Deck the Halls

Becki Goodloe couldn’t find stores that sold Black Christmas decorations. So she started her own.

December 2022

Reading time min

Goodloe surrounded by several black nutcrackers

Photo: Brandon Heath

Like all good Christmas stories, this one begins with a gift. When Becki Roberts Goodloe, ’86, started her family, her mother gave her two Black nutcrackers she’d had for years. The 3½-foot-tall soldiers made regular appearances in the Goodloes’ Christmas cards, which sparked another tradition: friends asking Goodloe where she’d found those beautiful nutcrackers with brown skin. In her parents’ time, Goodloe says, “you had to buy something with a white face and paint it.” She and her husband, Paul, would like to have referred their friends to stores that sold Black nutcrackers, but they couldn’t find any. So they opened one themselves. In 2010, Goodloe launched Christmas in Color, an online store that sells Black nutcrackers, Santas, angels, ornaments, and Nativity scenes.

The first year came with hiccups. The nutcrackers Goodloe had ordered arrived with Black skin, silver facial hair—and blue eyes. “It didn’t occur to me to say, ‘Hey, you know, they’ve got to be brown eyes,’ ” she says. That season, the Goodloes learned how to paint eyes onto nutcrackers. Christmas in Color is a family enterprise: Paul organizes shipping plans and the couple’s two teenage sons help with inventory and local deliveries. They operate out of their house in the Atlanta suburbs, storing their stock in the basement and filling 300 to 500 orders each year, with most pouring in between October and January. (In 2020, that number jumped to 700 as pandemic-weary consumers flocked online.)

‘She literally sold me out within a couple of hours by calling people.’

A lot has changed since Goodloe started the business, and Black Christmas decorations can now be found in many stores. Yet she believes that the quality, curation, and variety of products offered by Christmas in Color keep customers coming back. “I think there’s still a lot of people who like going to one place rather than going from retailer to retailer to find the perfect decoration.”

Goodloe’s goal for Christmas in Color was for everyone to have holiday decorations that represent them. Once, a friend dropped by to find a Santa that resembled her family, who have darker skin. “She bought those and then told all of her friends. She literally sold me out within a couple of hours by calling people,” Goodloe says, adding that it has been particularly moving to see people of her parents’ generation find Christmas decorations that match their skin tones. “They buy the most. Not because they need it but because they’re just so happy. They now have the option to buy.”

Jacqueline Munis, ’25, is a former editorial intern at Stanford.

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