So my Christmas present to one of my really close friends from forever and a day was to gift her a golden ticket for the Surrey Services Holiday Tour & Shops. Not since we were in high school has there been a great Main Line -centric Christmas house tour essentially. One such tour used to be done by Agnes Irwin, and it was called Christmas in the Country. And then, of course, there were the tours of the Fairmount Park houses and you went around in one of those fun trolleys to each house.
Surrey Services should take a bow. The house tour and shops were an amazing experience. Of course I could kick myself, because I meant to bid on a couple of the trees in the enchanted forest before I was leaving, and I completely forgot. But that’s probably my subconscious telling me I have enough new Christmas stuff for this year!
We started out our day in Bryn Mawr and from there we moved to Villanova. We sadly we didn’t get into that Villanova house because the road was quite narrow and the property next-door to the house we were visiting was in some form of construction mayhem, and there were contractor trucks and landscaper trucks all over a very narrow road so there was no place to move to park and we gave up. that is some thing that was beyond that poor homeowners control and certainly beyond Surrey Services control. It’s one of my favorite roads, but truthfully, I had forgotten how narrow it was in spots.
I don’t know what it is about landscaper trucks on the Main Line, but none of them seem to be able to park. And I’m sorry not sorry that I find that incredibly irksome that the homeowner has a perfectly good driveway and you can see that there’s a house tour going on across the road and they can’t pull their truck in the driveway!
The next two houses were in Berwyn, and they were spectacular! We ended our day with another Radnor Township property, which was my favorite house and not just because it was my friend’s home.
All of these homeowners knocked themselves out for all of us on the tour, and the tour sold out quickly. All of the houses were festive and different. One of the things I liked best about each and every house was the fact that I was in homes that aren’t afraid of art and color. I am not a person who lives in a beige, beige world, so I appreciated the vibrancy in these homes. All of these homes had amazing kitchens, incidentally. And I cook so to see these kitchens was just so much fun for me.
My friend, who was on the tour had the most old-school traditional, beautiful and imaginative Christmas ornaments. He is definitely a kindred spirit as to types of ornaments that I personally love.
From all of the houses, I gathered little ideas to tuck away. I have a very small and simple house by comparison, but all of these houses, even if they were bigger than mine had warmth.
As part of the ticket price, we got a wonderful box lunch from Classic Diner. My friend and I had a turkey BLT. There was no room inside Eisenhower Hall at Valley Forge Military to eat when we got there, but it was such a nice day that we literally sat outside on the edge of the bleachers and had a little picnic. And I thought that was fun.
Parking was a bit of an issue at Valley Forge Military . This is the inaugural year for this event and I think they will figure it out but I think the people that were the ticket holders for the whole day should have had primary access to Eisenhower Hall, and when we couldn’t get into the lot, the police officer directing traffic who told us we couldn’t go into the lot was kind of not so nice and all we did was ask was where should we go to park because we didn’t know.
I completely understand how frustrated the officer must have been personally because it was a lot of cars in that area, but I think next year they should have somebody working the gate that only lets people with passes for the full day or whom require handicap access into that lot right there and people that are just shopping at the shops park at the other lot, which I think was across Radnor Street Road.
We ended up parking in a little lot we accessed from further down Eagle Road and the employees from the school couldn’t have been nicer. I will also note that parking would have been easier as well if some people hadn’t literally taken two spaces for one car —-that’s just bad manners.
Now, although I bitched about this a little right here in this post, I also know that because it was a crush it means this event was a huge success! Surrey has created something fantastic!
The enchanted forest, which I had previewed yesterday was amazing. There is literally nothing better to me than being in a great big room, full of fabulous Christmas trees fully decorated! And in the center of the room was a wonderful table, set for a Christmas feast. And the little bar at the end of the room, where the trees were, was serving, mocktails for people to try.
When you went up the steps to the second floor of Eisenhower Hall, you found yourself in a giant room full of fabulously curated vendors. I was thrilled to see some of my friends and their small businesses there, along with getting an opportunity to see and meet other vendors and local small businesses like Main Point Books.
It was just such a wonderful day. As I’m sitting here writing this, I still feel the happy vibe from the day. And that’s how you know you had a really good day.
This event proves to me that the best kinds of events during the holiday season or ones that give you something pretty and do something good. Surrey Services is a favorite in my family. They do such good work and important work. And they have the nicest volunteers and paid staff that you will meet pretty much anywhere. And if you are still looking for Christmas fun, I would suggest their consignment shop in Berwyn. Last time I was in which was a couple of weeks ago the place totally blew my mind because it was so full of so much awesomeness for Christmas and the holidays.
Hey Surrey, sign me up for the 2024 holiday tour !