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The essence of Christmas
Designer offers tips for balanced presentation
1. Be true to the style of your home and taste.
2. Find one thing that will spark you to start collecting
3. Thin out your tree so the light shines through.
4. Put your lights toward the interior of the tree to add depth.
5. Make sure your ornaments hang — not rest — on the branches.
6. Pinch your hooks so your ornaments won't slide off.
Dana Anderson is a master Christmas designer, if there is such a thing. With more experience in channeling the essence of the holiday than most folks, Anderson has been doing up Christmas trees since childhood, when she was in charge of dressing the trees in her father's 16 retail stores.
"I know I started in seventh grade, for sure, and it was a family event then to decorate the 17-foot tree with antique German ornaments. Eventually, it evolved into my job," she said.
Today the floral designer from Newport Beach is all about holiday décor and has a garage that proves that you can always find room for one more ornament. Up in the rafters and over the sandy surfboards sit boxes and boxes of Radko, the family's wooden German "flower-children," and hand-painted vintage ornaments.
"I bought most of the Radko way back when the company first got started at Bullocks Wilshire," Anderson said. "Now they are too commercial for my taste."
Last year, Anderson's silvertip tree held more than 400 vintage glass ornaments in pink. She said the pink color happens on its own because the antique reds fade over time.
Anderson uses ornaments from the 1920s and '30s and has been buying vintage for years.
"You can hardly find them anymore," she said, pointing out a few of her unusual finds. As vintage dwindles on the market, the price goes up.
But Anderson doesn't pay more than $8 for a single ornament and usually finds her best picks at flea markets and antiques malls for less.
"After a while, you get an idea of the styles from certain eras just by looking at some of the details such as the eyes," she said.
Her holiday talents spill out into the community where she designs Christmas décor for a list of eight to 12 clients each year.
"I am as much of a tradition for these families as the decorations."
It's off to the flower mart in Los Angeles for goodies for a Mediterranean home, where Anderson designs a classic Christmas with red and green in pomegranates, pine and berries.
Anderson dressed the fireplace mantel of a Georgian Colonial revival with mercury glass and sugared fruit.
"It's really easy. You can dip the fruit in egg whites, but if you are not going to eat it, it's easier to use spray adhesive," she said.
She also designed a two-story tree in Sun Valley, Idaho, with nothing but vintage mercury glass beads.
"I'm still collecting for that client," she said.
But most of all, she tries to find the essence of Christmas in every home. "I try and find the balance between 'less is more' and 'over the top,'" she said.
"The wow shouldn't be about how many ornaments there are, but just how pretty the whole thing is."