“Southern hospitality.” It is a term we all are familiar with. The Southern states just have a reputation for knowing how to entertain well. Having married into a large Southern family, I know first-hand that Southerners truly abide by a “the more the merrier” philosophy. This applies not just to the number of guests, but to food, drink and (to this girl’s delight) decor.
In my experience, one the absolute best places down South to display this credo is my husband’s hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Natchitoches, which was the setting for the 1989 film Steel Magnolias, overflows with character and charm. It is durning the holiday season, however, that it really shines.
The first weekend in December is when Natchitoches hosts its annual Christmas Festival. During this weekend thousands flock to the little town for parties, live music, crafts, food, a parade, fireworks and light displays along the bank of Cane River Lake.
The Historic District is a jewel in the crown of the city. It is here where holiday style is elegantly on full display and where you get a true sense of Southern style where the past merges with the present. Somehow these homeowners manage to convey opulence and historical elegance in their home decor while still maintaining a casual, un-fussy feel, making the homes beautiful yet always welcoming.
I had the opportunity on my family’s annual Christmas Festival trip to visit one of these beauties in the heart of the Historic District. Perched high above the bank of Cane River Lake, this 1880 Victorian home is the epitome of timeless Southern style.
As you approach the home you are greeted with a decorative wrought iron fence and gate to the front walkway. A wraparound covered porch is accented in holiday greenery, bows and twinkle lights.
A lush side yard garden provides the perfect spot to relax under the large live oak trees.
Upon entering the home, holiday garlands decked out in lights and red plaid ribbons, mistletoe, and carolers beckon you further into the home. The homeowners have spent time over the years collecting meaningful pieces to fill their space. One special piece that sits in the entry hallway of the home is an antique buffet made in the 1780’s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the family of Alexander Graham Bell.
Moving into the kitchen area of the home lies one of the most popular of holiday settings, (it was nearly impossible to pull my children away!) the children’s dessert table. Colorful treats and sweets share the space with candy accented gingerbread homes. In Louisiana, LSU is King, as is demonstrated by the purple and gold bedecked LSU gingerbread house. Children and adults alike spend a good deal of time at this festive table.
Beyond the kitchen is a portion of the house completely added on by the homeowners. A light filled hallway leads to the bedroom wing of the 5 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath home and overlooks the homeowner’s favorite space in the house, the den. Two walls of windows bring the outside in to the den which overlooks the picturesque Cane River Lake. In designing this space the homeowners utilized materials salvaged from an old country schoolhouse in Louisiana. The windows, pine wood floors, wainscoting, and double doors leading to the backyard were all brought in from the schoolhouse to stay true to the character and age of the home. A cypress farm-style dining table is well-used and loved by the family.
Holiday decor continues to the back doors of the home which lead to the backyard that slopes to the bank of Cane River Lake.
Entering the dining room you are greeted by more food and drink! (Remember? The more the merrier!) Garlands drape above the dessert buffet dressed in gold and green providing a festive frame for the beautiful cakes, fudge and cookies. A crystal chandelier hangs above the dining table set with a buffet of Southern favorite foods, including Natchitoches’ famed meat pies. Another favorite piece of the homeowners is the antique bookcase which acts as a china cabinet in the dining room of the home.
The dining room opens into the living room where a large Christmas tree elegantly decorated with ribbons, glass balls and Biedermann brass ornaments fills the space with color and light.
This historic home is a “love letter” to classic, traditional Southern style. Southern antiques sourced from throughout Louisiana and Mississippi have been thoughtfully curated by the homeowners to personalize and bring historical authenticity to their space. I am grateful to them for sharing their space with us.
No one does the holidays quite like the South!