Christmas collections

Holiday decorations can bring joy to the home

-Messenger photos by Kriss Nelson
Pat McMannus holds the first figurine she was given as she and her husband, Jim McMannus, stand next to a part of their Department 56 Christmas Village collection.

Whether you enjoy multi-color lights or white lights, one Christmas tree or several, decorating for the holidays can bring joy to your home.

For Angie Lambert, of Dayton, Christmas is her favorite time of year and she shows her love for the holiday with the decor she uses in her home.

For a time, Lambert wasn’t so sure she wanted to decorate this year.

“I thought about do we even put up a tree this year? Will the kids even be able to come home? But you have to,” she said. “It’s not Christmas without it. It’s the twinkling lights when it’s dreary outside.”

Lambert considers her Christmas decor as simple.

Angie Lambert has two small flocked trees holding her vintage icicle collection. Some are glass and others are plastic – but they are all antique.

“The favorite thing I like to do is use my everyday stuff and just turn it into Christmas,” she said.

Lambert began collecting tea cups as a child.

“My mom would go to antique shops and I needed something to look for,” she said.

Each year, her tea cups will get to have some extra sparkle and shine with vintage ornaments, small trees, garland and lights.

Her silver set also has a touch of Christmas and this year, part of her milk glass collection is the centerpiece for her dining room table which also includes strands of her great-aunt’s necklaces.

Pat McMannus shows the first Father Time she purchased, that started a collection she has been working on for almost 25 years.

The main focal point to Lambert’s holiday dining room set up is the floral arrangement and Christmas village piece she received from her husband, Brad Lambert.

This is an annual tradition that she looks forward to each year.

“When the flowers are gone, I keep the village, I think I am up to 17 now,” she said. “They are all different. A lot of churches, little cottages and they light up.”

This year’s piece is titled “Welcome Home” and features a soldier coming home to her family.

One of Lambert’s favorite pieces shows mommy kissing Santa Claus.

Each year, Brad Lambert purchases a floral centerpiece for his wife, Angie Lambert, that features a Christmas village piece. Angie Lambert has been collecting each piece since her husband began giving them to her for 17 years.

Lambert’s Christmas village pieces are put in different places each year.

“Every year I display them somewhere different – never in the same pace. It could be above the TV, on a shelf or this year, they have their own china closet,” she said.

Another favorite of Lambert’s Christmas decorations are vintage pieces, including close to 200 icicles.

“Some are plastic and glass but they are all vintage and this year I have put them on two small trees in my dining room,” she said, adding she will find them at garage sales and thrift shops.

Her large Christmas tree also features older ornaments and decorations.

A large collection of Father Time figures line the staircase at the Jim and Pat McMannus home in rural Fort Dodge.

“It’s things I made as a child, our daughters made and things from our grandmothers, other family and garage sales,” she said. “It’s all feel good stuff. It’s warm and welcoming and you can’t buy new to look like that and to carry on those memories.”

Lambert carries her love for the holidays and holiday decorating over to her business, The Homeplace in Harcourt. The Homeplace features, funky, vintage and homemade items.

“It’s so fun being there because the things I get are the things I love,” she said. “It’s fun being there and having people come in say ‘oh grandma had that.’ It goes back to those warm, fuzzy, welcoming feelings.”

This year at The Homeplace Lambert has three trees and displays featuring traditional red and green colors and even a pink and purple display.

A family heirloom is also on display at The Homeplace.

“We have a sleigh and reindeer that parents like to bring their little kids in to take their pictures in every year that my grandpa built,” she said.

Lambert said she will have The Homeplace open Dec. 12 and again on Dec. 19, with that being her last Saturday before she is closed for the winter season. People are invited to come down for baked goods she will have for sale, as well as those vintage and homemade items or just for a peak at her holiday decor.

“I love it all. I love my collections. I love Christmas,” she said. “I love putting things together and just playing and never having it the same each year. Even my trees are different each year.”

Couple shares the love for the Christmas holiday

Jim and Pat McMannus, of Fort Dodge, both enjoy transitioning their home for the holidays. It’s something Jim McMannus realizes is no easy task, now that he is retired and home more to help out.

“We very much like to decorate, especially Pat,” he said. “I encourage her. I like it, too. I always told her I like the homey feeling and things nice when I come in at night. It’s who we are. It’s us.”

A focal point to the McMannus’ holiday decor is their Department 56 Christmas Village Collection — a collection that happened by accident.

Jim McMannus, along with the couple’s daughter, Karen, were shopping for last minute Christmas gifts in 1986 for Pat. They came upon a stage coach and horses figurine.

“The collection was just dumb luck or fate,” said Jim McMannus. “It caught my eye. I thought it was attractive.”

From then on, collecting the Department 56 Christmas Villages to add to the stage coach and horses became a quest. They now have a collection that spans from their living room into their dining room. A collection, Pat McMannus says, takes an entire weekend to set up.

The majority of their collection features the Department 56’s “Heritage Collection” with a Dickens Village that depict a time of Charles Dickens and pieces relating to his novels. Some of those pieces come from stories such as a “A Christmas Carol” and “Oliver Twist.”

Pat McMannus said one of her favorites is the “New England Village” collection. This collection features buildings and the people of the New England area – even a farm. Because it shows a life in a rural setting, it is what she is attracted to the most.

The Christmas village pieces feature intricate detail, making it easy for the imagination to take you back to those times of a Victorian England era and on a farm in 1800s New England. Some of the buildings show people dining at the dinner table or dancing around a Christmas tree.

“That’s what we like about them. It is pretty easy to fall in love with them,” said Pat McMannus.

The McMannus’ have acquired the majority of their collection at Hallmark in Fort Dodge; otherwise, have picked pieces up on their travels to Branson and Des Moines.

Because it has been 36 years of collecting, they couple has decided to not buy any new pieces — as they have run out of room.

Another collection of the McMannus’ is Father Time. Their Father Time collection lines their staircase depicting a variety of styles, colors and looks of Father Time. Pat McMannus estimates they have been collecting Father Time figures for close to 25 years now.

Beyond their Christmas Village and Father Time collections, it’s hard to not want more holiday decorations.

“I need to keep him out of stores,” said Pat McMannus.

“If I see something I like, I will buy it,” said Jim McMannus.


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