Kicking off the holidays in S.C.

Annual Holiday House Tour offers residents and visitors a potpourri of seasons’ greetings


Residents and visitors flocked to Sea Cliff last Saturday for the village’s annual Holiday House tour. This is the 15th year the tour has been offered by the Mutual Concerns Committee.

Committee President Peggie Como said she originally proposed the idea to the organization as a way to raise money in a unique way. Mutual Concerns works to address various needs in the community by stocking food pantries and offering social programs for the elderly.

“This is our major fundraiser of the year, and it’s a lot of work, but the residents look forward to it every year,” Como said, adding that the house tour was a good way to attract people from other neighborhoods as well. “People love looking at houses, and the village is unique because there are all these Victorian homes that people come to see, since they may not have that in their own neighborhoods.”

The house tour, she added, is also an opportunity for visitors to become inspired to decorate for the holidays, and incorporate ideas they see on the tour into their home décor. “We hold it early enough so people can get ideas to decorate, and even do some holiday shopping,” Como said. Creative Art Studio and K. DiResta Collective offered handcrafted gifts during the day so visitors could shop along the tour. “It’s an upbeat day that just gets everyone into the spirit.”

Como said that she and a committee began house-hunting over the summer, and asked local homeowners to participate in the tour, and to offer their decorating expertise if need be. “Some are hesitant at first, but they really get into it and go above and beyond in terms of decorating,” she said.

The tour included six houses, each built around the turn of the 20th century. Visitors took self-guided tours around the village, stopping at each house marked on a brochure. Docents were stationed at each one to detail its historical significance and describe its décor.

Stephanie Sobel, who moved into 304 Prospect Ave. just a year ago, jumped at the chance to showcase her modern Victorian. “When Peggie asked me, I was flattered,” Sobel said. “What’s great about the house is that it’s not so much about the house, but the nature around it, so what I tried to do while decorating was bring the outdoors in.”

To showcase the natural beauty surrounding her home the house is situated on a cape Sobel worked tree cuttings, twigs and pine cones into the décor. The mantelpiece in the living room overflowed with pine greens and was adorned with silver lamps and ornaments.

Cuttings, twigs and pine cones highlighted three glass candelabras on the dining room table. On the bar sat nine crystal wine chalices filled with sand, each holding a glitter-white script letter. Together they spelled “miracles.”

At 25 Laurel Ave., owner Nanette Bass, who has lived in Sea Cliff for over 20 years, said she has taken part in the house tour in past years, and is always willing to help what she said is a “wonderful organization.”

“I’m a big supporter of Mutual Concerns, and it’s fun to do something that’s in the holiday spirit,” Bass said. She is Jewish, and although it is not a tradition to decorate for Hanukkah, she said, she goes all out for the house tour.

The living room and dining room were dazzling displays of blue and white, with hints of silver. Paper dreidels hung from blue ribbon in the living room, and silver coins sporting the Star of David were decoratively strewn on a glass tabletop. The mantel was rimmed with Hanukkah tinsel and sparkly blue twigs, and at the center stood a silver menorah with blue and white candles. In the dining room, an inviting tablescape held hexagonal plates with painted blue dreidels that sat atop larger, light blue plates, crescented with a silver placemat.

Dorothy Davidow, formerly of Glen Head, moved into her new home at 101 Brown St. less than two months ago, but was reassured by Como and the house hunting committee that her 1891 Victorian would be dressed to impress by the time of the tour.

“I was worried I wouldn’t find any of my decorations in time, because we were in the process of moving in, but Peggie convinced me that everyone would love the finished product,” Davidow said. An added bonus was that the tour ended up being a great opportunity to meet her new neighbors.

The décor was a joint effort between her and the committee, whose members brought in extra trinkets to add a festive touch to the furnishings. Her theme had a natural aesthetic, with touches of burlap and greenery throughout. Her Christmas tree was laced with cranberry trimmings, and boasted an array of ornaments she had collected over the years. The most unique piece in the house was a vintage sewing mannequin adorned with Christmas garments and a set of pearls.

Tour-takers and docents agreed that the house tour is a delightful village tradition, an excellent opportunity to kick off the holiday season in Sea Cliff.

“I’ve done this tour for many years, and it’s my favorite thing,” said Cynthia Harrand, of Sea Cliff, a tour docent. “You get to meet up with old friends in beautiful homes, and it’s a great official start of the season.”

Pat Cano, of Glen Head, and Arleen Lopez, of Roslyn Harbor, have served as docents since the tour’s inception. They agreed that it was a great way to showcase the unusual homes of Sea Cliff. “These Victorians are unique in style,” Cano said, “and it’s very interesting to see all the décor.”

“You get great ideas to decorate your home for the holidays,” Lopez added, “and you’re raising money for a good cause.”