A City Girl’s Guide to Loving Suburbia – Chapter 7: (In a) Home for the Holidays

Remember, during your home search, how you envisioned hosting the holidays in each and every kitchen and dining room you toured? How you couldn’t wait to break free from your cramped city apartment so you could hold Thanksgiving dinner at an actual table instead of anxiously watching your guests balance their cornucopias on their laps? Or—worse yet—enduring the year’s worst traffic to be a guest at someone else’s house? How you pictured the perfect spot for your nine-foot-tall Christmas tree or which window would be just right for the menorah that’s been packed away in storage, along with all your china and crystal, since your wedding? 

Well, welcome home, sugarplums! Now’s your chance to shine!  

Play around with your style! Perhaps one year you’ll try an all-white, sparkle-lit home with classic candles in the windows and then indulge the littles the next year with flashing, multi-colored LEDs, a reindeer on the front lawn, and inflatable Santa on the roof. The pressure to perform is high during the holidays but, as I always say, “You do You!” Don’t feel the need to keep up with your neighbors if they choose to hire the Saks Fifth Avenue streetscape crew. Hang a wreath and call it done. Instead of shuffling shoulder-to-shoulder through the Midtown crowds, bundle the kids in the car and drive around to see the local décor—you’ll find plenty of homes that appear to have been styled by either Liberace or Martha Stewart—then head home to enjoy hot chocolate by the fire.  

It’s not Rockefeller Center up here, but there are beautiful and festive sites to see. You won’t want to miss the Winter Wonderland at the Kensico Dam, with its outdoor skating rink, 40-foot tree, carnival rides, and incredible light display. Frosty Day in Armonk is another must-see, as you never know what they’re going to bring to this fun-filled event honoring the world’s most famous snowman each year!  

When it comes to entertaining, keep the focus on the love. Don’t get all judge-y on yourself and miss out on what the season is about. Spend your days cooking if that’s what makes you feel good; otherwise, there are plenty of ways to cater without breaking the bank. Most years I relish my time perusing recipes, strolling the markets, and setting up camp in the kitchen, but there have been years when my schedule just didn’t allow for that. In the end, it’s the comfort of my crowd that’s most important. Allow your guests to contribute by bringing their favorite dishes and helping to set or clear the table. This is true intimacy. In the spirit of the season, say “yes” when your new friend or neighbor invites you to pop by for a drink or dessert, or be the one to offer that invitation.  

By all means, start what will be your own family holiday traditions. Write down what you’re all thankful for on Thanksgiving, bake Christmas cookies, revive Grandma’s latke recipe, don matching PJs, write down a wish on New Year’s Eve and tuck it away to be shared in 365 days—you’ll be grateful for the memories as the years pass by. And speaking of gratitude…  

The tipping doesn’t end once you’ve said goodbye to your doormen and porters. There are plenty of people to express your appreciation to in the ‘burbs. Be sure to tape an envelope with some holiday cash to the top of your garbage cans for your dedicated sanitation workers if they come at a time that you won’t be able to greet them in person. Mailmen can no longer accept gifts in excess of $20, so perhaps a Starbucks card can warm the chilly winter routes. Your housekeeper, babysitter, bus driver, and dog walker should surely be on your Nice List, and don’t forget something thoughtful for your favorite teachers and hairstylists.  

I’m grateful for this platform and my readers who give me the opportunity to reflect each month on how lucky this City Girl is to have found her place in the ‘burbs! Happy Holidays, my peeps!  

I’d love to hear about how you celebrate the Holidays in the ‘burbs and your favorite new and old traditions! Feel free to share the struggles that you’ve had adjusting, knowing you’re not alone!  

Hillary is a city girl-turned-suburban mama and a social worker-turned-realtor who focuses on the transition over the transaction. As a top-producer with Hillary’s Homes at Houlihan Lawrence, she has clearly embraced life in the suburbs! 



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About the Author: Hillary Landau