Christmas in Cape May NJ is a big deal. The season is on the longer side, beginning with Christmas Preview Weekend in mid-November. Here, it seems there are endless Christmas happenings including a wide variety of tours, the Cape May Christmas Parade, fun Christmas shopping opportunities, and – of course – beautifully decorated homes and inns, like The Queen Victoria.
Each year, innkeepers Doug and Anna Marie McMain strive to outfit their Cape May Bed And Breakfast with breathtaking Christmas decorations. Every nook and cranny seem to emanate Christmas. From lights and garland to hand-tied bows and ornaments, no detail is too small and no space is overlooked. How do they do it? Your questions answered.
There are several buildings on your property, how many do you decorate for the holidays?
All of our buildings are decorated, both inside and out.
When do you decorate and how long does it take you?
We start decorating around November 1st. Our goal is always to have the outdoor decorations complete by the weekend before Thanksgiving (Christmas Preview Weekend), and ALL of our decorating complete by Thanksgiving so that the many guests that join us for Thanksgiving and the following weekend can enjoy our Christmas décor.
What kind of materials do you use?
All of our buildings are well lit with (now LED) Christmas lights. We string garland, decorated with Christmas lights and hand-tied bows of “punchinello” (a rigid ribbon, which is the leftover by-product of sequin manufacturing) along all of our porch railings as well as all the fences on our properties. The front porch of the Queen Victoria building also has 2 Christmas trees, decorated with both lights and bows. On the inside, we have garland beautifully arrayed on fireplace mantles, china cabinets, buffets, and over various doorways. We also have a massive string of garland spanning the ceiling of the Queen Victoria building, which is adorned with hand-tied bows and glass ornaments. We have 7 main trees.
Have you any decoration or holiday mishaps?
Every year we order “Winter Rose” poinsettias, which we place throughout the inn. They are so beautiful that people don’t believe that they are real. The first year we purchased them, we ordered 50 for decorating the inn. When our guests saw them, they all wanted to purchase them from us and we ended up selling all of our floral decoration. Now we order enough to satisfy their demand and also decorate the inn.
What’s your favorite part of preparing the inn for the holidays?
I love seeing all the lights on the buildings come on for the first time. It is always magical. Inevitably, the timers are all a little off from each other, so they tend to pop on independently, which makes me nervous the first time, hoping that they’ll all eventually come on.
What do you think guests like most about the inn when it’s decorated?
Our decorating tends toward the classic. Our decorator, who has been on our staff for almost 15 years, has a wonderful, classy sense, and puts everything together so well. We’re not filled with all the “kitchy” decorations that you see in all the discount stores. I think they also appreciate our 3 historically themed trees. We have an Early Victorian-style tree, which is decorated as a tree that might have been in the 1840s, with the gifts ON the tree, made up of fruits, nuts, and baked goods (we use pretzels). Our Mid Victoria style tree is decorated similarly to a tree that would have been found in the 1870s with hand-made gifts hanging on the tree, including very simple dolls, doilies, and wooden toys/games. Our Late Victorian tree is our most spectacular, featuring more décor than gifts, which would have been purchased manufactured items and have been placed under the tree.
What is your favorite Christmas decoration and why?
I’ve always gotten a kick out of the “Christmas Pickle” (we have one on our Late Victorian tree). Tradition has it that the child who found the pickle on the tree would receive an additional gift.
We hope you’ll visit us this Christmas in Cape May NJ and join in on the holiday cheer. We invite all passers-through and visitors to Cape May to enjoy our Christmas display, especially our Victorian trees. Visit the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities to learn more about Christmas in Cape May NJ,