Three Dallas Designers Put Their Spin on the Christmas Tree

Featured in A Holiday Entertaining Survival Guide

As the song goes: “How lovely are thy branches?” But for a truly stellar tree, personal is the name of the game. Three designers show off their take on traditional trimming.


James McInroe

James McInroe Designs

Designer James McInroe went macabre for this Day of the Dead–inspired tree. Traditional ball ornaments mix with faux red roses, black shrubbery, skull-emblazoned ribbon, and even a pair of friendly skeletons dressed for the occasion—all courtesy of Holiday Warehouse. The point he’s making is this: “Have fun decorating the tree with your friends and family, and don’t take it too seriously. Do something different.” McInroe suggests acquiring ornaments over time instead of trying to buy everything in the Christmas season—or even the Christmas aisle. (McInroe and his associate, Juan Carlos Magaña, shopped heavily in the Halloween department.)

Jennifer Littke

Set & Co.

As she does when stocking her Oak Cliff shop Set & Co., Jennifer Littke chose accents for her tree that were simple, natural, and not overly fussy. “We tend to go with an informal tree—we don’t like it to feel too serious or ‘styled,’ ” she says. Vintage Swedish straw ornaments found on Etsy inspired the tone and palette—“We loved the crafted quality and hand-applied retro gold sparkle”—which she accentuated with fruit picks and corn-husk garlands from Holiday Warehouse, a 1950s brass tree topper, and brass candleholders from Terrain. Forgoing a tree skirt, Littke hid the base inside a basket from World Market and filled the void with a wintery throw.

Mike Mousel

Mike Mousel Design

“My tree is a family tree in the truest sense,” says Mike Mousel, who blended mercury glass garlands and balls that belonged to his grandparents, vintage light-up Santas he coveted as a kid but never got—an attempt at “recapturing my youth,” he laughs—and, most sentimentally, handblown-glass Italian figurines he has collected since becoming enamored with them at Brimfield Flea Market more than 20 years ago. “My mother, who loved collections, insisted on buying me two to start,” he remembers. “Having since lost my mother, it’s especially meaningful for me to always put these two front and center.”

Deck the Halls

Holiday Warehouse’s 30,000-square-foot Plano store is brimming with beads, baubles, and balls of all shapes, sizes, and price points—as well as a vast selection of realistic-looking trees. They graciously provided many of the ornaments you see here as well as the 7.5-foot Vickerman “Addison Spruce,” which retails for $500.

Just Like the Ones I Used to Know

Searching for that cozy holiday charm from your childhood? Look no further than Country Garden Antiques. The store stocks Shiny-Brite ornaments from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, Putz houses, bottlebrush trees, vintage stockings, and much more. “One year when I came home from college at Christmastime, my mom had an artificial tree and all new ornaments. I was kind of traumatized,” jokes co-owner Gina Tomelleri. She began collecting, and then selling, vintage ornaments until her inventory required a room of its own in her Design District shop.

String Them Along

A favorite holiday tradition was the string gift. On Christmas morning, after we had opened everything else, our mother would reveal one final present: a tiny box with the end of a string in it. We would follow the string around the house until it led us to the last surprise, which was always something for the whole family. I now do this every year with my kids, and as it was when I was a child, the string gift is always the most anticipated moment of the day.Lela Rose,  fashion designer

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