7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg's Christmas Decorations by Cynthia Howerter

Colonial Williamsburg’s Christmas decorations are legendary. Arriving in the colonial capital last week to celebrate Thanksgiving, I was delightfully surprised to find many doors and windows already adorned with beautiful Christmas wreaths, swags, and decorations. Not to mention that the people in Williamsburg are among the friendliest and most hospitable I’ve ever met! Please join me on a stroll through Colonial Williamsburg.

On my way to a tea at Christiana Campbell's Tavern, I met these lovely colonial ladies. Three beautifully-dressed generations of the Rapp-Agnew women traveled across Virginia to attend the tea! Please meet my new friends Betty Rapp, Pam Agnew, Katherine Agnew, and Elizabeth Agnew.

Don't the cheerful decorations at Christiana Campbell's Tavern make you want to go inside for tea and scones?


One of the trademarks of the Colonial Williamsburg wreaths and swags is their incorporation of locally-found items. Note the oyster shells and colonial clay pipes on this wreath at the Christiana Campbell Tavern. I'm sure many a patron enjoyed oysters and a pipe at a leisurely supper inside this historic restaurant.

The entrance to the John Greenhow Store uses an old Williamsburg favorite - the half-moon swag decorated with apples, pineapple, boxwood, and magnolia leaves hangs above the doorway.  Unadorned pine roping outlines the door frame. 


The fruit and greenery on this traditional colonial swag are actually mounted on a wooden board with protruding nails that hold the fruit in place.

For their oval swags, which hang to either side of the entrance door, the John Greenhow Store used pine, pine cones, apples, dried orange slices, and dried lotus pods. The fragrance was divine!

The entrance to this shop couldn't be simpler. A plain pine swag surrounds the door frame while two small wreaths accentuate the top corners.

A Christmas wreath can be simple and inexpensive yet visually appealing. Can you smell the fresh pine and apples?  Mmm.

This shop on Duke of Gloucester Street used a small swag on the porch's corner post. 

The designer used vivid colors to make a bold statement on this simple swag composed of wheat, larkspur, yarrow, dried flowers, and lotus pods covered with a green substance.

The Tarpley, Thompson & Company Store used fragrant pine roping and a wreath loaded with fruit to help put its customers in the Christmas spirit.

The large Tarpley-Thompson Store wreath uses apples, pinecones, pomegranates, oranges, artichokes, yarrow, and pine.

The vibrant colors of this wreath draw the eye to the door of this private residence. Surely a crackling fire and hot wassail await inside!

This homeowner took advantage of the porch's distinct architectural features to accentuate it with two unique swags.

A variety of dried flowers - all grown in Williamsburg gardens - adorn this beautiful swag.

This highly colorful but small window swag shouts cheerfulness. The grain, Chinese lanterns, yarrow, and sunflowers are all grown locally.

The owner of this private residence chose two matching swags on either side of their front door for their Christmas decorations. Can you see the pheasant feathers protruding from the tops and bottoms of the swags? 

I love the way this swag uses sunflowers, oyster shells, boxwood, bittersweet, pine, and greens. I'm sure the sunflowers will be a hit with the local feathered friends once they find them!

I hope you’ve enjoyed strolling through Colonial Williamsburg with me! Why not plan to visit this beautiful, friendly town over the Christmas holidays? 

All photographs ©2013 Cynthia Howerter

Award-winning author Cynthia Howerter loves using her training in education, research, writing, and speaking to teach and inspire others about a time in America that was anything but boring. A member of the Daughters of the American revolution (DAR), Cynthia believes history should be alive and personal.

Visit Cynthia's website: Cynthia Howerter - all things historical


  1. I never get tired of walking Duke of Gloucester Street, particularly this time of year. Beautiful post, Cynthia.

  2. Thank you, Janet! I agree - I love walking along Duke of Gloucester Street in every season!

  3. Thanks for sharing these photos Cynthia! I'm inspired to make a quick swag with the left over branches from my Christmas tree!

  4. So glad the photos inspired you, Mary! There's nothing like the fragrance of fresh pine! I know your swag will be gorgeous!

  5. Such gorgeous pics, Cynthia! I am back in a boot again and dk if I'll be able to go look at the decorations at CW but your pics really took me there. Thanks!

  6. So sorry to hear about the boot, Carrie, but glad you were able to see the Christmas decorations at CW through my photos!

  7. wow so pretty you are lucky to be able to see a place like this and enjoy it.

    1. Hi, Jenny! I'm so glad you enjoyed this article! I try never to forget how blessed we are to live so close to what I love. I do hope you're able to visit Colonial Williamsburg someday, but in the meantime, I'm sure I'll be posting other articles about it on Colonial Quills!

  8. Thank you for this virtual walk down the street. Alas, time and distance keep me from visiting in person. You are so fortunate to have this in your back yard.

    1. Hi, Judith! I'm so glad you enjoyed my article! I love visiting historical sites, and realize how blessed I am to live so close to so many beautiful colonial places here in Virginia. Time and distance may keep you from visiting in person, but I will do my best to bring these wonderful pieces of colonial history directly to you here on Colonial Quills.

  9. Cynthia I did see Colonial Williamburg in May when I got to meet Carrie. I recognise many of the places but in warmer weather.

    1. Wonderful, Jennifer! I know you enjoyed meeting Carrie there! I have to say that it was frightfully cold last week in Williamsburg, so you were fortunate to have been there in May! :)

  10. Love this article, Cynthia! You surely make me long to visit again. It's been many years since I've had the pleasure, and I'm going to put a return visit at the top of my priority list!

  11. Hi, Joan! So glad you enjoyed the article! When you plan to visit Williamsburg, please let me know so we can meet! And let Carrie and Janet know, too! We'll all get together with you!

  12. I've always wanted to decorate my home with swags and wreaths like these. They sure are beautiful. Williamsburg is a great place to visit. Thanks for the virtual tour.


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