In early November, Jillian Harris sets aside one day to haul Christmas decorations down from the attic. That’s because the task requires transporting at least 15 huge Tupperware storage containers filled with all the tools necessary to transform the Harris home into a Christmas wonderland.
After ordering fresh greens and live trees online, Jillian takes stock of what she has and of what she needs to add to her collection for the coming year.
“Each year, I add something,” she says. “I see a room where I can do a little more, or we travel, and I see things that inspire me.”
Now that Jillian and her husband, James, have lived in their house for five years, she has the decorating down to a science, and in the week following Thanksgiving, she puts each nutcracker, fresh wreath, candle and ornament in place.
“I grew up with a grandmother who absolutely loved Christmas,” she says. “She decorated everything, everywhere, and I remember how much fun and how magical it was. You really felt like Christmas arrived when you got there. My whole family celebrates here now, and I like to recreate what my grandmother did for us. I try to give that same magical feeling that she always did for us.”
Jillian says both she and James lean toward the classic and traditional in everything they do, and they’ve approached their Christmas decorating in the same way. Silver accents highlight true reds and greens, but style takes a backseat to accessibility and fun.
“Our tree is not a decorator tree,” Jillian says. “It’s very fun and has things we’ve collected from our childhoods and from everywhere we’ve traveled. We both like to pick up ornaments and decorations when we go places. Our tree is filled with a lot of memories for us.”
Even the way they attach ornaments to their two trees evokes special memories of their travels. During a trip to Paris after the couple was first married, they saw a Christmas tree covered in ornaments tied on with ribbon. Jillian says the image stuck with her, and she uses the same technique on her own tree. In addition to creating a fun, whimsical look, it makes it difficult for little hands to remove decorations from the tree.
For the Harrises, the most important part of Christmas decorating is that everything is enjoyable and touchable for their two young children, Margaux, 4, and Jack, 1. There is nothing that’s untouchable, including the tempting candy display of urns and glass jars of Christmas-themed candy that sits by the front door.
Although Jillian is a one-woman show when it comes to decorating, it seems that Margaux has also been bitten by the Christmas bug and is developing her own passion for Christmas.
“She likes to get out the ribbons, organize them by color and thread them through the ornaments, and then it is her job to undo them and put them back at the end of the season,” Jillian says. “She also decorates her own tree in her room with remnants from the Christmas boxes and with things she makes at school.”