From the Desk of Dixie

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.

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!

The Etiquette Expert's Advice on how to be a Gracious Guest this Holiday Season

Myka Meier and her husband, Marco, putting into practice all of her tips for being a gracious guest while attending a recent wedding.

We hope you saw our post yesterday on Myka Meier's tips on being a gracious host. We simply could not leave out her advice for all of you who need to be gracious guests this holiday season! Please do not miss Myka's recommendation for what time a gracious guest should arrive to a party...we think it is spectacular advice! And for her thank you note reminder, we have some beautiful stationery options for all of your note writing.

According to Myka...

  • The perfect time to arrive is from the invitation time to 10 minutes after. Never arrive early…as the host or hostess is probably preparing last minute touches and will be caught off guard. When you arrive, offer to help in any way you can.

Some of Myka's other hosting tips follow...