for addressing and creating holiday cards...
    • Proper Plural - Use the plural form of your last name and not the possessive form (Correct:  The Collier Family or The Colliers; Incorrect:  The Colliers’ or Collier’s).  The only proper use of the possessive form is when the invitation reads:  "Please join us at The Colliers’ Home.” We see this mistake a lot and we don’t want it to happen to you!
    • Proper Way to List Names - We prefer to list the husband first, then the wife, followed by children oldest to youngest.
    • That Pesky Comma - The Oxford comma is common practice for every day use, but it can sometimes be unnecessary and even distracting on a holiday card. We like the way this name list looks without the Oxford comma on a holiday card:
    Merry Christmas!
    The Holland Family
    Henry, Anna Beth and George
    • Monograms - We recommend using a single letter monogram of the family last name. If you are a newly married couple, you might want to use your married three letter monogram. If you’re an engaged couple sending a holiday card or a party invitation that includes a monogram, the bride’s initials should be used or the couples first name initials and not the married monogram.
    • Addressing Families on the Envelope - We think either "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith" or "The Smith Family" could work! Using "The Smith Family" includes everyone if the couple has children. 
    • The Best Photo - Make sure your photo is high resolution and good quality so it will print well.  Remember the photo you see on your computer screen or on your phone is backlit and will appear brighter than it will print.  So please ensure you do not use a dark photo when customizing your card.
    • Photo Logistics - Fill the entire photo box with your photo and zoom in or out to get it placed exactly where you want it. If you zoom too much though, it could reduce the sharpness of your photo. You may click on the photo and move it around or use the buttons on the personalization screen. You may also click the CORNERS of your photo and resize but never click on the SIDES of the photo to move it around as it will distort the photo. If you accidentally do that, re-upload your photo and start again.
    • Don't forget to order some extra cards! We think it is nice to have some extras to send out to someone who sent you a card and you did not have them on your original list.

    For Holiday Invitations

    • No Zip Needed - No need to include the zip code on an invitation, only include on the envelope return address.
    • RSVP - When requesting a reply on an invitation, include "Please Reply" or “RSVP" and not "Please RSVP” as that is asking the recipient to Please Respond Please!

     Photo: Mandy Busby Creative

    DoSayGive's Favorite Children's Christmas Books

    Seasons Greetings! I am Lee Cordon of DoSayGive, a space where I write about how to be lovely and gracious in everything we do, say, and give. I love giving gifts that are beautiful and timeless - and books are one of those things! Today I am sharing some of our favorite classic holiday children's books and how they help bring our focus back to the true meaning of the season. Plus, a few book traditions you might want to incorporate into your family.

    One of the reasons my children love holiday books is because I bring them out just during the holidays. It's always so much fun for them to page through their favorites after they've been away all year. I know some families who will wrap up 25 books under the tree and unwrap one each night in December to read. I don't have time for that much wrapping but we read at least one Christmas book a night. Our favorites include stories of giving and service and, of course, baby Jesus. There are so many Christmas-themed children's books out there, but I tend to like the books that have stood the test of time. Classic books with rich language and beautiful illustrations. Ones with sweet stories that my children ask to read again and again. I think these kinds of books make the best books to give as well!

    Ways to Give Timeless Christmas Books

    • Each year wrap up a holiday book under the tree for your children (and write a sweet inscription and the year). It's become a tradition in our family to give our girls each a new book on Christmas Eve.

    • If giving a little girl a doll, consider pairing it with a vintage copy of Tasha Tudor's precious A Doll's First Christmas or The Story of Holly and Ivy, about a girl that wishes for a doll and a doll that wishes for a girl. While The Best Loved Doll is not a Christmas book, it's a must read for all little girls and would pair perfectly with an American Girl doll. For boys, pair a classic Lionel train set with The Polar Express.

    • Former White House Social Secretary, Lea Berman, once told me that when she attends a holiday party at a home where there are young children she will bring 2-3 classic Christmas books as the hostess gift. So thoughtfully unique!

    • Instead of baked goods, why not give your family friends and neighbors a beautiful classic Christmas book to enjoy with their children? Give a different one every year and they will have a nice collection of holiday books after several years.

    More Christmas Book Favorites

    As told from the animals' perspectives on the night Jesus was born, Song of the Stars is a precious book that will bring tears to your eyes. The illustrations are just stunning. An Orange for Frankie has a powerful message about giving and being thankful for even the smallest gifts. It's one that sticks with you long after you've finished reading it. Mortimer's Christmas Manger is an adorable book for young children about a mouse who decides to live in a family's nativity set. Any of these books would make a special gift this holiday. And one day they can pass them down to their children and grandchildren. After all, timeless stories never fade. You can see these and more Beloved Christmas Books, as well as age recommendations, on DoSayGive's Holiday Gift Guide. Along with suggestions for classic toy favorites as well. Merry Christmas!

    A Holiday Spiced Tea Tradition

    If you were able to read our post last week, you saw the meaningful design inspiration behind the Colonial Citrus Christmas card suite that Dixie Creative Director Holly Hollon created for our founder, Jennifer Hunt. When Holly initially showed Jennifer the card designs, Jennifer knew that this design would also make beautiful gift tags and recipe cards for one of her favorite holiday traditions - her family's spiced tea drink. 

    Jennifer's grandmother, Martha Davis “aka Nonnie,” is the one who began the holiday spiced tea tradition in her family. Nonnie's recipe is based off of the traditional Russian tea recipe, but Jennifer says it is the best version she has ever tasted!  Jennifer now makes a batch of the tea with her family at the beginning of each holiday season, so they can enjoy it throughout the winter. She has also been known to add honey to the hot drink to cure a winter cough!

    Jennifer has fond memories of making the tea mix with her mother, portioning out in jars with ribbon and delivering to neighbors and friends in her hometown. Thankfully, she was happy to share the recipe with us here in the hope you could use the gift idea too. For an added touch, she tied the jars with a gold measuring spoon this year. 

    Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.

    Store in an airtight container like the ones we found here.

    Tie with ribbon, a gold spoon and Dixie's Colonial Citrus Recipe Gift Tags.

    To serve, stir 2 tablespoons of mix into 1 cup of boiling water.

    We think this is the perfect holiday gift idea for neighbors, co-workers, or even your children's teachers! Shop the Colonial Citrus gift tags and recipe cards here.

    Photos by Mary Margaret Smith

    A Look Behind the Design - Jennifer's Colonial Williamsburg Childhood Christmas

     
    When our Founder, Jennifer Hunt, was thinking through her Christmas card this year, she asked Holly Hollon, our Creative Director, to include artwork of a Boston Terrier, the dog breed Jennifer and her family have owned for five generations.  So when Holly was gathering design inspiration, she asked Jennifer for any Christmas memories that would help her with creating a card that would be personal and special. 

    Jennifer immediately thought about her childhood home in Russellville, Alabama, its Colonial Williamsburg design and how beautifully and thoughtfully it was decorated by her mother, Donna Norris, each holiday season.  Having a deep interest in history and also having lived in Greenville, North Carolina, where home design is heavily influenced by Williamsburg, Jennifer’s parents chose to build the first Colonial Williamsburg style home in Russellville in 1980.  It’s still the house the family calls “home” after almost 40 years. 



    Donna’s holiday decorating was also influenced by this design style and Jennifer recalls fruit wreaths on the doors, candles in the windows, lots of holly, magnolia and ivy and certainly the quintessential Colonial Williamsburg pineapple used throughout the house.  Her mother decorated with rich historical colors - blue, red, gold, green and cream - which translated into the colors Holly used in the Colonial holiday card suite she created.

    With these visuals of Jennifer's childhood Christmases to design around, Holly created several Colonial Williamsburg-inspired Christmas papers. Jennifer's Boston Crest card ties in the pineapple, glossy dark green Magnolia leaves from her childhood Christmas dinner table and mantle, and it also features a certain Boston terrier that is near and dear to all of our hearts!

    Using citrus is a long-standing Colonial Williamsburg Christmas decorating tradition, so Holly expanded the collection to include that theme with her Colonial Citrus collection and her Colonial Pineapple collection. We love the elegance of the cards and the option of either the crimson ribbon or the gold ribbon.

    Stay tuned for our post on Monday where Jennifer will share her family's spiced tea recipe! We think it is the perfect thoughtful holiday gift for neighbors and family friends!

    All vintage photos taken by Jennifer's dad, Lanny Norris.  Photo inside Boston Crest cards by Holland Williams Photography.

    A Holiday Sweets 'N Treats Dessert Party

    The Dixie team is so excited for the third installation of our menu series collaboration with Registered Dietician and food blogger, Holley Grainger! We had a ball using designer Sarah Robbins Powell's Gingerbread Sweetness Invitation to dream up a whimsical holiday dessert party.

    Holley helped us pull together all of the delectable sweets and treats menu items for the party's main event, the dessert bar.   

    Holley's scrumptious sweets menu has a little of something for everyone's sweet tooth. For cake lovers, the cake balls pack a bite-size sugar punch. And the maple popcorn, while it still has a hint of sweetness, balances out the chocolatey and peanut butter items. And we love the idea of a hot chocolate bar! What a thoughtful and appropriate "beverage" item for this particular party.

    Each menu item's link will direct you to the recipe.

    Now that the dessert menu is set, we can begin dreaming up ways to use these adorable gift tags attached to party favors for our guest.

    Sources: Appetizer Plates | Holly Heights by Kate Spade for Lenox. Cocktail Napkins | Caspari. Pink and Green mini tress | Michaels Craft Store. Peppermint Bark | Williams Sonoma. Pastries | Whole Foods. Nutcracker Garland | Swoozies

    Please contact us for menu and place card pricing.

    We hope you were able to catch our two earlier posts in this series where Holley Grainger created a ladies brunch menu based off of our Paper Whites Invitation and she created a dinner party menu based off of Dixie's Creative Director Holly Hollon's Colonial Pineapple Invitation.

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