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Celebrating a Very Merry Vintage Farmhouse Christmas

Celebrating a Very Merry Vintage Farmhouse Christmas

Christmas vignette by fireplacce
Written by Kathryn Drury Wagner
Photography by Bret Gum
Styling by Leslie Saeda
and by Kathryn Drury Wagner
and by Jickie Torres

How do you throw a casual holiday party for, oh, 250 people? If you’re Leslie Saeta, of Pasadena, California, you get a running start. She begins cooking about two weeks in advance, prepping the pastry shells and appetizers, laying the groundwork for the 20 types of hors d’oeuvres and seven kinds of desserts that will be served.

On the porch, Leslie and her husband, Dave, can entertain almost all year round. “When we expanded the family room, they found a chimney, not used anymore, that ran from the basement to the third floor, so they took out the bricks one by one, and we reused them to rebuild the pool’s patio as well as the fireplace here,” Leslie says.

“I have an Excel spreadsheet, color coded, and I’m calm,” she says. Leslie started her holiday bash, beloved among her social circle, more than 20 years ago with 40 attendees, and though it’s grown exponentially, she feels she’d be “selling out if I hired a caterer. It’s my Christmas gift to my family and friends.”

Leslie’s home, which she blogs about at My 100 Year Old Home, was built in 1915 and has only been owned by two families. Her husband’s family bought it from the original owners in 1969, and then she and her husband bought it from his parents.

Three major remodels have reshaped the home, while always respecting the era and bones of the stately house. “Most people don’t believe that our kitchen is not original. We were very careful when we did the remodel to keep the spirit of the home,” says Leslie. Still, it needed to be modernized. “There was no dishwasher. I put in two, which was brilliant. We do love to entertain.”

Farmhouse dining room decorated for Christmas with a white flocked tree
Over the years, Leslie has bought strings of crystals that used to be on chandeliers and has decorated this tree with garlands made from the crystals. For the windows, she says, “I buy like 20 wreaths a year at Trader Joe’s and put them in the windows, and then everything smells so Christmassy from the fresh greens.”

Leslie is a serious flea-market fan, and most of the items in her house originated at flea markets. “I go every month at least twice a month. I love the Rose Bowl and Long Beach. I go up in Ventura, and I’ve been to Brimfield. When I go, because I’m an Instagrammer (@ my100yearoldhome), I film stories. Sometimes I’m at a flea market three times a month.”

She’s also an accomplished crafter and an award-winning professional artist who seems to effortlessly whip up things of beauty, which she shares with her fans on Instagram and via her blog.

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Sputnik chandelier above a Mid Century Modern table with a yellow tablecloth

Cozy farmhouse family room decorated for Christmas
After finding some ceiling tiles, Leslie attached them to an old trunk and tied the whole thing together visually using Old Barn Milk Paint.

It’s clear that family and home are exceedingly important to her. So, having served delicacies to 250 people at a Christmas party earlier in the month, what’s on the menu for actual Christmas morning at her house?

“My mom’s sausage egg casserole,” she laughs. “We’ve probably had that recipe for 30 years in a row.” Some traditions are simply too delicious to change.

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