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Making spirits bright

Alverna Cantrell gives local middle school students pointers on decorating a Christmas tree.

Even before Alverna Cantrell moved to Manor of the Plains, residents have been enjoying her expert touch with our celebrated Christmas decorations.

Alverna owned Humble Flowers in Dodge City for many years. The store helped many local organizations decorate for open houses, from the annual Carnegie home tour to Christmas at Manor of the Plains. Alverna is good friends with our former marketing director Patty McGee.

Since the manor traditionally fills the halls with all kinds of Christmas trees for our holiday open house, it was easy to feature many different types of decorations. Alverna said she’s always enjoyed creating a specific themes for trees, but she is partial to Victorian and traditional designs. She also likes to use floral elements like poinsettias, as well as ribbons and bows.

“We all have different tastes. Like Patty and I -- we laughed so much when we worked together. I was more traditional, and sometimes she was more…” Alverna paused, searching for the right words. Then: “Far out.” She laughed.

She’s quick to add that there’s no wrong way to decorate, and it’s easy to start over if you’re not happy with the results. “Anything can be redone, that’s no big deal. Play with it and get creative -- do what you like.”

Since Alverna moved to Manor of the Plains about seven years ago, she has continued as one of our volunteer decorators. And not just at Christmas -- Alverna has also created lovely silk and dried arrangements and wreaths for many of her friends and neighbors. She hopes everyone enjoys the holiday cheer she helps bring to the manor again this year.

“As long as I can put an ornament on a tree, I’ll keep doing it,” she said.  

Alverca's tree tips

We asked Alverna for her top tree-trimming tips:

Safety first: Never overload your outlets with too many strings of lights. And remember to put on your lights before anything else.

Start small: Put your smaller ornaments near the top, and add larger ones as you go toward the floor.

 Fill the gaps: You don’t have to cover every inch of the tree, but if you have a problematic hole, Alverna suggests filling it with a nice bow. She likes to dress up bows with a flower or an ornament in the middle.

 Balance it out: Take a moment now and then to judge whether things look evenly placed. “I like to eyeball it, to step back and look at it, and stagger items -- that’s the florist in me. But there’s no wrong way to do it.”  

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