TisSeason_02 1. Vintage platter, $400 at Forty Five Ten. 2. European Zodiac map plates, $49 for set of six at Wisteria. 3. Laptop bag, $39 at Pottery Barn. 4. Vervacious cheese accompaniments, $6.95-$12.50 at Molto Formaggio. 5. Larousse Gastronomique: The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia, $90 at Nuvo. 6. Xenia Taler handmade ceramic trivet, $56 at We Are 1976.


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Todd Johnson, Creative Director

Favorite thing about the holidays: Christmas morning stockings. Though I’m the youngest in our family (a 43-year-old big kid at heart), everyone in my family still does stockings for each other. Or I guess I should say “Santa” does the stockings. Except now we’ve traded in the hard rock candy for French macaroons and the Matchbox cars for... Well, I still get Matchbox cars.

Favorite holiday treat: Salted caramel hot chocolate on Christmas Eve

Cook or cater? I come from a family of good old Southern women. Think Paula Deen with sharp East Texas accents. Obviously, we cook everything with lots of butter and love, though I was raised to believe that’s the same thing. My specialty is dessert, and Mom always requests my hummingbird cake: a layered cake full of chopped walnuts, crushed pineapple, vanilla, and mashed bananas and completed with a cream cheese frosting. It’s my own variation from a Southern Living recipe I found years ago. My secret? A little rum. Oh, let’s be honest, a lot of rum.

Best gift you ever received: My Mattel Evel Knievel super stunt cycle with poseable action figure. I broke it Christmas morning, but it was the sweetest 45 minutes of my childhood.

Worst gift: A ceramic pig wearing a chef’s hat. It “fell” off the kitchen counter “accidentally.” Damn cat.

Holiday sweaters? Does Burberry make one?

Tinsel? No, but I’m a big fan of bubble lights.

Real tree or fake? Our first Christmas in our new home, my partner and I decided we would only ever have real trees. My mom shook her head in knowing laughter. That won’t last, she said. She was right. Real trees shed. They’re messy. And you have to dispose of them. We now have a lovely no-fuss, no-muss prelighted tree, and our holidays might be a little less authentic but a lot more sane. And tidy.

How old were you when you learned the truth about Santa? I was 7 years old and sneaked a peek of my mom bringing my freshly bought Big Wheel bike in the house from the car. “It’s from Santa,” she squealed Christmas morning. I gave her a dubious look. The jig was up.

When does the tree go up? The weekend after Thanksgiving. I like Christmas to last as long as possible, which is why it doesn’t come down until well after New Year’s. Oh, let’s be honest again. I’m lazy.

New Year's resolution: To eat and drink more. That way I’m always an overachiever.

Presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas day? We open them Christmas morning, the way Santa and Baby Jesus want it.

Favorite ornament: Shh... I’m a closet Winnie the Pooh fan and squeal like a tween at a Justin Bieber concert after unwrapping each Pooh ornament.

Favorite holiday candle: Henri Bendel does a beautiful smoke-scented candle that reminds me of chilly winter nights by the fireplace.

Wreath on the front door? That’s the partner’s job. He orders a fresh one every year.

Read more of our holiday gift guide.