Katharine Wall loves to decorate her house for the holidays.
Strings of Christmas lights act as the reins for the skeleton reindeer who are pulling the coffin sleigh, the killer wreath has been hung in the alcove, and Mr. Oogie Boogie is ready to deal with Santa Claus.
It’s all part of Wall’s Nightmare Before Christmas themed house, and quite timely given this year is the 25th anniversary of the Disney movie.
“I love decorating. I love themes,” she says. “It was great to combine my joy of decorating with my love of holidays and my obsession with Disney into one thing.”
Katharine and her husband Johnathan recently moved here and this year was the first time they’ve decorated for Christmas and Halloween in Chilliwack. Each year they pick a theme (usually Disney related) and piggyback their Halloween decorated house with their Christmas decorated house for that year.
“Our themes are always Halloween and Christmas, so we only choose themes that can be carried over,” she says. This year they chose Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The Walls make about 90 per cent of the decorations themselves.
“We try our best to use as much recycled stuff as we can,” she says. “It’s cheap and I would rather not create unnecessary waste.”
Leftover PVC piping was used for the wrought-iron fence, pieces of plywood make up the skeleton reindeer, and free scraps of wood were used to build the Christmas presents.
Katharine does the planning and designing while Johnathan cuts out the designs and builds the larger decorations.
“He can pretty much build me anything that I’m asking for within reason,” she says.
And the interior of their house is decorated, too. Hand-made ornaments are hung from the tree across from a Jack Skellington mannequin. A handmade recipe book turned to the “worm’s wart soup” page, sits atop a hand-built desk.
It takes the Walls a whole year of planning and building to decorate their home for Halloween and Christmas. They begin in January every year. They have a week of vacation and relaxation, but also a week to plan the upcoming year’s theme. Each month they task themselves with projects to complete.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
“There’s a part of it that obviously feeds me, and I really love it but I also love seeing people’s faces,” says Katharine. “I know how magical it can be… it’s the same way I feel when I walk down the streets of Hogsmeade at Universal (Studios). I love when the adults or kids come and they are so excited because this is something they’ve seen on a TV, but now they can actually touch it. That’s such a cool feeling.”
Their plan is to have a handful of different themes that they can rotate through every four or five years. Next year they’ll be doing Harry Potter, and Alice in Wonderland is on the list for future.
The Wall’s Nightmare Before Christmas themed house, complete with songs from the movie playing on outdoor speakers, can be viewed at 9703 Hazel St., at the corner of Portage Avenue.
The display will be up until the first weekend in January, and the lights will be on from sunset until about 9:30 p.m. nightly.
“We have kids that come here and they are singing the songs from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and they are so excited,” she adds. “It makes me feel so good that I can give that to someone else. That’s the part I really love.”