These friends captured my heart for the holidays


This holiday season will be magical for me. My granddaughter Maeve is now 3, old enough to be swept away by the wonder and awe, carrying all of us with her. I want my holiday decor, from my table to my tree, to not only spark her imagination, but also anchor her to the season’s simple message of love. Eric and Eloise are going to help me.

Every year at the market, there is one thing I absolutely flip over. This year, it was a captivating children’s book of an unlikely friendship between a fox and a hare. I can’t explain why, but drinking in this collection of beautiful dishes and ornaments inspired by the book brought me back to the real heart of the holidays. To a sense of wonder and play. The beauty and power of friendship. And the need, now more than ever, to reach out in love and acceptance to those who are different from us.

I knew on the spot that Eric and Eloise would be the muse for my family’s holiday celebration, from dressing our Christmas table, to being my gift pick for friends who have little ones, to giving me a chance to snuggle with Maeve by the fire and read a story that fills us both with warmth and joy.

I love the creative process of coming up with a new look for my holiday table each year. Early in the season, I play around with all the elements I want to incorporate, from the linens, to the dishes, to the centerpiece, until it’s just right. Then, I replicate that same design each time I entertain family and friends.

Now that I’m a grandma, I need a tablescape that is whimsical enough to captivate Maeve, yet sophisticated enough to delight the grown-ups. I found my perfect sweet spot with the gold-embossed bisque-ware in the Eric and Eloise collection.

On one table we set at Nell Hill’s, we paired accent plates with everyday white dinnerware. A wintry forest of birch trees and clusters of sparkling votive candles made the perfect centerpiece.

The figures of Eric and Eloise take my breath away. They jump out of the pages of the book and make the characters real. How can you not lose your heart to a bunny with antlers?

One of my greatest joys as a small, local shop owner is the freedom we have to seek out and work with organizations, individuals and companies that are doing good in the world. Accent Decor, the makers of Eric and Eloise, are doing just that.

Each copy of Eric and Eloise is a handmade work of art, crafted start to finish by a women’s collective in Nepal. It’s a fascinating story, of how Lokta bark is sustainably harvested, made into pulp, dried in the mountain sunshine, each page individually screen printed, then hand-stitched into books. The women use their income to support their families and pay for education.

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This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at www.nellhills.com



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