Designing the Perfect Christmas in New York and Nashville


My two favorite cities (not counting Italian ones) are my long-ago-adopted-hometown of Nashville, and the fun-to-visit-wouldn’t-want-to-live-there New York City. If they have anything in common — beyond great tomatoes at farmers’ markets — it’s the energy they throw into Christmas.

It seems to me that the perfect holiday would blend the two of them together.

What Nashville can learn from New York:

I am always amazed by how artistic the windows at Bergdorf Goodman are at Christmas time.

Window decorating.

I'm talking about the stores (it’s hard to see a vintage sleigh on the balcony of a 34th-floor condo), and specifically about Bergdorf Goodman. Every year there’s something amazing and artistic there. This isn’t’ about pulling the old ornaments out of the attic and swagging some garland around.

The Christmas Markets are the perfect place to pick up a last-minute gift or just wander for an afternoon.

Christmas markets.

There’s no shortage of stores in Manhattan (though honestly it looks more and more like a gigantic upscale mall every time I go), but there’s no better place to get last-minute gifts than a Holiday Market. My favorite is at Union Square. All the best artisans set up shop, and I can get everything I need without taxiing to 30 different stores.

What New York can learn from Nashville:

There is nothing better to put you in the Christmas spirit than the holiday lights at Cheekwood.

Holiday lights in nature.

There’s nothing Christmasy I love more than a walk around Cheekwood. The lights are amazing, but so is all of that natural vegetation under the stars. (Admittedly, I’ve never strolled through Central Park on a holiday evening, but I’m not about to start.) Cheekwood is the perfect place to get outside and enjoy our not-so-extreme winter weather, roast some s’mores over roaring fires, and warm up cold hands on some hot chocolate while exploring the grounds.

I may be biased but I think Nashville Ballet's production of the Nutcracker is simply the best.

Nashville Nutcracker.

How dare I recommend a “local” production of this classic when there are dozens of elite ballet companies in New York City? Simple — I think ours is the best. It may have something to do with watching the dancers grow, and seeing all those smiling faces of friends’ children dressed as dancing mice, but there’s no arguing that it’s always a world-class production. And Nashville knows how to put on a production.

What the special thing that your city does to welcome the holidays? What have you seen elsewhere that you’d love to bring to your hometown?

Mary Spalding is a Nashville based interior designer with over 30 years of experience. She has overseen countless home revitalizations, renovations, and restorations. She can be reached with your projects and ideas at

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  • Beautiful piece! Feels like a mini trip to NY. Speaking of great Windows – in Franklin, The Rare Prints Gallery on Main Street has clever, spectacular Windows and new, creative mangagement to boot!
    Merry Christmas! Kay