Home décor helps make the holidays meaningful

The Christmas season comes alive when Ridgefield homeowner Ana and her family gather to watch two classic holiday movies, Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life.

“I’ve been doing this for years. I play Christmas movies to kindle the holiday spirit,” Ana says.

Decorating begins in earnest Thanksgiving weekend. “Christmas starts with the tree. It’s a joint family event and tradition, and I love it,” says Ana, whose ethereal, seven-foot, angel-adorned tree sparkles with white lights. “My mom started this tradition in Florida years ago. Half of the angels that I have I acquired from mom, and they’re on our tree. My decorations have been the same every year, with the exception of some new angels.”

A variety of fabric angels in red, gold, and white also embellish the branches, while a large gold angel sits atop the tree. White doves covered in faux feathers add to the heavenly ambiance. “They were part of my mom’s tree with her angels. I also add homemade ornaments that my children made in grammar school and other multicolor glass ornaments, but I like to use gold ornaments because it gives a nice pop with the white lights,” Ana explains.

Once the tree is completed, the family adds holiday decorations throughout the house. Ana relies on the traditional colors of red and green to accent her decor. “My home has a farmhouse style and I like to bring a lot of the outdoors inside,” she says. A variety of small trees, some made of twigs, some with red berries, some with lights and ornaments, and others plain, along with reindeer and gold, silver, and wood décor are sprinkled throughout the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Continuing the natural theme, the fireplace is draped with artificial garland flanked by winterberry topiaries that emphasize Ana’s red palette. “I love candles — not the real ones — but the artificial ones that are pretty much authentic or made to look real.”

To make Christmas dinner a momentous occasion, which often includes numerous family and friends, Ana sets the table with seasonal sights and scents. “The table setting is important to me. I make sure it’s very festive. I try to change up the table décor every year and give it a different touch,” she says.

“I use my two-tone silverware trimmed in gold and my stemware has gold trim, too. I also place sturdy white plastic plates with gold trim on top of gold chargers. I focus a lot on decorating the table with my own ideas using Christmas-themed greenery and flowers. I love fresh-picked greenery. It’s hearty and festive.” Ana’s selection includes a large variety of hibiscus, winterberry stems, red duck, cedar, and blue berried juniper.

Once decorating is completed, Ana enjoys relaxing by the family’s tree of angels and reminiscing. Appreciating the beauty of the season, the tree stays up and the decorations remain out until after Three Kings Day, usually the second week of January. “My heritage is Cuban so we wait for the Epiphany. It’s another celebration. My mom always had a dinner, so now as tradition I have a little Christmas dinner. I love to cook and bake! I enjoy making our traditional Cuban delicacies and we play games and the cousins play Monopoly at the end of the night,” she says.

For her home’s exterior, Ana opts for fresh wreaths and garland. “Sometimes, simple and less is more elegant,” she notes. A faux snow garland is draped along the front door while a grandiose fresh wreath with a large red bow covers the stone fireplace. “I have spotlights outside the house that focus on the wreaths and sets a soft tone. I enjoy lining up tall and different lanterns on the front porch along with a poinsettia plant,” she adds. On the side of her home is a huge oak tree that provides the perfect place for more seasonal decorations.

“For Christmas, I hang two big round pine mistletoes with winterberry stems that I give a pop of color with a red ribbon. At night there’s a spotlight on the tree, as well, and it’s so beautiful at night.”

The joyful decorations and the warmth within Ana’s home reflect her feelings about the special season.

“Christmas means to me that we are able to spend time with family, keeping up the holiday tradition, showing gratitude and love, to give up one’s self and think of others, and commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ,” she says.

“I love Christmas for past memories and new memories to come. Christmas is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year.”