A Coastal Holiday Gathering Place

The ‘Bernard Resort’ welcomes a steady stream of family and friends who share a love of fun-filled traditions

Written by Kristen Hampshire  |  Photography by Jill Jasuta

“I’m a forager — a floral designer — and I often get inspiration from magazines and try to replicate those ideas,” says Jeanne Bernard, who takes an organic approach to decking her Dorchester County halls. “I love incorporating natural elements. If you were to come to my house today, you’d see a hornet’s nest on my hutch, birds’ nests, plants… and I carry that through in my holiday decorating.” 

In 1997, the Bernards bought the property, which had a modest home on it. Ten years later, the couple decided to build a family home that adult children, grandchildren and friends could enjoy too. “Once we put a pool in this summer, it became the Bernard Resort,” she said. 

Jeanne Bernard enjoys adorning her home with decor collected over the years, some of which has been inspired by her children and grandchildren.

The holidays are also bustling times and chock- full of celebration. As an interfaith family, the Bernards celebrate Christmas and Hannukah. From keeping tradition with a 12-course Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner to spreading the joy with wooden nutcrackers the kids love, the couple are preparing for yet another joyous season at their coastal gathering place.

Shifting From Fall to Fa-La-La
As the leaves change, Bernard decorates with gourds, branches she clips from the property, dried foliage and pinecones. When Thanksgiving passes, the autumn theme transitions to a merry atmosphere, and she’ll repurpose found items as she pulls out Christmas boxes. The same occurs outdoors. “I transition container plantings using lots of greenery and sticks and sometimes ornaments or ribbon,” she said. Her double front door serves as a canvas for an oyster-shell-and-pinecone garland she created with complementary wreathes. “The wreathes I make with our garden club in our annual workshop,” she shared. 

A Nutcracker Lineup
The Bernards frequently traveled to Germany on business and always brought home a wooden nutcracker doll. “My husband also loves to go to auctions, and one time he found a huge box of broken nutcrackers,” she said. “They were missing arms, legs, eyes or something. So, we spent a whole winter in ‘nutcracker hospital,’ where he would repair the carpentry, and I would paint or make a new cape.”

The grandchildren adore the nutcracker collection, which includes about 40 colorful and intricate dolls. “They use them to tell stories and do a lot of imaginative play,” Bernard said. “One year, I didn’t get them out, and they said, ‘Grammy, where are the nutcrackers?’ so we had to go find them.” 

Fun for Everyone
Green is Bernard’s favorite color, and holiday decor always incorporates the hue. She also focuses mostly on displaying decor collected over the years. “It is inspired by my kids and grandchildren,” she said, pointing to whimsical gingerbread houses and candy trees. By the mantle where seven stockings hang is a Chesapeake Bay “crabby tree,” with old-world ornaments collected from travels. Bernard also works in family photographs and decorates a garden tree — her favorite pastime, aside from enjoying family. “I like things that bring smiles to their faces,” she said. CS

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