Forget the clutter and the hoopla. Get back to the real spirit of the season by following this family’s example.
The wreaths may be hung on the Nixes’ home in late November, but Christmas lives in their hearts year-round. For this family, there is no better present than spending time with each other.
Several years back, Jimmy and Susan Nix took a hard look at the holiday, and they didn’t like what they saw. This family didn’t want their priorities to be the sea of empty boxes that littered the living room floor or the over-the-top decor. They wanted the season to be about sharing time with loved ones. To simplify Christmas, they cut out excess and held onto the traditions that mattered the most to them. They even started a new one that takes the spirit into the next year.
For the Jackson, Mississippi, family, decorations have always been simple yet meaningful. “We’ve never had a themed tree,” says Susan. “Ours is the same every year―decorated with vintage glass ornaments. Many were once my grandmother’s, and my family and close friends have added to the collection over the years.” The crèche, an Advent wreath, and wreaths for the front of the home are mainstays too. There’s comfort in not having to reinvent your decorations each year.
Like many families, the Nixes have tried their Christmas tree in a variety of locations. One year in the corner by the windows, another over by the fireplace. This year they centered the tree in the middle of the room where it can be enjoyed from all angles. There is one caveat to this, however: Your tree will need to look great from all angles.
Pendant lights go green with pine garland. This remodeled kitchen just off the family room give the Nixes plenty of space for enjoying each other. Created by architect Tim Taylor and interior designer Ann Carter, the open plan makes for easy traffic flow.
“When it came to gifts, we got this unsettled feeling when we looked around us―so much stuff, too much stuff,” says Susan.
The following year, Jimmy and Susan forwent the hours of shopping and gave the family a trip.
“I wrapped one huge box filled with skiing gear,” says Susan. “Some was new; some was borrowed.” That morning, they told their sons they would take a family skiing trip during spring break.
“I was afraid the boys would be disappointed,” Susan remembers. To the Nixes’ delight, it was one of their best Christmases
ever. No one disappeared into his room to play with the latest gadget he had just gotten; instead, they hung out and enjoyed
each other’s company. “It was a family first,” she says.
“The trip is now our favorite tradition,” Susan continues. “The boys don’t know where we’re going, but it’s always revealed on Christmas morning.” One or two other families often join the Nixes, making the adventure even more fun. Sure, there are still gifts, but just a few, and they often relate to the trip ahead.
Simple and elegant, these 10 ideas are easy enough for anyone to do. We’ve picked our favorites for you to try. Best of all, the looks start with everyday items you probably already have at home: linen napkins, treasured ornaments given by family and friends, pillar candles, and even bags of dried black-eyed peas.
Cedar roses are the opened cones of the deodar cedar tree. For napkin rings, place cedar roses covered in silver leaf atop 2-inch-wide ribbon, and tuck in boxwood. Gluing is optional.
Presents have presence and double as decorations when wrapped in pretty papers, such as these from Snow & Graham (www.snowandgraham.com).
The family’s tree is decorated with vintage glass ornaments that belonged to Susan’s grandmother.
Potted evergreens slipped into burlap bags decorate the back porch during December. They can be given as gifts or planted in the yard later.
Pair mercury glass look-alikes with lit orbs, and arrange them in a large wicker basket.
Greenery wired to a PVC pipe is suspended above the door by wire secured to eye screws in the ceiling. The pipe is flexible enough to follow the curve of the doorway.
Natural elements combine with festive tableware for a brilliant presentation.
Recycled-aluminum candlesticks bring the celebration outside (www.vivaterra.com).