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The CBC Radio contributor and his husband, Joshua McVeity, make the season sparkle with their annual Bubbles and Baubles party.
When CBC Radio’s Fred Lee and his husband, Joshua McVeity, shared their first Christmas together eight years ago, it was in a 495-square foot-condo—so tiny, there wasn’t room for a proper tree. “I had a President’s Choice twig Christmas tree with fake cranberries,” laughs Lee.
Guests of Lee and McVeity’s annual Baubles and Bubbles Christmas party are encouraged to bring either a bottle of bubbles—like Moët, or an Okanagan fave like Evolve or Joie—or an ornament for their tree. (Photo: Janis Nicolay) (Photo: Janis Nicolay)
But it didn’t stop them from entertaining friends. By their second Christmas together, they had launched their now-traditional Baubles and Bubbles party. Friends were encouraged to bring either a bottle of sparkling wine or a decoration for their newly acquired artificial tree. “Bubbles because we love sparkling wine, and baubles because we had no Christmas decor at the time—and it was a fun way to decorate.”
Some of the eclectic ornaments that decorate their tree include a Marilyn Monroe from a trip to Palm Springs and a few Disney-themed baubles. “People know Joshua loves Disney,” says Lee. (Photo: Janis Nicolay)
Lee would pick up a cheese plate, some sweets from Purdy’s and later, Chez Christophe, and friends would gather around the kitchen island—which, of course, was right by their new faux Christmas tree in the living room. Tight spaces made for warm and friendly nights.
In addition to the baubles they’ve received from friends over the years, Lee and McVeity add a Tiffany ornament to their collection each year—stored in the off-season in their classic blue boxes. (Photo: Janis Nicolay)
They’ve gathered many ornaments from close friends over the years and remember the giver of each thoughtful memento. (“Joshua has this unbelievable memory!” says Lee.) McVeity has a love of Disney characters, so Mickey and Cinderella find their way onto the tree, but so do the couple’s personal collections from their travels—a Marilyn Monroe they picked up in Palm Springs—along with a new bauble from Tiffany, added each holiday season.
“On our first date, Joshua opened my fridge and the only thing he saw was Champagne and wine,” laughs the now-married Fred Lee, pictured left with his husband, Joshua McVeity, and dog, Hunter, in their Kitsilano home. “We knew we were going to get along just fine.” On the mantel: fresh greens from the Flower Factory and matching stockings. (Photo: Janis Nicolay) (Photo: Janis Nicolay)
The tradition has become so important to the pair that when, three months ago, they took a leap in square footage to this 1,500-square-foot triplex in Kitsilano, it was one of the first things they thought of. “We thought, ‘Now we can have more people at our Christmas celebration,’” says Lee, “‘and we could probably put in a second tree!’”
The tradition of serving a cheese plate from Les Amis du Fromage (bottom left) dates back to when the couple lived in less than 500 square feet. “There was no room for a Christmas spread—it was a cheese platter, and that was our party,” says Lee. (Photo: Janis Nicolay) (Photo: Janis Nicolay)
Of course, more room meant that they could also welcome one more into their life, in the form of their nine-month-old sheepadoodle, Hunter. He’s not a Champagne drinker, but one can assume there will be many a puppy-themed ornament on the tree this holiday season.