Jill Terschluse can’t help but smile when she sees the sign her husband made for the storage room door where they keep their Christmas decor: “Warning, contents in this room will make you happy.”
He didn’t always feel that way about her favorite holiday, but somewhere along the line, she (and their two sons) won him over. In fact, he may now enjoy decorating for Christmas even more than they do, said Jill, with a laugh.
In his basement workshop, Jeff has a snow-flocked tree adorned with icicles and blue lights that hangs upside down from the ceiling, and in the garage he puts up a tree that he connects to the garage door so that when it goes up, the lights on the tree go on.
This time of year, Christmas comes to every room in the Terschluse house — literally. There are decorations in every bathroom, the laundry room, the crafting room, even down the stairs (and it’s not just a garland wrapped around the bannister).
The Terschluses are so extensive in their decorating that their house at 211 Pecan St. is known around town for its Christmas style. This year, the family is opening its doors to the public Sunday, Dec. 2, as part of the New Haven Preservation Society’s 30th Annual Christmas Candlelight House Tour.
There are six stops on the tour, which will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. All proceeds from the tour will be used to help with preservation of the Historic New Haven School Building and to protect historical documents.
Keep reading for more details.
Trees, Nativities in Every Room
Jill Terscluse had always loved decorating for Christmas, but it wasn’t until the family moved to New Haven 14 years ago that she began turning up the intensity. It was actually a request from her older son, whose birthday is Dec. 29, that started it all.
“He asked, ‘Do you think we could get a tree in every room in the house?’ ” Jill recalled, noting that was all it took to start the snowball rolling.
“We’ve done that and then some,” she said, with a smile.
Not all of the trees are full size (although five are). Many are tabletop trees or, as is the case in the laundry room, a flat wooden tree that stands on the windowsill.
In the kitchen, there are three trees — a Charlie Brown version on top of the refrigerator, a small one next to the sink and a candy cane-themed tabletop tree in the breakfast nook.
Every bathroom has a tree, including the master bathroom where Jeff cut a board to fit over the bathtub so Jill could display a tree and snow village. On the vanity, as there is somewhere in every room and even the front porch, is a Nativity.
“We do know the true meaning of Christmas,” said Jill. “It isn’t about the stuff. That’s why I make sure every room has a Nativity set in it.”
A collection of Nativities is displayed in the foyer on an old ladder that has been fitted with sturdy shelves and a string of white lights. Jill admits that may be her favorite, although she said it’s truly too difficult for her to choose.
Inspired by Voss House
Each room has a theme — Santas, snowmen, angels, antiques . . .
The antique room, where all of the furniture once belonged to Jeff’s parents, features a tabletop tree adorned with strand tinsel and ornaments handed down from Jeff’s family. Two of the ornaments are more than 100 years old, Jill noted.
The steps down to the basement become Reindeer Lane with a collection of eight reindeer figures in line, one on each step, with Rudolph in the lead.
Downstairs, there are two rustic trees that are connected by a grapevine with a collection of reindeer ornaments that appear to be flying between them. It’s just that little bit of something unexpected, said Jill.
She credits Andy Voss of Washington, who is well-known around the area for his elaborate and detailed Christmas decor, with inspiring her on a few of the displays, including the upside down tree in Jeff’s workshop. Jeff and their sons came up with means of attaching the tree to the ceiling, and Jeff has a surprise in store for guests who come through the house on the tour Dec. 2.
Even Voss was excited to hear about what Jeff is planning, said Jill.
After 14 years of decorating every room in their house for Christmas, the Terschluses have amassed a large number of items — so much so that Jill doesn’t go looking for new pieces to add. These days she only adds things that she finds are too perfect to pass up.
This year that included what she now refers to as a Shamrock Santa at a store in Branson.
“You know New Haven and shamrocks. Look what Santa is holding,” said Jill, smiling.
Dressed in a green suit, rather than the traditional red, Santa is holding up a mistletoe-like ball of shamrocks in front of Mrs. Claus, who is leaning in for a kiss.
Each Stop on House Tour Is Different
Each stop on the New Haven House Tour offers visitors a different decorating style. The Terschluse home is described in the program as a “Festive Nativity Venue,” and the Laura Shockley house at 206 Melrose St. is described as a “Warm Christmas Charmer.”
This farmhouse chic home looks very much like Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s popular “Fixer Upper” show stopped by to do the decorations themselves.
The decor carries from the front living room to the dining room to the screened-in back porch and into the bedrooms.
Other stops on the tour will include the Bertrand home at 111 Main St.,which for many years was known as the Dee Dann home and is decorated for “Artistic Christmas Delight”; the Talley home at 215 Etlah Road, decorated in a “Fun Family Christmas” style; Senate Grove Church at 4799 Highway VV, which displays “Historic Christmas Spirit”; and the Historic New Haven School at 810 Maupin St. which showcases “Historic Holiday Hospitality.”
Tickets for the New Haven House Tour can be purchased at the door of any of the locations the day of the tour. Cost is $10 to visit all six locations. Children ages 12 and under are free.
Zither music will be presented by Carol Kuhlmann at the Senate Grove Church, and the Ozark Hens will provide entertainment at the historic school.
Both museums will be open at the school, where cookies and cranberry tea will be provided.
For more information on the New Haven House Tour, people can contact Marian Kelley, 573-237-3667.