Holiday House Tours celebrates fifth year with new attraction, partnership



By Jolene Perron


For the fifth year, the Holiday House Tours are returning to Amherstburg, with a new attraction and partnership.

The committee of eight women who put on the Holiday House tours are always looking for new and interesting things to bring out and showcase. When one of them saw the concept of “tree dresses,” the committee was intrigued and inclined to find a way to include them in their tour.

“Tree dresses are the look of dresses, on mannequin bodies but made out of trees and greens, different Christmas décor, ornaments and things of those sorts. You can get very creative and there are very different styles out there,” explained Sarah Van Grinsven, coordinator of River Lights. “As talented as our decorators are, they are not fashion designers necessarily so we contacted St. Clair College and hooked up with the fashion design department there. We have the mannequin bodies here, and some of the supplies. We are giving them each a budget which is exciting for them, because they don’t necessarily get that usually so that adds to their program, they are adding to our program, and it’s extra incentive to come out to the Holiday House Tours.”

Submitted photos of tree dress ideas, courtesy of The Holiday House Tours.

The Holiday House Tours, which will be November 25 and 26, will showcase these tree dresses at The House Youth Centre, which will be the tour’s Tea Room stop where people gather each year to look at the craft sale, get a cup a tea, have a snack and now they can see the tree dresses.

“When Sarah sent the e-mail, right away I thought that would be a great opportunity,” said Elaine Chatwood, fashion design program coordinator at St. Clair College. “I also teach full-time in the program and one of the classes this semester is fashion marketing. Included in that is fashion merchandising so it kind of worked out really well for that class and I knew the students would just love it. I love the idea. I think it’s great. I’m really interested to see what the students come up with.”
Chatwood said she hopes the students will be able to experience visual merchandising better with this hands on project. Currently, they are in discussions as to whether or not the tree dresses will transport well back to St. Clair College after the event. The goal is to allow the students to showcase their work as much as possible.

All the funds raised during The Holiday House Tours is donated to the River Lights Festival and serves as their number one fundraiser. Tickets are $25, which gets the buyer into all of the homes once, whether they go through the tour in a matter of hours, or if they take the full two days to visit all of the houses. Tickets can be purchased starting October 13 at Sobey’s, online, Country Bliss or at this year’s House Tours sponsor Windsor Crossing.

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