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Dresses Aren't All I Do!

Growing up in the small town of Port Huron, Michigan in a family consisting of Dad, Mom and 4 children, I've always had a passion for the holidays! What kid didn't? When Christmas time came around, my parents didn't always have the means, but they would go out of their way to spoil us on the magical morning! I truly believe as an adult that the magic now lies not so much in the morning, but in the days leading up to the holiday; the planning, the decorating, the anticipation.  My mother was a traditionalist when it came to decorating our home for the holidays. Not a single piece of holly, not even a strand of Christmas lights would go up until the day after Thanksgiving! This rule of waiting until the turkey and mashed potatoes have been securely stored in Tupperware before the next holiday began had been hard wired into my system. However over the last 20 years, a trend has emerged.  We've all seen it. Some of us scream with glee and some us cringe, like my mother. Those Christmas decorations now go up after Halloween!  Wait mom, before you lose your cranberry sauce over this, there's a perfectly good reason. After working in retail and visual marketing for many years, I now realize that it actually does make sense. The merchandise needs to be out pre-holiday. Not just to have extra time to purchase stocking stuffers, but also extra time to feel that Christmas feeling, that..magic. I remember as a child loving to help decorate the house. Whenever the house was done being decorated, I would take that last box of unwanted holiday cheer and decorate my room. Oh this old mini Christmas tree with a broken star?  That will look just perfect on my nightstand. My sister's cotton ball snowman from her 2nd grade art class?  Yep, that will be just fabulous hanging from my door knob! Thanks, Mom! 

Flash forward to my adult life and I'm still taking people's left over items and making them look beautiful not just for the holidays, but with The Paper Dress Code. A passion turned into a business creating avante garde fashion out of everything but fabric. Over the years I've had the privilege of decking the halls for the holidays at Macy's department store, The Aveda Institutes of Michigan and The Village of Rochester Hills, just to name a few. But this year was extra special. I joined a team of incredibly talented professionals in Frankenmuth, MI to decorate the iconic Zehnder's. For those of you who don't know about Zehnder's it is a family style restaurant that opened in 1929. It was ranked number two in the country in the number of meals served among all US independent restaurants according to the hospitality trade, Restaurant Business magazine. Last year Zehnder’s also ranked #1 in the number of guests served among independent Michigan restaurants!  If you grew up in Michigan, I'm most certain you have made a trip to this little town with big tourism attractions like Bronner's, The worlds Largest Christmas Store and the many festivals that are held year round like Oktober Fest or Snow Fest! I grew up taking road trips to this small German settled town and eating plenty of famous chicken dinners from Zehnder's. And here I am getting the opportunity to deck their halls for the holidays with some of the best professionals around. Dee Ruggirello, Marcia Herzog and Sharril McNally, all successful talented business owners and visual artists, were just a few amazing people that headed this team. Now Sharril is the premier interior designer of Mid Michigan and it's always been a personal goal to work along side of her. I've seen her work  over the years and It was a true pleasure! So, if you can picture it, it's an enormous restaurant and really needs an army to do this job. But only a select few were hand picked to take on this task. On the brisk cool early morning of November 1st, the day after Halloween, our small army tackled the big job of decorating this iconic landmark! 

Over the next week we would wake before dawn, creating unique and customized themed decorations for over 10 dining rooms, sprawling hallways, grand staircases and I lost the count of chandeliers I dripped with holiday cheer. What most people don't realize is that the decorating that was designed for this massive restaurant is something you don't see anymore.

When you visit any mall store or chain restaurant, the holiday decor you see was created from someone in a corporate office and drawn up into a plan-o-gram that is generically manipulated so that each store is consistent. The creativity stopped at the corporate doors. Unfortunately, visual merchandising for any holiday or special event  now comes in the form of a schematic book. Don't get me wrong, some stores get it and know how to create something visually appealing to our consumer eyes. But most are missing the human touch. One of my life goals is to be on the team at Bergdorf Goodman or Sak's 5th Ave in NYC and even the White House creating visual masterpieces. They get it! Over the years I've been gaining priceless experience in the visual merchandising world and even interior decorating, but I have to say my experience with decorating Zehnder's was one of my favorite's! Also, eating like a king wasn't bad either, they sure know how to feed their guests! Looking back, decking the halls of Zehnder's was a far cry from my childhood bedroom. As I continue to design for The Paper Dress Code I will always be inspired by the magic of this Christmas season and I look forward to my next adventure!