A Very MARry Night in Ridgefield

The 17th annual Tree Festival at Lounsbury House in Ridgefield, CT was hopping last night. And I was so lucky to have been invited to judge the entries – there were over 40 different trees!

As I walked up to the house, I was hit with the magical feeling only the holidays can evoke. Walking into the foyer, I had goose bumps of anticipation. I love decorating during the holidays! Well, it was as if I landed right in the North Pole inside Santa’s personal home. Every room was decorated with the mood of good cheer.

Each submitted tree was completely different from the next. I cannot begin to tell you how hard it was to judge them and select favorites. These people were so inventive! I was joined by Mary Harold, co-president of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists, and Theresa Santoro, president and CEO of Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association; we three began the judging at 3 pm and continued until after 5 pm; we wrote our individual assessments, then compared and worked towards a consensus.

The resourcefulness of the designers was mind-blowing, to say the least. Some of my favorite trees made use of totally unusual items you would not normally consider a holiday ornament. However, used as part of a tree’s cohesive theme, they were just as beautiful as traditional ornaments.

For example, one tree was decorated with canned goods and cooking utensils: all types, sizes, and colors – very fitting, given that it was created by an organization that helps the hungry. The result was MARvelous and very Casual Luxury. Another was the tree designed to be overflowing with various stuffed animals. It was whimsical, sweet and brought out the child in all of us; the fir-shaped ark befitted the garden club that created it.

In the end, the two other judges and I ended up selecting five beautiful representative trees in unique categories. Trees that impressed me all had the following in common: layers of design instead of superficially placed, one-dimensional elements.

The ribbons were awarded and placed on the trees, along with the opening bid amounts – that’s right, each tree is up for grabs (including the ornaments), and the proceeds go to keeping the amazing Lousnbury House operating and continuing to contribute towards Ridgefield’s heritage. Not long after, the evenings’ guests began arriving for the champagne reception. My very own special guest was among them: Violet. She loved saying hello to everyone and was so well-behaved that several guests wanted to bid on her!

The evening was a great success; we had so many guests come in and view the various trees.MARtians, you still have time to get inspired, as the event will continue through the weekend. I hope you all consider visiting to check out the amazing work – and get some incredible deals in the holiday market booths, also!

sMARt Tree Tips Just for You

Here’s what I learned and want to pass on:MARtian’s take note – on trees, layers are everything!

  • When designing your tree this season, consider using all four of these main aspects of a well-planned tree design: lights, ornaments, garlands, and tree topper.
  • Next, use my six design principles to create cohesive Casual Luxury looks for your tree. Remember to think about repeating shapes and patterns, use Mother Nature’s color and textures, add light and reflection, repurpose or reuse a favorite ornament or item, and consider size and scale (I love varying them on a tree – more enjoyable than if everything is the same size!)
  • And here’s a perhaps-surprising design trend: based on what I’ve been seeing everywhere lately, a traditional star-shaped tree topper is now considered old-fashioned. It’s just not happening anymore. (Of course, an heirloom ornament or tree-topper can always be in style when it has a rich history, so if you can’t part with something don’t worry!) If you want to try something current, why not try: bows, an ornament collage, dried flowers, antique toy, or anything unique to your design theme.