O Christmas Trees

Ballantyne resident decks numerous halls in her home for the holidays.

By Jodi Werner Greenwald | Photos by Annie Dickeson


Many people find it challenging to get one tree decorated in time for Christmas. But Janet Claugherty, a Kenilworth Two resident, manages to decorate eight of them – with coordinating wreaths and gift wrapping.

Claugherty grew up in the Philippines where she says she didn’t really have a tree. Fast forward to 1997 when she and her husband John bought their first Christmas tree together in Charlotte, and their collection only grew from there.

It helps that Janet, a paramedical examiner for APPS, is creative by nature and a talented decorator. She also makes her own curtains and matching pillows.

“Her trees” as John calls them, have different themes and colors. It started with the original “Gorgeous Gold” tree and has blossomed to include the likes of “Bodacious Blue” and “Purple Perfection.”

“I enjoy doing it, and once I started, I couldn’t stop,” Janet says.

She places real presents below each tree in matching wrapping paper. Janet also makes wreaths from scratch to coordinate with the trees.

Janet and John Claugherty stand beside the 12-foot "Bodacious Blue" Christmas tree in their foyer. The tree is one of eight Janet decorates in their home.
“Purple Perfection” is Janet’s favorite tree, because purple is her favorite color.

Each December, the couple’s friends and family start asking for pictures of Janet’s trees.

“John’s mother says, ‘I’m waiting for the next one, and I’m not getting any younger!’ Janet says.

Janet and John, a Siemens employee, often entertain during the holidays, and their guests take turns posing by the various trees. Their trees also catch visitors by surprise. Furnace repairmen and FedEx workers have been known to stand with their mouths agape at the foot of the 12-foot tree in the foyer – their largest one – and remark, “You have more?”

This year the tallest tree is called “Bodacious Blue.” John says Janet leans over the railing to decorate the top of the tree.

Janet shops everywhere for ornaments, and often does well at after-Christmas sales. One time, when she came upon a sale, she had to call John to help her get home from a store. “I had two buggies and called him to bring the van.”

As of mid-December, Janet said she wasn’t done shopping for gifts yet because she was still doing “her trees.”

This year’s trees include:

“The Peppermint Tree”

In addition to decorating eight trees, Janet creates coordinating wreaths.
"Gorgeous Gold" contains Janet's Christmas tree decorations from her first tree with John. It's an annual staple.

“Gorgeous Gold”

“Pretty in Pink”

Janet calls this one "Pretty in Pink," like the movie title.
Janet adds new life to the traditional Christmas color-scheme with a fusion of deep red, green and crisp gold ornaments against an evergreen canvas.

“The Traditional Tree”

“The Happy Tree”

"The Happy Tree" is the most colorful one. It contains leftover ornaments from the rest of the trees.
Janet created the "Irish Tree" or "The Green Tree" for John's family, who is Irish.

“The Irish Tree” or “The Green Tree”

 “I have to take credit for staying out of the way,” says John. He offers his 8-foot ladder and then keeps his distance. This is how Janet likes it. “I have to work alone and in quiet. Maybe the radio is on, and I’m dancing. But I would lose my concentration.”

Janet uses man-made trees because it’s less maintenance and clean-up. Plus, the trees don’t dry out and she doesn’t have to buy them each year.

In mid-January, Janet starts to clean up, one tree at a time. She marks the ornament bins by color for easy unpacking next year.

So, where does Janet store her trees and decorations after the holidays? The couple has an attic, a shed out back and a nook in the garage where John has built shelves. He likes to tell Janet “we’ve run out of space,” but will she listen? Janet awakens in the middle of the night with ideas for future trees.

She could probably start a business for her decorating work, but Janet says, “I only do it if I’m in the mood, on my own terms, when I want to.”

Fortunately for her friends, family and ballantynemagazine.com readers, she does it every Christmas.

While Janet finds joy in decorating Christmas trees, wreaths, curtains and pillows, she says she wouldn't want to turn her hobby into a business. She does it for pleasure.