The Decorated Tree: A Design Book for All Seasons

Dec 16 2015

by Catherine Hamrick

330px-The-Decorated-Tree-by-Darryl-MolandI knew Darryl Moland was a genius the first time we collaborated on a layout at Cooking Light magazine. Those were heady days—we had just graduated from the mother ship Southern Living to join the startup team of Southern Progress Corporation’s first national culinary title. As the assistant art director, he inspired me (word nerd/copy chief) with his sensitivity to line, color, composition, photography, and photo styling.  Put it this way: Darryl could transform a pile of raw vegetables and fruits into a rarefied still life. What’s more, he displayed brilliant word sense, suggesting headlines, underlines, captions, and cover blurbs with zing. If I got stuck on a transition, he came up with a lovely turn of phrase. That’s when I learned that the heart of a literary soul beats within a visual artist.

It’s no wonder that this Renaissance man came up with a stunning coffee-table book that celebrates design every season of the year. It presents the best of the best from Darryl’s well-loved blog. The title says it all—The Decorated Tree: A Modern Ritual Celebrating the Seasons.

“The Christmas tree is a symbol of love, not money. There's a kind of glory to them when they're all lit up that exceeds anything all the money in the world could buy.” ― Andy Rooney, Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit
Winter Wish plays it cool against the hot, lush tones of Fire & Ice.

“There’s more than one reason to celebrate the season,” Darryl says. “The decorated tree is a natural way to make it festive and fun. Rely on combining decorations that speak your language and you’ll find a pleasing holiday aesthetic along the way.” Then he fulfills this promise with 30+ designs that take you through spring, summer, fall, and winter in an array of themes and moods. In other words, there is something for everyone, whatever his or her aesthetic taste.

The Decorated Tree is a loving tribute to Darryl’s mom, who nurtured his talents,  always encouraging his natural creativity to decorate the family tree. “I eventually took over the task each year until I went away to college and embarked on my life away from home,” Darryl remembers.  “It wasn’t a chore at all for me—I would lose myself in all the lights and glitter.”  Within a few years, he became the community expert on tree decorating. Neighbors and relatives waited breathlessly for his creations at Christmas, and soon he was trimming a second, even third, tree for the house.

Darryl deftly changes the mood so you’re never bored: Endless Summer, St. Patrick’s Day Tree (Faith, Hope, Love & Luck), Tree of Dreams, and Good Eggs.

The book has turned plenty of heads (Google the title and praise galore pops up). When it debuted, tastemaker Matthew Mead posted a review with unbridled enthusiasm and dubbed Darryl “King of the Forest.” (Click the link to turn up 10 show-stopping trees!)

The author’s creations (embellished by objects from his personal collections) and moving words (often drawn from memory) make quite the holiday package. Here’s another idea—it’s the perfect wedding gift for a bride waiting to connect with her inner muse so she, too, can devise a lifetime of new rituals for her own family.


For more information plus Darryl’s latest creations for Christmas 2015, visit The Decorated Tree Facebook Page. Or drop by his publisher’s site for a preview. No surprise there–it’s a staff pick: “Embellish each season with The Decorated Tree—holiday fantasy intertwined with the rich symbolism of nature. A time-honored Yuletide ritual has become a modern tradition any time of year. Accompanied by 183 inspiring full-color images, this book will become your decorating resource for every holiday, every year.”


A parting notion: if you want to send the coolest Christmas card ever by email to your artsy friends, the book is available in pdf format.

Happy reading & joyful decorating now and in 2016.

Catherine Hamrick blogs at Random Storyteller and Catherine Hamrick, Soul Deep Storyteller.


Catherine Hamrick View More Blog Posts from this Author

After a few years as a copywriter for the Southern Living Advertising Department, editor and writer Catherine Hamrick learned her craft in the magazine and book divisions of media giants Time Inc. and Meredith Corporation. She taught writing, literature, public speaking, and business communication at the university level. As a freelancer, Catherine has tackled "almost every topic but porn and physics" and has managed editorial projects or co-authored branded books for imprints such as Southern Living, Oxmoor House, Meredith Books, Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home, Country Home, Midwest Living, The Home Depot, Ortho, and Lark Publishing. Certified in social media marketing, she coaches students and professionals in writing resumes, cover letters, and online profiles. She is also a ghostwriter—that is, a professional keeper of secrets. Connect @ChamrickWriter or drop by her blogs: Random Storyteller ( and Catherine Hamrick: Writer, Editor, Social Media Human (

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4 responses on “The Decorated Tree: A Design Book for All Seasons

    1. Catherine Hamrick Post author

      Thank you for the opportunity to write about your book. I felt so at home reviewing it. The Southern Coterie is all about connecting, collaborating & creating. Keep us posted on your great writing & design.

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