Just a few short weekends ago, 2,000 strangers paid admission to traipse through my house—and I wasn’t even home. They wound through the living and dining rooms, surrounded by our stuffed bookshelves, DVD collection, modern furniture, and beautiful fruit and greenery displays.
If you had told me last Christmas that this year, there would be that many people coming into our home… let’s just say that there would have been a lot of laughter. This place is magical, and a lot of things have changed in regards to our living situation inside of the Historical Area.
Last year, we lived in the 600-square-foot restored Finnie kitchen near Bassett Hall—the grand tour was to walk in the door, and turn in a circle. The tiny space did not stop us from jumping into the holiday festivities full throttle, however. We themed our wreaths on the kitchen, and items a Quartermaster would have been responsible for—since William Finnie was at one time a Quartermaster in Williamsburg. It was adorable, but we were so far off the beaten path that not many visitors came by to look.
We also found out that while our tiny little “Hobbit Hole” was a lovely little cottage for two, it made entertaining during the holidays a bit difficult—especially when we discovered at the last minute that a normal sized turkey pan would not allow the oven door to close! So we propped a chair against the oven door. We fit 8 people in our tiny home for ‘friendsgiving,’ crowding in the living room/kitchen for a pot luck dinner that was simply delicious. And again at Christmas, had a Christmas Eve feast made entirely out of recipes from one of the CW Christmas cookbooks! A 4-course dinner that was divine. After Thanksgiving, a mouse moved into our Christmas tree, and he didn’t leave until after the New Year, officially making us realize that 600 square feet for two people and an animal (we didn’t even have our dog yet!) wouldn’t do for much longer.
This spring, we were fortunate enough to upgrade to the home I first fell in love with on Duke of Gloucester—and we have a full-sized kitchen and dining room! For Thanksgiving, we hosted not only family and friends on Turkey Day itself, but I also got to cook up a three-course dinner for a group of friends dressed in cocktail attire, and filled our home with the sounds and smells of the holidays.
And we actually get to have family and friends stay with us for the holidays! But that also means a lot more pressure to make sure our decorations are perfect this season, and we started plotting as soon as we got our house.
A few months ago, we were asked if we would be willing to open our home to participate in the Home and Garden tour over Grand Illuminations weekend, which meant that the Green Springs Garden Club decorated both inside and out for Grand Illuminations weekend, and the wreaths would stay up for the entire holiday season.
Excited to show off our new home and be a part of the holiday season in Williamsburg in such a unique way, we agreed. The preparations started in September—meetings with the Garden Club members in charge, the hostesses who ushered guests throughout the house, painters and housing to make everything perfect. We made sure that our sweet puppy had friends to be with throughout the day so as not to be overwhelmed by all of the strangers coming in and out of her house.
Saddened by the fact that we could not create our own wreaths, we decided to take pride in coordinating an appropriately decorated tree for the front entrance hall. We took old reprints of Virginia Gazettes and pasted them over old ornaments—repurpose and upcycle is our motto—and created pine cone ornaments with burlap ribbon and twine ties, interspersed hard tack stars, and placed some white lights on the tree to add a nice glow!
Mistletoe was hung, cinnamon brooms placed, and now that the 2,000+ people who traipsed through the house on Grand Illuminations weekend have left, we have put up our ‘Dr. Seuss tree’ with its quirky ornaments collected from our travels.
We cannot wait to host friends and family throughout the holiday season, and to cook up all kinds of delicious goodies. There’s an entire bookshelf in our house devoted to cookbooks, old recipe binders, cooks illustrated magazines, and not to mention Pinterest. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we get to live in the midst of it all.
There truly is no place to be like Colonial Williamsburg for the holidays.
GUEST BLOGGER: WHITNEY THORNBERRY
Whitney is a Sites Interpreter who has been with the Foundation full time since March of 2015. She and her Fiance, Bryan, live in the Historic Area with their rescued pup Derby (a sweet girl of 3 who thinks the horses are just big dogs to play with) and they are looking forward to their impending nuptials in April!
Whitney loves hosting dinner parties, sewing, reading, distressing furniture, science fiction, historical dramas, old movies and anything from the Williamsburg Winery. Her mother used to say she was born in the wrong century—and now she gets the best of both!