Novel Bakers: Christmas All Through The South and a Christmas Tree Tailgate Picnic


I’m joining The Novel Bakers with Southern Living Christmas All Through The South: Joyful Memories, Timeless Moments, Enduring Traditions


Christmas All Through the South captures and celebrates the quintessential experience of Christmas in the South. Presented as a timeline of the Christmas season, each event depicted tells a highly visual story of local Southern traditions and classic holiday parties. Each event will captivate readers with an expansive collection of vibrant, full-page images, and festive, complimentary menus accompany many of the events.


Combining all the elements for which Southern Living is known and revered – food, travel, and homes, this book is a journey of celebrations through the South, from the low country and the pan-handle to the Texas ranch and Williamsburg farmhouse.


This book is a feast for the eyes and tastebuds! I was delighted with all the Christmas inspiration to be found in this book, divided into sections: Joyful Anticipation, Delightful Destinations, Heartfelt Gatherings, Sparkling Celebrations and Festive Recipes. There is so much to choose from, with cookies, cocktails and carols to a Holiday Supper by the Sea, A Wintry Yuletide Feast and Merry and Bright Christmas Eve Dinners and Brunch and more!


Warning : Photo heavy post ahead, grab a mug of something warm and your merriest plaid blanket and enjoy!


I was chomping at the bit ;) to have a Hearty Picnic in the Pines with some Christmas Season Tailgate Fare!


Here’s your invitation to gather for the annual Christmas tree hunt. Dress appropriately in your cozy tartan attire and warm boots to end the day with a hearty picnic!


Fetching a tree should not be done on an empty stomach and the make-ahead picnic menu is designed to travel well and taste delicious cold:  Fried Chicken, Carmel drop Banana Bread Trifle, Apple-Cabbage Slaw, Rosemary-Scented Cold Cider and Sweet Potato Salad


No “woody” was available for our Christmas tailgate and picnic, but my hubby’s Jeep was ready and waiting to deliver the tree.


Word to the wise: Whatever you do, do not call my hubby’s Jeep “cute”. A Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler with a crate 350 motor, NV 4500 transmission, Dana transfer case, Dana front and rear axles and the Warn Winch’s durable 3-stage planetary geartrain and operation series-wound, high-speed motor is not cute. . .

. . .unless it’s decked out with tartan and plaid  ;)


 Fetching the Tree:

“The source of the tree, the size, and the variety, matters less than the act of bringing it home. The details very from family to family, but the effort is always communal, memorable, and comfortably familiar. It is the ritual that, year after year, launches the season of togetherness.”


“Some families make a trip to the Christmas tree farm to walk among the stands of fragrant branches nodding in the winter wind. Others walk into the woods with an ax or saw. The arc of the hatchet, the sound of the steel teeth gnawing wood, is a beautiful sound echoes through generations. The hauling of this precious timber is a drunken waltz or an awkward team effort, branches in faces and limbs upon limbs. When it is done, we wrap frozen hands around a mug of hot cider, or rub them in front of the dashboard vents, until the sting of the cold melts away.”


We cut a scrub cedar tree from a patch of woods to fit my vintage tree stand I’ve had for 20+ years.


I did a quick search and identified it from one on eBay as a 50’s Poloron Litho Coloramic Metal Christmas Tree Stand, thank you eBay :)


I was more enamored with its cheery graphics with a barn, tree cutting and sledding scenes, than its pedigree when I found it at a flea market years ago.



“The tree may come from a Boy Scout troop, their young cheeks lit by a sap-scented barrel fire in the parking lot of the church on the hill. The Scouts pull out each tree and shake it loose for us to admire, compare, and imagine in our home. The choice may be a democratic vote, or the proprietary of the littlest one with the strongest faith in Santa. We tie our prize a top the minivan or lay it down in the back of the pick up, and wrestle it into the living room raining a trail of green needles.”


“A Christmas tree doesn’t have to be watered to be real. It may be carried down from the attic in a box, its forever green branches snapped into place and fluffed with no less love and devotion. The assembled tree has its own distinct smell, the scent of Christmases past. It may be of attic dust or a wintergreen scented candle.”


Help yourself to a mug of Rosemary-Scented Cider. . .



With apple cider, cranapple or cranberry juice and ginger ale.


Go ahead and to add a little holiday cheer to your cider, with the addition of some prosecco or cava for a sparkling celebration, ’tis the season to be jolly!





Let’s eat dessert first, it’s the holiday season after all! Caramel Drop-Banana Bread Trifle is a delicious variation of banana pudding and easy to assemble with a few shortcuts!


The recipe calls for assembling this banana bread trifle in a 9 x 13 baking dish. I assembled it in jars to make it portable and because everything tastes better out of a jar. ;)


Instead of the traditional vanilla wafers, this banana pudding/trifle uses banana bread. Use your favorite banana bread recipe or pick up a loaf at the bakery section of your grocery store.


As luck would have it, there was no banana bread at my grocery store, but banana-nut muffins were readily available and a delicious substitution.


The caramel-drop in this banana trifle comes from a can of dulce de leche which you can usually find in the grocery store on the Mexican foods aisle. You can also make you own dulce de leche in about 3 hours using cans of sweetened condensed milk. To build your trifle, layer your banana bread, custard or pudding with dulce de leche and sliced bananas. Top with whipped topping and chopped pecans.




Sweet Potato Salad can be served warm or chilled.


I added some Yukon gold potatoes to the sweet potato and some parsley for freshness and green color. I forgot to buy mustard seeds that would be a welcome addition.



The Apple-Cabbage Slaw is an easy and delicious twist on coleslaw with the addition of dried fruit and nut mix to add flavor and crunch with one ingredient!


This is a lighter and fresher-tasting alternative to a mayonnaise-based coleslaw and would be particularly good in the summer months!








Christmas Tree Tailgate and Picnic Details:

Tartan and plaid blankets/ HomeGoods and Kohl’s

Wood Tray/ HomeGoods

Tree Slice Chargers / Bed, Bath & Beyond

Skotch Jug, Picnic Basket, Tree Stand / Vintage

Reindeer Pillow/Target

Tartan Plaid Pillows / HomeGoods, Target

Galvanized Picnic Caddy / Pottery Barn

Galvanized Lanterns/ Target, several years ago

Mugs/ Lenox Winter Song

Sweater embossed salad plates/ Michaels, last year

Tartan Dinner Plates / Ciroa, HomeGoods

Flatware / World Market, several years ago

Napkin & Napkin Rings / HomeGoods


Visit Novel Bakers Jain, Michael Lee, and Linda for Christmas All Through the South

a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm

More Fun Less Laundry


The Novel Bakers return Wednesday with more Christmas All Through the South.


Christmas Tree Tailgate and Picnic | © #christmas #recipes #Jeep #picnic #tailgate #plaid #tartan

Honored to be featured in Country Sampler’s Farmhouse Style Christmas

Sharing with:

 Metamorphosis Monday

  59 comments for “Novel Bakers: Christmas All Through The South and a Christmas Tree Tailgate Picnic

  1. December 19, 2016 at 5:35 am

    What an amazing post!!! Just outstanding…thank you!!

  2. Ellen Stillabower
    December 19, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Love all the plaid!!! 🎄🎄🎄🎄

  3. December 19, 2016 at 6:15 am

    Looks like a fun day Mary! I love your vintage tree stand, the graphics are so cute! I also have the white plaid blanket you used on the bed of the truck… Actually won it as a door prize from a company Christmas party over 28 years ago!!! Wow, my boys are getting old:@) Happy Christmas Week-enjoy!

  4. emily
    December 19, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Love all the plaids and the recipes look yummy…I will try them for my firepit celebration….You keep me busy by inspiring me with all your ideas!

  5. Leslie
    December 19, 2016 at 6:57 am

    Obviously, there was a lot of thought, planning, work and love that went into today’s post. It was amazing! Your husband’s “manly” truck looked wonderful with all the added touches of tartan, decorations and the delicious food. Wonderful photos. Enjoy the rest of the Christmas season!

  6. December 19, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Mary, I loved this post!!! When I received my Southern Living All Through the South last year I was so excited. As a matter of fact, I was perusing it last night…it is a beautiful book! You captured the essence of the book perfectly with your delightful tail-gate picnic. The food looks amazing and I think I need to try the banana bread trifle! Happy Monday!

  7. Susan Schexnayder
    December 19, 2016 at 7:17 am

    How festive! I kept several of the recipes to try. Thank you. Susan

  8. Mary
    December 19, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Amazing post!!! A visual feast for the eyes. You could almost smell the pines.
    Reading the post just put me over the top in Christmas spirit. Thank you.

  9. Jacqueline
    December 19, 2016 at 8:00 am

    What. A “feast” for the eye. Can’t wait to try the banana trifle. Will be dreaming in plaid. Thank you for such a beautiful Christmas moment.

  10. Roxanne
    December 19, 2016 at 8:18 am

    What a treat for my eyes on this dark, dreary morning! This is one of the best posts I have seen on any blog ever. Well done!!

  11. December 19, 2016 at 8:55 am

    And the choir sang, ♪♫Aaaw-some!♫♪♪ Awesome Jeep, awesome interpretation of the hunt for the tree, and awesome assembly of the meal – just ♪♫aaaw-some!♫♪♪
    Running over to visit the other two now……Merry Christmas, Mary!

  12. Quiet life
    December 19, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Oh what a gorgeous presentation! I knew you southern girls would have an edge on is all! You shared the book so beautifully with so many passages and pictures, mine was so incohesive I’m glad to see someone pulling it together!

    I love your picnic, I usually do it myself since my birthday is the week before Christmas, but this year we went to the boat parade instead but I missed loading up the border collies and heading out for fun. Yours could not be any cuter from the antique stand to our matching plaid blankets.

    I can smell your Rosemary cider, it just evokes Christmas memories! The lanterns, the Caddy, the picnic basket it is always picture perfect! Jars of goodness always make the best picnic!

    Loved loved loved all your details it always makes the holidays so bright with all that you share! Look forward to see what you sharing on Wednesday thanks so much for being a novel baker :-)

  13. Terri
    December 19, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Absolutely beautiful! I just love these picnic themed posts that you do. Great job and Merry Christmas!

  14. December 19, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Everything’s simply adorable! Makes me want to start planning my next year Christmas tree hunt! <3

  15. December 19, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Another topic Mary…need to know today…
    Your white/sweet potato dish in springform pan? Think I could put that together few days before I bake it? Ever done that! Would crust get soggy? Trying to get my cooking time frames organized. And running out of time!!!!😜😳😜

    • December 19, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      Hi Janey, I’m not sure, I think you could prepare it the night before but I’d be afraid of longer than that. It does have a long cooking time and varies with your oven. Read the reviews here and see what you think.

  16. December 19, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Mary, this tartan loving girl would love to attend such a party. Your post is the next best thing…..actually more authentic and better than any that would happen in our next of the woods. Love the manly jeep decked out in its holiday finery! Your woodland tartan picnic is festive holiday at its finest! I must look for this book. I love to add holiday books to the shelf, especially if they are full of great photos and ideas.
    FYI ~ Sadie and I love the girl’s card. Arrived today. ;-)

  17. December 19, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Love it all…but specially all the plaid and tartan details!

  18. December 19, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    This has to be my favorite post of yours….Amazing pictures, ideas, and charm. And the jeep is (shhhhh-cute) I didn’t say that but it is! Have a Merry Christmas and thanks for all your inspirations over the year, Sandi

  19. Robyn
    December 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    This post is beautiful! The pictures are beautiful and so full of Christmas cheer! We had a tree stand exactly like yours at home when I was growing up. I am going to have to see if it is still in my parent’s attic! I immediately had a nostalgic moment when I spotted the tree stand! Merry Christmas!

  20. December 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    I just don’t know where to begin! This has got to be the most fa la la festive picnic tailgate EVER! Layers upon layers of delightful details, plus recipes! You went all out with Southern hospitality Mary, a feast for the eyes yes, but for the heart and soul as well! The whole scene is just like a Norman Rockwell painting, and I just want to jump right in! This week will be full of Christmas presents, opening posts from the delightful novel bakers!

  21. December 19, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Mary, Your posts can never be too photo heavy for me! The more the merrier!! I love your interpretation of the tree hunt — and the “not” cute jeep is perfect for hauling it home with a delicious and cozy picnic following behind! Some years we could do a picnic here and others are so cold we dash in and out of the car, pointing to the first tree we see. But if I had your yummy cider, especially sweetened up with a little holiday cheer :) I would be able to stand any cold! I’ve never seen a tree stand like that and now I’ll be on the watch for one! I love the graphics too, and even the name “coloramic” is fabulous, isn’t it?! The banana trifle looks delicious, especially in the jars, and adding apples to cole slaw is always a great idea. Yum, I keep looking back at that banana trifle. Seeing Christmas in the South from a true Southern girl is very inspiring! Linda

  22. Barbara Harilaou
    December 19, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    What a beautiful post. the pictures the recipes everything looked absolutely perfect.. Happy Holidays.. I’m sure it was a beautiful picnic, find the perfect tree, enjoy the fresh cold air,enjoy a delicious meal kinda a day.

  23. December 19, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Everything looks great for a tail gate party. You have such a wonderful way to decorate that is always amazing.

    Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


  24. Cyndi Raines
    December 19, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    MARY! How Awesome! Love your “Not cute Jeep!” Hubby really liked it too! We had a red Wrangler some years ago and traded it in on his current truck – we miss it. Thanks for the great recipes! On Christmas Eve I’ll be 60!! Wow! Can’t believe it! Merry Merry Christmas to you and your family! Thanks for your wonderful post!

    • December 19, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      Happy Birthday Week to Cyndi! Keeping you and your hubby in my thoughts and prayers. Merry Christmas! ♥

  25. December 19, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    What a delightful tour of your outing and all the trimmings. Great food and decorations! Love, love all the plaid. Merry Merry Christmas,Mary!

  26. Paula
    December 19, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Fa la la , what a fun day !! The tree farm sure brings back memories of cutting down a Christmas tree on a 20 degrees or colder day brrrrrr. !! Love love all your plaid !! and the lunch looks wonderful , yum yum . :) You sure make life so enjoyable !!

  27. Virginia
    December 19, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Mary Thank you for another year of stylish table settings, party inspiration, potting shed puttering, and delicious recipes. I am saving several of today’s recipes. Even though it is cold and raining here in north east North Carolina I ran out for the ingredients to make the nut clusters tomorrow for my Christmas dinner guests. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  28. December 19, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Mary, first of all I want to go get this book! It sounds fabulous. Your Christmas picnic is fabulous. I am still in love with that flatware, wish they would get it again. The recipes sound delicious! I wish our weather would cooperate for a picnic but maybe after Christmas we could have an indoor one by the fireplace:) Thank you so much for another year of inspiration, recipes, and all you share. It is always exciting to see a new post in my mailbox!!! Wishing you and your hubby the merriest of Christmases. XO

  29. December 19, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Wow what a picnic, Mary! I’d love to join you tailgating at your hubby’s decked out jeep! All the food and drink looks fabulous. My mom has that same flatware from World Market. Merry week before Christmas!

  30. rattlebridge farm
    December 19, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Oh, Mary, how enchanting and beautiful! I love your tree-bearing Jeep, your tartans, your hollowed-out log carrier, the fairy lights in the Mason jar, the festive flatware, the tree! I want to be at this picnic. I would actually get to taste the delicious-looking trifle! :-) You created a storybook scene, worthy of Southern Living’s pages. I love, love, LOVE seeing your warm, brilliant creativity at work. You are such a blessing to us.

  31. Marilyn
    December 19, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    What a great idea to have a picnic near Christmas. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

  32. Joan
    December 19, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    I love that tree there is nothing like a live tree. Merry Christmas and Happy New year.

  33. Marion
    December 19, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Thank you for sharing this outing. It looks like a lot of fun. Merry Christmas and a Happy 2017.

  34. December 19, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    Oh my Mary! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, the photos, the recipes, the feeling, the words, the entire post, I want to just read it again and again, looking at the photos over and over again. Merry, merry Christmas!

  35. December 20, 2016 at 8:02 am

    OH my Mary! For some reason the pictures in this post did not come through. Hopefully Wednesday will be better!

    • December 20, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Hi Nancie, Where/how are you trying to see the post? From tablet/phone or laptop?

  36. franki
    December 20, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    That was SOME PARTY!!! franki

  37. December 20, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    How fun! Love all the vignettes!!

  38. December 20, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    I would love to participate in a winter picnic like this. I love all of the plaid. All of the lovely detail such as the sweater wine bottle and lovely flatware. It really makes me enjoy winter. I always love the falling snow on your site. How is that done?

    • December 20, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      Thanks Marsha! The falling snow is a WordPress plugin :)

  39. December 20, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Yum! Looks like a ball! Love all your plaid throws ! I love them too and use them throughout my home! This years mantle theme is draped in tartan plaid with snowy trees! A large Christmas Trees for sale wood sign ! The red truck with a lit tree in the back and old fashion lanterns ! Love it all !

  40. December 21, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    What a way to spend a day than at a Christmas tree farm picking out your tree and having a tailgate lunch amongst the most wonderful setting…storybook I say!….and yes, the Jeep is not cute!…it is pretty “boss” …

  41. December 22, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    This is such an amazing post. Beautifully photogaphed. Just lovely!

  42. December 22, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    I enjoy each and every one of your lovely posts, Mary. I am amazed that you never run out of ideas. Here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

  43. December 27, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Beautiful and festive Mary!! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home! Happy New Year!

  44. Laurie
    December 31, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Gorgeous !!! all the plaid is so beautiful, what a grand idea a “Tree Hunt” your menu is also delicious looking ….thank you for sharing, you certainly come up with the best ideas…. I love the pocket watch, is that just a photo or one that you have? Thank you for all your work to share with us ……

  45. November 23, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    A very manly jeep and a fabulous tailgate party. The whole thing just looks wonderful.

  46. Kristie
    November 23, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Mary, this is just soooo awesome!!! I love it ALL!

  47. December 3, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    Just spectacular and such a wonderful idea! When my kids were little we used to go with my sister’s family to cut down our trees. It was in Pennsylvania so we often froze our behinds off and were knee deep in snow but it was still a lot of fun. We always had hot cider and donuts at the tree farm and then went out for fish and chips at a great dive bar afterward. It was a great family time. Now that we live in a warmer climate I will have to steal your idea. Thanks for sharing.

  48. December 5, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    I also would like to know more about the watch. My hubbie is a real bearded, professional Santa and this watch is amazing. Your post is fabulous. Now I want to have a picnic and use all your great ideas. Thanks for all you do.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: