Neighbor Feature: Alicia’s Christmas Wonderland

Tara Wheeler, Owner

In a year when none of us have been able to visit with neighbors as much as we’d like, we want to give a behind-the-scenes peek into a fun, festive project that a local Delawarean has undertaken this season.

Drip Cafe, Newark
Drip Cafe, Newark

We’ll start at the beginning – Alicia Neel studied pastry arts and graduated top of her class from the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College. She worked at Hotel Dupont for 10 years, and then transitioned to working part-time for Wilmington University as she started her family with her high school sweetheart. Alicia is now a proud mama to three children who are 5, 8 and 10.

And even though her career has shifted, the creative spirit that led her to pursue pastry arts still lives on. Now one of the ways Alicia channels this artistic energy is by decorating for the Christmas season – and we mean really decorating. From the picture-perfect cookies to her multiple trees, these displays are just waiting to grace the cover of a Home & Garden issue.

We asked her a few questions to learn more about this fun passion project: 

Tara: How did you get started decorating so thoroughly for Christmas? Have you always loved decorating?
Alicia: As far back as I can remember Christmas has always held a special place in my heart, inspired by my Puerto Rican mother’s love for the holiday. I am a “go big or go home” kind of girl, and the Neel family loves to go BIG! I find decorating for the holidays therapeutic. I like taking certain decorations or ornaments that have been handed down and retelling the memories to my kids.

T: When do you typically start decorating for Christmas?
A: We typically like to decorate the weekend of Black Friday. However, this year we needed some much earlier cheer! We decided to start the first weekend in November.

T: Where do you find inspiration for your decorations?
A: I love Joanna Gaines and I watch Fixer Upper regularly! I also find the Instagram account @myfauxfarmhouse very inspiring.

T: Where do you buy or find your decorations?
A: I like to get my decorations from all over! I order some online and find others in store. I love to go into Lancaster and visit the little shops in Kitchen Kettle Village. There’s a place called the Treasure Place that I adore. They have amazing custom wood pieces and farmhouse décor.

T: Does everyone in your family love Christmas as much as you?
A: Most of my friends know my husband as Mr. Christmas during the holiday season! His goal in life is to have as much exterior illumination as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!