fa la la la foodie

510339_1It’s November 1, which means I can officially start writing about Christmas again.  This will be the first year of my life when I’ll miss the ability to gawk at New York storefront window displays.  There will be no gingerbread latte for me (decaf just isn’t the same).  I’ll need to make my own light, here in Texas. 

Last year I waited until December to discuss the quiet delights of the season: the crinkled pockets that housed our family ornaments, the dressing beneath the tree, the warm recipes of childhood favorites.  This year, I’m doing something different. 

I’ve been asked to decorate and design a tree for University Co-op, which is not, I assure you, an organization linked to Barney’s Co-op warehouse sale.  Founded in 1896, the non-profit Co-op is an enormous UT bookstore owned by students, faculty, and staff, which donated $2,000,000 last year alone.  This year, along with Andy Roddick (Tennis heartthrob), Kathy Valentine (Bassist for The Go Go’s), Ben Crenshaw (Legendary golfer), and many others I’ll be participating in their Christmas Tree Program, where proceeds will go to support a developing elementary school, with students drawn primarily from minority and low income households. 

505818_162_z9Again, I had a hard time deciding what my tree style would be this year.  I’d narrowed it down to four tree theme ideas: 

1. Under The Sea: A NAUTICAL NOEL
This is an option involving sweet mermaid ornaments, nautilus, starfish, glass urchin, and pieces of coral (view the most darling ornaments ever!).  Instead of popcorn, we could string seashells.

I’d include some glamor among the designer threads: chandelier pieces, vintage perfume bottles, measuring tapes, small clothing bodice forms, Barbies dressed in couture, fashion house logos, stringing the tree with "Laura’s pearls."  Those damn granny puff twists.  A small reminder of all the contestants, I suppose.  A nod to the Paris episodes: cute felt berets, miniature street lampposts.  You get the idea. 

3. Children’s Nursery Rhymes: A MOTHER GOOSE TREE
As an expectant mother, I thought this could be fun.  Humpty Dumpty, Little Bo Peep, Patty Cake, Cow jumping over moon, Yellow Madeline Hat, Babar, Curious George, Nipple Shields & Breast Pump parts. Fa la la la la…

4. Gourmet Holiday: A FOODIE TREE
Imagine a wall of Williams-Sonoma gadgets, whisks, spatulas, cookies, tea cups, small pots and pans, cookie cutters.  You get the idea.  I’ve decided on this last idea… of the Foodie Tree.  And I need your help.  I need ideas for a foodie tree (not votes on which idea I should do).  I’d also LOVE IT if you’d mail in an ornament that I’d use on the tree! 

All of the Co-op trees will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to support the elementary school.  Attendees will vote for their favorite tree by donating $1.  This is going to be so much fun, and I’d love to include all of you, your ideas, and your ornaments!



  1. What a great idea…

    As an avid fan of not only the Little Mermaid, but also PR I am partial to the first two.

    Keep us posted :)

  2. I really think, if you're wanting it to reflect SK, it has to be Gourmet Holiday. Failing that, the Nursery Rhymes.

    Now…I'm planning on sitting back and stealing the ideas and ornaments of your readers. I'm dreadful at coming up with designs of my own..much better at copycatting.

    What's that they say about imitation and flattery???

  3. Restoration hardware sells some really cute mini-measuring spoons ( the measurements are "dash, pinch, smidge") that would be SUPER cute as ornaments on your foodie tree!

  4. I just recently got engadged in Napa and I have been excited about planning a wedding, we are getting married on the beach so Im going with a beach theme… I found a website that sales Finger Star Fish in Bulk, they are cheap and would make a beautiful ornement. Also, a napa tree would be neat with Corks, grapes, and wine decor. Goodluck! Email me if you would like the website address for Sea Shells Wholesale.

  5. Oh I am totally in love with the Gourmet Holiday idea/Foodie Tree, and will absolutely send an ornament to be included!!! mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

  6. girlfriend, I love the way you are throwing yourself into your new Austin life, and with your great sense of style, I can't wait to see the tree. What a fun concept! I also just (ok, not so recently anymore) left NYC and am going through the same phase of putting myself out there to meet new friends. Your gregariousness inspires me to be more extroverted. Hope you'll be reading in Philly!

  7. Fashionista tree for sure! There are so many awesome ornaments out there. I would love to send one in for the tree. Plus, fashionista fits you!

  8. I'm all for a "foodie" tree! I can just see a little sushi roll, a baguette with olive oil and balsamic for dipping, some shaved parmesan and sliced pears- what fun! And, of course, a dish of pickles and ice cream for mama :)

  9. mini chef hats, little copies of cookbooks, threaded multi-colored peppercorns, tinfoil and gold-leafed stars, sprigs of dried herbs tied in festive ribbons, old-fashioned champagne glasses, edible flowers, antiqued forks and spoons,…

  10. For a Foodie tree, what about asking some of the chefs from around Austin to provide an ornament they like or design to give it some oomph and Austin flair. Like the chef from the Driskill, Hudsons on the Bend, Uchi?

    By the way, I met you Sun at the TX Book Festival and am having so much fun reading (and relating to) your book! It's nice to know other divorcees have had some of the same crazy men experiences. Glad you're in Austin!

  11. What about a used book tree? You could do something awesome for charity *and* get rid of those books that are bugging the suitor.

    Oh just kidding.

    I'm all about the sea tree – but I love the foodie one too…I'll wait to see what you go with and then will try and find a way to contribute.

  12. Although i'm not sure how gourmet Rock Candy is…I think rocky candy on a string or even the ones that come on a stick would be very cute and would reflect light really well. You could also hang those little sample bottles of liquors they sell. Another thing you could do is make ornaments with the cookie cutters out of dough that would techincally be edible but would best be enjoyed hanging on the tree. Don't forget to put a hole in the dough before baking so you can string it. I found some good recipes here: http://www.ia.essortment.com/christmastreeo_riph.htm
    Looking forward to the final result, good luck!

  13. The foodie tree sounds fun. Here is a site I found while looking for aprons for my little girl. They have lots of little cooking utensils. http://www.kidsaprons.com
    Some other yummy ideas….strings of sugary gumdrops, clove studded oranges hanging from satin ribbons, cinnamon sticks tied with bows and of course…gingerbread men.

  14. What about actual food ornaments in addition to mini whisks and stuff? I've seen some beautiful bread and marzipan ornaments (they do it a lot in Europe), which could be fun to make as well!

  15. Hi Stephanie,

    Little mini stirring whisks could work, apple wedge cutters maybe? Both are chrome and shiny.
    Good Luck, sounds fun.

  16. I've had the exquisite pleasure of spending the Christmas holidays in Paris with our children. Nowhere do you find more beautiful food displays than there, particularly at this time of year. Our photos don't do them justice, but I'll e-mail a few to you so that with your creative bent, you may be able to translate them into tree decor.

  17. I will follow your instructions and not tell you that I vote for the mermaid tree, becuase mermaids are my favorite thing. Instead I will tell you that the Foodie Tree is a great idea, and William Sonoma carrys measuring cups by AllClad, that look just like little mini All Clad pots. Those might make cute ornaments. Also I know here in NYC at street fairs (I know you remember NY street fairs) they always have a booth with a guy selling magnets that look like every type of food. You could probably make those into ornaments as well ( if you can find them in Austin or if a NY buddy can pick some up for you)

  18. Also….if you're in need of volunteers to help assemble the tree, I would love to help. I've tried decorating a tree 8 and 9 months pregnant and let me tell you-it ain't easy girl!

  19. Love the foodie tree idea! Stringing olives would be really cute – though not sure about the smell…
    What about including upgraded gingerbread houses to surround your tree? Made out of foodie ingredients vs. just regular gingerbread. Could be cute.

  20. I'd love to help decorate the tree as well! Here in Austin, too.

    PS – here's something funny I was thinking you'd like…know the Michael Buble song "Save the Last Dance for Me". When I hear it, for some reason, I always picture him singing "Save the Lap Dance for Me"! Sick, sick, sick – but hey, he's hot! (Yes, this has NOTHING to do with ornaments!!) :)

  21. This is my first post… I couldn't help myself… I LOVE making things… especially for the holidays. I think you should make poured sugar snowflake ornaments (you can use a cookie cutter as the mold on a silpat) and of course don't forget the gingerbread men! How Fun!

  22. Post #2 for me, sorry!

    There's a place called Bronner's in Frankenmuth, MI. It's *THE* Christmas wonderland–it's like an entire city in love with Christmas and they're open year round. They have every kind of ornament you could possibly imagine (especially food!); although more likely the Dept. 56 type and larger than you have in mind, they might be worth checking out.


  23. What a cute and appropriate idea for a tree, Stephanie! Urban Outfitters has glittery hot dog and hamburger ornaments, but I guess that's not very gourmet.

  24. I LIVE for this sort of thing. What a fabulous foodie tree it will be! Filled with love from all over the country – kudos to you!!!

    Im excited for the opportunity to mail an ornament in! How fun!!!

  25. I thought of Pomegranates, although I am not sure what their shelf life is – I have a fondness for their color! You could somehow make ornaments out of them.

    Also, any sort of mesh herb or tea holder. They are always stainless steel & they can be filled with cranberries (not sure how they will last either) or maybe even some metallic paper.

    Good luck!

  26. I love the idea of a foodie tree! Nigella Lawson has adorable little edible cookie decorations with white icing and scattered with silver and gold dragees! They would be perfect for this! Nothing better than an edible (partially anyway) gourmet tree!

  27. what about a "new york" themed tree … it might make missing the city a bit easier if you get to make a mini version. :)

  28. Go around to local restaurants and get drink coasters with the restaurant names on them, punch a hole and thread with ribbon.

  29. The guy who owns my hair salon is doing an ocean-themed tree and turning it upside down. In stead of hanging it, he's making saves, and a beach on the top where the stand would go, and all the ornaments are underneath. Inverted. That could be cool :)

  30. I can't wait to see pictures! What about using the cinnamon/applesauce/glue mixture and making cinnamon scented mini-bundt cake ornaments? Easy enough and they'll make the house smell great while they dry out.

  31. Given your LOVE of food my first reaction was to suggest the Gourmet themed tree. HOWEVER this year is a unique time in your life as your expecting. I think this year you should go with the Nursery theme. It makes it more personalized to who you are at this very moment in your life. Next year you can do the Gourmet theme (Hey I am an optimist and assume that you will be asked to contribute again.)

  32. LOVE your generous spirit!
    Clearly, the Foodie theme suits You.
    You might consider adding a few small bags of "Herbs de Provence" to your embellishments. I once did a French themed tree, using the herbs on the tree/garland/wreath.

    Tis' the Season…

  33. gingerbread cookies in the shape of other foods, kind of like if eleni's had a foodie basket. come to think of it they might, but man those cookies are pricey and you are totally crafty and could make your own!

  34. Love it! I would love to see you decorate a 1950's vintage foodie tree. I have an image in my head of snow on the ground and a warm diner filled with happy, rosy cheeked people eating comfort food while listening to christmas music. This sounds like so much fun to me. I'm jewish and have never had the opportunity to decorate a tree. Religion aside.. I think I'm missing out.

  35. Please let me know when you have a p.o. box to receive ornaments. I have a super cute one that I would love to add to your donations.

    Thank you for posting your writing. I'm in the "I want to be a writer one day" stage. Your capitivating style encourages me to move closer to the "I'm going to be a writer one day" stage.

    Greenville, SC would love to have you visit – we have bookstores here too ya know!

  36. Hiya from Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

    Thinking of a foodie tree being a cloggie, deocrating it with cheesecubes spring to mind…(might smell like dirty feet within a couple of days though, better not with those socks hanging from the chimney)

    Ideas: make a string of wine-corks to decorate your tree, some have beautiful stamps, and now that you are expecting you cant drink wine anyways, so empty them bottles!

    Use powdersugar for snow underneath the tree and use leave-shaped chocolates and such under the tree.

    Am sure there are lots of fodd-shape fridgemagnets that you could turn into an ornament!

    Good luck and thanks for the inspiration on themed trees, will make mine special this year too!

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