On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

… A Patridge in a Pear Tree.

Thank you, Anthropologie, for a new and somewhat whacky twist on an old favourite. These particular plates are from a couple of years ago. Anthropologie has a new set by Nathalie Lete, which are lovely, but I prefer this Twelve Days of Christmas Menagerie set by Inslee Fariss (try eBay).

Inslee Fariss’ work is described by Anthropologie as 

“Inslee Fariss’ whimsical creativity is a thread woven throughout all her artistry – from watercolor paintings, to textile pattern, and invitation designs. After a recent move from Manhattan to Raleigh, North Carolina, Fariss discovers never-ending inspiration from nature walks that inform her fantasy-based flora and fauna illustrations. Working from her home “sunroom” studio surrounded by her two little ones and treasured miniature daschund, Ophelia, Fariss brings life’s joys, beauty, and an ever-present sense of humor to everything she creates.”

 Behold two turtledoves

Three French Hens

and four calling birds, though I recently learned that “calling birds” is not entirely correct. Early versions of the song mention four “colly” birds, meaning black as coal or blackbirds. “Calling birds” evolved later, and the reference to blackbirds was lost.

Further, five gold rings likely refer to the markings on a ring-necked pheasant, which would be in keeping with the bird theme. So, not the balancing circus elephant, then? 

I set this table a couple of weeks ago for photographs and intended to do something else for our family Christmas Eve dinner. But visiting granddaughters were so enchanted with the animals that they requested the theme for Christmas Eve. That works!  The table in our dining room is bigger than this one, so that I will get all twelve plates in; here, I could only set ten.

Juliana, the lover of ducks (and all birds, for that matter), was torn between Six Geese a Laying and 

Seven Swans a Swimming.

Hannah was taken with Eight Maids a Milking.

Maddie was chuckling at Nine Ladies Dancing.

But the leopards in Ten Lords a Leaping scored highly, also.

I think the combination of Scottish bagpipe, flute, and French Horn playing foxes for Eleven Pipers Piping won my heart.

That leaves us with Twelve Drummers Drumming for the monkey, our youngest, Riley.

Speaking of Riley, she has recently begun to display an unexpected interest in tableware. To the astonishment of her parents (and her Nana, I must say), she has already started setting tables and photographing them, all of her own accord.

Apparently, she is fascinated with the two Enterablement books and spends hours pouring over the contents. (?!!)

Last week, she made place cards for a family dinner at her home and insisted they be used.

This refined aspect of her personality is a surprise to us all, as Riley is an, er, um … vigorous child. Commonly known as “the tank”, she barrels her way through most situations, leaving her shyer, more retiring older sister Hannah quaking in her wake. It just goes to show; you never can tell what you’re going to get! I noticed it with my children; they arrive, personalities intact, right out of the gate. But their ability to unfurl unexpected layers of interest and character never ceases. It’s certainly been the same with the grandgirls. Endlessly fascinating!

As to the table accoutrements, I went with gold and red as the accents. Antique red Venetian glass goblets, footed compote, and candlesticks provided clear, red contrast bursts.

The gold chargers are an inexpensive set I picked up a couple of years ago. The dinner plates, Oxford Gold by Royal Doulton, have a fine, thin edge of gilding. The lighted gold trees were from Pier 1 and used in the Glitzy Gold Penguin Table.

Many years ago, the napkin rings and placecard holders were from Chintz & Co in Victoria, BC. 

The napkin rings are by Michale Arum, whose work is readily available.

I hope everyone’s holiday preparations are coming along. It’s a bit of “just when you thought it was safe to get back in the shower…” isn’t it? Sigh.

Whatever your plans and plan to celebrate the holidays, I wish you health, happiness, and a joyful season.