Garden Club’s Holiday House Tour a Labor of Creativity

Photo by: Jeanette Michelson. The chairs of the evergreen workshop, Pam Masturo (left) and Linda Passaro, display two of the stunning holiday arrangements for sale in the Holiday Tour Boutique held in the Hotel LBI.

Long Beach Island, NJ — The Garden Club of Long Beach Islands’ 54th annual Holiday Tour of Homes was sold out as soon as it was announced – as usual – since it is a must-do event for locals and their friends: an opportunity to gather, gawk and gab about the amazing homes plus the floral and holiday decorations made by the club.

This year, five homeowners, two in Loveladies, one in Brant Beach and two in Beach Haven, graciously donated their homes, allowing club members to decorate for two days, then hold a preview day for LBI Garden Club members and the reveal day for the public fortunate enough to hold a “golden” ticket. Proceeds from this one-day event go toward scholarships to local students studying horticulture, the environment, marine sciences and other related fields in college.

The Garden Club of LBI began in 1957 with 16 Island women with a purpose to encourage tree and shrub planting as development began in earnest on LBI. Now the club has grown to 200 members (including Stafford Township members) with a mission to “further in every way interest in gardening and kindred subjects and to cooperate with all the programs for the improvement in planting, conservation, environment and beautification of our island.”

The Holiday Tour of Homes is a highlight of the club every year, providing “a creative outlet for members to extend their talents in floral design and staging … and to work towards a common goal while honoring our club’s beginnings and purpose.”

On preview day, Dec. 11, this reporter was able to visit the three homes on the south end of the Island, starting with the “Industrial Chic” house in Brant Beach. The impressive façade of the angular building perched on a triangular lot on the bay was the first thing noticed – with its walls of windows. The first floor included the living or great room, with a flow-through layout to the dining and kitchen area. The wall of orange cabinets in the kitchen served as the designer’s color palette for the great flower arrangements of tropical flowers: birds of paradise, protea from South Africa, and huge philodendron leaves. Joyce Lubach, who worked on the décor, said the committee had help in ordering the flowers from Michele Tallent, floral designer at the Bay Avenue Plant Co. in Surf City. “She came in and spent an afternoon with us, and we told her what we wanted and she went out and got it,” said Lubach.

Pink and purple flowers complemented the teal walls of the master bedroom, and a cascade of teal and silver Christmas balls decorated the inside shower. Clever details included the use of purple mussel shells to create stars decorating a driftwood “tree” and teal candy canes made into geometric star patterns.

At least 10 members of the club worked on decorating this beautiful home, including house chairs Bonnie Korbeil and Cathy Sutton.

The cedar-sided beach house on the ocean in Beach Haven was dubbed the “Beach Comfort” house, and the master bedroom was the epitome of that sentiment. The gentle winter surf could be viewed through the wall of windows, and the fluffy white comforter called out for an afternoon nap. The children’s room of two bunk beds was filled with snowmen of all kinds. It would be a fun game for younger ones to see if they could count every one: the snowman on the window made of white and peppermint-stripe ribbon, tiny snowmen on the window ledge, those on the decorated sled and on the ledge above the bed – and don’t forget to count the snowman face on the white cabinets!

The reverse-living house means the kitchen, dining and living room are upstairs. The color theme here is white, silver and green. Floral arrangements included white Asiatic lilies, snapdragons, roses, Peruvian lilies and white branches surrounded by lime green cabbage stalks, pine boughs and Christmas balls. The natural tree was sparsely decorated with just the right amount of bling from silver ribbon, icicles and starched, white doilies.

The kitchen was made homey with little vignettes of a Christmas tea and Ferris wheel of cupcakes.

House chairs were Cindy McGrath, Dianne Pleyn and Jeanne Sivori.

Another relaxing oasis in the busy holiday season was the “Sunday Morning” house, also in Beach Haven. To welcome preview club members, Connor Devaney had set up his Barrel Mobile Bar in the front yard. He was serving nonalcoholic cider and cookies. The front porch was decorated with pine boughs and wooden ornaments. An unusual ball made of oyster shells set the stage for the “natural” island-inspired decorations inside. The Christmas tree was set in a galvanized washtub and sported tiny white lights. Above the mantle, a huge garland of magnolia leaves, cedar, pine and dried silver artemesia and wispy grasses brought the outside in.

According to club member Donna Evleth, Amy Haeberlein of Artifacts and More in Beach Haven made the garland and also ordered the 40-plus pots of paperwhites, many of which decorated the house. Beautiful antiques and collectibles added to the rustic ambiance.

Leaving the home and crossing the courtyard led to the bar area, looked over by a glittering fake deer trophy. Beneath the house were the guest rooms and play area, including a popcorn machine and ping-pong table. The metal sheathing on all the walls added to the room’s glittering appeal. A top hat with a wide Christmas paper ribbon, a black dial telephone and a Remington typewriter added to the nostalgia of this charming home.

House chairpersons were Judie Alloway, Michele Farias and Debbie McWilliams.

In Loveladies, “All About the View House” is a contemporary home on the bay with sweeping views from many rooms. Nautical antiques were a natural choice for the homeowners and include artworks from local artists. Reclaimed wood is used to good effect in the kitchen and dining area, and many shades of blue decorations highlight the natural wood. House chairpersons were Lois Perry and Bev Reitinger.

“Sea Heart” is on the ocean and has wrap-around decks overlooking gardens and the pool area. The seven-bedroom house includes a master suite of office, his and her closets, and a bathroom with an outside shower. Whimsical touches include a glass-enclosed miniature beach scene for a bar and a miniature VW bus that serves as the cooler. House chairpersons were Diane Barbieri and Mary Stevens.

The club also held the annual luncheon and holiday boutique in the new Hotel LBI in Ship Bottom.

To nominate a home for the 55th annual 2020 Holiday Tour of Homes, contact

– Pat Johnson

Reposted from The Sandpaper, Dec. 18, 2019