by Janice Henshaw | photos by Tanya Murchie – 

Can you imagine plowing through the long, dark nights of our northern winter without looking forward to all the excitement around the Christmas holidays? We get dragged through the November rains, and then the days fly by as we hit December and put up cheery outdoor lights, populate our lawns with snow people, reindeer and sleighs, and decorate with fragrant swathes of pine and fir, holly and cedar. We donate to good causes and search for “perfect” gifts. To discover new trends in decorating this Christmas, I went on the prowl to five local businesses.

I first headed south to Patio Gardens, where I was amazed at the amount and variety of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, artisan handmade glass balls from Egypt, plants, adorable gnomes, cards, vintage puzzles, seed ball kits for kids, candles that double as a seed pot, hats and gloves – a treasure house indeed! Owner Natalie Foofat said that ornament trends in recent years have centred around natural materials such as wool mice, round jute balls, macramé, or wood garlands. “They can blend well with any design style from a minimalist Scandinavian style or simplistic modern look to a boho chic vibe.”

In December, Natalie puts on indoor workshops for creating holiday décor – a Christmas centrepiece, winter planter, or metal holiday orb. “The traditional wreath is what everyone thinks of for outdoor winter décor, but these alternative workshops can add a bit of variety to your home,” she says. “The modern metal orb is a great statement piece you can fill with fresh scented greens this winter and then fold up for easy storage until next year.” I plan on revisiting Patio Gardens on December 2 for their huge Christmas market; there will be over 70 creative vendors, live music, and food.

Next, I dropped in for a delicious lunch and latté at Brentwood Bay Village Empourium. Local artwork is displayed on the walls, and it, too, is full of Christmas treasures – ornaments, scented candles, snuggle socks, mitts, unique cards, glassware, gift bags, string lights, and Christmas-designed gift soaps. Co-owner Alice Bacon says she finds that people feel very personal about their holiday décor. “It’s not just about what looks good; there is a really strong pull towards decorations that remind us of our childhood, whether that’s a vintage aesthetic or even neon 60s psychedelia. Nostalgia, whether real or imagined, has an incredibly strong role in our holiday celebrations.” Alice used to decorate windows for Mayfair and other places; the front window is her creation.

I headed back to Sidney and Brown’s The Florist, which is always a delight for the senses – full of gorgeous flowers and the heavenly scent of fresh greens. Katherine Olmstead, International Master Florist, says that for the 2023-2024 holidays, we will likely see more traditional seasonal décor; classic red and greens create a warm and cozy atmosphere while evoking nostalgia. Rich, bold colours in monochrome and shiny golds and silvers are making their way back. “As you know, the atmosphere is everything during the holidays: easily personalized with fresh evergreen scents, colourful lights, good tunes, treats, and all of the different textures we get to play with.”

Katherine suggests using warm lighting and natural textures this year, which pair nicely with rustic motifs and handmade decorations. She says that dried flowers and decorations make great additions to holiday decor since they look good well into the new year. Katherine tells us not to take decorating too seriously, and for those with heavy hearts: “Playfulness can be a healing way to enjoy decorating for the holidays while reconnecting with our roots.”

Outside of Davidson Chambers Entertaining & Home on Beacon Avenue, Paul Chambers was climbing a ladder to hang a red ribbon-festooned wreath. Looking through the window and then wandering into the store immediately increased my wish list for entertaining decorations from zero to – “I would like one of everything, please!” They are stocked full for the holidays: so many gorgeous dishes, tablecloths, runners, baskets of ornaments and candles, all lovely gifts, all beautifully laid out. Paul was happy to share some of his key ideas for Christmas decorating:

1. Choose a colour palette for the season, stick with the classics (red, green, silver or gold), or go with a more modern look and stick with a range of one colour in different shades. Either way, having a colour palette will make your Christmas decorating flow better, make a stronger statement, and look like you put lots of effort into celebrating the season.

2. Decorate the way you decorate your home throughout the year; if you are a minimalist, stick with that idea for your holiday décor. If you like it full with lots of detail for your everyday look, then continue with that look for the season.

3. Use lots of elements from nature; it adds texture, depth and often a great scent. Use lots of pine branches, garlands, wreaths, and swags; it is classic and can be adapted to your colour palette with the colour of the bow and ribbon. Using faux is completely acceptable these days, as they can look as real as the genuine product, last longer and create way less mess. It’s an investment that will last for years.

4. Decorating the outside of your home is equally important and can be the area you transform the most. Have some fun and make the entrance to your home very inviting. Use pine, lanterns lit with candles (real or faux) and carry your colour palette outside as well.

5. Christmas is about food and enjoying it with others. Make the dining room table a reflection again of the seasonal decor that you have chosen. Enjoy using plaids, prints, bold tablecloths, runners, napkins and more. If you have that good family dinnerware, this is the time to use it; make your table a combination of memories from holidays past and your take on this year’s holiday decorating.

My final stop for the day was a visit to Thrift on Fourth: they have their very own “Christmas Corner.” Here is a great place to donate your “tired of” decorations or poke around picking out budget-friendly “new to you” ornaments, puzzles, cookie tins, wraps, and myriad other goodies. The best thing about Beacon Community Services’ thrift shop (besides the wonderful work of volunteers) is that all the proceeds are 100% dedicated to local not-for-profit programs and services.

I hope you have lots of fun decorating and wish you a heart-warming holiday full of cheerful lights, carol singing, kindness and love.

Photos 1 & 2: Patio Gardens, photos 3 – 5: Brentwood Bay Village Empourium, photo 6: Brown’s The Florist and photos 7 – 9: Davidson Chambers Entertaining & Home.