Frank and Tony are crooning classic Christmas songs; cheesecake is baking in the oven, filling the house with an irresistible aroma; miniature pumpkin breads and spiced tea mixes are being packaged and beribboned for gift giving while childhood ornaments are lifted from tissue paper to decorate the tree—all these are treasured parts of the holiday season for Jennifer Hunt, her husband Buddy, and their two school-aged boys. For Jennifer, it’s all about keeping the family traditions of her small hometown thriving in the big city. “I grew up in Russellville, Alabama, and was raised with generational recipes, heirlooms, frequent entertaining, and a true sense of community,” she says. In their Briarwood neighborhood of 35 houses, which ends in a cul-de-sac, the Hunts have a taste of small-town life every day with its close-knit and supportive spirit. During the holidays, neighbors put treats in mailboxes, and an annual Christmas party rotates among families. “This neighborhood is a hidden gem in Mountain Brook,” says Jennifer. “Some people don’t even know it exists!”
The formal dining room includes a Christmas tree, as well as a mix of handed-down furniture and finds. In her décor, Jennifer prefers structure with white walls, clean lines, her favorite hues (green and blue), and lots of books. “I am book-obsessed,” she says. “They bring visual interest and pops of color to a room.
Jennifer’s tablescape consists of Haute Home scalloped place mats, her grandmother’s china and etched crystal stemware, vintage gold flatware, napkins given to Jennifer’s parents as a wedding gift, and custom place cards and menus from Dogwood Hill (with art by Lucy Young). A low, lush floral arrangement bursts with seasonal greenery, paperwhites, pears, and a mix of flowers.
When it comes to her personal holiday decorating and entertaining style, she leans towards the classics with red, green, and gold accents and lots of fresh greenery and family treasures. “I love blue and white in my everyday décor, but I still want those traditional colors at Christmas,” says Jennifer. And she has a tried-and-true approach for recipes and tabletop ideas. “I’m obsessed with china. While other girls were dreaming about their wedding dress or cake, I was focused on selecting my fine china.”
Jennifer often creates flower arrangements from cuttings in the garden mixed with blooms from Trader Joe’s. For special events and parties, she calls on Christina Brockman, who dressed the space with abundant greenery on the chandelier and window, as well as in the kitchen island arrangement.
The breakfast area holds a petite tabletop Christmas tree trimmed with preserved oranges, mini red bows, and candy canes. On a red ticking tablecloth made from fabric found at King Cotton, Jennifer paired gold chargers, bamboo flatware, green napkins, and red Lenox dinner plates, along with a custom salad plate. She added candleholders from Mary and Wilma and custom paper goods by Dogwood Hill featuring art by Sarah Robins Powell.
Jennifer settled on the classic and versatile Lenox Solitaire because it can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion. She also enjoys using her grandmother’s china with its green botanical detailing and gold rims (Arcadia Green by Franciscan) for more formal holiday gatherings. For everyday meals, Jennifer mixes in festive gold and red pieces. including custom salad plates with a boxwood in the center, designed for Anthropologie by Inslee Fariss. Inslee also happens to be one of the artists who works with Jennifer’s company, Dogwood Hill, a semi-custom stationery and wedding papers firm she started in 2015.
See more about Dogwood Hill here.
LEFT: The Hunt family: Davis (age 10), Buddy, William (age 7), and Jennifer.
On Christmas Eve, Jennifer turns to her repertoire of true crowd-pleasers, such as cranberry balsamic pork tenderloin, brown sugar bacon and green beans, mashed golden potatoes, Ashley Mac’s Baby Bleu Salad, and her grandmother’s beloved cheesecake, of course. From the recipes and the china to the gifts for neighbors and the holiday décor and parties, Jennifer’s Christmas traditions are sure to be handed down and cherished for generations to come.
“Entertaining can be a breeze if you are well-stocked. I keep a closet at the ready with pressed tablecloths, place mats, napkins, silver, and gold and stainless flatware. That way, even impromptu gatherings don’t cause stress.”Jennifer Hunt
The tree is decorated with childhood ornaments and ones from the family’s travels. Gift wrap from Dogwood Hill covers packages underneath. Nutcrackers and Santas from Jennifer’s mother stand sentry on the coffee table and side tables.