My Home for the Holidays

In celebration of my father’s 82nd year, the ugly sweater birthday brunch bunch of family and friends. A miniature live tree in our den was used as the backdrop for our family photo booth for our party guests.

Traditions, family gatherings, beautiful décor, all combined, make for a happy and joyous time of the year


We normally feature a decorated house from one of our readers, but this year I’m welcoming you to my house at Christmas. I hope you enjoy the tour.
I’ve always really loved to decorate for Christmas; it brings back memories of my childhood when my mother would deck out our home using her extraordinary talents. She taught me so much about decorating, including how to make a pinecone wreath, decorate a tree in layers, let my creative juices flow and, most importantly, how to make a beautiful bow. Our family tradition was to go tree shopping with my father and then bring the tree home and decorate it as a family. My mom always had a theme she had prepared for, typically it contained bows. I remember for the bicentennial it was red, white and blue! Since my mother and older sister Connie Kite left us for heaven many years ago, our Christmas celebrations haven’t been the same. They left us with a hole in our hearts. Connie was the biggest fan ever of Christmas. She loved to decorate, and was a beautiful, generous soul who worked all year to ensure that everyone she knew (and many more she didn’t) received thoughtful gifts on the special day. Despite the void they left, my heart is warmed with all the wonderful memories of the Christmases my mother created for us. I feel a little closer to them both when I’m preparing my home for the holidays.

Our bedroom is decorated in blue and white with a tree in a matching color palette.

I have continued the tradition of using a fresh cut tree for the past 32 years, even early in our marriage when we lived on the tropical island of Okinawa. The military exchange would ship in the trees from the West Coast. We would have to wait in long lines to get them, then pray they held their needles as long as possible. On many Christmas mornings, I would walk my dogs only to see a lineup of bare trees on the curbs for garbage pickup. It was the funniest sight. I normally like to keep decorations up for all 12 days of Christmas but unfortunately those trees never made it to the Epiphany.

Our mantle decorated with locally purchased handmade angels, fresh magnolia, boxwood garland and wired cream ribbon. The frame TV hanging on the wall behind the mantle allows us to choose the perfect photo to set the scene.

It was in Okinawa where I was introduced to the Fitz and Floyd Christmas collection. We lived there for six years, just enough time to collect all the serving platters, punch bowls, cookie jars and candy dishes in multiples that I needed. They are the first things I pull out when I start my decorating each year. I fill the punch bowls with poinsettias, amaryllis, fresh greens and occasionally punch!
One of my favorite parts of decorating is trimming the tree. I love that each year it turns out differently. My husband and I usually head to Wentworth Nursery and shop for a 10- to 12-foot Fraser fir. They are easy to decorate and hold heavier ornaments well. I like to buy it early so we get the best tree choices, but keep it outside in a bucket for several weeks before we bring it in. Since it is fresh, the tree trimming is usually the final step in decorating. Last year we had a young puppy, so we purchased a 6-foot tree and set it on a 4-foot table. It worked well and looked great!
I love to use loads of ribbon on my tree. It adds texture, splendor and sparkle. I start with a garland of very wide gold glittery ribbon that I put deep in the tree, add hundreds of ornaments, then top with a layer of swirled ribbon. I normally use a new ribbon design each year along with some of the ribbon from previous years and create garlands for the top layer. I sometimes will use three or four different ribbons depending on my mood and how much time I have. Gold is always the starting color, and I build from there. I often add cream or cranberry. I will use those same ribbons on my mantle, in centerpieces and in spots throughout the house. We place the fresh tree in the middle of house where our ceilings are the highest. I also have several artificial trees decorated in different themes that I bring down from the attic (already decked out) and place in special spots throughout the house.
That is a real time saver.
Since the reason for all the decorating is in celebration of the birth of Christ, having a nativity is essential. I place my nativity in a prominent place where it can be seen by all. I’ll add fresh greens, ribbon and candles to the display. This is another tradition handed down by my mother who felt it was important that everyone have a nativity. She frequently gave them as gifts.

The center piece of the decorating is a live 10-foot tree decorated with gold and cranberry sitting next to our collection of Fitz and Floyd ceramic santas and gift boxes. In 2019 we purchased a 6-foot tree and set it on top of a table. It worked well with our new puppy.

Fresh greens are also an essential component of my decorating. They add elegance and incredible fragrance. I’ll cut boxwood, pine, magnolia and holly from my yard and make garlands and centerpieces. I will keep an eye out for dried pieces and replace them. You will always find a beautiful large poinsettia as well as paperwhites and amaryllis blooms at my house during the season and after. I normally start my amaryllis at Thanksgiving for blooms on Christmas Day and then several more later in December for striking color in time for Valentine’s Day.
For the exterior of my house, I hang wreaths on all the doors and front windows and white pine garlands on my porch and back fence.

Paper whites are being grown in the cream bowl on the counter behind the snowman cookie jar.

My husband does a great job on the exterior lights.  Each year he wraps the 12 trees that line our driveway, drapes lights on the trees close to our front door, and adds spotlights to the front of our house. On the water side, with the help of our neighbor Kirk McCauley, he puts up a large lighted star they constructed out of aluminum. It’s a stunning sight to look out and see the star lighting up Breton Bay.
Sharing my holiday home with family and friends makes all the work worth it. For the past 10 years we’ve been hosting a birthday party for my father Jack Kite whose birthday is Dec. 21. For 25 years, my sister Connie hosted the annual holiday party for him. When she went to heaven, she left the job to me and my younger sister Jackie Martin. Last year, with many of his siblings in their 80s, we decided we would make it an early celebration and we hosted an ugly sweater birthday brunch. Everyone wore their sweaters and had a wonderful time.
Unfortunately, this year we aren’t able to host the party, but I am hopeful that in 2021 we will all be gathered back together for a double celebration of his birthday and the blessings of our salvation, family and friendship. •

More than 30 years ago, we started collecting a snow village with figurines, houses and businesses representing small towns in the 1950s. The live tree in our kitchen is decorated with vintage Christmas balls, a garland of hand-strung popcorn and cranberries.