The exterior of Heather Dickson’s Oak Bay home decorated for Christmas. Don Denton photography

Picture Perfect House of Christmas Decorations

Heather Dickson shows off her curated Christmas collections

  • Dec. 24, 2018 9:00 a.m.

– Story by Devon MacKenzie

For many, Christmas is a celebratory time of year filled with friends, family and traditions. For Heather Dickson it is exactly that, with a big emphasis on the tradition of decorating her picture-perfect little home on Monterey Avenue.

Heather Dickson reads a Christmas book in the front room of her Oak Bay home decorated for Christmas. Don Denton photography

“It all started when I was young,” explains Heather, sitting in her cozy kitchen sipping a cup of tea.

“My father, who was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, was stationed in Metz, France, when I was a child. We spent a lot of time wandering the Christmas markets, which have been a staple of the city since the 1600s, and I embraced all of it. I became this little Christmasophile,” laughs Heather.

Heather, who was around nine-years-old when they first arrived in France and 13-years-old when they left, was enamored by the sights, sounds and smells of a traditional European Christmas and has continued the tradition to this day in her own way.

Now retired, she has much more time to spend preparing and organizing for the season, which her family and friends have come to expect.

Table set for guests in Heather Dickson’s Oak Bay home decorated for Christmas. Don Denton photography

“I host a big decorating party at the beginning of December, and then another Christmas party later in the month,” she explains.

“I love hosting people, I have such fond memories of my parents, who were very gregarious people, hosting big holiday parties and all the cooking and baking that went along with it. So every year I try to re-create that same feeling.”

From the decorations, to the ambiance, and even down to the china her holiday food and baking is served on (a 10-piece setting of the traditional Spode Christmas Tree pattern china just for the occasion), every facet of the holiday is covered in Heather’s house.

Nutcracker collection on the mantle in the front room in Heather Dickson’s Oak Bay home decorated for Christmas. Don Denton photography

But where has all of her exquisite, traditional décor come from?

“Believe it or not, I still have many of the pieces from when I was young,” she says. “A lot of the traditional European decorations are so well-made they last for years.”

Heather’s collection is also added to by friends and family who come to her annual decorating parties — people normally bring a decoration — and also through her travels around the world.

“Since I’ve been retired, I’ve been enjoying a lot of travel and I really get to add some fantastic pieces to my collection through that,” she says.

Angel collection in Heather Dickson’s Oak Bay home decorated for Christmas. Don Denton photography

Some of her favourites include a set of small, German-made angel ornaments which she brought back to Canada as a child.

“That’s probably my largest themed collection of ornaments, the angels, and it all started with a Hummel cherub ornament when I was around nine-years-old,” she says, smiling. “I love angels, and I usually try to find an angel ornament when I’m travelling. I have angels from all over the world and every one has a story. It’s a great way to re-live those fond memories.”

Even the smallest of details — like wrapping all her paintings on the wall in gift wrap and donning them with bows — turn her home into an immersive Christmas experience.

“I think the most important thing with a collection like this is to be very judicious with what you bring into your home,” Heather says of her holiday assemblage. “Everything I collect has meaning and I try to change it up each year so it looks different. I’ve had to learn that not everything has to go out every year. It’s more important to me to create beautiful scenes and vignettes, and you can’t always do that if you’re trying to incorporate everything.”

Heather says she begins to pull out decorations in mid-November and starts to get organized with her plans for the various vignettes.

Family christening cups filled with red balls in Heather Dickson’s Oak Bay home decorated for Christmas. Don Denton photography

Around December 10th, Heather puts up the tree (real, of course) and the last touches go on around the house. But by Boxing Day, the takedown has already begun and by New Year’s Day, there isn’t a trace left and everything has been safely tucked back into boxes for the following year.

The front room in Heather Dickson’s Oak Bay home decorated for Christmas. Don Denton photography

“It’s always a little sad, but because we live in Victoria, I always declare that day the first day of spring and it helps to bring my spirits up,” laughs Heather.

Decorations in the laundry room in Heather Dickson’s Oak Bay home decorated for Christmas. Don Denton photography

ChristmasHolidaysHome decorLifestyle

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cranbrook city hall.
Cranbrook maps out investment attraction strategy for economic development

Cranbrook is eyeing a number of industrial sectors identified in an investment… Continue reading

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

NAV CANDA is considering closing its station at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada considering closing station at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization is conducting a service review at Castlegar’s airport

Wreaths are placed on the cenotaph in Rotary Park during the 2019 Remembrance Day ceremony. There will be no formal ceremony held in Rotary Park this year due to COVID-19, however personal displays of remembrance are encouraged. Wreaths are available for purchase through the Poppy Campaign. (Cranbrook Townsman file)
Remembrance Day different, but not forgotten, says Cranbrook Legion

The Legion will not be hosting their traditional ceremony at the cenotaph this year

City council approved a zoning amendment to permit construction of a new apartment building.
Council approves zoning change for proposed apartment building

Cranbrook city council approved a rezoning application that would permit construction of… Continue reading

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

City workers installing the Trail Picasso. Photo: City of Trail
Reclaiming the Silver City Picasso

A replica of The Chicago Picasso was fabricated in Cominco (Teck Trail) workshops back in the 70s

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
RCMP lacked dedicated team to investigate illegal activities at casino, inquiry hears

Hearings for the inquiry are set to continue into next week and the inquiry is expected to wrap up next year

Most Read