House-tour fundraiser goes next weekend
Five households to open homes for ‘Help Phone’
Bianca Fusco Zanatta isn’t thinking twice about opening up her palatial Vancouver home to hundreds of strangers at the end of the month: She approached Kids Help Phone to take part in its fifth annual Homes for the Holidays fundraiser.
“I attended last year and since I love helping kids, I thought to myself, this is a great fit,” Fusco Zanatta says. “I am involved in the Girls and Boys Club and we host a Christmas party every year for about 80 children from the eastside.
“To open my house for Homes for the Holidays is something that I can do to help more children in need, and that is really the icing on the cake for me.”
The yearly event pairs interior designers with five homeowners to create fabulous Christmas showpieces, offering the public a chance to view gorgeous homes and pick up a holiday decorating tip or two.
Fusco Zanatta’s residence has not received an outside-designer treatment. It has been lavishly decked out for the holidays by Fusco Zanatta, herself an interior decorator.
An 11-foot spruce, decorated with family heirlooms and homespun decorations, greets visitors from the foyer. Hand-painted nativity scenes on the table in the foyer compete for attention.
Many of the family’s ornaments have been handed down through generations. Others have been found in shops and garden stores.
She carefully picks up an old Waterford green Christmas ball with a ruby in the centre, which came from her beloved grandmother.
Fusco Zanatta bejewelled the dining room fireplace mantel in red velvet, burgundy and gold ornaments and two gold candlesticks, creating an eyecatching focal point.
In the kitchen, the elves have been industriously preparing the gingerbread house with candy and holiday treats.
To create a little more drama, Fusco Zanatta’s alabaster chandeliers in the kitchen and dining room are festooned with garlands and lights.
In the study, guests can reflect on the true meaning of Christmas with her hand-blown collection of the Twelve Days of Christmas glass ornaments.
Besides the hallway tree, there are two other Christmas trees, all with their own theme. The living room tree is all burgundy and gold, adorned with reindeers, oversized red balls and gold bows, keeping with the decor of the formal room, while the family room tree is adorned with large golden and silver balls and lots of tiny clear lights.
With the help of Kerrisdale’s Thomas Hobbs Florists by Maureen Sullivan, the dining room table is adorned with stunning floral centerpieces bursting with deep red, white and green.
Dressed for Christmas Eve’s dinner, the table is set with Versace’s china and crystalware for 12.
The outside is dedicated to the childhood wonder of Christmas and nature. On the ledge of the kitchen patio stand miniature pine trees, while the wrought-iron chairs’ cushions are wrapped to look like Christmas presents. Outside the guest house are two life-sized nutcrackers (from 12-yearold son Angelo’s collection of 68 nutcrackers). Inside, there’s St. Nick’s workshop, festooned with elves busily ensuring all good little boys and girls wake up to a Merry Christmas.
For those lucky first 100 visitors, there will be homemade panettone, a kind of Italian loaf, by Bella Catering.
“Adriana Vescovi [from Bella Catering] used to be the chef at Umberto’s for 15 years and she even taught at his villa in Italy,” Fusco Zanatta says.
Organizers of the Kids Help Phone tour hope to raise $50,000 from this year’s fundraiser. The four previous tours raised more than $180,000.
“ Each year, we have a balance of homes, large and small, traditional and modern, all with different themes,” Kathie Jagger of Kids Help Phone reports. “Also, this event raises awareness of Kids Help Phone.”
(Last year, counsellors helped children in 256 B.C. communities more than 192,000 times by phone and online. Across Canada, there were 2.2 million calls for help).
“We are finding that the economy has created lots of stress for kids and that even more children are reaching out to us for help,” Jagger says. “We have about 100 full-time and part-time professional counsellors working for us.”
Kids phone for many reasons, ranging from issues with school, dating and family, to addiction, abuse and suicide.
“Our counsellors are highly trained and they offer hope to children in need,” says Jagger. “We can also refer them to more than 5,800 community and social services to help children connect with the help they need right in their own community.”
This year’s Homes for the Holidays tour takes place Nov. 28 and 29 from noon to 5 p.m. A passport for self-guided tours costs $40. To purchase tickets, call the Kids Help Phone at 604-2677057 or visit kidshelpphone.ca/homesfortheholidays on the Internet.
Bianca Fusco Zanatta’s home will be among five showcased in Homes for the Holidays, a seasonal fundraiser for Kids Help Phone. Fusco Zanatta, an interior decorator, has dressed her home — in and out — with the magic of Christmas. The dining room table...