Tiffany Ortiz always took Christmas decorating cues from her mom, Lorraine Brick, a woman known for her handmade ornaments and skill with garden shears.
“She was famous for retrimming the tree seven times,” Ortiz recalled. “She was talented in craftsmanship and her attention to detail was incredible.”
When Brick passed away last December, Ortiz, who is married to Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, worried the holiday would be ruined for their children, Jessica, 19, Alexandra, 14, and D’Angelo, 11.
“I couldn’t even fathom going home and decorating after that,” said Tiffany, who called Greg Mastroianni, director of client relations at Winston Flowers, to help. “They used my decorations. I gave them no instruction. When we walked into the house, it was beautiful and it seemed really personal. I felt like my mom was here.”
For Christmas 2015, Tiffany has ramped up her holiday decor with more assistance from the company, balancing her mom’s style with the team’s creative approach. Last week, a team of six arrived at the Ortiz’s suburban home with two trees, a dozen wreaths, 15 feet of garland, 200 ornaments and 2,000 lights.
“It’s beautiful, but approachable, something that feels comfortable and welcoming,” said Mastroianni, as he hung a sparkly metallic acorn ornament on the tree his team set up in the living room.
The 10-footer embodies Tiffany’s idea of a winter wonderland, said Mastroianni, who also hung shimmery snowflakes alongside decorative antlers.
“Tiffany has such a unique perspective for beauty. She loves natural, organic things. So while we have a little bling on the tree, everything is about nature,” he said.
Bringing the outdoors inside is natural for Tiffany, who grew up in Kaukauna, Wisc. and would never consider an artificial tree.
“Not on my watch,” she said.
In previous years, Tiffany would wrangle the family for a trip to Russell’s or Mahoney’s garden centers in Wayland, pick out a tree and tie it to the top of the truck.
“I have my own saws,” she said. “I split wood growing up. I think I can handle cutting the bottom of a tree off.”
This year, those rustic touches can be found in the fresh evergreen and pinecones dressing up the mantels in the living and family rooms. There is also stairway swag made from magnolia leaves that cascades up to the second floor and down to the basement.
“Magnolia is so special. It can really stand on its own,” said Mastroianni. “Most people don’t know what it looks like, but it’s distinct and elegant. The underside of the shiny green leaf looks like leather, which goes with the organic feel that’s Tiffany’s style. It’s not lit up with glitz.”
In the kitchen, Winston event designer Tori Samuel decorated wreaths with French silk ribbon on the windows above the eating nook that overlooks the family’s wooded backyard. In the center of the room on the granite-topped island, Samuel and Mastroianni helped assemble an arrangement filled with amaryllis, greenery, pinecones, metallic balls, wood stars, and small birch branches in a rectangular wood box.
Both Tiffany and David Ortiz said the kitchen sees a lot of activity, especially Christmas Eve when they host a big party for family and friends.
“The eating is the best part,” said David, who traditionally feasts on favorite Dominican dishes such as pasteles en hoja (plantain and beef in dough), chicharrón de pollo (fried chicken), and pierna de cerdo (pork leg).
David, who was in the Dominican Republic while his wife oversaw the decorating, said he always looks forward to seeing the finished product, especially through the eyes of his children, who think of the home as a sanctuary.
“They love the house. They’ve grown up there. Tiffany loves being at home doing things, and she’s really good at it,” he said.
Midway through the day, Tiffany brought from the basement a box filled with family ornaments that the children would use to decorate the 8-foot tree in the family room. Inside were three trays of decor including: a plastic frame with a childhood photo of her and Santa; a Christmas mouse that her mom had made from a walnut, a “Baby’s 1st Christmas” rattle; and a snowman couple with a handwritten “Tiffany & David 2002 1st Christmas.”
“And of course,” she noted, ”there’s lots of baseballs.”
The family room tree, covered in burlap at the base, also honors David’s mother, Angela Rosa Arias, who died in 2002, with an angel that stands on the highest branch.
“I have always had him put the angel on the top of the tree,” said Ortiz. “I feel like that’s his mom, and I actually leave her out all year.”
Jill Radsken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.