To some, decorating for the holidays means climbing into the attic and passing down box after box of precious Christmas heirlooms carefully wrapped in tissue paper, then settling down to unpack them with hot apple cider. To others, it means owning a holiday shop that sells the trendiest items on the market. Often, the brightest pops of color will do, but it’s also fine and dandy to be traditional and line up your 25-year-old Santa collectibles and nutcrackers.
Psychedelic sprays. Glittery feathers. Peacocks.
If you think Roger Capote’s personality comes out in his floral arrangements, you should see his Christmas tree. He’s been decorating them ever since he was a child, back when his mom would make her own ornaments. The family always had two trees — one for childhood prized possessions and one that was glamorous.
Since he moved away from home, he’s had a themed tree. But this year, his partner, Jim Wilson, wanted a colorful tree.
“It became hot pink, lime green and blue everything,” Capote says. “It evolved on its own. I’ve never been one to put personalized ornaments on trees, but this year we did that. There’s a bunch of pigs, gators, little wedding dresses and a pink poodle at the top.”
Capote puts his tree up two weeks before Thanksgiving. Last year, he decorated it with golden peacock feathers. In 2010, the entire tree was decorated in green.
“My whole thing is to have fun with it and make it your own,” Capote says. This tree is like 1970s meets modern fashion. There’s a ’70s purse and a ’70s shoe. I don’t use traditional tree skirts — I use fake snow. Next year I’m going with an all-red tree. I like to decorate them to the point that you can barely see the tree.
For the past three years, purple has been a signature holiday color at The Met. Owners Geoffrey and Brenda Michel liked the gemstone boldness of purple velvet for its uniqueness — it’s not the typical red or green.
They’re also fond of tall Christmas trees.
“When we opened the business, Brenda said we needed a big tree,” Michel says. “To have an 18-foot tree was the goal. We decorate it with purple ornaments and wrap all of our boxes in purple ribbon.”
Last year, Michel decorated The Met’s window displays with purple drapes and Christmas trees. This year, he’s going with tutus.
“Little ballet dancers are always running around The Met because of their events,” says Lauren Walsh. “He called up wanting to partner with the ballet and do a Sarasota Ballet window. I saw him the other day walking around with a tutu bag so I knew he was getting ready!”
It takes about 24 hours to rig The Met building in holiday.
“Holiday décor — what it means to me is watching families have the shopping experience be part of their true holiday experience,” Michel says. “The grandmother is having champagne and grandchild is on her iPhone, mom and dad are buying cashmere sweaters — it’s all part of the experience. When you see this store Dec. 23, it’s pretty magical.”
“Well, it’s about time you dragged yourself in here!” says Margaret Wise to Raul Molina as she opens her front door.
“All my life I’ve decorated for every holiday,” she continues. “Any excuse to celebrate, I do. The only difference is when we were home (in Mississippi) for Christmas, we went out and cut down our own tree and used a lot of magnolia trees.”
Wise and Molina met 25 years ago when Molina was working at The Christmas Shop, then owned by Barbara Lose.
“It was the most beautiful shop — it was something out of New York,” Wise says. “Raul worked for her and had just moved here from New York, where he had an antique store and was a decorator. He decorates everybody’s Christmas trees and houses.”
While Wise is trying to remember from which benefit she saved red feathers that have since become lamp and wreath décor, Molina chimes in.
“I am the best in Sarasota,” he says. “I do not attach to the tree; I stuff in the tree. My glue gun is my brain in my hands. I make Margaret buy new ribbon every year.”
Molina remembers decorating a Carmen Miranda tree in Rio with bananas and fruits and what fun he had.
“The colors we see in the market now are teal, white and silver, or a beautiful purple,” he says. “But traditional red, green and gold are for Margaret’s traditional tree. I fluff the tree, put lights in the bottom, put the topper ornament on and ornaments are the last things. I do artificial snow and gold or silver, then I clean up and vacuum, but after Christmas, it’s your problem!”
Cheryl Gilbert and Scott Brann
Lux Art ran out of silver holiday décor first. For the past few years, copper and gold have been the cream of the crop, but silver started peaking in 2011, and storeroom Manager Cheryl Gilbert had a feeling it was going to be big.
“Silver-plated acorns and pine cones,” Gilbert says. “Those went really fast, and the snowy white owls. We went through 1,000 white owls.”
Turquoise is pretty picked over, as are the peacock feathers and peacock ornaments.
“We totally blew out of them,” Gilbert says. “We would get them and spike them out of the top of the tree — people just love that combination.”
But year after year, it’s not so much the colors, but the collection. Coastal — real seashells, sand dollars and starfish with raffia ties — is in, as per usual in Florida.
“Traditional and natural collections remain No. 1 every year, always,” says Scott Brann. “As far as trends, platinum and silver are a hot one. Copper is still strong and goes really well with the Mediterranean homes that are so popular. We’re also seeing a lot of glitter sprays and a lot of birds this year. Owls are amazingly popular.”
Lux Art tree decorating tips
1. Always have a glass of wine when you start.
2. Always start with a theme in mind, whether it’s the traditional red and green or red and the new apple green. Or, if you’re going to go with coppers — chunky pine cones, owls and red cardinals. We add a lot of things to trees, like twigs and magnolia flowers.
3. If you’re decorating a really tall tree, we recommend you take the top two sections and put them in a separate second stand. Make sure you totally fluff the tree until you don’t see any holes.
4. The more variety of ornaments you have, the better the tree will look. Use at least six different sized ornaments from small to large balls to icicle shapes.
5. You should absolutely have more than one tree. A lot of people have the family tree and then the more themed tree — from the redneck Christmas tree to ballerina to sports tree — in the living room or the husband’s man cave.