Photos by Marcy Stamper

Maureen Smith treats every holiday as an opportunity for creative expression, arranging tableaus of glittering angels and color-coordinated candles and flowers.

Some arrangements are whimsical and others are elegant.

Maureen Smith’s creative passion is on display in her home

By Marcy Stamper

’Tis the season for traditional light displays, Santa and inflatable snowmen, or simple boughs and wreaths. But some Methow residents infuse their holiday décor with a more personal flair, dressing lawn roosters in garlands, or filling out a manger scene with rhinos and dinosaurs.

For Maureen Smith, who spent most of her career as a costume designer in California, Christmas is yet one more opportunity to embellish her house. Angels and cherubs; candles, glass beads and gilded bows; beribboned centerpieces; and carolers and bears on skis adorn just about every surface.

“I’ve always done costumes and food — they’ve been intertwined in my life,” said Smith, who moved to the Methow five years ago. “And I’ve always decorated my house,” she said. Smith keeps bins full of decorations, cut crystal, figurines and dolls for just about every holiday.

Smith continues to add new ornaments to her extensive collection of snowmen, skating bears and dolls.

Smith came early to living fantasy. When she was growing up in the 1930s and ’40s, her family held regular masquerade parties. “I started sewing in self-defense when I was 11 — I didn’t have any clothes because we were poor,” she said.

“I have a problem — I can’t throw things away, so I use them,” said Smith, who admitted that, while she has three times more ornaments than she uses, she still can’t resist new knick-knacks. This year she found an illuminated angel at the Methow Valley Senior Center in Twisp, which she cleaned up and added to a tableau of a family of glowing snowpeople on her breakfast bar.

The dining room gets regular seasonal updates. Smith has a dozen sets of dishes to choose from.

In addition to a tree with all the trimmings, Smith sets her dining-room table (she has 12 sets of dishes in different colors, to go with different holiday themes), switches out the chair toppers, and adds a seasonal flower or fruit arrangement.

“I have to get creative and do something to stimulate my brain,” said Smith. “It keeps you going and alert — and not mopey, weepy and sad — because you have something to do.”