What signals the start of the holiday season varies depending on who you ask. For some, it’s picking out the Christmas tree or hanging a wreath on the front door, but for others, it’s the annual holiday event at Circa Interiors & Antiques in Mountain Brook Village. And it’s no wonder why. Rebecca Davis and Whitney Johnson outdo themselves to create a shop full of wonderful must-haves sourced from all over the world. And it’s not just what’s for sale that entices—the complete sensory experience is part of the appeal. For the enchanted forest theme last year, a dreamy woodland arch, filled with greenery foraged from the Davis’s lake property, greeted shoppers and drew the crowd inside where a glamorous skirted, mirror-topped table held an array of shimmering décor and served as a debut to the treasures beyond.
“We start working on it in June,” says Whitney. “We look for pieces that you can’t find anywhere else with detailing that fits in with our direction and palette that season. We tie everything together, from the wrapping paper and ribbons to the ornaments, candles, and more.”
Last year’s enchanted forest event included napkins with elaborate feathers, beads, and mother of pearl buttons from Latvia; flocked miniature trees with pearl detailing; angels wearing gowns in shades of bronze and silver from Paris; snowy owls perched in moss; hand-dipped pinecone-shaped candles from Denmark; and wintery trees and woodland animals captured in a snow globe. Shop employees wore handcrafted fanciful animal masks bedecked with feathers from a source in London, which customers snapped up for future dinner parties. The shop also provided plenty of its tried-and-true favorites that customers expect to find. “We always have potted paperwhites and amaryllis ready to go, as well as wreaths with rich satin ribbon, our floating candles, pre-wrapped ornaments and candles, and hand-blown glassware from Belgium,” says Rebecca. “And Blankenship Nurseries, where we preorder all the greenery for the shop and for our customers, brings their truck up during the party so people can buy on the spot.”
In the afternoon, small guests arrived to a firepit with “reindeer” ponies, music, and mugs of hot chocolate to wait their turn with Santa Claus. As one might expect, this was no ordinary Santa. “He’s a very European-style Santa, and we had his suit custom made,” says Whitney. Santa’s tunic was deep green velvet trimmed in fur with gold trim down the center and brown velvet pants. The ensemble blended perfectly with the rest of the wonderful and bountiful cheer, which charmed everyone who entered and seemed to announce that the Christmas season was here indeed.
Caroling on Christmas Eve It’s not about the quality; it’s about the spirit. We usually practice in the car on the way, and someone often cries during our serenade!
Matching Pajamas Sometimes they match a theme that fits in with an anticipated Christmas present. One year, each one of us had a different letter on the front that together spelled a word. I like to sneak in and carefully change the little ones into the pajamas after they are asleep. They wake up truly amazed.
Order a Coconut Cake from Bottega We light candles and sing happy birthday to Jesus.
Pay It Forward Beginning December 1st, I encourage family members to put notes in miniature stockings that remind us to do simple, kind things such as walk a neighbor’s dog, bake cookies for the firehouse, or buy someone’s meal behind us in the Chick-fil-A drive-through line.
Christmas in Birmingham Last year we celebrated with a big Christmas Eve party where we serve my favorite spinach Madeline, oysters on the half shell, and pickled shrimp. For cocktails, there were old-fashioneds with homemade syrups.
The Holidays Begin at Thanksgiving We serve my grandmother’s “famous” brandy and bourbon-laced milk punch at Thanksgiving and keep it going throughout the entire season until New Year’s Day. On Christmas morning, we enjoy Danish Kringles in raspberry and almond.
The Music Is On My father and son play guitar, and we definitely end up dancing before the night ends.
I take my Christmas tree lights very seriously! My grandmother taught me how to create a perfectly lit tree. Last year, we included old-fashioned tinsel, which was fun! Our tree includes everything from ornaments made in first grade to a glittery baubles.
Circa Interiors and Antiques • 2831 Culver Rd, Mountain Brook. 205.868.9199
OPEN HOUSE: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Santa, Cocoa & Cocktails 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.