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Publication Date: 2014-02-01

Inspiration

Christmas 1967

I was looking for some holiday decorating inspiration in my old magazines, and I consulted the December 1967 issue of House & Garden. The holiday look that the magazine's editors were pushing that year was, well, not quite my look. I'll get to that in a minute.

But first, I did find one photo that I think is perfection. I was enchanted by this photo, which you can see above, because it shows a crèche. I love crèches, and in fact, I still display one every Christmas. But you don't really see crèches too often anymore, do you?

This crèche's figures were designed to appear modern and were made of gilded, draped burlap. But what might be more enchanting than the figures themselves were their backdrop: a wrought-iron structure, made in the Gothic style, which held laurel branches and small white lights. Amazing!

If the room in the photograph looks familiar, it might be because it was the East Room at the White House. The photo had been taken the previous Christmas. The magazine attributes the iron and branch background to floral designer Stephen Barany. But guess who conceived the crèche as a whole? According to H&G, it was Mrs. Henry Parish and Albert Hadley. No wonder it looked so good.

But going back to this issue's featured article: the trendy decorations for Christmas 1967 were "fantasies in crystal and light", which "have all the look of loot from the Snow Queen's palace". I think that the decorations look like explosions of stars and pointy things, but then again, I'm a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas. However, the photos' room settings, which had been decorated by Ellen Lehman McCluskey, were quite nice, so that helped matters. And the decorations do have a retro charm to them now that forty seven years have passed.

Who knows? I just might warm up to the idea of decorating with loot from the Snow Queen's palace.

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