A Christmas Eve Celebration

You may recall a post I wrote just before Christmas entitled “Gifts That Gardeners Give”.  I pictured a wreath I had made as a gift for two very good friends.  They live on and love a big wild piece of property in what I call “the country”.  They were very enthusiastic about the gift-enough so to suggest they would make it an integral part of their traditional Christmas Eve dinner celebration.  Of course I asked for pictures.  I got more than that.  I got the story of the evening in pictures.   

The mercury glass candlesticks I had seen before.  Their 19th century stone house features generously deep window sills that are perfect for collections.  The simple wood bird sculptures I had not seen.  How elegant they are, each holding a sprig of holiday greens in their beaks.    

The candlesticks and birds dressed for the occasion ran the length of the holiday table.  I like that height that captures one’s attention and sets the mood upon entering the room.

They would do little to obstruct the seated views across the table.  I was delighted to see that the wreath was most definitely part of their holiday celebration. 

The table setting was exquisite. The silver and linens, quite formal.  The arrangement of all of the elements, rhythmic in a purely personal way.

Arranged around the bases of the birds and candlesticks, an assortment of fruits, ornaments, and bits from the garden. The nest in the wreath was handmade by some unknown bird with various grasses, twigs, and other natural detritus. I added a lining of milkweed seeds still attached to their fluff.  The surface of the table was similarly decorated with an assortment of like-spirited objects of their own choosing. 

I think their table was breathtaking.  The rickrack over the mercury glass calls to mind the string that could easily be part of a bird’s nest.  Fruits, nuts, and ornaments in various colors and shapes are the unexpected underplanting to the silver, white and glass dinner service.

The photographs are as beautifully composed as the table. 






Many thanks to my friends for permitting me to share the photographs of their Christmas Eve dinner table.  It is gorgeous, is it not?


  1. Very elegant. I love the birds. Your wreath compliments beautifully. Interesting to see they lay the forks and spoons downwards. What is the item lying across the top of the knife? Is it to support silverware between courses, I wonder?


    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Suzanne, the following is from my friend:
      I will have M. comment on the “why” of laying the flatware face down…all I know it that that is what the French do. Fork tines pointing downward is actually called à la française – French style; tines pointing up, à l’anglaise – English style. Interestingly, it must be a very old convention. The flatware on the table is French silverware from the 18th-century and you will notice the elaborate decoration on the backside — some kind of family crests, it appears — which is only seen with the flatware facing downward — “à la française” !

      Yes, they are knife rests — “porte couteau” in French. Again, they are derived from a time when people sat down to huge, long 8-12 course meals. Helps against soiling those damn linens !

  2. An incredibly perfect feast … all of this deliciousness to devour; no calories!

    This is truly exquisite. Every detail clearly thought out so meticulously, yet not excessively frou-frou and over the top, either. A perfect balance of less, and more.

    A big thank you to you and your clients for allowing us to be a virtual guest at this divine table. What a special Holiday treat.

  3. Merci pour l’explication.


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