hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

December 13, 2012

decorator extraordinaire

By Alexandra Pecci

---- — Have you ever wondered who decorates those perfect-looking Christmas trees in bank lobbies or hangs the massive, light-encrusted wreaths on office building windows?

No, it’s not a fleet of really tall elves. In the Merrimack Valley, it’s often Michael Theriault, designer, event planner, and Christmas decorator extraordinaire.

Theriault, who owns the event-planning firm Enterprises by Michael, has turned a passion for Christmas into an important element of his business, spending the months of November and December working with companies and home owners to decorate their living and working spaces, as well as their Christmas trees.

Local clients include Andover Country Club, DiBurro’s Function Facility, and Edgewood Retirement Community, he says.

“People love Christmas decorations but they hate to deal with them,” said Theriault during a recent conversation in his Bradford home, which by late November, had already been transformed into a Christmas wonderland worthy of the North Pole. Intricately decorated Christmas trees grace each room in his seven-room house, and garland, bows, Santas, angels, roping, swag, and 15,000 lights sparkle everywhere else. A Christmas village—complete with a train chugging along the tracks—sits at the base of a 15-foot tree in his living room.

“For me, more is more,” Theriault said with a laugh.

Each tree in Theriault’s home has a different design, whether it’s the candy-themed tree in the kitchen that’s decorated with oversized red and white peppermint drops, or the tree in the den that evokes the natural world with softly-hued green bulbs and pheasant and peacock feathers.

It’s lovely and elegant; lavish without being gaudy or over the top. And that’s where Theriault can help homeowners who have visions of Christmas décor worthy of a spot in a design magazine dancing in their heads.

“Christmas should have the wow factor,” he said. “Anyone can hang their Christmas stuff up, but I can make it look beautiful and elegant.”

With that in mind, we asked Theriault to give some tips and tricks of the trade, as well as provide a few hints about how not to decorate, too.

Decorating dos and don’ts:

Pick a theme: For a Christmas tree (or two!) that achieves the “wow” factor, decorate with a purpose. “It’s more dramatic to have a theme,” Theriault said. A few of his favorites are an “old-fashioned” Christmas with heirloom ornaments and big light bulbs; a “candy” tree with popcorn, candy canes, and roping of sugared fruit; a natural tree with grapevines, juniper, greenery, Oregon cedar, and white lights; and trees that stick to a single color scheme, such as white and gold or red and gold.

Don’t mix colored lights outside: If you have two bushes in front of your house, don’t decorate one with white lights and the other with colored. Pick white or colored for both.

Always fluff and poof: When artificial trees, pine swag, wreaths, and bows come out of storage, they often are flattened by spending the year in a box. Use your fingers to poof each loop of bow back into a rounded shape and fluff the artificial needles and branches back to life.

Give the blow up lawn decorations a rest: “The only reason you should have a blow up is if you have kids and you think it’s cute,” Theriault said.

Avoid all-blue lights: “All blue looks psychedelic,” Theriault said. “Mix some white into it.”

Don’t clump ornaments: To avoid having all of your gold bulbs or Santa Clauses clumped together on the tree, Theriault recommended hanging all like ornaments at once so they’re evenly spaced. “Add a little Christmas everywhere,” Theriault said. For example, liven up a china cabinet with red and green glassware.

Think beyond the star: Most people limit their tree toppers to stars, angels or bows, but Theriault likes to switch things up by topping his trees with everything from oversized ornaments to brightly-colored swirled branches that stick out of the top of the tree like Whoville-inspired fire crackers.

Learn more: Enterprises by Michael 978-374-3135 enterprisesbymichael@yahoo.com michaelseventsandflowers.com