CASA Christmas – Under the Big Top
Last year’s holiday home offered festive circus fun
For 23 years, Child Advocates of Fort Bend (CAFB) has been showcasing homes lavishly decorated for the holidays in Fort Bend County’s most beautiful neighborhoods as a way of raising money to support their programs. The 2013 tour proceeds totaled more than $200,000 providing approximately 20 percent of CASA’s annual budget. With expenses at less than 6 percent, 94 percent of the proceeds from the Home Tour are used to support the programs and services that Child Advocates of Fort Bend offers free of charge to abused and neglected children and their families in Fort Bend County.
With the help of professional decorators and florists, several homeowners open their homes to the public during the second weekend of December. Guests tour the homes and admire the talents of the decorators, florists and the homeowners’ personal style. Volunteer hosts greet and direct guests through the home and cookies and refreshments are offered at the exits of many of the homes.
The CASA home featured in this issue is owned by Shad and JoBeth Lira. Their holiday theme, Under the Big Top, was unmistakable as the entrance was fancifully transformed into the familiar vision of a red and white striped circus tent. Over-sized candy canes, big red ribbons and colorful Christmas ornaments along with fresh evergreen garland delivered the Spirit of Christmas to the festivities.
Once inside Cirque d’ Lira, the real fun began. The foyer and dining room holiday décor reflected the elegance and ritual of Santa’s Christmas Eve pre-flight meal. Since a trip around the world delivering presents is a big job, this room pays homage to the encouragement and nourishment provided by Mrs. Claus. The table runner utilizes live Magnolia leaves and evergreens as a backdrop for JoBeth’s family heirlooms: her silver teapots and her grandmother’s china, while the tree showcases family photos.
Just across the foyer is Mrs. Claus’ Costume Shop (aka JoBeth’s business “Monogram Me.”) This time of year, however, it is perfectly clear that Santa’s wife is busy sewing up circus costumes for acts of all kinds. JoBeth’s machinery and mannequin collection of 10 years is accessorized with outfits for fairies, elves, dolls and doggies, as well as fresh and beautiful boxwood wreaths.
Up the stairs, guests found the Big Top Main Event. Atop the landing guests esperienced the training facilities (bedrooms) for the circus performers — the couple’s four daughters: Makenzie, 12, the clown; Macey, 7, the trapeze artist; Maggie, 6, the poodle trainer; and Mallory, 2, the sugar plum fairy.
Makenzie’s room featured a clown-themed tree, including fuzzy wigs, over-sized sunglasses and harlequin paper wrapped presents. Macey’s had trapezes hanging from the ceiling and a multi-colored tree in festive colors like silver, purple, pink and blue. Maggie’s poodle training center was highlighted by a frosty tree with doggie ornaments, along with poodles in tutus and green and pink chenille ribbons. Mallory, the sugar plum fairy, had a room showcasing her sweetness: a snow-white tree chock full of candy ornaments and gingerbread.
The family’s second story common space was inspired by a vintage circus arena and outfitted with trees, burlap wreaths and stuffed animals of all varieties. Importantly, too, this space included a “photo opp” where CASA guests made some unique holiday circus memories of their own.
Back downstairs, the master suite offered a respite from circus life. This grown-up space exuded a relaxed, calm atmosphere where the ringmasters could leave the fray behind, at least for some precious moments. Glistening silver trees with red ornaments and flickering lights lent a romantic holiday vibe.
The first floor living areas transported guests to the Circus Garden Party. Fresh flowers — hydrangeas, roses and lilies — surrounded the fireplace mantle and provided a bright, warm place to hang gingerbread colored stockings and accent ribbons. Adjoining the family room, the breakfast area and kitchen kept in theme with boxwood wreaths and kissing balls, while stark white and glittery snowflakes were scattered throughout. The kitchen island was a hot chocolate bar complete with the most amazing homemade, huge and delicious marshmallows imaginable. No wonder Santa Claus has a jolly round belly, with treats like these waiting for him at Cirque d’ Lira.
The breakfast table was a gingerbread house Winter Wonderland. Large frosted gingerbread houses adorned the table as both centerpieces and as place settings with each plate sporting its own monogrammed gingerbread home.
Since no visit to the circus is complete without popcorn and cotton candy, guests were treated to overstuffed bags of pink cotton candy and Christmas red candy popcorn fresh off a circus vendor’s cart in the backyard beside the swimming pool. A superb finale to the Greatest Christmas Show on Earth!
The homeowners expressed such joy and excitement at sharing their home and its inspired décor with their friends and neighbors. “We always enjoy the holidays because of our girls,” said JoBeth, “but this year our anticipation was multiplied by the opportunity to share our home for such a great cause as CASA.”
Shad echoed the sentiment, “JoBeth goes all out every year to transform our home from its Texas rustic traditional décor and style into something special, but this time, with the help of the designers at CRU Home, it was really a showplace, and we were thrilled to share it.”
Each year more than 2,000 guests visit the CASA Christmas Home Tour homes at their own schedule and pace. Tickets allow entrance into each home once during the two tour days, and the addresses and directions to the homes are on the back of the tickets in a recommended order top to bottom.
The 2014 CASA Christmas Home Tour dates are Friday, Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. as well as Saturday, Dec. 13 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online at cafb.org until Dec. 8 (online purchases will be mailed to you) or at select Fort Bend County Kroger and Randalls stores. On tour days, tickets are also available at the Sweetwater Guard House on the corner of Palm Royale and Sweetwater Boulevard at the entrance into the Sweetwater neighborhood in Sugar Land. Prices are $20 until Dec. 1, then $25 from Dec. 2 until Dec. 13.
For an additional $15, guests may enjoy a special holiday lunch from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the Friday and Saturday of the Home Tour at Sweetwater Country Club. Lunch includes turkey crepes, rice, potatoes, salad, desserts and tea or coffee. Neither reservations nor membership to the club are required. A portion of the lunch proceeds supports the Christmas Home Tour.
Featured homes are referred through interior decorators, friends of the agency or CASA is contacted directly by the homeowners. To be considered, the homeowners must enjoy decorating elaborately for Christmas and open their home to the public for viewing during the tour. CAFB staff will tour the home and determine if the location and flow of the home is suitable for the Home Tour.
Volunteers are also needed and welcome to serve with CASA during the tour as more than 1,500 people are required to help with this event. For more information on volunteering at the Christmas Home Tour or perhaps hosting your home next year, contact Lisa Moore at 281-344-5108. For more information about the CASA Christmas Home Tour, visit cafb.org.
TOP IMAGE: In the entry, a large decorated tree includes photo ornaments and is topped with fresh hydrangeas. Stairway garland is intertwined with colorful decorations and circus motifs and placed on the bottom of the rails allowing for handrail use.
Text by Cheryl Alexander
Photography by J Pamela Photography
Construction by Trendmaker Homes
Holiday Design by Allison Huth and
Melissa Wardlaw, CRU Home