Have yourself a Southern little Christmas

by Julianne Milner

So you had the relatives over for Thanksgiving, argued over politics like you swore you wouldn’t, and did everything imaginable with that leftover turkey – now it’s on to CHRISTMAS! 

I hope you were able to attend one of the five nights of my Christmas event, “Have yourself a Southern little Christmas,” but if not, sit back and enjoy a few highlights of the event.

The event was about encouraging the creating and fostering of your own family traditions and memories, Southern Style, instead of just more presents under the tree.

After all, cherished memories are some of the best gifts we can give those we love.

The evening began with everyone around the many place setting displays, enjoying appetizers while listening to Christmas carols. Holiday buffet, centerpiece and place card ideas were displayed.

Decorated sugar cookies by Molly Young of Crumb and Canvas (mollymakescookies on Instagram) were served each night of the show. (Mike Kemp photo)

Christmas cards can be incorporated into your holiday decorating in a variety of ways. Did you receive one that really stood out from the others? Frame it and nestle it into your mantle décor or on a side table by your favorite chair. Incorporate the cards on your Christmas packages, tuck them in a tobacco basket adorned with fresh greens or use them as place cards on your table. Tucking your Christmas cards in the folded pages of an antique book is a unique way to display your favorite collection.


Frequently I am asked, what hostess gift can I take to a Christmas party besides the basic bottle of wine? One of my favorites is a cone-shaped bag of Winterberry granola. This makes a great treat for breakfast the morning after a late-night party when paired with simple vanilla yogurt.

Monogram a jute drawstring pouch and fill it with candied pecans. It doesn’t get any more Southern than that. I guarantee these will be eaten before the night’s end! They are addictive!

Holiday Stovetop Simmer makes a beautiful hostess gift when packaged in a pretty labeled bag and it will keep the house filled with scents of the season. Bake or buy a loaf of quick bread, pair it with a pound of flavored coffee wrapped in a kitchen towel with a stem of fresh greenery. A container of paperwhite bulbs ready to plant and bring cheer through the winter months is always a hit! These hostess gift ideas are sure to get you invited back next Christmas!


Some of the best Christmas memories are made around the table. Create a table setting and make it one that guests will want to linger around for hours. Remember Christmas china is not required for a holiday table and the color scheme does not have to be red and green.

When setting your table for the holiday meal, think OUTSIDE the china cabinet. Some of the grandest Christmas table settings come from using everyday dishes. Runners can run two or three count across the table instead of down the length of the table. Runners can be scarves, quilts, mirrors, cutting boards, etc. There are no rules anymore.

Attendants at “Have yourself a Southern little Christmas” saw many examples of place settings for the Christmas table. There were many ways to display your menu for the evening, china patterns can be mixed and matched, napkins can actually be kitchen towels and flatware is more interesting when mismatched and tucked inside an intriguing napkin fold.


Centerpieces to complement the place settings were also shown. Antique mirrors covered with snowy, bottlebrush trees, trifle bowls with mini scenes inside and an olive wood nativity from the Holy Land found a unique home on a cake stand.

The guests also learned that the holiday meal doesn’t always have to be in the dining room. Dining areas can be in different rooms by tossing a plaid throw over a table in the game room, the library, the living room, or it could be served on trays around the coffee table by the fireplace.

The important thing is the loved ones around your holiday table no matter where it is.

I hope this Christmas season is your best yet, filled with meaningful Christmas experiences.

Trim the tree and create memories over a table topped with cherished recipes and brand new ones. Pile in the car, see the Christmas lights and make it a point to connect with friends and family members.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

If you missed my Christmas event, follow me on Instagram at @juliannessoutherntable to learn more.

Winterberry Granola

4 cups old fashioned oats

2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

3/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup honey

1 1/2 cups cashews, chopped

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

16 ounces dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, olive oil, honey, nuts, and spices.

Spread in a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper and bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Stir and return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes until golden brown.  (Keep a close eye on the granola in case your oven cooks hotter. You may have to decrease time at this stage.)

Allow the granola to cool and then add dried fruit. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.