There’s really no holiday that’s more anchored by food than Thanksgiving. From the light bites to the sweet ending, every host wants to pull out all the stops for their friends and family. Of course, the most important dish of all is the glorious turkey that you’ll need to prep, dress, roast, and carve. It’s a huge undertaking for any cook, which is why we dug for the absolute best advice, tried-and-true tips, and surprising mistakes to avoid so that you’ll be guaranteed a perfectly browned bird on the big day.

1. Choose your bird wisely.
When picking out the bird, be sure to calculate properly. As a general rule, plan to buy at least two pounds for every guest if you consider yourselves big eaters and would like leftovers. If you don’t feel like storing any extra food or consider yourselves light eaters, multiple by 1.5 pounds per person. Butterball has a handy calculator on its website if you need additional help figuring out just the right formula for your family.

2. Never underestimate the thaw.
Once you’ve brought home your bird, make note of which day it needs to come out of the freezer. The easiest route is refrigerator thawing, which simply means you can place the packaged turkey in the fridge. This takes one day for every four pounds, so a 24-pound bird requires six days on the bottom rack of your fridge. If you’d prefer to let it thaw in cold water, keep the fully wrapped bird submerged and change the water in your sink every 30 minutes. Since you’ll need to continue this process for 30 minutes per pound, this is probably best for smaller roasts. What’s more, you’ll need at least an hour for your bird to come to room temperature before you place it in the oven.

3. Put down the butter.
Though some sing the praises of smothering their turkeys in churned cream, the milk solids in butter can actually burn and ruin your chances of crisping up the skin to just the right Maillard brown. Instead, simply dress your bird by brushing on canola or vegetable oil (plus bit of salt and pepper—and whichever herbs you prefer), and we promise you’ll be satisfied with the crispy skin when it’s done.

4. Always use a rack.
Using a roasting rack will prevent the bottom of your turkey from steaming and sticking to your pan. If you don’t already have one, pick one up now. In a pinch, you can always place a layer of whole carrots and celery beneath your bird to help elevate it.

5. Forget basting.
After testing countless birds over generations, the experts at Butterball all agree and preach the importance of keeping the oven door closed. Sealing in the heat and keeping the temperature consistent is priceless when you’re cooking up the most important meal of the year. Continually opening the door to pour juice over the roast will only waste time and energy—the bird will stay moist if you simply place a tent of foil over the breast after it’s been cooking for about two-thirds of its total time, The Kitchn reports. Otherwise, leave it alone until you need to check for doneness.

6. Trust your meat thermometer.
Your grandmother probably swears by wiggling the drumstick or checking the juice colors to decide if her roasts are done, but there is truly only one way to tell. Even counting the hours isn’t a guarantee (although the 15-minutes-per-pound rule can be very helpful). Essentially, you should never ignore the meat thermometer. Turkeys must read 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh and 170 degrees in the breast before serving. And if you’ve stuffed the bird, be sure that the dressing clocks in at 165 degrees. Don’t trust those poppers, either!

7. Always let it rest.
Just like a fine cut of steak, you want to let your turkey rest for at least 20 or 30 minutes before you dig in and start carving. This will allow all of its juices to evenly redistribute and keep the entire roast moist and cooked to perfection, the New York Times advises. While you wait, cover the whole pan in foil and ignore it until your timer dings.

8. Never carve at the table.
While it’s tempting to place your perfectly cooked turkey on the table to complete your holiday mise en scène, resist the temptation. Avoid any embarrassment, mess, and stress by carving in the kitchen on a hefty cutting board. Here’s your plan of attack: Remove the wishbone and carve down one side of the breast bone, cutting the breast against the grain. Remove one leg where it attaches to the body and cut off the drumstick, then carve the thigh meat before arranging everything on a pretty serving platter.

Whether it’s a holiday dinner or a party, it’s always nice to show up with a little something for the host or hostess—especially when they’re hosting you for a few days or a weekend if you’re traveling. Party planning or hosting can be a lot of work! So these gifts are the perfect way to say “thanks for having me.” You’ll be on the short list to get invited back next year!

1.Kitchen Garden Dish Towels + a loaf of fresh bread
Wrap up a boule or baguette with these charming garden towels. Finish it off by tying them together with a simple ribbon or decorative string and a sprig of herbs.

2.Piccadilly Pie Dish + a homemade pie
Yum! Bake your blue-ribbon-winning pie in this gorgeous pie dish. Once it gets gobbled up, they’ll have this hand-painted piece for years to come.

3. Houndstooth Throw in Rose + a favorite movie
Draped over an armchair or placed on a cozy couch, curling up with this incredibly soft throw blanket and a movie is a nice way to unwind when guests head home.

4. Check and Stripe Taper Candles + a beautiful box of matches
For someone who loves to host dinners, there’s no more useful gift than a set of beautiful dinner candles. The black, white, and gold color palette will pair nicely with any and every color scheme they can dream up.

5. Parchment Check Enamel Mug + ground coffee or tea
No one will ever say no to a little caffeine boost! This pairing is a beautiful gesture that encourages a relaxing ritual every morning.

6. Dotty Cheese Knives + a wedge of cheese
Encourage your host to dive right into to a delicious Brie or Camembert. These tools are pretty enough to earn their place on every future cheeseboard that your favorite host creates.

7. Moose Bottle Stopper + a bottle of wine
This combination is as classic as peanut butter and jelly. Gifting a bottle of wine with a stopper only encourages your host to pop it open as soon as possible.

8. Flower Market Small Pedestal Platter + homemade cookies
Pile this pretty platter high with a delicious batch of cookies. Once the sweets get eaten, this stand can hold so much more than just cake. There’s no limit for the creative uses any hostess will find for it.

9. Courtly Check Enamel Frame + a family photo
Instead of sticking with the stock image inside the frame, get a favorite photo of the family printed and place it inside. Whether it’s the host and hostess, their whole family, or just their kids or pets—they’re sure to appreciate this sentimental surprise.

November kicks off the holiday season, and you know what that means! Besides a flurry of party invites, delicious dinners, and decorating…it means guests. Friends and family travel from far-flung locales to see you for the holiday season. And as a way to reward them for their journey, you want to make them feel cozy and at home during their visit. Here are a few tips to make sure they’ll never want to leave—which could be dangerous, so use caution:

1. Place chocolates on the pillow. Sure, it’s something that you see in fancy hotels, but why not let your guests end the night on a sweet note too? It’s a thoughtful, added touch that makes them feel so special. Place the chocolate on a small tray with a piece of greenery or tiny bloom. Bonus points if you leave a really fancy piece of chocolate! Yum!

2. Have extra products on hand. You know those tiny bottles of travel toothpaste or lotion you get in hotels or as samples? Hang on to them and store them all in a large glass container in your guest room. It’s nice to have the essentials on hand and at the ready in case someone forgets something. So instead of having to run to the store at all hours of the night (like at bedtime when there’s no toothpaste!), guests can help themselves.

3. Leave them some reading material. A favorite book, a few magazines, the newspaper—it’s nice for guests to have something to read before bed in case they’re having trouble drifting off to sleep. Try your best, if you do leave a magazine or newspaper, to keep it as current as possible. It’s awful to read something or see a product you want only to realize it was in last year’s holiday issue of Family Circle.

4. Accent with fresh flowers. A vase of fresh wildflowers costs virtually nothing but does so much to brighten up a room! Pick a bunch outside or even gather greens from your yard and place them inside a beautiful vessel. That touch of life not only smells lovely, but it adds some cheer to the nightstand.

5. Fill a hot water bottle. There’s nothing like putting cold feet into a warm, cozy bed—especially if your guest room isn’t carpeted. One of the most clever ways? Sending a guest to their room with a hot water bottle. Tucked between the sheets of the bed while your guest is brushing their teeth; it will do wonders to warm things up. And it’s even better when your hot water bottle is as cute as this sweet duck-shaped version that resides in the MacKenzie-Childs Farmhouse.

6. Leave some extra blankets. Whether a guest room is drafty or not, it’s always nice to leave some blankets either at the end of the bed or in a basket in the room. You never know if someone runs hot or cold. This way they’re covered in case they forget to ask before bed!

7. Leave breakfast fixings and coffee/tea out. People always tell their guests to make themselves at home, but it’s hard to do so when you don’t know where everything belongs. Setting up a little coffee/tea bar lets guests get a jump on the morning if they’re up before you. Put out all of the essentials like sugar, tea bags, coffee, and mugs. In the fridge, make sure the milk is visible. Also, small containers of yogurt and freshly cut fruit are nice to have for guests to help themselves to as well.

8. Leave a little guestbook. Yeah, we know, it’s something usually reserved for B&Bs, but it’s sort of fun to have a notebook ready for guests to write a sweet little note in. It can be nice to reminisce on after a few years!

Enjoy your visit!

And we’re sharing some of our favorite seasonal decorating ideas that you might have spotted in our most recent catalogs. Some are spooky, some are sweet, and some are even versatile enough to stick around until Thanksgiving! We love to celebrate the holidays, so here are just a few of our favorite ways to get into the spirit:

Monogrammed magic: Add initials, your last name or a playful phrase to a pretty pumpkin. Simply sketch or stencil it onto the surface. Using craft paint, brush on a black base coat and let it dry. Then add a topcoat of gold paint. Layering the two colors adds a shadow and depth to the letters.

Dry ice tips and tricks: To create creeping tendrils of fog as a special effect, place a small piece or pellet of dry ice into a oversized vase, bowl or glass (you can usually get dry ice from the supermarket) and a pour little bit of warm water over it to create the fog. It’s a fun addition to a snack-table setup or a cocktail station. Add chunks as needed to keep it going, and keep the rest in a cooler until it’s needed.

Because dry ice is essentially frozen carbon dioxide and runs at about minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it can be dangerous if not handled properly. Keep away from kids and pets, and never touch it with bare skin. When handling it, use a towel and wear thick cloth or leather gloves.

Ombré arrangement: There are still ways to keep your pumpkins feeling festive—even if you don’t carve them. Grouping together several different types like Cheese, Sugar, Cinderella, Baby Blue, Lumina, and Fairytale pumpkins, and then arranging them by color, can create a jaw-dropping display. Place them on your front porch or any stairway.

Keeping them whole also means you can hang onto them longer, stretching out their lifespan to help decorate for Thanksgiving too. Want to add a scarier Halloween vibe? The bumpy, warty-looking varieties are seriously spooky.

Simple centerpiece: Make an impact with even the tiniest gourds. A collection of miniature white pumpkins looks pretty when painted with acrylic craft paint. To avoid a streaky finish, paint them with a foam brush instead of a bristled one. Choose a color palette or work with a range of colors in the same family for a stunning effect. Arrange them so they’re running down the table, with greens or candles placed between them for a little something extra.

Tip: Mini orange pumpkins are great! But the deep orange hue will be hard to cover easily with craft paint.

Happy Halloween!

Have you heard? We’ve opened a new location! The two-level store is tucked into the heart of Georgetown (1037 33rd Street NW) in a charming brick building. Oh, and you can’t miss us because we’ve decked out the front of the store with not only our name but also a painting of one of our iconic Courtly Check enamel kettles. In our tradition of working with the most creative artisans, we hired a street artist to create this custom graphic for our storefront.

The store will offer a completely new retail shopping experience, showcasing products on floating slabs, in both minimal and rustic settings, while featuring branded graphics on the interior of the store. “The store has a very modern feel, and you’ll notice how graphically driven it is,” says our director of stores, Alexandra Testa. “We wanted this location to be all about discovery and storytelling through deliberate product groupings, so you’ll find everything you’d need to create a personalized table setting in one area—from the dinner plates to the candles and serving pieces. We want people to play with the different combinations in real time.”

Start out on the first floor, where our everyday products will help turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. If you’re in the market for more luxe special occasion items, head up to the second floor. There will also be plenty of social media opportunities throughout, so get ready for your close-up! We’re encouraging guests to not only touch and arrange our products but to also snap a picture and share with friends and followers on their social accounts.

“We’re so excited to call Georgetown home for our very first experiential store,” says Creative Director and Chief Brand Officer Rebecca Proctor. “This store will feel very different than anything we’ve ever done. We’re looking to bring our unique designs and passion for entertaining to life. Our brand is about not taking yourself too seriously, mixing and matching, and celebrating fun and community. The store will convey that energy.”

And because we love you, we’re offering a gift with purchase for our Georgetown customers. Here’s what you need to do to get yours: Purchase eight tabletop items from the store, set up your own place setting and snap a picture, then post it to your social media accounts with the tag #MCGEORGETOWN. So go on—show off your superior hostess skills. We hope you love our newest store as much as we do!

If you haven’t noticed, we can’t resist a good party or meal. Food, family, and friends are meant to be celebrated, and we work hard to create serving pieces that add that something extra to every table setting. One of our favorite meals? Brunch! You get the best of both breakfast and lunch. Plus, it’s a nice meal to have guests over for because it’s a little more casual than a sit-down dinner. Here are some of our favorite tidbits to make it easy and delicious.

Make your own mimosa bar! Not only does it give guests a chance to mix up their drinks just the way they like them, but it makes it easier on you. Set out pitchers of different juices (orange, apple, cranberry, pear, grapefruit) and a few bottles of chilled champagne. The bright colors of the different juices make it a really beautiful sight! Or skip the bubbly and just have a juice bar instead. Swap in flavored seltzer to add a bit of carbonation.

Buy local and fresh. There’s something about a bouquet of local flowers from a farm stand, crusty baked bread from your local bakery or a friend, or fresh eggs from the farm down the road that adds that extra touch. Plus it lets you recommend your favorite local businesses to friends.

Bake your bacon. This method turns out to make much less of a mess and provides more even cooking/fat rendering. Plus you avoid those pesky burns from grease splatters, and you don’t have to spend your time watching it.

Be smart about how you use your space. Short on extra room? Think outside the house! If the weather is cool, set up a drink station on the porch. It acts as a refrigerator, and it’s no big a deal if something gets messy. Put out a citrus press and a bowl of grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons so people can make their own concoctions. Place glasses, mugs, champagne, a coffee carafe, milk, and sugar all in the same area.

Set up a buffet instead of a sit down. Use a sideboard or small table to set out plates, napkins, and utensils, etc. Be eclectic about what you put out. Use those inherited formal and everyday sets—don’t forget your favorite MacKenzie-Childs pieces! You’ll get plenty of compliments on all the beautiful china and pottery, and it’s a great conversation starter when you can tell people about the origins of the different pieces.

Choose some dishes you can make ahead. Some great brunch standbys are a quiche or a frittata bake. Quiches are easy to add to or mix in whatever you have on hand: meat, herbs, veggies or cheeses. Make them the night before, heat them slightly, and serve with light, lemony vinaigrette.

Try a BYOBB. Or a build-your-own bagel bar. Include a variety of bagels (seeded, cheese, herb, everything, fruit) and spreads, like homemade flavored cream cheese (start with regular cream cheese as a base, whipping in fresh herbs, veggies, spices, dried fruits). Have jams, apple butter, and peanut butter for a sweet take, with fresh fruit slices and toppings, like lox, capers, scallions, pickled onions/veggies, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts, avocado, hardboiled eggs, and cured meats.

Have some solid recipes on hand. Use tried-and-true recipes or get recommendations from friends. The last thing you want is to try something new and have it turn out badly. Here are some of our favorites: Blueberry French Toast Casserole, Spinach and Gruyere Quiche with a Hash Brown Crust, Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring, Kentucky Benedictine Tea Sandwiches, and Blueberry Gingerbread.

Don’t forget a cheese platter. But give it a twist. Place slices of fresh bread and English muffins next to the toaster with cheese spreads, jams, and jellies—Stonewall Kitchen’s Garlic Onion Jam and Old Chatham Hudson Valley Camembert are both delicious.

There’s something so cozy about curling up with a cup of your favorite tea and a good book. And thanks to fall’s cooler temperatures, it feels even more indulgent. A steaming mug of tea is a calming morning ritual, so why not be particular about the methods you use to brew up a cup?

Brewing tea is an art form, and while we all have our preferences, we’re pretty convinced that the Brits do it best. We spoke to a close friend of Rebecca’s, Martyn Lewis, about how it’s done on the other side of the pond. Here’s what he had to say:

1. Boil the water once! Sure it’s tempting to leave the kettle full on the stovetop and just turn on the burner when you’re ready for your next cup. “The water that is boiled should only ever be boiled once. This is very important, because it impacts the taste of the water and the concentration of minerals. Basically for me, water boiled twice does not taste as good when you make tea with it,” says Martyn.

2. Let the water stop boiling before you add the tea. Start by pouring a little boiling water into the pot to warm it. Then once the water stops boiling, pour it over the leaves or tea bags. Don’t pour actual bubbling boiling water onto the tea—it can affect the taste of the tea. Leave it to steep for three to five minutes and stir again. But the timing gets personal. How do you drink your tea and how strong do you like it?  Make it to your own taste. A good marker? The color—the deeper it gets, the stronger it usually is.

3. Mind the milk. If you drink your tea with milk, add the milk to the cup and pour the tea into the milk, not the other way round. “This is the British way of doing it, and when I was growing up, it was the only way we poured tea,” says Martyn. “Now with the advent of bags and brewing in the cup, you need to add the milk second, as adding the milk stops the brewing process immediately.”

4. Loose leaf vs. a tea bag. Loose leaf is preferable, but tea bags are incredibly convenient. “For afternoon tea when there is the tea strainer at the table, then you would always use loose leaf in your pot. If you’re using bags, the larger bags with more room for the tea to move around are going to give better results, in my opinion. The smaller bags have a restricted area in which the tea can brew, which I feel limits the taste. Look for larger bags or the types that are pyramid shaped,” says Martyn.

5. What is the right time? “In the U.K., we have regular tea time and afternoon tea. Regular tea is any time of the day and can be just tea or it can be served with a biscuit (cookie) or some other sweet. We do have a habit of dipping our biscuits into our tea. Try it! This is frowned upon and potentially a sign of bad manners, but it tastes so good, especially if the biscuit has chocolate on it. Getting the biscuit into your mouth before the now tea-saturated end drops into the tea is a true art form!

Happy sipping!

Have you been following the #CampCourtlyCheck hashtag on Instagram this week? We’re playing host to a few of our favorite bloggers. While we’re busy having a big lovefest and giving them an inside look at the history of our products, we wanted to share their blogs and links to shop their MC product picks below. Check them out:

Kristy Wicks of
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with MacKenzie-Childs.  My fondest memories include lunch dates with my family at Neiman Marcus and spending most of my time (along with my mother and sister) poring over all their beautiful selections. From the floral and check to the lattice designs, there is something for everyone. All five of the products that I have selected today reflect a little of me. While I tend to lean toward the more clean and tailored designs, I do love mixing a little floral pattern for interest and color. I believe it’s important to make your home not only elegant but fun!”
Lattice Cachepot
Architect’s Topiary Urn
Courtly Check Enamel Everything Bowl
Morning Glory Dinner Plate
Houndstooth Throw

Laila Fazli of Designs By Laila
“I picked these five items because growing up, my mom loved a beautiful table setting and a beautiful garden. Whenever we had guests, my mom always made sure everything looked presentable on the table. She was very passionate about the table looking ‘too pretty to eat’ and always instilled that in me as a child. Having beautiful pieces from MacKenzie-Childs to set your table with or having a beautiful outdoor setting is so sentimental to me. Now that my girls watch me set the table, I know they will carry with them the passion for entertaining as much as I did. And whenever my mom comes over to visit, we both enjoy having a bite on pretty pieces together. It’s such a delight!”
Butterfly Garden Mug
Parchment Check Enamel Two Tier Sweet Stand
Architect’s Topiary Urn
Courtly Check Fluted Cake Stand
Courtly Check Small Fluted Oval Platter

Sandi Johnson + Shalia Ashcraft of The Spoiled Home
“Both of our homes are filled with items we love and pieces that are meaningful to us. Neither of us wants to be defined by a particular style. We both mix modern and rustic and unexpected elements. Mainly, we want our homes to reflect our personalities and what we hold dear. We want pieces that remind us of our childhood and make our houses feel like homes. We don’t play by design rules; we just find pieces we love and make it all come together. People get too caught up in the rules. MacKenzie-Childs, however, gives us those unique pieces and patterns we crave. Each mixed pattern, each whimsical design — they all come together as fabulous pieces of art and make us feel, in a weird kind of way, connected. That’s why we love MacKenzie-Childs. We especially love the classic black and white Courtly Check pattern.”
Courtly Check Enamel Two Tier Sweet Stand
Courtly Check Heart Bowl
Courtly Check Rattan & Enamel Party Tray
Courtly Check Enamel Everything Bowl
Courtly Check Enamel 3 Qt. Tea Kettle

Nicki Wszelaki of A Tufted Life
“I have admired MacKenzie-Childs since the first time I spotted the beautiful and whimsical pieces throughout my grandmother’s house. My own collection was started at my bridal shower and continues to grow! When decorating my home, I love to mix up different styles, so Mackenzie-Childs fits right in. It is so hard to pick a favorite pattern, but I’m always drawn to the Courtly Check pieces — I just can’t resist the black and white!”
Courtly Check Enamel 3 Qt. Tea Kettle
Awning Stripe Welcome Mat
Courtly Check Rabbit Tassel
Courtly Check Fluted Cake Stand
Blooming Martini Glass

Mysha Bolen of Remington Avenue
“I recently started collecting MacKenzie-Childs, and I couldn’t be more excited. I love the artistry each individual piece contains.  Now I know why this brand has such a loyal following. The attention to detail and the timeless designs will last a lifetime. I love to integrate all the different styles into my home and share with my readers unexpected ways to merge them all together in a cohesive fashion.  MacKenzie-Childs has so many fun serveware pieces that can double as decor throughout the home. I’m obsessed with the Courtly Check and the Flower Market collections.  The bold patterns and vivid colors of these two collections will always have my heart!”
Courtly Check Enamel Everything Bowl
Courtyard Tote
Courtyard Outdoor Rug
Flower Market 7-Qt. Stockpot
Flower Market Charger

Take advantage of the energy that comes with a seasonal shift. While summers are meant for vacations and time spent away from home, fall is all about feathering your nest and entertaining family and friends. In the spirit of change, we spoke with our creative director, Rebecca Proctor, about some of her favorite products that you can swap in with existing accessories to add a cozy touch to your home decor.

Houndstooth Throw
“There might be nothing softer than this blanket! I live in the northeast in an old stone house, so I always have a blanket wrapped around me when I’m reading a book or watching a movie,” says Rebecca. “Drape these throws over a couch or loveseat, or place one at the end of a bed. They add a nice pop of color and texture. It’s a fantastic gift too.”

Wild Rose Rugs
Swap in one of these beauties in an entryway or hallway. “I love that the patterns on these rugs feel really graphic and bold. It’s a very modern, refreshed floral. The colors tie in perfectly with our Studio Underpinnings collection, but they’re highly versatile and will work with a variety of decor styles. Rugs are the perfect item to swap in and out—I just got new fall rugs myself,” says Rebecca.

Inverness Pillow + Houndstooth Beaded Pillow
Pillows might be the quickest and easiest way to change the look and feel of a room. “There’s no such thing as the pillow police! I drive my husband and son crazy with my obsession. I’m a freak about pillows and have a whole closetful that I like to pull from, rotating new ones in and out,” says Rebecca. “Play with color and texture and vary the sizes and shapes. If you’re looking for a foolproof size combination, try mixing a 22-inch, an 18-inch, and a lumbar pillow. Play with the arrangement and don’t forget to give them a little fluffing or a karate chop here and there.”

Autumn Vine Wreath
A new wreath on your door practically announces that a new season is here. “If you think about it, a wreath is one of the first things guests see, and it’s an easy way to show off seasonal decor. When you change a wreath, it’s like you’re changing seasons too. I love that this wreath is totally secular—not tied to a specific holiday—so it can be left up all autumn long. It looks beautiful hung on a door and fits right in with fall accents like pumpkins, ornamental cabbage, kale, or mums,” says Rebecca.

Courtly Check Moose + Courtly Stripe Pumpkin Candlesticks
Candles help create a cozy ambiance at any gathering, helping guests to feel warm, welcome, and included. “These candlesticks are great if you’re going for a harvest theme but still want a refined look. The black and white checks make them so versatile,” says Rebecca. They’d look really pretty running down a long farm-style table. You can switch in different tapers too, which gives them a whole new look. A pair of candlesticks will never go to waste; they’re always handy to have around if you love to entertain!”

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Simon on Feb. 11, 2018. From early on, we knew Simon was a different and special goose. As a gosling, she bonded with our estate manager and lived with barn cats and sheep. She inspired several MacKenzie-Childs’ products as well.

Our feathered friend will live on in our memories. Read more about Simon and learn how she found a special place in our hearts.

MacKenzie-Childs’ favorite feathered friend has quite the life story! We spoke to our estate manager (and Simon’s mom), Corinne Bowman, about how this lovable and social mascot waddled her way into the company’s heart.

Here is the whole story from Corinne’s perspective:

Simon hatched late from the flock of geese we had on the property. Her mother was low in the pecking order, but she built a nest, then sat and sat until she hatched three babies. Somehow, Simon got separated from the rest of the flock. We found her because she was making a tiny peeping noise on the other side of the fence, and we rescued her. She was just a tiny ball of yellow fluff; I could hold her in one hand!

Since we couldn’t tell whether she was a boy or girl, we ended up choosing the name Simon, and it stuck—even after we found out she was a girl. From the start, she was a very different goose. She was happy being held, while any other goose would fuss like crazy, and she spent her early life living in the barn on the property. At night, she’d get tucked into her little dog crate full of straw. I would come back in the evenings to let her go swimming and open the barn doors so she could get some fresh air.

Normally, geese imprint on another bird, but she ended up imprinting on me instead! She grew up with barn cats, and even when she was a tiny little thing, she’d run around after them with her little wings raised, putting them in their place. To this day, her favorite snack is dry cat food.

Eventually she outgrew her dog crate, and since we couldn’t keep her outside, we kept her with the sheep, and she lived with them for a few years until we had some particularly rambunctious lambs. Simon ended up with a broken wing, and we took her to Cornell’s animal hospital, where she was able to get amazing vet care and her wing healed perfectly. After that, Simon got her very own secure home that we built.

Since Simon was a lone goose, when it came time for her to lay eggs, nothing happened because the eggs remained unfertilized. And try as she might, no matter what Simon did, she wasn’t going to be able to hatch babies, even though she sat for a month. We had to go in and take her off the nest and remove the eggs, and we’d take the straw too so she wouldn’t build a new nest. It was really sad.

But then the flock hatched four babies, and somehow they got under the fence and over to Simon’s side. The babies ran right under the fence and snuggled up under Simon’s wing, and she claimed them as her own. Simon was so happy! We ended up letting the babies decide where to go, and they all stayed: three boys and a girl. All the babies are bigger than she is now, but they all live in harmony. There is no pecking order, and they follow her everywhere. While Simon was human-imprinted, her babies are only human-friendly.

This noble little goose has had quite the life and has inspired plenty of MacKenzie-Childs products. She’s had her own Christmas ornament, kids’ dinnerware set, and a line of ceramics, and she even made it onto a couple of Barn Sale T-shirts. Plus, we have visitors from all over the country who come here to see her. If you ever make it to our Aurora campus, be sure to stop by and say hello to Simon and her babies!

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