Downtown Holiday Open House, A Favorite Small Town Tradition


The start of the Christmas season has become intertwined with retailers’ schedules for their holiday displays. Every year, Christmas knick-knacks seem to appear earlier and earlier on the shelves. I think our local Walmart actually had Christmas displays going up the day after Halloween. Ahh!

Typically I, like most sane individuals, like the holiday season to begin after the Thanksgiving leftovers have been wrapped up and put away. I can only look at Santa t-shirts and light up reindeer for so long. The one exception I make to this is our downtown’s annual Holiday Open House. Every year our small downtown shops open up Sunday afternoon to preview their new Christmas merchandise. Stores lay out spreads of cheeses and dips, and serve wine or punch. While I know that to an outsider this doesn’t sound all that exciting, I really look forward to it every year.

The thing I love about this event is that it’s like a community party to kick off the season. The stores are decked out in their Christmas best with poinsettias, wreaths, and fun new gift items to browse. Everyone comes out to mingle and shop, so the stores are packed and lively. Everywhere you turn, there’s someone to wave at or chat with. I always end up running into women I only see a few times a year, so I have to plan to spend at least 45 minutes in each store. This year we spent so much time at the first couple of stops that we didn’t even make to the last two, and there are only six stores that participate! Let me tell you, southern people can talk. I know an uncomfortable amount of information about various grandchildren I’ve never met.

Every year, one of my favorite stores makes this spiced tea that I can’t get enough of. It’s the owner’s mother’s recipe, and I always forget the ingredients involved even though I ask her every year. Last Sunday I drank at least three Santa mugs full of the stuff, while everyone else guzzled wine and cocktails. I think this is a decent approximation of the recipe. One of my other favorite shops, Delta Gypsy, puts out the best spread of sweets and snacks. We stopped by late in the evening, so they let me gorge myself on peppermint bark and fancy crackers. I strategically don’t eat lunch ahead of time, so I can hop from store to store grazing away. Delta Gypsy is also the only retailer in town that carries truffle salt, which I buy in bulk. That stuff is magical y’all!

Here are a few pictures from this year’s event.



Cotton & Kudzu, a cute little “mall” with great vintage finds. They also carry a line of locally made heirloom children’s clothing that caterers to the rich and fabulous. Pretty sure Blue Ivy sported one of their dresses.



How cute is that snowman? He looks like a giant children’s craft project.



Two of my favorite people under the age of 21. Basically I want my children to be just like them, only with slightly more Asian features.



Mugs of spiced teas for days



My friend Charity sawing into a salami shaped log of chocolate…apparently it’s a thing now?


Gotta love old guys who still know how to have a good time! (Photo credit: Handworks Helena)


Pretty cute, huh? I’d love to know of any holiday traditions your town celebrates every year.

Tonight I’m staying up late to prep a couple items for tomorrow’s Turkey Day dinner. At the last minute we were invited to a friend’s house, so we’ll be heading over there to hang out with he and his wife’s respective families. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving, for those of you who celebrate! My big goal tomorrow is to not eat myself into a coma. I’ll let you know how that goes…


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