Last December 5, I had the distinct pleasure of decorating for the book signing event of New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber’s latest release, Dashing Through the Snow.

Dagmar Obert with author Debbie Macomber

Participants in Debbie’s festive Merry Market event were given gift bags from Random House, which included a signed copy of the book and Balsam Hill’s 2015 Holiday Catalog.

Random House's gift bags, with Balsam Hill's 2015 Holiday Catalogue
Random House’s gift bags, with Balsam Hill’s 2015 Holiday Catalogue

Scheduled activities included performances by Seattle’s premier Victorian carolers, Christmas crafting demonstrations, and a meet-and-greet with Debbie herself, who has been dubbed the “Official Storyteller of Christmas.”

Debbie’s Merry Market was held at the Seattle Center International Fountain Pavilion, a wide and welcoming space. I wanted to add holiday cheer and color to the venue to make it even more inviting, so we set up a Balsam Hill Calistoga Fir tree adorned with vibrant pieces from the Mistletoe and Holly Ornament Set. To complete the look, I added a Nativity Advent Calendar on the table, and placed some cheery poinsettias for more rich color. The end result was a warm and charming space for Debbie to connect with her fans.

Aside from decorating the venue, I had the privilege of being able to talk with Debbie, and gained insight about her writing process, favorite holiday traditions, and the inspiration behind this delightful and witty read.

Dagmar: Where did you get the inspiration to write Dashing Through the Snow?
Debbie: The idea came from my husband, actually. He hates to fly, and a friend knew someone with the same name as a “no fly name” and was unable to leave. My husband said that he wished that happened to him sometime.

Dagmar: How do you get in the spirit to write a holiday book when it is not the holiday season?
Debbie: It sounds cliché but Christmas is in your heart. The spirit of Christmas is in my heart.

Dagmar: Can you tell me a bit about your writing process? Where do you start? How long does it take to write one of your novels?
Debbie: It takes as long to start as it takes to finish. I sit down and begin to create scenes in my mind, and then work to link the scenes together. I write every chapter by hand. For ideas in process, recently I had three ideas. To choose, I usually use 5 words to screen what would work best in the book. Those words are: provocative, relevant, creative, entertaining, and realistic. Looking through these five words, one idea clearly presented itself to be the best. I could have manipulated the others to make it fit that process, but it made sense to use the one where it worked initially for a plot premise. I’m excited about it and it’s next year’s book, titled “The 12 Bloggers of Christmas.” It will be about a blogger who lives across the hall from a “Scrooge type.” She decides after a conversation with a friend who says to “kill him with kindness” to write about her act of kindness each day, for 12 days, and it not only changes him but the kindness to him also changed her.

Dagmar: How did you choose Seattle as a location for many of your books?
Debbie: I live in an area an hour or so away, and it is just most familiar to me as a city and I know it well, so it makes sense as a setting for my books.

Dagmar: What is your favorite holiday tradition in your home?
Debbie: I have three favorite traditions. The first one is that I take the kids to a giving tree and let them pick out a name on the tree, and then they can pick out something in the store that they think would be a good gift. It’s precious to see them use the money carefully, and try to buy the best thing for each child.

A second is that usually the first Friday in December our families get together and make all sorts of mixes to go in mason jars. There are soup mixes, drink mixes, seasoning or rub mixes, as well as cookies and candies. Then the children help to decorate the jars, and they take them home to give to their neighbors , friends, postman, or teacher.

A third tradition is a progressive dinner: appetizers at a daughter’s, soup at another daughter’s, and end at grandpa and grandma’s house, Debbie and her husband Wayne, where they play bingo the last Saturday before Christmas.

Dagmar: How do you typically decorate your home for the holidays?
Debbie: Well, I love Christmas, and I hire decorators to come and put up everything every year. I have six Christmas trees, and each is themed such as Santa Claus tree, music tree, and an angel tree, among others.

With one of the decorated trees at the book signing
With one of the decorated trees at the book signing

This striking Silverado Slim tree was the second of two trees I decorated for the event, with purple ornaments and our Glitter Gold Christmas tree ribbon, a color scheme inspired by the book’s cover. The copy of Dashing Through the Snow seen here nestled among the foliage is signed by Debbie and will be raffled off by Balsam Hill on a future date. Watch out for updates regarding that exciting giveaway!

It was very fulfilling to be able to create the beautiful Christmas displays for this very special event. It was also heartwarming to hear Debbie’s joy as she talked about their family’s beloved Yuletide traditions. Come back again soon for more photos from the event, and for more from the bestselling author herself.