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How to Outsource Christmas

The secret (if sometimes pricey) way to put together Currier & Ives–cozy festivities with minimal fuss? Hire it done.

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Illustration by Peter Arkle  

The Task:
Sending Holiday Cards

Tap the Delicate Pen to design custom-calligraphed holiday cards featuring sweeping and romantic strokes weaving around branches of holly or snowflakes. Prices begin at $600 for 100 cards and rise from there depending on paper choice and design embellishment. Starting at $5 per piece, founder Jane Labanz will letter the envelopes; another 50 cents each will see that the elegant parcels are stamped, stuffed, and mailed—she will even have them hand-canceled for an additional fee. 212-877-3959; delicatepen.com.

The Task:
Decking the Halls

Dumbo florist Emily Thompson is known for her wild Christmas wreaths (from $85), woven with unconventional materials like cecropia leaves, Floribunda rose hips, eucalyptus pods, and persimmons. She brings the same foraged sensibility to her extravagant residential holiday décor: sumptuous cedar garlands braided with pomegranates and vintage ribbon draped over the mantle or curled around banisters and light fixtures. Thompson can also transform your holiday table into a seasonal Flemish still life with topiaries, terrariums, wood-ear mushrooms, and loose fruits spilling over a velvet runner. Prices upon request. 347-529-5145; emilythompsonflowers.com.

The Task:
Picking the Perfect Tree

Michael Walter and Rosa Szule, of Lexington Gardens on the Upper East Side, spent six years consulting on Christmas design at the White House, but their services can be enjoyed closer to home, too. To start, Walter or Szule will case your home to take measurements, make placement suggestions, and help you choose among species (Douglas fir, sugar pine, etc.) sourced from tri-state nurseries. Lexington Gardens will then deliver, install, and trim the tree—with ornaments or organic embellishments like cinnamon sticks, kumquats, and lacquered red pinecones—then collect the thing and send it to the chipper when the party’s over. If the project goes through, the $350 consultation fee will be deducted from the total cost, which starts at around $500 for a miniature tree and $2,000 for a full-size one. 212-861-4390; lexingtongardensnyc.com.

The Task:
Sourcing the Yule Log

Call on the Woodman to complete your Dickensian mise-en-scène. The Hunts Point service will deliver a mix of kiln-dried maple, beech, oak, birch, cherry, and ash to hearths throughout the five boroughs and beyond. The sixteen-inch logs are available by the quarter, half, or full-face cord ($130 to $390); you can also order specialty cooking woods like pure hickory and apple should you wish to bring an added layer of finesse to your chestnut-roasting technique (prices upon request). 718-554-3251; thewoodman.com.

The Task:
Hiring a Santa

With bona-fide bellies, pink cheeks, and tug-able white beards, the in-demand Kris Kringles from Real Santas are about as close as you can get to the genuine article. Hire one to lead a sing-along, read “The Night Before Christmas,” pose for photos, or deliver gifts to the brood—he’ll call prior to his arrival so you can hand off the presents. Rates range from $275 to $300 an hour; on Christmas Eve, 30-minute visits go for the same rate. realsantas.com.

The Task:
Singing the Carols

For $1,200, commission the New York–based United Service Organizations’ Liberty Bells to add an hour of retro harmony to your Christmas affair. In pinup-inspired patriotic attire or holiday-friendly green evening gowns (your call), the singers—three ladies, or a quartet with one male for an added fee—will work their way through the seasonal songbook. Expect tunes like “Deck the Halls,” “Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Winter Wonderland.” The performance fee is tax-deductible, and proceeds benefit the USO. 212-695-5590, ext. 232; usonyc.org.

The Task:
Slinging the Eggnog

“Cocktail Guru” Jonathan Pogash and his team of crack mixologists will keep your merrymakers well lubricated with seasonal drinks. Install the Guru—or an appointed member of his team—at a table, and he will ladle out Martinique rum punch infused with chai, chocolaty Manhattans with a dose of peppermint tincture, or even a proprietary nog. He’ll bring the liquor, mixers, ice, and garniture, plus (for additional fees) a cloth-covered table, the appropriate glassware for each tipple, and etched punch bowls. A three-hour shift starts at $1,450 for twenty guests, including organization and cleanup. Spend a little more to bait your cocktail-obsessive friends: For $65, Pogash will swap out bagged ice for flawless Kold Draft cubes, the same crystal-clear beauties in play at bars like PDT. thecocktailguru.com.

The Task:
Cooking the Holiday Feast

Recently launched in New York, Kitchit is a kind of culinary matchmaking service, connecting dinner-party hosts with local chefs to execute multicourse meals in your private kitchen. Browse profiles on the website—listings include the chef’s education and restaurant experience—then make contact to negotiate a menu and a price per head. Holiday offerings are entirely customizable, but haute-barnyard Yuletide spreads, Christmas Eve feasts of the seven fishes, and locavore-latke parties are popular requests. Prices start at $50 per person and include consultation, food shopping, setup, cooking, and cleanup. Kitchit can also coordinate rentals, flowers, and tabletop design for additional fees. kitchit.com/ny.

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