What says “holidays” better than food, family and friends — especially if that food includes all the Christmas cookies you ever wanted to eat? This year my cooking club, the Gingers (Girls In Need of Gourmet Experience Really Soon), came to my house for lunch and a cookie exchange. I went with red and white and borrowed my mom’s Christmas tableware (thanks, Mom!) for an easy meal of soup, cheese, crackers and muffins. (And, by the way, I have a great soup recipe: Find a caterer or restaurant who makes excellent soup and become a regular and valued customer. Works every time.) Then it was time to distribute our cookie choices. Yum!!! Just imagine having six people each give you a dozen of the most delicious Christmas cookies you’ve ever tasted — unbelievable. We all agreed this definitely will be an annual event for us. And in honor of the Gingers coming to my house, I put up a cooking table-top tree for them. It wasn’t difficult to find miniature decorations for it — for some reason, many of the ornaments I have for our big tree revolve around food and drink. Go figure. I had some vintage cooking utensils from my mom’s antiques shop and other leftovers from when the Gingers decorated a 15-footer for the annual Christmas-tree display at our local arts center a couple years ago, so the little cooking tree came together easily. The only downside is it makes me hungry every time I look at — but that’s not a problem when you have a practically endless supply of cookies in the house.

Christmas Decor

Has this holiday ribbon made it to your town yet? Everywhere I go in my usual family-and-friends route through Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, I see it. This super-wide bendable mesh is the latest thing to hit Christmas decorating since the invention of inflatable yard snow-globes — at least around here. Folks are decking their halls,  mailboxes, wreaths, garlands, trees, lamp posts and even presents with it. I love it — it seems so bright and festive and cheerful — and I would join in except I spent major $$$ a few years ago on going all gold and white for our outdoor Christmas decor and I imagine that my dear and darling husband would not take kindly to a major redo. But it’s tempting. I tend to overhaul all our outdoor Christmas decor every several years or so. The current white and gold replaced a symphony of gorgeous metallic purples, reds, golds and greens that I was in love with but my children cringed every year and heaved ponderous sighs about living with circus decorations. And in its full glory, the white and gold isn’t much better — when I put everything out in its originally intended spot, the house takes on a sort of puffy Victorian fairy-tale look that really has nothing in common with anybody who lives inside it. Consequently, I pare it down to the bare essentials of a couple wreaths, some mailbox decor and a few bows here and there — leaving many $$$ worth of wreaths, garlands and ribbons packed up and unused. But do not tell the husband, please. Our secret???