Designing with Joy: A Very Alpha Glam Christmas

In each issue of Design & Living, residential and commercial designer Christen Anderson of Live Christen Joy showcases a joyful project of hers. This month, Anderson showcases her Homes for the Holidays Tour design, the vibrant and youthful Alpha Gamma Delta house.

Photos by Hillary Ehlen

The Homes for the Holidays Tour is a 33-year-old tradition for the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority on the campus of North Dakota State University. The event showcases holiday décor ideas while highlighting the talents of local designers in select homes throughout the Fargo-Moorhead community. For many people, this annual tour has become a festive tradition to start the holiday season.

This year, snow fell as participants traveled from home to home to see the season’s most beautiful decor and learn valuable design ideas to make their home more merry and bright. 

The Christen Joy team was thrilled to roll up its sleeves, crank up the Christmas tunes and transform the new Alpha Gamma Delta sorority home into a winter wonderland. 

About the tour

Homes for the Holidays is a showcase of holiday decor featuring local homes transformed for the season by area designers. Each year, Alpha Gamma Delta chooses a local beneficiary to receive a share of proceeds from the event. For 2019, it’s the Great Plains Food Bank.

Define Focal Points 

The Alpha Gamma Delta home is a beautiful design. It was our task to incorporate a timeless look the young women would enjoy for years to come, because some decor would remain in the home. 

About the home

Demolition of the previous home and construction of the new home began during the summer of 2018 and was completed in the summer of 2019. Construction planning was conducted in conjunction with Fargo based- firm ICON Architectural Group and the architecture firm Cunningham + Associates based out of Columbia, Mo. At the helm of the home’s interior design was Kemberly Reyes, In-House Designer for Alpha Gamma Delta FHC. The Tudor-style home is home to 34 collegiate women and the house director. With the construction of a new chapter house complete, the ladies are proud to have such a beautiful home to welcome future sisters to for generations to come.

We decided to focus on the grand entry, formal and informal living rooms and the library. A few design touches would also be added to built-in hallway shelving, artwork, restrooms and the mailbox area. While this may seem like a lot of space to cover, the décor had to match the wow-factor of this home. From there, our team gathered more elves to help accomplish our exciting holiday task.  

Christen Joy Tip: Build a Holiday Mood Board

Gather your thoughts and ideas in a PowerPoint or Pinterest board. Look for textures, colors, themes, font styles and holiday items that spark your creativity. Then, capture those images to create your virtual mood board. 

Match the Home’s Style 

Ideas ranged from large pink bows, flocked trees and elegant dishware, to cute puppies in Santa hats. Since we had to focus in on our ideas, Santa puppies didn’t make the list. Maybe next year? 

This home called for a mix of traditional and southern charm with a few unexpected WOW elements. Typically, we balance classic pieces because they stand the test of time, and we layer in highlights that knock your socks off.

Make a Stunning First Impression 

The grand stairway is over-the-top ornate with a stunning chandelier hanging overhead and a patterned runner underfoot. To match the impact of this space we added 18 (yes, 18) strands of garland, yards and yards of navy velvet ribbon and hundreds of metallic bulbs. Stunning poinsettias from Bergen’s, our lead exterior designer and nursery partner, lined the stairs. 

Inspired by traditional tablescapes and design examples from Tory Burch, I chose to pull in Chinoiserie – starting with blue and white vases. The idea came when brainstorming with one of my stylists. She shared photos of designer Tory Burch’s entryway filled with vases upon vases with berry branches bursting out of the largest vessels. This became the perfect complement for the stairway and fit our unexpected, yet traditional style.

Christen Joy Tip: Layer for the WOW

Take your holiday decorating to the next level by adding one more layer. Add texture (natural elements, velvet ribbon or metallics work great), a different medium such as artwork, live plants or another color and an extra layer of twinkle lights or garland. You got this!

Add Holiday Joy to Formal Spaces

This is where the Southern sorority girl in me came out (okay, I went to school at UND but I was in a sorority). We wanted chic and sophisticated vibrant color, velvet and tassels. Think Kate Spade meets Lilly Pulitzer — what a perfect match! 

This style called for monogrammed stockings nestled underneath vibrant garland flanked by blue and white vases. A punch of color and personality shines through with layers of tassels that pull in the colors of the room. 

A lush flocked tree holds playful glass ornaments with a fun youthful vibe any sorority sister would adore — including floating flamingos, coffee, watermelon slices, puppies and more. 

Gifts wrapped in blue and white with pops of green and exotic tigers are adorned in velvet-textured bows flowing freely down the sides of the packages. They look almost too pretty to open. 

The buffet is home to a colorful forest that looks as if it just had its first snowfall. Above, the NDSU bison is wrapped with the largest seasonal bow. 

Christen Joy Tip: Put a Bow on It

Add bows to unexpected items in your home to make a big impact and unite your holiday decor.

Dine-in The Luxe Library 

The AGD ladies use this space as a library because the table doesn’t accommodate 35 for meals. This space became an opportunity to show guests what’s possible for a holiday tablescape in their homes. 

Blue and white continued in the china and a stunning blue velvet tablecloth. We set gold chargers under the china, the fancy silverware and fresh greenery sprigs on the plates and on the chairs featuring metallic trees matching the chargers and bulbs in the entryway. For a wow factor, we purchased stunning faux arrangements that can stay for years to come. And, the stars of the room were custom-designed bundt cakes with gingerbread antlers and velvet bows to match the tablecloth. Thank you to Nichole of Nichole’s Fine Pastry for bringing this to life! 

Christen Joy Tip: Add Some Sweets

Designing a memorable table for family and friends doesn’t stop at dishware and floral arrangements. Work with a local bakery to dream up your own festive and unique take-home gift or dessert. 

Give Thanks

Thank you to Alpha Gamma Delta for the pleasure of designing a look they can enjoy for many years, and the opportunity to participate in the Homes for the Holidays tour. 

As always, I give thanks for you and wish you a joy-filled holiday season. Cheers to a fantastic 2019, and all that is to come in 2020. See you in the new year! 

Exterior design and interior poinsettias provided by Mara Bergen of Bergen’s Greenhouses, Detroit Lakes.
Alpha Gamma Delta House Interior Designer: Kemberly Reyes, In-House Designer for Alpha Gamma Delta FHC


Anderson is a Minnesota native with an eye for decor and design. Christen Joy specializes in new-construction commercial projects, exceptional remodels, furnishing high-end living spaces and creating memorable special events. Anderson is also a passionate art collector, world traveler and home cook who frequently entertains for friends. 

Join me on Instagram and Facebook to see my latest projects and email me at [email protected] for project inquiries.

Read more from Christen Anderson here.


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