Sylvia and the Haints in the House party

October 13, 2016


Debug that Southern decor

It all started when Sylvia volunteered to host the “Haints in the House” Halloween party at her home, which featured an award winning heritage live oak tree in the front yard. Other members of Montgomery’s prestigious “Holiday Club” had already claimed the “Easter Bonnet Brunch,” “Luck of the Irish Lunch,” and the coveted, “Christmas Wonderland Dinner.” Since Southern ladies go crazy over joining clubs, there was always a waiting list to get in this fun group.

It was a miracle Sylvia had been invited to join the club at all, since she was born in Ohio to a mother who was originally from Michigan, and had only moved to Montgomery when she married an Auburn engineer who was temporarily working in the north. Just like the ladies down at Brenda’s Bodacious Beauty Barn, Sylvia’s roots often showed, but her friends found her fascinating, and swooned over the cheese straws she had learned to make from her Alabama mother-in-law. Looking at Sylvia with eyes of love, and a speck of concern, her mother-in-law told her, “knowing how to make a good cheese straw will open doors for you in this town.”


Last year, poor Sylvia made a crucial mistake when she hosted the “Valentine’s Day is for Lover’s Luncheon.” The ladies of the club were shocked (or at least properly acted like they were), by Sylvia’s centerpiece which featured covers from steamy romance novels. All was forgiven, since her friends really did love her, and never once (at least to her face) mentioned the suggestive “hot” chocolate dessert again.

Determined to make up for the Valentine’s Day faux pas, Sylvia threw herself into planning the “Haints in the House” party. There was no way she could ever outdo Eula Mae Finklebottom’s Groundhog’s Day Soiree’ where a real groundhog had been displayed on the front porch in a cage built to look like Tara. How she ever got that little top hat to stay on his head, no one knew, but Sylvia was determined to make her party just as memorable.


This observant transplant had learned three things from living in Alabama. 1. This group would rather die of dehydration than drink anything straight from a can. 2. Deviled egg plates are a real thing and must be used. 3. As long as she didn’t try to tell these new friends how much better people did it up north, she was accepted and adored for being herself.

For the autumnal theme, Sylvia filled several clear vases with large acorns gathered from her award winning heritage live oak tree, then topped each with a swirl of Spanish moss and votive candle. Remembering Eula Mae’s mantra, “a fluffy bow is the way to go,” she tied poufy orange bows around the vases — making them both precious and darling. Pinterest had come in handy again, just as Google had helped her know exactly what a “haint” was.

Everything was ready when the ladies arrived, and after awarding prizes for the most adorable costumes, everyone moved into the dining room, only to stop dead in their tracks and gasp at the horrifying sight of tiny worms and mites crawling out of the acorns and Spanish moss. Sylvia didn’t know that anything gathered from nature South of the Mason-Dixon line always had to be de-bugged in a microwave or hot oven to kill any lurking insects. It was a tiny detail Pinterest overlooked.

After grabbing the vases and flinging the contents off the back porch while screaming their heads off, the ladies of the Holiday Club made the best of the evening and once they had a glass or two (or four) of “Witches Brew,” admitted it was the best Halloween performance art they’d ever seen. Never once, did they consider asking Sylvia to leave their club because they admired her determination, and after all was said and done, her cheese straws had been successfully snatched away from the bugs . . . and were absolutely delicious.

  • Margaret Neely says:

    Hilarious! I can imagine the bugs and worms crawling everywhere!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Oh, it has happened many times to the unsuspecting! My method is to put the smaller things like acorns in a big plastic bag and leave a corner of it open to vent, then microwaving in 30 second bursts. Who knew the invention of the microwave was going to be such a big help to Southern decor?

  • Too hilarious Leslie Anne, you’ve made my day! Actually I will never not think about the top hat wearing ground hog in his mini Tara mansion when Feb 2 rolls around, and I will be on the look out for bugs when I see the outdoors brought in…Only a proper Southern lady would describe that skin crawling scene as performance art! Poor Sylvia!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Yes, bless her heart.

  • That was dead on funny and true! The mention of the Egg Plate – so very very true. When I was living in Chicago, I broke my “formal dinner” (you need one for holiday or occasion) egg plate and finding another one in Yankee Land was a “devil” of a time:)

    • Leslie Anne says:

      My condolences on your broken formal dinner egg plate. I’m sure it was tragic! Hope you found another!

  • Leslie Anne, you are a gifted story-teller and you make me laugh! Yes, you better check the English ivy before you decorate the dining table!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      I remember clipping ivy for my wedding! It definitely got a good shaking before going ’round the punch bowl!

  • You always make me laugh! It is not just those “gathered from the wild” acorns which might be harboring critters. My ex-SIL one year gave me a “gift basket” which, in a nutshell (ha!) , was a bunch of stuff she was re-gifting. Included in this basket was a bag of mixed nuts in the shells. I put them away with the Christmas decorations after the season was over that year. I decorated with them the following year by surrounding a candle in a hurricane with them, having given the hubs strict instructions not to eat any of them because they were “at least a year old.” I discovered worms crawling on the hurricane’s glass one lovely day during the season while flicking around with my feather duster! They quickly went over the rail of the back deck into the woods, and I have never tried to decorate with “old” nuts again!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      There’s no stopping a strong Southern insect!

      I’ve also learned to shake off my magnolia leaves I bring in at Christmas . . . if of course, I don’t cover every inch with silver spray paint first!

  • Leslie Anne says:

    Thanks Carrie. Happy hainting to you!

  • Thanks for the laugh out loud for the day. You have a great gift for story telling.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    %d bloggers like this: