Story Of A... Holiday Decorator

Christmastime is year-round for Cindi DeYoung, 42, senior director of floral and holiday for Greenery Productions.

Roberto Gonzalez

 “My Christmas tradition is decorating hotels,” says DeYoung. Every fall, she spends her days—and sometimes nights—decorating Central Florida’s top resort properties such as the Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Hilton Bonnet Creek, Gaylord Palms and the Waldorf Astoria with giant Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, garland and more.

“It was never a pursuit; it just happened. Sixteen years ago I needed a part-time job, and it evolved into something that I love doing.”
She worked her way up from cutting flowers to decorating and designing large projects. “My strength is pulling together an entire holiday décor package. I think it’s instinct. I can visualize what will look good.”

Each January, DeYoung travels to Atlanta to shop at one of the world’s largest holiday décor markets. A tip: “This season the decorating trend is to use tons of burlap and decorative owls” to create a rustic or vintage look. 

In the months leading up to the holiday season, the warehouse at Greenery Productions is filled with every Christmas ornament and decoration imaginable, plus trees up to 35 feet tall that require high-reach machines to decorate. “It’s been Christmas in here since July,” says DeYoung.

Some of the larger projects require a year of planning. It sometimes takes a moving truck to transport one large tree. Depending on the number of people, it can take a full day to place ornaments on a tree at the site. “We want to create a sense of arrival. We do a lot of palm tree lighting and decorate with huge 8-foot wreaths that hang in front of some of the hotels.”

One of the largest projects DeYoung has worked on is downtown Celebration. “It’s a huge undertaking. The planning stages are often filled with last-minute changes, but then the decorating is the fun part.”

“People think it’s fun to watch us. We get a lot of questions when they see us decorating, but the most often is: ‘Can you decorate my house?’ ”

With so much focus on her customers, DeYoung has little time to decorate her own home for the holidays. “We don’t have elaborate decorations, but we do have typical front-lawn lighting, a fresh tree, garlands and knickknacks. We like to make our home feel festive for our 7-year-old son.” Her husband does much of that decorating.

Planning, shopping and decorating never gets old for DeYoung. When friends and family come to visit for the holidays, she takes them to—where else?—some of Orlando’s finest hotels to see the lights and decorations.

“This has become a tradition for me; it almost wouldn’t feel like Christmas if I wasn’t doing this.”

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