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The mailman rings, are they listenin'?

The jury is still out on how heavy Santa's sack will be this holiday, but the mailman's bag was certainly bulging as the selling season got underway.

Snowflakes stand out as this year's iconographic motif. Silvers, blues and whites are this year's alternative to the sweeping presence of red.

In home textiles, many catalogers continue to de-emphasize holiday-specific novelty looks in favor of more livable designs. While the approach is particularly apparent in bedding, it's just as true for the bulk of dec pillows, throws and table linens offered in this season's catalogs.

The message to consumers: treat yourself to something for the day that you can ho-ho-hold onto through the winter nights ahead.

Crate & Barrel

Crate's décor outlook is all about luster. Silver sets the tone from the table to the tree, often in combination with either red or pink. Jewel tones grace pillows in dupioni silk and raw silk. "Shimmer" striped table linens flash a touch of metallic.

Marshall Field's Direct

To novelty or not to novelty, that is the perennial holiday catalog question. Marshall Field's has it both ways. The retailer's collection ranges from the obvious — a snowman-adorned, quilted flannel throw, to the more subtle — white sheets embroidered at the cuff with prancing reindeer.

Pierre Deux

No reindeer here, just roosters. Pierre Deux's holiday book marks the season by eschewing explicit holiday motifs altogether. Instead, it celebrates the endurance of classic French country design.

Winter beds are cozy and casually elegant in Restoration Hardware's holiday book. Toile flannel sheets snuggle up to a yarn-dyed striped, reversible quilt. And for the child in every grown-up, Restoration offers the "blankie," an Egyptian cotton baby blanket woven in a 51" x 71" size for adults.

West Elm

The fledgling Williams-Sonoma division built its inaugural holiday catalog around the idea of putting a seasonal spin on goods in its trademark contemporary palette. West Elm's signature avocado serves as a cool alternative to a heavier holiday green, with bangles and beads lending some extra zip to the holiday décor.

Woolrich

Home and hearth are the focus of Woolrich's lodgy holiday offerings for 2003. Home textiles harken back to the classics: the original Hudson's Bay wool blanket, sueded buckskin throws backed in fleece and rustic woven print rugs.

Martha Stewart/The Catalog for Living

Offerings in the Martha Stewart holiday catalog are, as with so many things Martha, simply elegant and deceptively intricate. Take for example, the new Snowflake table linen collection. Each piece in the embroidered linen set features a distinct design. Would anyone else notice? Would anyone else bother?

PB Teen

Yes, Ginny, there is a holiday home book for teens — but it's way too cool to trot out snowmen or Saint Nick. Rather than a holiday décor guide, PB Teen's holiday catalog is a wish book for teens to dog-ear for the parents. A trio of funky stockings and an insert card bearing peel-off gift tags are the lone nods to the season.

Domestications

How many designs can be fashioned from a poinsettia? Consumers who want to thump the Christmas theme hard get their answer from Domestications' novelty offerings. Also on tap this year: dining chair covers masquerading as oversized Santa Claus hats.

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