Our last calendar year was the earliest we’d ever started decorating for the holidays. Typically, we wait until the weekend following Remembrance Day to fill our house with all things festive and to begin playing holiday melodies at any given time until Christmas Day. However, this particular year; we had the honor of being part of our town’s Christmas Home Tour, in which our household and design company had the opportunity to design and decorate our house for hundreds of people to tour over the first weekend in November to raise money for charity. The idea — and process — of handing out Halloween candy with spooky music playing, all while trimming the Christmas tree, was certainly an experience for the books (and our kids had plenty to say about it), but it was all for the good. The tour annually collects money to donate to the Jennifer Ashleigh Foundation, which helps improve the quality of life of seriously ill children and their families; and the Able Network, a community-based program providing relevant inclusive work and recreation opportunities for young adults with intellectual disabilities in natural job and community settings. Because it was the season of giving, we felt this was a wonderful opportunity and a natural way to kick off the holidays.
The weekend was a bustling one — never a dull moment, from Friday evening through the weekend. Word on the street was that our home had become known as “the pink house” (which I was entirely okay with) because pink and white were our colors, in stark opposition to the primary reds, greens, and blues that typically take center stage around the holidays. Having just visited sunny California earlier that year, I drew inspiration from my California friend’s love of succulents and even popped some cactus flowers into our office tree. A fan of all textures and colors (when used together for the greatest impact), I was drawn to blush tones this year because I wanted our family home to feel light, fun, and a little romantic.
We chose pink roses and simple eucalyptus garlands and twigs to adorn our tree, mantels, newel post, and vases. With the help of my mom, we wrapped some old shoeboxes with the lids separate, so they could be easily filled with gifts later in the season. (I’m all for managing my time and helping my future self!) Mixed metal accents of silver and gold were scattered throughout, set in contrast with polished and natural rustic wood elements, and the dining table was staged and set to host dinner for eight (we subsequently added five extra seats on Christmas Day). Shaggy-textured area rugs in blush and white were purchased from a home goods store and cut in half to be used as ethereal accents draped over the dining chairs to further soften the scene. Meanwhile, a “Christmas spirit” essential oil filled our home with the smell of cinnamon and oranges, accentuated by holiday music softly playing throughout the weekend.
When the last visitors walked through our space, I thanked my helpers for the day, turned off the music, sat down in silence, and fully appreciated all our hard work. I was reminded how easy it is to get so caught up in our to-do lists over the holidays that sometimes the most important things get lost in the busy-ness of the day. My mouth was dry from all the chatting and smiling, and my legs ached from the soles of my feet to my knees. It was exhausting, and I was relieved it was over, but I also felt blessed to have been part of it. By nature, I am a Christmas fanatic. I believe in magic and wonder, and I truly love the process of giving more than my childhood self could have ever imagined I would. Seeing smiles on the faces of those you love (along with others you didn’t realize you have positively affected) and teaching our children the importance of giving back and being part of something bigger than yourself is the greatest gift you can give.
Cynthia Soda is the owner and principal interior designer of Soda Pop Design Inc. Cynthia believes in and uses her design filter to successfully merge her clients’ lifestyle, personality and architecture to create customized, liveable luxury that tells each client’s unique story. @CSodaPop