Doreen Hampton says it all started with a chatty vendor. At an antiques-show booth in 1993, she was lingering over a pair of Christmas-tree ornaments when the seller turned her into a collector. “I caught the bug,” Doreen admits. Two years later, she attended the Golden Glow of Christmas Past annual July convention, and has been in over her head ever since. How many ornaments has she collected? “I can’t even guess!”

Although she could decorate to the hilt her 1954 Colonial-style house in Litchfield, Connecticut, that’s not her style. She concentrates on two stunning trees, large and tabletop, framing them in white space: fresh and clean colors in walls and upholstery. Timing herself one year, she clocked nine hours to dress the main tree with lights and hundreds of ornaments; larger ornaments in her Polish collection are six or seven inches in diameter. Then she sets up themed antique-book collections, dining-room table settings, and arrangements of winter greens and poinsettias on side tables and windowsills.

December’s calendar fills with teas and parties at the house. In mid-January, the entire display is packed up and stored in a “Christmas room” upstairs—except for the Holly china collection that stays in two corner cabinets year round. Christmas is never on hold, however. Doreen scours the internet all year, looking for holiday items to improve her collection. Come summer, she invariably attends the Golden Glow of Christmas Past gathering. goldenglow.org

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