Annie Payne: The more the merrier

Annie Payne holds a present from beneath the white tree decorated in gold ornaments in Darrell Jones’ living room of his Ridges home. Jones is in the foreground with his dog.

A year ago I wrote a story titled, “What does your Christmas tree say about you?”

The column brought me instant fame and glory ... in Manitoba, Canada.

It also acquainted me with Darrell Jones here in the Grand Valley. He sent me an e-mail to inquire if he had multiple Christmas trees, what did that say about him? Multiple personalities?

When you think of someone who puts up more than one tree each year, perhaps you think they are cuckoo for Christmas or a tree hoarder. Those types of people are out there, but Jones is not one of them.

After visiting his home this week, I would consider him a prime example of how to do multiple trees in a classy, understated way, if decorating multiple trees in your house can be called, “understated.”

The decision to put up more than one tree is not that different from whether or not to have a pet. Can you afford it? Do you have room for it? Who will take care of it?

Speaking of pets, Jones’ golden retriever, Jagger, doesn’t seem to mind extra company during the holidays, and he never bothers the collection of trees, Jones said.

Jones has nine Christmas trees: four trees in the house, five outside. He started this tradition several years ago, while working as a building manager and decorated trees for the building lobby and tenants. The habit sort of stuck.

Friends and co-workers, and now writers, appreciate his efforts as he hosts several holiday parties during the Christmas season to show off his tree collection.

Jones starts out with a theme. This year, his trees are white, each with a different color of ornaments and lights. The largest and most impressive tree stands in the center of Jones’ front room. It has gold ornaments with white lights. One of the most eye-catching ornaments is a sunburst ornament he picked up in Santa Fe, N.M.

The tree in the corner of the kitchen has red ornaments, including chili peppers and red lights. The tree in the dining room, the smallest of the four indoors, has green and blue ornaments with green lights. The tree in the boudoir, which strays from the theme because it’s green, casts an inviting glow with gold lights and white ornaments.

When asked if there’s a possibility of more trees in the future and where he would draw the line, Jones answered: “I don’t think there is a line, as long as it doesn’t look cluttered.”

Then he added, “If there is a line, I just don’t know where it is.”

Jones has a no-furniture-moving policy when it comes to placing and setting up the trees. This keeps the collection under control.

Here are some of Jones’ tips for setting up multiple trees and creating your own winter wonderland:

Start off by putting a small cluster of trees where you would usually set up a single tree. Perhaps that would be a little less intimidating than trying to decide which empty corner to fill in your house.

Keep the trees from looking overloaded by making sure each ornament has room to hang properly and isn’t sitting on the branch below.

Jones takes a stand-back-and-look approach, when hanging the ornaments. Hang a few, then stand back and look. Make adjustments as needed.

Make sure the lights are hung with equal distance between each row of strands.

When asked if there was anything he absolutely would not put on his trees, the answer was “blinking lights.” Jones thinks they look cheap.

Don’t let Christmas decorations linger longer than they should. Jones carefully stores his trees and ornaments on Jan. 2. No fail.

So what do Jones’ trees say about him?

As long as it’s done tastefully, “The more the merrier.”

For more on an unpredictable variety of other topics, visit Annie Payne’s blog,, at


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