“Last Christmas, my 6-year-old nephew asked me what I had done with all the red stripes when he saw the white candy canes at my house,” Tricia Foley said with a smile.
Foley has festooned her home in white every holiday season for at least the past 15 years. The rest of the world now appears to be catching up with her.
Signs that a white Christmas is in the offing, regardless of the weather, include: a rising number of white, ivory, silvery and clear, crystal-like ornaments; growing popularity of holiday arrangements with white flowering plants and cut flowers; and the amount of reading matter pushing the concept this year.
At least four magazines are running features on white holiday decorating themes: white with herbal accents in American Homestyle & Gardening; white in general in Better Homes & Gardens; white seashells in Coastal Living; and white lace and frills in Victoria.
There also are two new books (both published by Clarkson Potter) extolling white decor: Foley’s “White Christmas: Decorating and Entertaining for the Holiday Season” ($22.95), and Matthew Mead’s “Gifts from Nature” ($21).
Beyond the pleasure of novelty, “the idea of a white Christmas has a soothing, nostalgic feeling,” said Foley.
White accessories can run the style gamut from the romantic tradition of silver, crystal and white lace doilies to a simple country effect with white candles and homemade decorations of paper and modest cotton fabrics.
“White flowering plants such as amaryllis, cyclamen, and paper-white narcissus are growing more popular around the holidays,” Joseph E. Smith said. He’s a florist in Brentwood, Tenn., and a commentator on floral trends.
White ornaments and accessories combine well with other holiday decor, according to Joan Serena, marketing vice president of Department 56, a maker of holiday ornaments and accessories in Eden Prairie, Minn.
Among tree ornaments and tabletop figures offered this year by Department 56 are about 70 small white-bisque porcelain figures, known as Snowbabies. There are also holiday-themed white porcelain figurines, ornaments shaped like snowflakes and faux crystal ornaments that look like chandelier pendants.
In “Gifts From Nature,” Mead focuses on decorations that can be made at home. Among his low-key ideas are trees decorated with homemade white paper cones filled with candies, white papier-mache boxes and balls, and leaves sprayed silver to make wreaths.
Mead also shows a wreath decorated with white seashells and clear glass containers filled with white candy-coated Jordan almonds.
In her book, Foley illustrates a profusion of Christmas holiday ideas in white. Among them:
White stockings hung from the mantel. The fabrics for the handmade stockings range from felt at 59 cents a yard to knitting wool, linen, damask and velvet.
Tree Ornaments. Inexpensive sets of ornaments in a pearl-white finish are widely available in many sizes. Foley uses them to fill white, clear glass and silver bowls.
White ribbon. Cotton, shiny silk, grosgrain texture, white with gold edges. She uses wide ribbon as garlanding for a tree.
Fake snow. Craft stores sell it in spray cans. It adds a white accent to trees and wreaths.
White gift wrap. White butcher paper is inexpensive and homey tied with white muslin ribbon. Foley suggests ornamenting the gift wrap with a few white buttons; A tiny drop of glue or rubber cement will hold the buttons in place.
Foley even throws holiday parties with a white theme for refreshments such as white wine, endive, celery, cauliflower crudites with goat cheese and Carr’s water biscuits.
And, of course, those all-white candy canes.