From the December/January 2012 Issue:

Make it Personal

    Writer: Ren Miller | Photographer: Patricia Burke | Decorator: Tina Lombardo |

A Manalapan mom draws holiday-decorating inspiration from her family

Article Photo
enlarge | The homeowner’s love of traditional décor is evident in the dining room, as is her sense of humor thanks to a tree decorated with shoe ornaments on the buffet. “I love shoes so when I see a shoe ornament I grab it,” she says. The dining room is the site of a traditional Italian Feast of Fishes Christmas Eve dinner. “The table is set for 20 people, and we eat for hours!” she says.
The magic of Christmas has always captured Tina Lombardo’s imagination. “Since I was a kid, I’ve been in awe of its magic and traditions,” she says. “Now as an adult, I’m inspired by my own family—especially my children, who truly give Christmas a whole new meaning.”

The decorations she prizes most are ornaments she and husband Leonard collected on their honeymoon and while visiting special places over the years as well as ornaments they’ve given to their children, Francesca, 5, and Joseph, 6.

She decorates each room of their Manalapan home in different themes. “I’m very traditional so that stays consistent,” she says. “But the colors and décor change from room to room.”

Her biggest satisfaction from her decorating effort? “I love how it makes everyone feel,” she says. “Our family and friends love to see all the things we’ve done — it gets everyone excited!” Her children enjoy looking at ornaments from Christmases past and asking questions about their origin. Friends who attend the family’s annual cocktail party like to picture themselves walking through a miniature holiday village on display in the living room. The kids even get their own tree and a Christmas countdown calendar that yields candy or a toy as they open the tiny door for each day.

Lombardo offers these tips for holiday decorating:
• Check for ideas in magazines, department stores and among friends.
• Stick with what you know. “If you try to get too over the top, it doesn’t work. Sometimes simple is better,” she says.
• Use your friends and family as inspiration. For example her hockey-loving son has ice skate and puck ornaments. “Making it personal makes it special,” she says.