Mary Carol Garrity is making Christmas decorating simpler this year.
Owner of three decorating retail stores — Nell Hill’s in Atchison and Kansas City, Mo., and Garrity’s Encore in Atchison — Garrity has published two Christmas books, including her most recent, “O Christmas Tree.”
“My first Christmas book published six years ago was very lush and over the top,” she says. “I wrote this book because Christmas decorating has changed. It’s not so overdone.”
After 28 years in the decorating business, Garrity understands why Christmas is important in people’s lives.
“People have different traditions, and they want to express that in their homes,” she says.
Don’t expect to see any colored lights or dancing Santas in this book. Garrity’s style doesn’t scream “Christmas” in your face. Instead, her designs create a holiday mood with “festive trimmings, wreaths that wow, and simple arrangements that set the holiday mood,” she says.
Garrity describes her decorating ideas as “inspirational nuggets” that encourage creativity among readers. Her style, she says, is more traditional than anything. Yet, it also doesn’t look like a decorator came in and styled everything.
“It’s personalized and understated,” she says. “It’s more of a home that has evolved. We don’t really have a certain style. It is more of a feel. It’s pretty, and it’s timeless.”
From a small family with young kids to empty-nesters in an upscale urban condo, Garrity illustrates a diverse group of homes and lifestyles in her new book.
“It has entirely different people in it,” she says.
She has worked with or knows most of her subjects personally.
Always looking for a home to photograph, Garrity frequently reaches out to customers to use in her books.
“They are usually customers or friends,” she says. “When you invade someone’s home for a couple days, it’s just more comfortable if you know them.”
Thanks to her creative staff, Garrity has put together seven Nell Hill’s books, such as “Stylish Weddings,” “Entertaining In Style” and “Christmas at Home.“
She has the help from talented contributors when putting together a book.
“I obviously don’t take the pictures, and I have someone who helps me write,” she says.
For Garrity, publishing seemed like a natural step after her success in the retail business.
“I’m a retailer, and that’s what I love to do. It’s my passion,” she says. “But the books give people an opportunity to discover us.”