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Merry & Bright
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
HOME FEATURE December 2017/January 2018
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Urbandale couple celebrates ‘Happy Everything’ all year long.

By the time Christmas rolls around each year, Sheri and Bud Runyon of Urbandale are rockin’ the holidays. After all, by that point they already have gone all out for Easter/spring and for Halloween.

But Christmas is the big show. “I have always been in love with Christmas,” Sheri says. “I learned that from my parents, who always loved to decorate, too. My dad even built a Nativity set.”

So would she say she’s addicted to Christmas?

“Oh, yeah,” concurs Bud, who goes along with it, too.

The Runyons have lived in their current house for seven years and add to their stash of decorations inside and out each year. Before that, they lived in Lakewood near Norwalk. They’re proud to say they won the Clark Griswold Award (based on the Chevy Chase movie Christmas Vacation) for their decorating.

With two grown children and four grandkids, they celebrate their Italian and Irish heritages with a big Christmas Eve gathering for about 60 people, along with some other smaller parties throughout the season. They host lunches, dessert parties, and dinners for friends and a special mother-daughter brunch for family members. For the grandkids, they work in sleigh rides at Jester Park, a gingerbread house contest, and—yes!—an indoor snowball fight.

The couple uses some of the same decorations each year, but usually Sheri mixes things up a bit by choosing different color schemes. It may be teal and silver one year and a gold and white winter theme the next.

All the focus is not on one tree, although the one in the living room takes center stage. No, they decorate about 40 trees, and that doesn’t include tiny ones. Sheri and Bud spend nearly two weeks readying their home for Christmas, and they start early. “By Thanksgiving, we’re pretty well done,” she explains. “We go to Florida right after Christmas, so we get an early start.” And funny thing, even though it takes a couple weeks to put everything up, it all can be down in a day or two.

Shops all year

That doesn’t mean decorations are out of sight and out of mind. No way. “I shop all year for new items. I love to shop, so I’m always looking,” Sheri says. She searches locally, never online, because she wants to examine her purchases.

The 9-foot great-room tree complements the mantel with its three stag deer and the huge wreath above. Three open white stars in staggered sizes sit on the raised hearth. A desk features two trumpeting angels and a mercury tree. Letters of JOY and candles decorate the entertainment center. There’s even a stand to hold family Christmas stockings. A big Santa clock above counts the hours to Christmas Eve.

At the other end of the great-room, the kitchen has its own holiday trims, from twig trees to snowpeople. The kitchen table, set for a small dinner party, features silver chargers under red plates. A silver-gray tablecloth helps showcase red and crystal goblets. The centerpiece has a bright red amaryllis, silver deer, and “snowy” tinsel.

A sign in the nearby sunroom proclaims “Lots of Holiday Hoopla Here.” Two feather-style icicle trees with silver, red, and lime balls set a bright theme, as does a grapevine tree with white twinkling lights.

Sparkle abounds in the formal dining room, where an elegant Nativity scene in cream and gold stands on the buffet. The table is set with silver place mats and china with a snowflake design in the center of the bowls and plates with silver edging. Shiny snowflake napkin rings carry out the winter theme. Four mercury glass finials, along with silver tapers, make for a shiny and elegant centerpiece.

Around the French door opening to the dining room from the home’s entryway are trees and garlands with silver and white ornaments to frame the doorway. And, yes, there’s mistletoe on a crystal ornament.

Master bedroom

The master bedroom suite on the main floor is decked out for the season, too. Gray walls and the gray upholstered headboard and foot board are the perfect backdrop for a large tree with white, silver, and teal ornaments and trims, including wispy white spikes. Shiny silver and mirrored balls on the dresser contrast with pinecones. Elegant bottle brush trees and stag deer add texture.

The fun continues on the second floor, where bedrooms for the four grandchildren celebrate the season. In the girls’ room, pink, purple, teal, and fuchsia reign supreme. Christmas lights outline the closet doors and a tree in bright colors. A funky Santa in a pink suit sports purple boots and mittens.

The couple’s grandson’s room is pure baseball, especially celebrating the Chicago Cubs. The red and blue room has a huge photo of Wrigley Field over the bed. The duvet cover and pillow shams proudly carry the Cubs’ logo. Other features are a baseball-theme rug, lights, and memorabilia. A small tree shows off baseball, candy, and snowmen ornaments. A full-size tree in the hallway adds more holiday color.

Santa’s guest room

Santa and Mrs. Claus would feel right at home in the guest room on the lower level. It has red pillow shams and white spreads. Santa figures are everywhere. Many of them, in various incarnations, share space on a dresser top. Lime green garland is draped over the window. Even the adjoining bathroom has Santa designs, including rugs, towels, footstool, and even the toilet seat cover. A so-called half-tree is trimmed in red and pearls.

A large tree in the lower-level family room is classic with red poinsettias and silver and red spikes. It sits right by the sparkly “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sign. Sheri’s Christmas village decorates the room.

And where does Bud store all the decorations? “There are three spots in the basement with shelves and clear tubs,” he says. “And now, to make things easier, I store outdoor decorations on suspended shelving in the garage.”

Granted, it’s a lot of work to put it all up, but worth it. “I love to sit at night and just look at all the lights,” Sheri says. “That makes me happy.”


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