Ask Martha: Home for the holidays

The Detroit News

From Martha Stewart Living

During the day, we try to spend time outdoors, collecting eggs, hiking and riding horses.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes. And Martha loves to celebrate with dear family and friends.  Over the years, she has continued traditions started by her parents and created new ones with her grandchildren. Here, she reminisces. 


Every year I want my Christmas holiday to be the same, but different. Subtle additions and subtractions can be surreptitiously incorporated, as long as the overall feeling and atmosphere remain the same. My windows and doorways are always garlanded and wreathed indoors and out. Last year I purchased more than 40 evergreen wreaths for the windows of the house and the eaves of the outbuildings, and affixed wonderful shooting stars, made from hundreds of little white lights, to the roofs and sides of the buildings.

The farm comes to life every night, a glistening wonderland the moment the skies darken. I’m tempted to do more, but I leave the jolly Santas, sleighs and teams of reindeer to the neighbors. I concentrate on what I think will be quietly visible and breathtakingly gorgeous.

Indoors, I go a bit more crazy — a tree or two or three in every room, hung with vintage and not-so-vintage ornaments that I have collected over the years. One room might be decorated for a woodland scene, another for our furry friends and another just for the birds. I pull down the best table coverings from the attic and place them on tables, then add decorations on every flat surface to amuse and delight — no opportunity is spared to embellish and get into the spirit. I keep these traditions alive by taking photographs every holiday and saving the decorations from year to year.

I try to have a big open house to celebrate with my family, friends and neighbors. This is not so different from what my parents did in our family home in Nutley, New Jersey, and what I hope my daughter will do as her two children grow and thrive. Last year Alexis decorated an incredible pink tree with a new collection of oversize glass balls in pastel pinks, greens and blues. I think she’s caught the bug — the Christmas-decorating bug! Who knows what’s in store this year, but I can’t wait to celebrate, and I wish you all the happiest of holidays.


I love music during the holiday season. Caroling has always been a favorite pastime — old and new songs are sung with gusto by some very talented singers in our family. Here are some of my favorites for listening and singing along.

“Santa Baby” Performed by Eartha Kitt

“The Christmas Song,” Performed by Nat “King” Cole

“White Christmas,” Performed by Frank Sinatra

“Sleigh Ride,” Performed by Johnny Mathis

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Performed by Andy Williams

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Performed by Judy Garland

“Silent Night” Performed by Kiri Te Kanawa

“O Holy Night” Performed by Kiri Te Kanawa

“Deck the Halls” Performed by Teo Macero & his Orchestra

“The First Noel” Performed by Chris Botti

Handel’s Messiah, Performed by the Trinity Church Choir

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Conducted by Kurt Thomas


Since 1982, I’ve made eggnog — a rich concoction of eggs, milk, cream, sugar, brandy, bourbon and rum — for my family and friends to enjoy. To find eggnog recipes, go to marthastewart.com.

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