Holiday gift guide 2013

Christmas is more than ornaments

By From page HGG10 | November 22, 2013

There’s no snow yet, not even much rain, but if you want to indulge in a dose of Christmas holiday spirit, walk into one of two Placerville stores: the Tree House at 327 Main St. or the Christmas Shop at 4480 Missouri Flat Road.

The simple shining of the thousands and thousands of lighted ornaments alone will make the corners of your mouth turn up, and once you spot the specialty Santas and nutrcrackers in abundance at both locations, your friends will ask why you’re grinning so widely.

That’s easy — point out the upside-down Christmas trees at the Christmas Shop, which doubles as the Pool Place, and they’re sure to marvel at the chandelier-type effect of the holiday treatment.

“Kids love it,” said clerk Jo Jermstad, who has worked at the Christmas Shop for 12 years. “They know they can get a lot more presents under the tree this way.”

Jermstad, 59, also pointed out the “wall” Christmas trees, which have three legs and flat edges that can be backed into tight spaces at home, presenting their best side to visitors and family.

Decorate those evergreens with the variety of ornaments there, with the options including theme trees or a mad, mixed selection that will have the tree dancing before the eyes.

A peacock tree at the Christmas Shop features feather ornaments among the mix, with deep teals, greens and blues that accent its beauty. Let your imagination take wing and create your own fantastic feathered favorite.

The beautiful trees inside the Christmas Shop are largely the work of former Pool Place part-time employee Janice Casaleggio, who worked at the store for 10 years and still is called in by owners Mike and Jennifer Tilson to work her magic during the holidays.

“When I was working there I began doing the Christmas displays and after I retired Mike continues to call me in to help out,” said Casaleggio, 66. “I’m happy to do it because I love it. I tell him he pays me to play, and I absolutely enjoy unpacking the new stuff for Christmas and putting all the tree-toppers, ribbons and other decorations on display.”

Casaleggio, who also enjoyed a career as a first-grade teacher at Gold Oak School, said it takes about four weeks for her and the other store employees to create the holiday heaven.

The Christmas Shop’s Kelly Williams said she always looks forward to when the Pool Place packs away the summer gear and brings out the magical Christmas displays, adding that fixing up the store mascot “Coco,” a stuffed gorilla, is a favorite chore.

“He’s always here, like in summer we put him in a tank top,” said Williams, 38. Currently Coco is decked out in Santa-inspired finery.

And speaking of Mr. Claus, Williams said she also loves when families come in to have their photos taken with Santa.

“Every Saturday after Thanksgiving up until Christmas, we have Santa here from 11 a.m-2 in the afternoon,” said Williams. “Mom, Grandma and the kids — they all get into the picture.”

Those who wish to take advantage of Santa’s special stop need to bring their own camera, Williams added.

The Christmas Shop at the Pool Place this year is a drop-off for new, unwrapped toys for the annual Toys for Tots effort that provides Christmas presents for area children who otherwise would go without.

While it is highly unlikely that you won’t find what you need to decorate your home for the season at the Christmas Shop, if you haven’t come across that special ornament, candle or wall art, don’t give up hope. Just ask Williams or Jermstad for a coupon that you can use at their sister store, the Tree House on Main Street in downtown Placerville.

Both stores are owned by the Tilsons, and Jennifer was on hand recently for a quick tour of the Tree House, which specializes in quality, unique household treasures throughout the year.

A quick tour is not enough.

To fully appreciate the whimsical, delightful inventory would take hours, so give yourself plenty of time to browse. Don’t miss the wonderful themed ornaments, as Jennifer emphasized.

“If children and grandchildren are on your list, we have ornaments that are little soccer balls, skiing-themed ornaments, kayaks — it’s rare that we don’t have something to represent any interest.”

The owner also drew attention to very realistic appearing wax candles that appear to be burning, their flames flickering on battery power. The candles sit near several displays of pieces from the Mark Roberts collection, fine figurines that will impress the savvy collector, with fairies by the artist flitting among the offerings.

Elsewhere, Christmas tree toppers are fascinating in their intricate, exquisite designs.

And to give Coco a run for the money, his pal “Trevor” the talking reindeer stands ready to greet holiday shoppers.

On your way in or out of the Tree House, make sure you take a gander at the collection of Corinthian bells, ready to ring in the season.

Even if Mother Nature isn’t loosening her grip on the snow quite yet, don’t let the lack of precipitation dampen your Christmas spirit.

Visit the Christmas Shop at 4480 Missouri Flat Road from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. Call 530-622-5386.

Visit the Tree House at 327 Main St. from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m-5 p.m. Sunday. Call 530-295-0102.

Pat Lakey

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