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The Neat Retreat: Martha Mania

Suzanne Oliver
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Diana Darris pulled into the Buckhead Home Depot parking lot at 5:30 on a Friday evening. The Atlantan slept in her car that night and was surprisingly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Saturday morning. In her black sequin top, diamond earrings and full makeup, she wanted to look her best. She was seeing one of her idols, after all. It’s not every day one gets to hang with Martha Stewart.

First in line, Darris eagerly awaited the opening of the big, white tent in the parking lot.

At 10:30 a.m., Martha was to step on stage and give a free, two-hour workshop on holiday decorating tips to a crowd of 200 fans. Darris, a.k.a. The Food Diva, yearned to learn more about “homemaking and décor,” plus anything to help with her own herb garden. “These products,” she said, pointing to the adjacent Home Depot Garden Center, “combined with Martha Stewart’s recipes are fabulous.”

Standing next in line, Denice Kammerer from Newnan shared in the excitement. Seeing Martha was one of the items on her bucket list, she said. And she couldn’t wait to get her hands on a signed copy of the magazine Martha Stewart Living.


By 8:30 that morning, the line full of anxious fans and Garden Club members curled around the tent. Ann Hutchinson and her daughter Emily Hogarth of Dallas, Ga., recently signed up for the Garden Club, enticed by a $15 coupon. (Hutchinson even tried out the new Cool Wave Pansies after reading one of our blogs on the subject.)

The group said they particularly like the plant selection and knowledgeable associates. The mother-and-daughter team also adores Martha’s entertaining tips, plus her quality lines of paint and Christmas ornaments sold exclusively at The Home Depot.

Before presenting the workshop, Martha met with the associates in orange aprons and talked about her vast collection of products. In addition to Home Depot, she sells her wares in Macy’s, Michaels, Jo-Ann, PetSmart and Staples. She touched on everything from her carpets to kitchen cabinets, using the adjective “beautiful” repeatedly. And rightfully so.

Now on to the main event. Martha began her presentation by referring to Atlanta as “the decorating mecca of the Southeast.” Together, Martha and Kevin Sharkey, Executive Editorial Director, projected pictures from Martha Stewart Living, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Martha’s tips on holiday decorating centered on “inventing new ways to look at old spaces.”

This season, Martha rolled out three collections: Winterberry (woodland theme with deer, owls, birds, pinecones and berries), Arctic (blue and silver accented with snowflakes, polar bears, penguins and icicles) and Christmas Collectibles (traditional red and green combined with Santa, snowmen and candy canes) — each with its own style of wreaths, tabletop décor and ornaments.

In between stories of sipping cappuccino with the Clintons, Martha doled out tried-and-true advice on wreaths, lights and more. She had this to say about Christmas trees:

  • Artificial trees are the way to go. “I put an artificial tree in every room of my house. I rarely even put up a fresh-cut tree anymore.” It’s easier, and you can always bake apples or add a few evergreen swags for that missing seasonal scent, she added.
  • Always fluff from the top down. And slightly bend the branches upward for hanging ornaments.
  • Tie a tether from the top of the tree to the wall so it won’t tip over. (Kids and kitties love to play and grab hold of the branches.)
  • Old-fashioned tinsel trees from the ’50s are back in style.
  • To highlight dangling ornaments, remove every other row of branches.
  • The more ornaments, the better.

Hopefully, Martha will do more of these Customer Appreciation Events around the country.

Is meeting Martha Stewart on your bucket list?



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