We’re ending 2014 as we mean to go on in 2015, laughing. This advice from S.J. Perelman about Xmas decorations may still come in handy for your New Year’s Eve party.
At ten o’clock this morning, fortified with a bottle of benzedrine and a stoup of black coffee, I kissed my newsdealer good-bye and set out to read through the Christmas-party suggestions in Mademoiselle, Vogue and House & Garden. “It’s madness, Derek!” implored the handful of friends who had come down to see me off. “Think it over, old man! You’ll never get through!” I smiled grimly, set my jaw as well as a serious case of malocclusion would allow, and plunged into the perfume advertising.
Hours later, gray with fatigue and my eyes mere pin-points in my head, I stumbled out of the back cover of House & Garden and fell forward into the waiting arms of my friends. Perhaps the most soaring imagination displayed in any of the three magazines is that of a Mr. Lester Gaba, whom Mademoiselle called in to advise its readers regarding their Christmas decor. It is Mr. Gaba’s thesis that, given a little energy and a few everyday materials, Christmas need never be stodgy. His first target is the tree itself. “Dip tips of twisted cotton strips into India ink and trim your tree entirely with ermine tails,” he orders. “Pin a fresh mauve orchid to the treetop.” Arresting as the effect might be, the actual execution seems a bit less simple. “Well, what do we do next?” I can hear a Mr. Kapustin asking his wife as he finishes tacking up the last holly wreath. Mrs. Kapustin peers uncertainly at her copy of Mademoiselle. ” Tip dips of twisted crotton sips—’ ” she begins. “No, wait a minute. ‘Sip dips of cristed totton tips—’ ” Obviously, such an enterprise can only end in disaster. Either Mr. Kapustin, who is extremely short- tempered, snatches the magazine from his wife, provoking a free-for-all, or the dawn discloses two pallid house- holders on the verge of a breakdown, mumbling, “Dip, dip, dip.”
Next turning his attention to the lighting, Mr. Gaba says, “Go medieval: get Gothic-lantern effects by shielding ceiling bulbs with pierced, rectangular tin food- graters.” ….It is certainly just as feasible as another of Mr. Gaba’s suggestions: “Tie blown-up, red penny balloons to your outdoor Christmas trees. The kids in the block will pop them quick like a flash—but who cares?” Who indeed but an old Scrooge? …. The same promise of high adventure pervades still another of Mr. Gaba’s proposals: “Decorate your mantel with a begged, borrowed, or stolen French horn filled cornucopia-style with holly and mistletoe.” No French-horn player around Carnegie Hall will refuse to turn over his instrument to you once the purpose is explained to him. Should he prove reluctant, simply read him Mr. Gaba’s article, and if that fails to stun him, sap him just below the left ear with a black- jack. Anybody so deficient in Christmas spirit, and above all a French-horn player, is hardly worth your sympathy.
from The Best of S.J. Perelman