3/4 c. small birdseed
1 packet of unflavored gelatin
1/4 c. water
Christmas cookie cutters
Strong plastic drinking straw
Bring water to a boil over medium heat. Add in packet of unflavored gelatin. Stir until gelatin is dissolved (about 1-2 minutes). Take gelatin off heat and let set for a couple of minutes. Stir in bird seed. Place cookie cutters on a piece of parchment paper. Scoop the bird seed into cookie cutters, and using another piece of parchment paper, press the birdseed down. Stick a straw in the top of each filled cookie cutter to create a small hole. Set cookie cutters in the freezer for 20 minutes. Remove cookie cutters from the freezer, and let them sit in room temperature for approximately 10 minutes. Carefully push the bird seed feeders out of the cookie cutters. Thread a piece of twine through the hole at the top of the bird seed feeder and tie it into a loop. Wrap your homemade bird feeders up to give as a gift, or hang one on a tree and enjoy!
The first week of December marks for many Lexington families the start of traditions that typically involve securing a tree to trim, hanging some lights, adding a wreath or two, and settling in to enjoy the festive atmosphere with close family and friends.
But for those homeowners lucky enough to be inducted into the Holiday House Hall of Fame, the first week of December means stepping aside to let a league of ladies descend, decorate, and, finally, march hordes of strangers through each room to admire their handiwork.
Every year since 1960, one local family has agreed to let their home be the site of the Charity League of Lexington’s signature fundraiser, which draws hundreds of visitors from across Davidson County and generates enough money to support a year’s worth of charitable outreach geared toward children.
This year on Dec. 5 and 6, Lexington Mayor Newell Clark will join the ranks of past hosts, opening his Colonial Revival-style home on West Third Avenue to the public for the 55th annual Holiday House. Across the street at the J. Smith Young YMCA’s brand-new event space, 119 West Third, will be the Shoppes of Holiday House.
“I’m excited to do it. I love my home. I’d open the doors right now and let people walk in,” laughed Clark. He bought the house in 2009, five years after moving back to North Carolina from Santa Barbara, CA. “I think probably one thing I’m most excited about is that this is the first house to be shown in the newly-named historic district for the city.”
Like several other homes located in what is now known as the Park Place Historic District in Uptown Lexington, Clark’s was built using the plans of Atlanta-based architect, Leila Ross Wilburn in the early 1920s.
“[A female architect] was pretty unheard of back then. She did a lot of homes in Lexington and this house is definitely one of them,” Clark said. “There’s a long history of multiple families living here. Folks that have been in that home that are in their 80s will still see the home they remember, but it’s been freshened and made more contemporary [while] paying respect to the architecture and the architect.”
One thing Clark wants to be visible amidst the holiday décor is his own careful blend of contemporary and antique style.
“In one room I’ve got a cabinet from the 1800s and a couch that’s Lexington Home Brands that was built last year. [Visitors] will be able to see a blend of artwork I’ve collected; abstracts and realistic work by local artists I like and some of my work, my photography, throughout the house. I love hearing [other people’s] stories of unique pieces of furniture, paintings, and how they collected it. That’s what I think people will see in my home. I live my life as a public official and my home is my sanctuary to escape and just be with my family. But I also know I like to get creative ideas from other people. That part of sharing my home I enjoy.”
Though he’s excited to show off pieces like a framed mirror in his living room that was reclaimed from one of the home’s original medicine cabinets, Clark is adamant that people who visit the Holiday House take note of the fact that it isn’t a museum.
“It’s me and my daughter here. It’s well-designed and well-built but it’s also a home. I’d like for people to get that feeling because that’s how we feel. We truly use every room in the house,” he said. “Each room has its own character; they serve purposes.”
In spite of the unusual circumstance of hundreds of strangers viewing his private life, Clark is attracted to the idea of supporting an organization with a long history of helping the community.
“It’s personal to open your home. People hear me speak or see me on TV or read about me in an article and they think they know me [but) it’s a different thing to walk into someone’s home,” he said. “I believe in the mission of the Charity League and the work they’re doing to raise money to help with initiatives for kids. If something I can do to help is open my home, then I’m willing to do that. All of this goes back to how giving this community is. Every year someone says, ‘I’m opening my home, come through it,’ and it’s amazing that through the years folks do that; they do it to help their community. It’s fantastic to be part of that group.”
Ralph and Mary Allison Bailey were the first to open their home to the public to support the Charity League’s mission.
“We needed some money,” laughed Julia Strader, who served as the Holiday House’s first chairwoman the same year she joined the league as an official member. “The [Bailey] house was new and we thought people would be very interested in going through it.”
The Holiday House wasn’t the first fundraiser the league had put on since it was founded by a group of good-hearted, card-playing women in 1935, but it stuck. Strader, a Lexington transplant from Greenville, SC said the first event brought in a little over $400.
“I thought we were on to something, but you never know until you see how it works out and in a small town in particular. Every year it just increased with people interested. We’ve come a long way.”
Nowadays the fundraiser brings in between $6,000 and $10,000 annually in ticket sales. That doesn’t include the revenue from the Holiday House Shoppes, which can approach $11,000 in a good year. The Shoppes are a sister fundraiser based on the original bazaar-style event hosted by the Charity League that fell to the wayside in the mid-1980s. Members contribute projects, crafts, and pre-prepared food items to be sold alongside items from outside vendors.
“We brought it [the Shoppes] back in 2007-ish. We knew we had some talented people within the group and the leadership was in place for that,” said Ellen Welborn, a longtime League member. “It’s hard to go up on the ticket price for the house, so we decided we would do that [to bring in more money].”
Welborn said most visitors to the Holiday House have been coming for years.
“It’s a tradition with a lot of clubs and groups of women. They’ll come in the morning, go through the Shoppes, and then have lunch.”
“The Holiday House is a great tradition. I think people look forward to it as a kickoff for the holiday season,” said Paula Turlington, a 25-year veteran of the Charity League. “People love to come see the homes themselves, but I think they also really enjoy seeing [them] decorated for the holidays. They get ideas to decorate their own homes.”
Brenda Houser, who is serving as co-chair of the Holiday House this year along with Christa Weeks, said the makeup of visitors is usually a good mix of people from Lexington and surrounding areas.
“A lot of folks come in from the county; some folks with ties to friends, family or colleagues will come in from out of town. We do our best to advertise it on news stations outside of just Lexington and Davidson County. Our goal is really to raise as much money as possible from everywhere.”
One of Turlington’s most memorable Holiday House experiences was in 1999 when the then-home of Ed and Peggy Hinkle was featured.
Again this year, people from across the Triad will visit Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center to celebrate the holidays as businesses and civic organizations decorate trees for a month long display. Then, as it has for more than a decade, TMC’s lobby transforms into a festive winter wonderland with the lighting of the annual Christmas Trees of Davidson County. The lobby is open for visitors to enjoy daily from 6:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
“This is the Foundation’s gift to the community during the holidays,” shares Novant Health Foundation Thomasville Medical Center executive director, Susan Reece. “The winter wonderland serves as a one of a kind holiday greeting to those who support us throughout the year. It is truly a spectacular sight to stroll through the lobby of sparkling and festive Christmas trees.”
Thomasville Medical Center has become a favorite holiday gathering place for the community. Each tree is uniquely decorated and has a story of its own. There is no cost to a business or civic group to participate. Some organizations donate the decorated tree to the foundation which accepts bids through a silent auction on the trees throughout the month. The lucky winner then purchases a beautifully decorated holiday tree with proceeds benefiting the foundation.
Reece shares that money from this year’s auction is earmarked for the hospital’s growing oncology program, providing patients in financial need who are being treated for cancer with nutritional supplements and an exercise program to aid recovery. Proceeds will also be used to help launch rehabilitative support for patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
“We want people to view the hospital as a place of wellness, and hosting something that brings people to the hospital for no other reason than to view the trees and celebrate the holidays is a great opportunity,” says Reece.
Throughout the month are a variety of activities going on in the lobby as well. Visitors can enjoy carolers from an area church or daycare, employees singing around the piano, and samples of hot cider or cocoa. Visitors come by car, bus and caravan, and many families use the festive scenery as a backdrop for their annual holiday card to friend and families.
Reece recalls observing a young couple with their two day old baby posing for their first family photos using the trees as the backdrop. “They even put the baby under one of the trees for the picture like the baby was the gift,” says Reece. “And then there were those who visited from area nursing homes and visited with Santa. They shared they couldn’t remember the last time they talked with Santa. We are honored to be a part of the community and are honored to share this winter wonderland with each and every visitor.”
The Start to Finish Guide to Building Timeless Memories
Welcome to the hustle and bustle of the rat race during the holidays. Focusing can be hard to do with so much to do this time of year. Sure, the holidays can be a stressful time, but for many, it’s one of the most enjoyable times of the year. Family that you don’t get to see that often makes a visit; memories are made and stories are shared. This start to finish guide will make it a foolproof holiday for anyone. Starting with aromatics, moving on to a holiday meal and finishing it off with a vivid tablescape, this guide will help you do it all without the stress.
Making Scents this Season
Aromatics have a way to lock places and times into memory. Have you ever walked past someone and smelled cologne or perfume that reminded you of someone special or a place you visited? Here’s how you can lock special memories into your loved ones’ minds this year. Nothing says, “Welcome home” better than the smell of oranges simmering with spices on the stove. Make your home memorable by warming this recipe on the stove or in a crock pot for a continuous smell of “wonderful.” The refreshing citrus of the oranges combines with the comforting warmth and spice of cinnamon, clove and other spices. Using this simple “stew” is a wonderful way to welcome guests into your home during the holidays or anytime throughout the year.
Simply remove the peel (as little white as possible) from two oranges. Put those in the little crock pot or sauce pan along with a palmful of whole cloves, whole allspice, and three or four cinnamon sticks. Cover with water and plug in the crock pot or turn the stove on to warm and let the smell work its magic!
Gather ‘Round the Table
Yum! A simply delicious holiday meal can be fixed without a lot of work. The holidays are about the time spent with loved ones versus the time it took you in the kitchen. With this meal plan, you’ll spend more time sharing laughs than stewing in the kitchen.
Citrus Olive Salad
Makes 6-8 servings
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. orange juice
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash crushed red pepper
4 large oranges
1/2 red onion
1 c. large olives, halved (a little less than 1 can)
Chives, chopped, optional garnish
In a jar or plastic container with a tight lid, combine the dressing ingredients: olive oil, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Shake until well incorporated. Slice the orange, removing the membrane portion of the orange. If time is an issue, you can always substitute mandarin oranges. Halve the red onion. Cut the half in half then slice thinly. Slice the olives in half. In a medium bowl, combine the oranges, red onion, and olives. Right before serving, pour on as much of the dressing as you prefer.
Rolled Maple Orange Glazed Stuffed Turkey
8 lb turkey (deboned or boneless turkey breast)
3 Tbsp. softened butter
¼ c. maple syrup
Juice of one orange
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. butter
½ c. crispy bacon (chopped)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 c. breadcrumbs
1 ½ c. green apples, peeled, cored and chopped into cubes
Zest of one orange
To prepare the stuffing, melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Once the butter is melted, add bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add in the onions and cook for a further 4-6 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the apple and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in breadcrumbs, orange zest. Season the mixture with sea salt and ground black pepper. Allow to cool before covering and storing in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Unroll the turkey or turkey breast and add stuffing mixture to center. Tie off with string to keep together and place in a large roasting pan. Rub with butter and season generously with sea salt and ground black pepper. Roast the turkey for approximately 2 ½ hours or until a meat thermometer reads 150˚F. If the skin is looking too brown, just cover with tin foil. Whisk together the orange juice and maple syrup and pour a little over the turkey every now and then to baste. saving half the mix to add to the gravy.
Remove the turkey from the oven and brush with maple syrup and place back in the oven for about 20 minutes more or until a meat thermometer reads 160˚F. Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 minutes before cutting. Scrape the juices from the bottom of the roasting tin into a small sauce pan along with the remaining maple syrup and orange juice and bring to a steady simmer until it reduces a little. Use remaining juice/gravy as side to turkey. Enjoy!
2 large bunches of collard greens (can combine turnip greens and kale)
1 lb. ham hock
1 sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
¼ – ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 c. water
Salt & pepper to taste
In medium saucepan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Place in the bottom of crock pot. Add greens to crock pot. Special note: If greens will not fit, you can do a quick sauté to wilt them so they will fit, but don’t overcook them during this special step. Add ham hock, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and water. Cook on low for 6 hours or more if preferred. Greens will come out perfectly seasoned and taste great!
1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 ¼ c. sweetened dried cranberries
1 c. chopped pecans
½ c. sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. grated orange peel
2 Tbsp. water
½ c. honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Unroll pie crusts and press each into 10 1/2” square. Brush with melted butter. Place cranberries, pecans, sugar, cinnamon and orange peel in food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Spread half of mixture on each pie crust square. Roll up each pie crust into a log. Pinch edges tightly to seal. In small bowl, beat egg and water until blended. Brush egg mixture over each log. Cut each log into 10 slices. Place slices cut side up one inch apart on cookie sheet. Replace any dropped filling and reshape slices if necessary. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pinwheels and place on cooling rack. Spoon a teaspoon of honey on each slice. Serve warm or cool.
Orange Spice Centerpieces
The key to a great table is an inviting one. Make your table pop with a few of these festive ideas sure to welcome guests all season long.
Wash and dry oranges. The number of oranges depends on the size of the table and size of the dish you wish to use to hold them. A great suggestion is to use a minimum of three oranges per dish for even the smallest of tables.
Poke cloves into oranges in any pattern of your choice. If you’re having trouble getting through the skin, use a toothpick to create the whole then insert the clove. You can also dot your pattern on the orange with a fine point marker. (Keep the dots small so they don’t bleed when the juice hits them.)
To dry the centerpieces, place them in a paper bag for a few days to weeks. The bag will draw out the juice and the oranges will shrink in size. If you choose this method to keep the centerpiece for a long time, make sure to watch out for mold during the drying process. Discard any that generate mold.
Add to a dish with green pine needles and pine cones that you’ve gathered form outside. You can accent with magnolia leaves as well. Use what you have from your yard to keep the cost of these beautiful centerpieces affordable.
Now it’s time to sit down and enjoy the time with family and friends. From our holiday table to yours, Happy Holidays!