A Grinch of a tornado destroyed most of the Ken and Marybeth Jenkins family's outdoor Christmas decorations days before the 2014 holiday.
This year, thanks to Hallmark Channel, the Jenkinses' Amite home is once again decked out inside and out in red, green, gold and white.
The family won the grand prize in the network's "Home & Family's" first Holiday Home Decoration Sweepstakes. Twenty finalists were chosen randomly from more than 100,000 entries, and viewer votes decided the winner. The home's holiday makeover will be revealed on the "Home & Family" show Tuesday, with sneak peeks of the family's reaction to the makeover airing between Christmas movies this weekend.
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Ken Jenkins entered the family — sons Dale Wolfe, 24; Rhett Wolfe, 16; Reece Wolfe, 14; Parker, 10; and daughter, Ella Rose, 15 months — in the sweepstakes. Ken Jenkins works in physical therapy, while his wife is a counselor.
"The entry was multifaceted. Initially, it was just filling out an online form and submitting. … Then my little blurb was something about some of our decorations being destroyed during a storm. Also that I had not replenished my supply due to expense but that I love decorating for Christmas. When I retire, I would like to be Santa Claus," Ken Jenkins said.
The family was doubly blessed the day of the tornado, however, Jenkins said. They weren't home when the storm hit, and their house itself wasn't damaged.
"We had a manger that was blown apart and crushed several Nativity figures; lights were pulled from along the roof of the porch and hanging; two large holographic candy canes were blown down into puddles of water never to work again; and Santa and his reindeer were pulled from their anchors and across the yard," he said.
A few weekends ago, "Home & Family" DIY expert Kenneth Wingard and his elves arrived in Amite.
"I have a very sort of amorphic style, so I have to see the house and meet the people first," Wingard said of the design process. "And the Jenkinses are so warm and loving, with all of those great kids in this beautiful, sort of traditional house with this wrap-around porch, so I went very traditional but an updated traditional, if you will. So inside, it's reds and golds, burgundies and golds, lots of garland, but then mixing in oversized glass ornaments with the garland, sort of keeping it traditional but making it modern for them."
Wingard oversaw the three-day holiday transformation, in which Hallmark teamed up with home decor company Balsam Hill and Toyota. In addition to the Balsam Hill pieces the Hallmark team of about 50 brought with them, Wingard also used decorations purchased locally once they were here.
"I think we bought them out of every garland and frosted tree they had," Wingard said as he stood in the Jenkinses' front yard Nov. 7.
Workers were still on the tin roof stringing the last of the white lights, while others checked to see that the gold reindeer were ready for takeoff.
Decor includes five giant wreaths hanging from porch, three smaller wreaths in the upper windows, 11 frosty white trees, four sets of reindeer and potted artificial red poinsettias surrounding the large lighted tree in the center of the yard.
Inside, the entryway and family room also got dressed for the holidays.
"They have a beautiful, 2-foot-high stone fireplace, so my main goal is that is the showpiece of this house," Wingate said, "and we have everything around that beautiful flagstone chimney."
When it comes to decorating your own home, Wingard offered this advice: "Limit the colors to two or three, limit materials to three or four. If you do that, you've got a framework that you're not going to sort of go off the path of."
So how do you know when the room's finished?
"I don't think you're ever finished," he said. "Now, this came from my mom. She would leave some of the last decorating until a couple of days before because the process of decorating is also joyful. So I remember the night before Christmas Eve, we'd always hang the candy canes on the tree. I think with Christmas, you're never really done, and you shouldn't be. Get the basics done, and then let the rest happen over the course of the holidays."
The Jenkinses usually start decorating mid-November, Ken Jenkins said.
"We have many things to do over the six weeks we are celebrating," he said. "There are some movies that we watch as a family; we bake plenty of cookies for Santa and ourselves; we have a day with my side of the family, several church events, presents Christmas morning before we go to my wife's family for lunch and more gifts.
"And it all begins with prayer, singing 'Happy Birthday' to Jesus, my brother-in-law reading the Christmas Scripture from the bible and us singing a couple of carols before letting the kids get into their presents. So for us, Christmas just isn't a day."
'Home & Family'
WHEN: 9 a.m. Tuesday
CHANNEL: Hallmark Channel (cable Channel 62)