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Summerside family paints front windows each year to kick off the holidays

Holly, foreground, and sister Nicole touch up faded spots on the windows of their painted Christmas display. This year’s was ‘Santa’s Apprentice’.
Holly, foreground, and sister Nicole touch up faded spots on the windows of their painted Christmas display. This year’s was ‘Santa’s Apprentice’. - Millicent McKay

The family started painting their windows more than 10 years ago

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Nicole Winchester and her sister gently touch their paintbrushes to the windows. The bristles transfer colours of yellow, white, blue and red as they go.

“It’s become a family tradition to paint our front windows with Christmas inspired themes,” said their mom, Yvette.

Missing from this year’s annual painting party was sister Taylor.

“It was a little lonely without her,” said Nicole.

Yvette added with a chuckle, “She didn’t get back from school until Dec. 16, and we couldn’t wait until then.”

Yvette and her sister, Anne Gallant, started painting the windows of their Summerside home in 2006.

“The first year was just three Christmas pictures that we liked,” said Yvette. “But as it continued, the girls would pick the themes or inspiration for the windows.”

Each of the three windowpanes went towards telling the story of a movie or a book.

This year’s theme was based on “Santa’s Apprentice,” a 2010 animated movie about an orphaned boy who is selected to become Santa’s successor when he retires.

The Winchester's 'Santa's Apprentice' display from Christmas 2017.
The Winchester's 'Santa's Apprentice' display from Christmas 2017.

The Winchester sisters decided to make it their own in 2015.

“Taylor decided she was going to do it, so we kind of had a trial run at Halloween, drawing Halloweentown from ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ as like a prequel to our Christmas theme,” said Nicole.

The project takes about two to three days to complete and countless bottles of paint each year.

“We clear out the paint section in the dollar stores. We throw a bit of dish soap into the paint and then get to work. It comes off without a problem after that,” said Holly.

Usually Nicole picks the theme, but in the end it’s a team effort.

“My favourite part is the planning part and creating a concept, because I can’t draw,” Nicole said with a smile.

“Each year the themes have grown and changed as we have — it’s really fun,” she added.

In 2017, they painted their windows with the silhouette of the Pennywise clown from the popular Stephen King book and movie adaptation “IT.”

“Taylor wasn’t a big fan of that,” said Yvette.

Holly’s favourite part of the annual painting sessions is getting the lines drawn and losing herself in the Christmas music that’s playing.

“The first sketch is the hardest part and it takes forever to get everything just right,” said Holly. “But listening to the carols, you get into the zone and that’s really fun.”

Yvette feels lucky her daughters have continued the tradition.

“It’s great. I love watching them do it all. It started with my sister and me and now it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s their project, I’ll go bake some cookies.’

“I’m lucky my daughters are so artistic.”

Holly’s favourite display was “A Nightmare Before Christmas” because they did it for two events, while Nicole’s was “Mickey’s A Christmas Carol,” because it was one of her favourite childhood movies.

“My favourite has to be our Charlie Brown display from a few years back, solely for nostalgic reasons.”

Now Nicole and Holly are gearing up to clean the window again until next year.

“It’s something we look forward to all year long,” said Holly.


Window displays over the years:

– 2006: Favourite Christmas drawings

– 2007: "Frosty the Snowman"

– 2008: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

– 2009: "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

– 2010: "Dora the Explorer"

– 2011: Disney themed Christmas

– 2012: "Mickey’s A Christmas Carol"

– 2013: "Frozen"

– 2014: "The Nutcracker’"

– 2015: "Nightmare Before Christmas"

– 2016: A Muppet’s Christmas

– 2017: "Santa’s Apprentice"

– Halloween 2017: "IT"

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