November 18, 2016

Home for the holidays


Story & Styling  Nikki Renshaw
Photos  Janis Nicolay 

taggart_9733At Christmastime, there is no better place than home for CTV news anchor Tamara Taggart and her young family.

“We look forward to the winter holidays more than any other time of the year,” says Taggart, co-host of CTV Vancouver’s News at Six. “This is when we hunker in at home, surrounded by friends and family.”

Home for Taggart, her husband Dave Genn, lead guitarist with Canadian band 54-40, and their three children, Beckett, 9, Zoë, 8, and Poppy 6, is a light-filled, Craftsman-style house in a leafy Vancouver neighbourhood. Decorated in a pastel palette of white, rose pink and pale aqua, their home mixes contemporary furnishings with vintage pieces and a large collection of family photos and paintings, many by Genn’s father, the renowned Canadian artist Robert Genn, who passed away two years ago. It is a comfortable, well-loved family home.

“We love being at home,” says Taggart. “That’s why we never go away over the holidays.”

With Taggart’s demanding TV career and a hectic work schedule that often takes Genn away on tour, it is a priority for the couple to take time off to be together over Christmas and New Year. “It’s non-negotiable,” says Taggart. “We hang out as a family, watching movies in our pjs. We’ll head up to the local mountains for the day to play in the snow, but we stick very close to home.”

We always have a real tree. I love the smell of pine.
For me it epitomizes Christmas.”

tamara taggart

The festive season starts for the Genns in mid-December when they host their annual open house, a tradition Taggart began over two decades ago. “I started it when I was living in a tiny apartment before I met Dave,” she explains. “We never miss a year.”


Christmas can get so fake and disposable. We live in the most
beautiful part of the world, surrounded by exceptional nature,
so I bring that into my home instead.”

On the same Saturday every December, the Genns invite friends to drop by for food and drinks. Taggart serves her signature cocktail, a French 75 with pink Champagne, and the event can go on until the early hours. “The kids spend the night at Grandma’s,” she says. “There can be sore heads in the morning!”

Another long-held tradition is taking their children to pick out their Christmas tree. “They take it very seriously,” Taggart says. “It can take a loooonnng time for them all to agree.” She adds: “We always have a real tree. I love the smell of pine. For me it epitomizes Christmas.”

Once the tree is home, the decorations are unpacked and the tree trimming begins. Armed with hot chocolate and marshmallows, the children choose their favourite ornaments and hang them on the tree. The selection includes decorations that have been handed down by both families as well as new ones that Taggart adds every year. “I have some that were my mom’s when she was a child, and others that Dave had growing up. I have a nativity ornament that I’ve had as long as I can remember. It’s very special to me.”

taggart_9520revisedTaggart’s collection of vintage woodland animals comes out at this time of the year, taking centre stage on her elegant gold and glass coffee table, alongside tiny natural brush trees. “I’m kind of obsessed,” she confesses. “I can’t resist them.”

The Genns like to keep their seasonal decor simple and natural. “Christmas can get so fake and disposable,” says Taggart. “We live in the most beautiful part of the world, surrounded by exceptional nature, so I bring that into my home instead.”

A eucalyptus wreath hangs on the front door, while olive leaf wreaths are placed in the front hall and in the family room. Pinecones and winter greenery adorn the living room mantle, and a tabletop pine tree is decorated with a single string of lights. “The scents and textures last all season and even look great dried after the holidays are over,” she says.

They wrap gifts in plain brown kraft paper with hand-made pompoms, and their advent calendar is a wooden tree with small drawers filled with tiny stuffed animals that they bring out year after year. “Beckett, Zoë and Poppy take turns opening the calendar drawers, which reinforces patience and sharing,” Taggart says. “Christmas can get crazy, so it’s good to teach them how to wait.”

Baking is also a big part of the family’s festivities. Both grandmas join the family to offer a helping hand in their newly renovated all-white kitchen. On Christmas Eve, Beckett, Zoë and Poppy decorate a gingerbread house and bake sugar cookies for Santa. “Last year we had to leave carrots out in the front yard for the reindeer,” Taggart says with a laugh. “They were concerned they might get so hungry they wouldn’t be able to fly.”

Every year, Taggart and Genn host Christmas for their extended family, many of whom live out of town. “My brother lives in Panama, Dave’s brother lives in Toronto and his sister is based in New York,” says Taggart.  “With three small children, it makes sense for us to have everyone here. The kids can go off and play, while the adults can relax and enjoy catching up with each other.”

On Christmas Eve, close friends join the family for an intimate dinner and last-minute gift-wrapping. “Dave and my brother always end up in the basement, away from prying eyes, surrounded by mountains of gifts, and wrapping paper,” Taggart says. “It’s pretty chaotic.”

The celebrations continue right through until Boxing Day when the family spends the entire day in pyjamas, eating leftovers and playing games. “I think I love Boxing Day best of all,” she says. “It’s really what family Christmas is all about.” •


taggart_9713Tamara Taggart’s
holiday favourites

Favourite decoration:
“A wooden nativity tree decoration
I’ve had since I was a child.”

Favourite drink:
French 75 with pink Champagne

Favourite food:
Her brother’s Christmas
morning breakfast.

Favourite winter
“Paper whites.
They smell so good.”

Favourite Christmas
Secret Santa

Favourite Christmas
Mary’s Boy Child
by Boney M 

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