Each Christmas, Natalie Smith makes the season merry and bright with her evolving décor and favorite family traditions.
There’s nothing more special to Natalie Smith than Christmas, except for perhaps family traditions. So when the two combine, big things tend to happen. “Christmas is the most magical time of year for me, especially because it’s about tradition and family,” Natalie says. “It has been that way since I was little when we’d spend Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house every year. We would always put on our pajamas before coming home so that we’d be ready to hop in bed before Santa came. Then we would get up Christmas morning and have breakfast and open presents with the family.”
Going Green: Inside the front door, a simple cedar garland and vintage Santa head welcome guests. “I’ve probably had that Santa for more than 20 years,” Natalie says. “I don’t use a whole lot of red, so he becomes my focal point because he’s one of the few red pieces I have.”
Natalie kept the magical experience going when she and her husband, Shawn, had their own children. In addition to serving the traditional Christmas morning breakfast of sausage balls and monkey bread to a house full of extended family, Natalie decks out her entire home with carefully-curated Christmas décor. She begins working on the theme each year practically as soon as the last holiday wraps, and it all starts with her Christmas tree. “Anyone who knows me knows that I never do the same theme—ever,” she says. “I may use some of the same ornaments, but it will never be the exact same tree.”
Set the Scene: Taking center stage in the dining room is Natalie’s dining room table, which was originally her grandmother Sue’s. “We had family meals around that table for years,” Natalie says. “I remember hours and hours of conversations around it. There’s something special about this dining room table.” Natalie had a special orchid arrangement made to sit atop the table, and she paired it with gold reindeer from HomeGoods and fresh greenery on the chandelier to bring in the special holiday feel. She added to the formality of the space with place settings of her grandmother’s china and mother’s silver. Green-and-white napkins from Table Matters accent the china perfectly while also speaking to the season.
Though Natalie may not recycle her themes, there are a few details friends and family can expect to see each year: upwards of 5,000 twinkle lights on her tree alone and many of her favorite family heirlooms, including vintage Christmas ornaments, her grandmother’s china, and her mother’s silver. And a few new pieces are always mixed in with those special memories to add to the magic of her favorite time of year. “I love to get out the decorations, put on some Christmas music, and just start visualizing,” Natalie shares. “I think about and plan for it all year long.”
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(Left) Festive Front Door: The focal point of the front door is a handmade wreath by Beth Phillips, better known as “Kudzu Mama,” thanks to her handcrafted items made from kudzu vine. (She also made the lighted orbs hanging in the tree in the front yard.) The wreath features dried kudzu, osage orange slices, lichen usnea, dried apples, cotton hulls, pinecones, acorns, berries, and lotus pods. (Right) Hang it Up: Greenery draped on the mantel is a staple of the holiday season, and Natalie ensures it looks fresh and full the entire season by supplementing the fresh strand with faux greenery. Hanging from the well-adorned mantel are stockings made of burlap and monogrammed for each family member. Atop the hearth sit a dough bowl with more fresh greenery, gold okra pods, pinecones, and Christmas bells similar to those used on the Christmas tree.