Image: Kristy Ryan
Come the holidays, the Hibbs home is filled with the sweet scent of seasonal baking and the joyful sounds of family and friends.
"When you have kids, you truly relive the wonder of Christmas," says . “The glow from the tree imparts a sense of coziness, and the whole house seems to sparkle.” Which is why, at the first signs of the season, Monika and her husband, Troy, open the doors of their 5,800-square-foot Fort Langley, B.C., home to everyone they hold near and dear. Special recipes are prepared, candles are lit and every corner of the house is dressed up in its holiday best. “I love using natural elements, such as fresh figs and pears, as well as velvet and silk ribbons and sweet-smelling gingerbread decorations,” says Monika. “They’re the kinds of things you’d find on the front of a vintage Christmas card.”
The table is set with traditional silverware and dishes, but Monika likes to add an element of surprise. “I used a different vintagelook dessert plate for each place setting,” she says. The varied colours and shapes add character and charm. Each linen napkin is adorned with a silver napkin ring and a paper magnolia.
An olive branch garland on a dark muslin runner is punctuated by pears, paper magnolia flowers and brass candlesticks filled with taper candles. Placing a glowing conifer in the corner of the dining room was an inspired choice. “I found that I never wanted to leave the living room and its glowing Christmas tree,” says homeowner Monika Hibbs. So she added a second tree here. (How pretty to have it lit up during a dinner party!)
“The first thing they do,” says Monika of her children, Lillya, 2, and Liam, 4, “is reach for a cookie ornament and take a big bite!” The Christmas tree features real gingerbread, fresh pears, beaded tassels and over-sized vintage-style lights. “For one more way to feel celebratory, I like to dress the kids in their holiday best.”
Even the dining room’s built-in shelves receive festive touches, such as the glittery house on the marbled cake stand and the homemade gingerbread houses, both of which are mixed in among glassware and pieces that are on display year-round.
On the living room’s fireplace mantel, brass candlesticks are nestled among a lush olive branch and eucalyptus garland. Monika also layered in silk ribbon and a homemade gingerbread village. “Troy and the kids love to curl up by the fire,” she says. “It’s one of their favourite spots in the house.” The area is warmed up with a sheepskin rug, jute pouffe and toss cushion.
At Christmas, it’s not unusual for 70 guests to be in the house at once. This bar cart serves as an out-of-the-way cocktail and snack station, offering up a frozen spiked eggnog and toasted hazelnuts. The cart is dressed up with vintage-look champagne coupes and a lavish floral arrangement.