A Glittery Nantucket Christmas Stroll

~Nantucket Island~

The Nantucket Christmas Stroll began in 1973, as a brilliant idea, to keep islanders from leaving the island to do their Christmas shopping.

Main Street

In 1973, there were fewer than 6,000 full-time residents. Today, the island is home to an estimated 23,000 full-time residents.

Over the past 43 years (26 of which we have attended!), “Stroll” has grown from a tiny three-hour event with holiday delectables and libations, to the Internationally renowned event it is today, drawing thousands from around the world. Sponsored by the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce, this magical weekend is three days long with “strollers” pouring off boats and planes from far and near, dressed in some pretty funny red and green get-ups, which may or may not include old raccoon fur coats and crazy hats, ready for amazing shopping, fabulous food, awesome raw bars, good friends, martinis “shaken not stirred”, and some pretty fine wine!

We have been Stroll patrons since 1990, but I have to say, this year, was the most amazing of all the years! The fabulously chic inns, the gorgeous restaurant additions, the incredible Nantucket Culinary Center and the tremendous increase in year round locals, has contributed greatly to this spectacular happening, which has become an International allure, for sure.

The town is dressed up in all of its holiday finery resembling a time in history akin to a Norman Rockwell (esque) village. Christmas trees line both sides of the entire Main Street lit up with dazzling colored lights, carolers roam in traditional 18th century costumes, Santa arrives by boat, the stores are all open, the sales are incredible, the restaurants buzz with reservation overflows, necessitating outdoor tents with heaters, and the before and after parties take over the island, which glitters like a jewel in the winter sea.

This year, we had a dinner party on Thursday evening, as a kick-off to the weekend for arriving guests. As darkness fell, friends and family members settled in to get ready for the ultimate winter island extravaganza! 

And of course “glitter” was the theme!

A glittery pine forest set the tone for a Christmas romance

A darkness fell, everyone settled in from their travels.

Our collection 19 years of silver bells gifted to us by dear friends, Lalique cherubs, a crystal Nantucket oyster  revealing the fruits of the sea, and my favorite crystal heart, a gift from another dear friend, frequently seen on my tablescapes.

Ralph Lauren “King Charles Paisley” with William Sonoma linens and silk 3” tartan ribbons.

A love "glittery" love affair

A night to remember…

After the parties were over...

Thanksgiving 2016

~Nantucket Island~

TELL A STORY with your tablescape!  It’s creative and fun, and will be an instant conversation piece with your guests! Once you have a theme, the excitement and layering begins!  Give yourself enough time to design it.  Rushing and time restraints promote stress and zap your creative juices. This tablescape took me three hours (with plenty of time to spare!) of adding, deleting and then finally...swooning.  I never think, "oh, I've got to SET the table".  I always think, "Oh, I've got to DESIGN my table".  It's so much more fun.

THE COLOR SCHEME this year was decidedly going to take on a more neutral approach, a deviation from my bold orange design of last year. I waited for the inspiration to come to me. Sure enough, it hit me at the Rooms with a View Decorator Show House in Southport, CT.  My design began with the purchase of two gorgeous ferns in beautiful, natural rolled, birch bark containers, and two large moss balls, I hand-carried on the boat to Nantucket! I supplemented with matching birch bark candle pillars holding tea lights, I found at Flowers on Chestnut, on island. This year, unlike last year, my table linens, in simple ivory, would serve only as a backdrop, not making any statement at all. The same would be true of the china I used, which was my ivory, gold-banded LENOX, from our wedding in 1979, which I love and covet with all my heart! I used tiny kraft name tags at each place setting in small round vases I’ve had for years that house both the flowers/greens and the name tag. I love the natural feel, the color and look of anything kraft.  

These feathered placemats sent me over the edge!

Did you know that until 1918 there had been no American made china in the White House? This upset President Woodrow Wilson, who finally commissioned Lenox to create the first US made china. 

A New York City newspaper reported,“The proud day has arrived when the White House dining service [was] designed by an American artist, made at an American pottery… and decorated by American workmen.”

Since that time, six presidents have commissioned Lenox for their own signature china. 


THE GRAPES in the centerpiece contributed majorly to my design, which was clearly taking an organic turn! To incorporate natural colors, I thought fruits! Yes! Different colors of grapes! I loved the idea of them cascading down a 3-tiered cake stand, but wondered how I would keep them perfectly in place (crashing down on the votives would not be good). I got out my favorite tool of all time, a glue gun, and anchored the heavy part of the stems to the cake stand tiers. I bought a couple of bags of loose moss, which I used to gently nudge (wedge) the grapes to remain where I wanted them! And then, of course added my birds!

Grapes, as a the centerpiece

BIRDS OF A FEATHER  are always part of my holiday designs in some way shape or form. So out came my collection of birds! And then, speaking of feathers, why not use fabulous feather placemats?!  Lion's Paw of Nantucket, I love you!  While we're at it,  let’s add feathers elsewhere, too…. I used 3 inch burlap ribbon for the napkins and inserted an 18 inch single feather into each one. I used the other feathers in a grouping near the moss balls on my sideboard. This really got me excited! This was when I added the gold deer antlers in the fern plants to pick up the trim of the china.  Burlap, fruit, moss, pinecones, ferns, deer antlers, birch bark, birds and feathers!  I think I’m getting somewhere with this, and I think it's a woodland theme!

PUMPKINS always add a lovely autumnal look and feel to Thanksgiving, especially since they are used so much in cooking and baking during the season! I was happy to find little white ones on island, keeping everything in neutral tones. And so it began…. Our Thanksgiving tablescape was on its way to paying homage to the forest and the fruits of the land! Your story becomes pivotal in the design, the colors you choose, and the style you see evolving. Have fun with it! Be whimsical and creative. It sets the tone for FUN before the FUN even begins!

Our Culinary Excursion!
Our Thanksgiving morning was a bit more relaxed this year, as there was no zooming out the door for the 8am 5K race, since our daughter had just run the New York City Marathon! But we were up bright and early and had a nice cozy, breakfast before the traditional ice cold Turkey Plunge!

Corn and Cranberry Pancakes (compliments of my husband, Jim, the pancake genie!)
• Fresh fruit of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries
• Orange Juice
• Mimosas

Traditional Post-Plunge Bloody Mary Party
(my Brother-in-law and Sister-in-law’s home)
• Classic Bloody Marys
• Shrimp Cocktail
• Cheese Platters

Thanksgiving Dinner
• Corn Chowder with Squash & Bacon served in “squash bowls” (pictured)
• Turkey
• Gravy (The gravy fairy visited me this year with a perfectly smooth and tasty gravy!)
• Mashed Potatoes
• Sweet Potatoes with marshmallows (the kids are never giving this up!)
• Brussel Sprouts with bacon and maple syrup
• Oyster Cornbread Stuffing with mushrooms
• Mixed Fruit Stuffing with grapes (of course!), apples and pears
• Carrot Pudding
• Cranberry Citrus Mold (A great presentation)
• Penny's Cranberry Sauce (See recipe on Cranberry Blog in Food & Cocktails)

Corn Chowder with Squash & Bacon served in “squash bowls”

Place card holder and floral vase all in one! 

My favorite of all the birds in my collection

Wait...I'm having a Cinderella deja vu...with this bird and moss green velvet ribbon...


Thanksgiving 2015

~Nantucket Island~

Thanksgiving 2015 brought a much larger crowd to our island home! We arrived on the island to celebrate Thanksgiving with our daughter’s in-law family from Cincinnati, who had never been to Nantucket! Our journey began with a tailgate for thirty at the Yale Harvard game in Connecticut, and continued on up to Massachusetts and out to sea, in all of its fall regalia! The more the merrier for me!

My table this year was a bit more formal than usual. My design and color scheme was based on the gorgeous charcoal, silver and orange Jacquard linens I found at Williams Sonoma in Winter Park, Florida. I just drooled over them.

Antique silver bun warmer. Saint Louis crystal. Ralph Lauren china

Pillared candles perched on walnuts.

Our day begins with a 5k race road race, followed by the Turkey Plunge and followed by the annual "Bloody Mary" party at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's home. Then we have our soup and once again, meet up for a walk on the beach with the other Lyons family.  So, our dinner is always in the early evening,  a candlelight Thanksgiving dinner after dark, with the fireplaces roaring and lots of wine.

Time to pour the wine...and get this party started!

NOTE TO SELF: RELY ON YOUR INSTINCTS! Try to fall in love with your design way in advance! I found these linens two weeks before the holiday. I was jittery about relying upon on-time, on-island delivery. So I hunted down every store I could physically go to, and was successful in finding what I needed. It was too late to cancel the order… which arrived four days after the holiday! INSTINCTS! Rely on them!  

The first order of events was to put a rush online order in for monogram cocktail napkins!  They are inexpensive and make a big statement. Having fun with the color scheme, I ordered silver raised damask paper napkins with our monogram in burnt orange foil, from my “go-to”, The Stationery Studio. Shop online at www.thestationerystudio.com.

Silver damask cocktail napkins with burnt orange foil monogram.

I decided to get out all of the Christmas silver and get polishing! It was bold, elegant and formal! Different from my usual Thanksgiving themes… My candle design this year, using the same candle holders I used last year, included bright orange pillar candles perched atop large walnuts and placed them between scattered ORANGE PUMPKINS. I brought out silver ice buckets, and vintage silver pieces that included our antique bun warmer, and placed everything around the table as I would a collection. And, of course, I used our autumnal Ralph Lauren china and our Saint Louis “Tommy” patterned crystal.


The colors of the food from our feast, popped with this palette.  Here is my Butternut Squash Soup with apples and bacon.

                                                                                       I loved it! It was a wonderful Thanksgiving!