Every Christmas for more than 30 years, I have unpacked treasured items that are part of the holiday traditions in our family. There are the ceramic Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, lovingly painted by the receptionist at my husband’s office when our children were toddlers. These two caricatures were always our children’s favorites. I also […]
So many things during the holiday season seem to inspire strong feelings on both sides. “Little Drummer Boy,” for example: My husband loves it. It’s his favorite Christmas carol of all time. I, however, would rather listen to nails on a chalkboard than that endless litany of “pa rum pum pum pums.” And so it […]
As the holiday social scene begins to heat up, guests all over town start asking themselves the same question: “Where did I put all of those fancy wine bottle bags?” There’s nothing wrong with bringing a bottle of wine for your host or hostess, of course, but it’s not exactly the most original gift. With […]
Cat Cora How has New Orleans influenced your cuisine?I grew up in Mississippi and went to the University of Southern Mississippi, so I was really just about 45 minutes away from New Orleans. I grew up coming here, and I grew up eating jambalaya, oysters, étoufée and pralines, and bold flavors like that have an […]
Minus the softly falling snow and horse-drawn carriages, the classic Georgian-style home of Jennifer and Fred Heebe looks much like those pictured in the Courier and Ives lithographs of yesteryear. From the outside, the glittering white lights delicately strewn across the hedges and the half-dozen wreaths hanging from each first-story window bedazzle the passersby. Holiday […]
Tis the season to be festive … and festive it is at the home of Leslie and Brian Boudreaux in the Beau Chene gated community in Mandeville –– with a twist of Southern hospitality. Their raised Acadian cottage-style home is very welcoming for the holidays with traditional garland flanking the front porch rails and crimson […]
Whatever you may be celebrating this December, we raise our glass to you! Traditionally, now is a time to observe Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Let us embrace them all. It is also during this time that New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles revels in the rich aesthetics of the season. In honor of the festive beauty […]
After studying ballet for 17 years and earning degrees in political and social sciences from Loyola University, Lisa Jo Hienz decided to take her career in a new direction –– up in smoke. “I returned from a month-long Katrina evacuation to find that the accounting firm I worked for had relocated out of state,” says […]
“D” is for “December” — and “decadent” and “delicious.” The list of adjectives seems never-ending when it comes to describing the most indulgent time of the year. With the leftover holiday ham, the remaining liquor from last weekend’s cocktail party and the growing assortment of nuts and goodies courtesy of generous colleagues and neighbors, your […]
The Plant Gallery started as a small shop in the French Quarter in 1991 and has expanded greatly since its inception. Today, it’s a diverse business that occupies almost 3 acres on Airline Drive and employs nearly 60 professionals, including General Manager Jim Massicot. The business offers a variety of services including landscaping, interior-scape design, […]
Toast of the Town Influenced by architectural mosaics and tile work created by Venetian artisans, Anthony Shafermeyer and Claire Kelly have developed a unique stemware collection. Each piece is produced by pulling colored glass into long rods that are cooled, cut and assembled into a pattern on a ceramic stone. Once the stone is hot, […]
It’s one of my oldest and fondest Christmas memories: My mom and dad and I were walking along Bayou St. John in mid-December when we noticed that City Park was all lit up. We abandoned our normal path to cross the street and check it out. This was maybe the second or third year of […]
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Every Christmas for more than 30 years, I have unpacked treasured items that are part of the holiday traditions in our family. There are the ceramic Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, lovingly painted by the receptionist at my husband’s office when our children were toddlers. These two caricatures were always our children’s favorites.
I also pull out all the china, silver, crystal and linens, many of which belonged to our mothers and grandmothers. It’s a mental game I play as I set the tables and extravagant buffet. With each ancestor’s piece, I pretend that Gigi, Nana, Mama and Papa are with us on Christmas Day.
The antiques we have in our homes are part of our history, and each has a story. We New Orleanians treasure our old belongings and know how to use them well. It’s in our DNA.
So how do the experts use their antiques during the holidays?
Hal Williamson, owner of Williamson Designs/La Vieille Maison on Magazine Street, pulls out all the stops to celebrate the holidays. “I’ve collected Old Paris porcelain for decades and inherited some from my grandmother in Georgia,” he says. “We use it all!” Large Old Paris urns adorn the mantelpiece and are filled with kumquats, oranges, pineapples and cuttings from his garden. He and his partner, Dale LeBlanc, use antique linens from their families and serve a menu reminiscent of their childhood holidays in Mississippi and Georgia. Dale’s mother serves her special gumbo in Old Paris bowls, and his grandmother makes a coconut cake –– served on an Old Paris platter, of course.
An antique silver punch bowl is filled with an opulent bouquet of camellias snipped from the couple’s garden and placed on the dining room table. Extra guests arrive? No problem! “We’ll pull in two demilune tables from another room, and they’ll take care of eight more guests. During the holidays, we use every antique in the house!” Petricia Thompson, owner of Petricia Thompson Antiques on Magazine Street, collected antique angels for decades. Every year, she displayed them throughout her magnificent Uptown home. Most of her collection was lost during Katrina; only five 18th-century angels bought in France years ago survived. “I used to save these angels for the holidays, but now I display them year-round as a sign of love and respect for their hurricane experience,” she says. “They’ve taught me that life is short, and it can all go away in an instant.”
Holiday traditions are all about her French Quarter store for Ida Manheim. She and her staff begin planning in October how they will decorate the windows and first floor of the store and begin decorating the day after Thanksgiving.
“I have an 1870s Carrara marble mantel that is nestled in the front window,” she says. “On it I place evergreen wreaths, and antique bronze andirons rest in front of the hearth. Colorful urns decorate the mantel, and a gorgeous antique oil painting is placed above it.” On the floor are brightly wrapped gifts; two elegant French chairs flank the mantel. It’s a holiday vignette that is picture-perfect.
Manheim also decorates every antique table and buffet with poinsettias; dozens of them are artfully arranged throughout the store, and a small French wine cellar that is usually filled with wine is filled with more poinsettias. “Holiday decorating is a passion of mine, so no antique is left out,” she says. “Passersby walk in from Royal Street and say that the windows put them in the holiday spirit.”
Lucullus owner Patrick Dunne has a different approach. A firm believer in the use of his best antiques year-round, Dunne has one special piece that he reserves for Christmas Day. “My father inherited a blown-and-molded glass cake stand from a cousin,” he says. “It was used on every one of his birthdays, which happened to be on Christmas Day. He always had the same cake, a Sunshine cake, made by Miss Little, the family cook. This surely isn’t the finest thing I own, but it reminds me of my father. I’m very, very sentimental about it.”
Even though each antique merchant had different uses for his or her antiques, each agreed on one thing: You should use your treasures. “The more you use your antiques, the better,” Thompson says. “Each time you use them, you’ll evoke a memory from a loved one or the experience of finding and purchasing that piece. Antiques are more than material objects; their purposes go far beyond that. They are memory-makers.”