Philbert opens home for Christmas tour for last timeFree Access

Photo by Matt Johnson
Elna Philbert is shown next to one of her many Christmas trees which decorate her house. She calls the Christmas trees her “passion.”

Step into Elna Philbert’s home in Mariposa, and it’s like you’re walking into a winter wonderland.

Those who visit the home on Guadalupe Creek Road tell her it is “unbelievable.”

Some of her friends wonder if she is “crazy.”

But for Elna Philbert, Christmas has become a time to decorate her home in a way most people can’t even fathom.

Philbert, 92, has 35 Christmas trees set up throughout her house to celebrate the season, and for the public to enjoy during the Soroptimist’s annual Christmas Home Tour.

Each tree has a different theme. One features authentic family treasures. One is decked out with Hallmark Barbie ornaments, while another Cowboy-themed tree pays tribute to John Wayne.

“I enjoy this time of year,” Philbert said. “The home tour gets people started into the Christmas spirit, or spirit of the season, and gives them decorating ideas. It’s a nice social event for people to visit with each other.”

The past president of the local Soroptimist group has opened her home 23 of the last 24 years for the public to enjoy during the tour. The one year she didn’t host a tour at her home, it’s only because she wanted to tour the other homes.

This year, however, will be her final year of hosting.

“It’s become too much of a challenge at age 92,” Philbert said.

Some of the trees left all year long in her living room, because she rarely uses that room, and she gets a little help from her Soroptimist friends, as well  her good friend, Trent Williams.

But it takes months of decorating in order to be ready for the tour. She will usually start in July.

“I used to do it all by myself but that day has passed,” Philbert said. “But I wouldn’t be doing it all this time if I didn’t enjoy it.”

She started decorating her home with the large number of trees it after her husband, Richard, passed away many years ago.

“It was a diversion for me, something to keep me busy,” Philbert said.

None of the trees are real, except for one real tree which she purchases every year as a tradition.

Philbert said she will decorate “a little bit” next year.

“I might put up 30 trees instead of 35,” she joked. “I am giving away trees to friends and people who have helped me.”

Even though she might not have as many trees next year, you can be sure Elna Philbert will find a way to celebrate the holiday she loves in her own unique way.

Matt Johnson is Sports and Education Editor of the Mariposa Gazette and can be reached at

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