"I said, 'We don't have a parlor,'" he said.
Much less a parlour.
At one time a parlor was associated with an old-fashioned sitting room or formal living room where kids were banned.
Well, times have changed.
Toby and Michelle Weller's living and dining area is their parlor and romping ground for daughters Isabelle, 5, and Abigail, 4.
Their rambler is one of eight stops on the self-guided tour that includes five private houses and the society's cabin, museum and holiday bazaar.
If the Weller girls get their way, visitors on the tour will also get to see their bright, fun bedrooms.
The girls inherit their enthusiasm for decorating from their mom, who gleans ideas from Pinterest and blogs such as younghouselove.com.
"My wife is the creative genius," Toby Weller said.
The couple commutes to Seattle for work, but family life revolves around Snohomish, where they moved in 2005.
A bowl on the sofa table displays photo holiday cards from the first year Isabelle was born.
On the wall is the biggest Advent calendar in town, maybe in the county.
It's a chalkboard laced by twine with clothespins holding brown paper lunch sacks numbered for every day until Christmas
Michelle Weller, a media buyer for an ad agency, snagged the basic idea online and her husband made it happen. It helped that he's a prepress/graphic designer for a commercial printing company. He cut the backing in the ornate shape of last year's family holiday card and coated it with chalkboard paint.
The calendar not only adds a festive accent to the room, it drives the girls wild with curiosity about what's inside those bags.
In the bags, opened daily, are lip glosses, treats and notes with things to do, such as paint their nails in holiday colors or pile in the car to look at the holiday lights.
After the holidays, the board can function as a chalkboard.
"The girls love chalkboards," their dad said.
"I have a smartboard at my school," Isabelle said.
On the coffee table are snow globes made from canning jars.
"You shake it," Abigail said, showing how it works.
The tree and penguin figure inside her jar get doused by glitter when flipped around.
"Mine has a horse," Isabelle said, "'cause it's my favorite animal."
The room's centerpiece is the 8-foot tree.
The tradition is to go to Stocker Farms the weekend after Thanksgiving.
"It's vote by committee," Toby Weller said. "We chop it down and have a little ceremony right there and put it on the car. We bring it in and introduce it to the house for a day."
Then it's time to attack it with ornaments.
"Each year we put them on the tree, and we can look back on all the items we made," Michelle Weller said. "It's collecting memories."
New this year are animal ornaments that began as inexpensive plastic animals from a 24-pack tube. The figures are painted glossy white, then hooked with bright ribbon to hang on the tree.
"It's nice that the girls are a little older," their dad said, "so all the ornaments aren't all a foot and half from the bottom."
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take the tour
What: The Snohomish Historical Society's annual parlor tour features five private homes decorated for the holidays, plus the Blackman House Museum, Kikendall Cabin and Waltz Building.
When: The tour will be held noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: Tickets are $15 for adults; $12 for those older than 62 and younger than 12.
Advance tickets are available at Kusler's Pharmacy and Gifts, Annie's on First, McDaniel's Do-it Center, Speckled Hen and Joyworks, and tour day at the Waltz Building, 116 Ave. B.
More information: 360-568-5235 or snohomishhistoricalsociety.org
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