A Timeless Gift Idea (Really)

Three years ago, a writer for Better Homes & Gardens magazine was kind enough to call and interview me about my top gift recommendations for the season.

I told her about the "Sewell Family Yearbook" that I had created for the last five years.  Below is the cover of that December issue and clip of that article.  Three years later, this continues to be the gift we make for Scott's family every Christmas!  (Honestly, I don't think anyone would let us stop doing this - not that we would ever want to).

More details here about how this came about and how you can put one together.  There's still plenty of time to get this done.  Even though it can take a bit of time to gather and organize the photos, it is so worth doing.  It lets us relive memories from throughout the year as we put it together - and then enjoy reviewing the entire year with family at Christmas as we sit around the tree.

Christmas (Eye) Candy

One of the reasons Scott and I put up our Christmas tree so early (October, anyone?) is that I am on the road most of November and December.  That gives me more time to enjoy our tree during the limited number of days I am at home in New York.

As a Christmas tree aficionado, I fully enjoy the Christmas trees and other holiday bling in airports and hotels across the country!  Once Thanksgiving is over, the terminals and halls are decked out.

The Indianapolis airport always has one of the best trees.  Last year, I sadly came through there the day before the tree went up, and missed it.  Here is this year's beauty!

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The Admirals' Club at LaGuardia Airport always looks gorgeous.

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Loved having this tree and wreath as backdrops to one of my segments this week!

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And a few favorites from last year.

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Do you go all-out on holiday decorating?  When does your tree go up during the holidays?

Happy Holidays from NYC!

Since I get into the Christmas spirit well before Halloween costumes go on sale, I love that by the day after Thanksgiving, most of the country is draped in festive trees and holiday bling. 

As magical as New York is at Christmas, the Monday after Thanksgiving always marks the beginning of several weeks of busy travel.  So, for the next few weeks, I'll share thoughts about the season and, of course, festive trees that I spot in airports, TV studios, and other places around the country.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from New York City!

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Tour O' Trees

If you know me, or have spent more than five minutes reading this blog, you know that my heart beats for Christmas trees.

So, as I trek around the country doing holiday TV segments - I pay extra attention to the trees that decorate airports, hotels, and TV studios.  Here are a few of my favorites:

The Admirals Club at LaGuardia Airport is always totally decked out for Christmas - and gets my award for "most festive airport lounge."

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The Indianapolis airport always has a fabulous display.  This photo is from 2015, but this year's is similarly spectacular.

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The tree in the American Airlines terminal at LAX is always a favorite - and even includes a (very loud) train with lots of bells and whistles that continually circles the base of that rotunda.  It is always one of my favorites - if for no other reason than whenever I see it, I am probably on my way home.

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Just imagine the warm, cozy lobby of this hotel in Seattle with a roaring fire in that fireplace - accompanied by a soundtrack of holiday classics from Andy Williams and Nat King Cole.

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One of my favorite studio trees this year, on the set of KATU-TV in Portland.

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See the trees in the background of my segment at the "Daytime" show?  I brought in a forest of these "pop-up trees" from BrylaneHome for a holiday segment four years ago - and they still use them to decorate the set each year.

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Christmas in NYC: Park Avenue Tree Lighting

New York is famous for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the television event surrounding its illumination.

But for Scott and me, the annual Park Avenue Tree Lighting - which we went to last night - has become a favorite holiday tradition.  Hands down, it is the best holiday event you have never heard of.

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Every year, on the first Sunday night of December, tens of thousands Upper East Siders and visitors gather outside the Brick Presbyterian Church at 91st Street and Park Avenue to sing Christmas carols and cheer the lighting of 104 fir trees that line Park Avenue from 97th Street down to 54th Street.  Multiple blocks of Park are shut down to accommodate the crowds that gather north and south of the church along the Avenue.

The tradition started in 1945 to honor those who sacrificed their lives in the war.  I first read about it many years before I moved New York, and once Scott and I moved to the Upper East Side four years ago, it became one of the highlights of our holiday season.  (No - we don't live on Park Avenue, but love that it is only a few blocks west of our apartment.)

The service is conducted by the Brick Church, with several ministers, musicians and the children's choir leading the festivities.  Old-fashioned caroling (programs and carol sheets are passed around the crowds, or just download the program to your phone); prayers and readings; the playing of "Taps" by a bugler - and a moment of remembrance for those who lost their lives in war.

The event has a decidedly small-town, neighborhood feel to it.  Walking around, hot chocolate or coffee in hand, people visit with neighbors, children play in the street and you see smiles and laughter all around.  You'll spot more than a few Santa hats as well.  Even with all the people, it never really feels crowded (unlike Rockefeller Center, which has to cram a lot of people into a relatively tiny space).

If you are ever in New York the first weekend of December, this is a great way to get out of the commercial and tourist areas and into residential neighborhoods - giving you a glimpse of one of the many reasons I love living in this city.