Thursday, November 10, 2011


Have you attended or hosted a tour of homes during the Christmas holidays?  I saw my first one advertised today.  

Just exactly what does a Christmas tour of homes do for me?  It's a nippy little afternoon running from car to homes; made all the better if it's snowing.  It's inspiration to get out my Christmas boxes and over-decorate every nook and corner.  It's a chance to see beautiful homes dressed to their best.  It's always made better if accompanied by good friends.

What exactly does it do for the hosts?  It forces a major cleaning and repair frenzy.  It allows sharing the collection of holiday decorations amassed over a lifetime.  It's a time for heightening holiday cheer. 

I enjoy the modernistic, the traditional, the over-the-top, the natural, the artificial, the real and the "what were they thinking?" approach to decorating.   

I enjoy wondering the meaning of one-hundred and forty-five little snowmen, a tree in the bathroom, an orange and purple theme, an old snow globe,  and how they're going to clean up that artificial powdered snow.

I like the smell of fresh pine trees and decorations, the smell of pumpkin pie (every tour home has some good smell going) and how the approach to the home if often bountifully decorated.
A couple of things I've seen from the gardens:  

Evergreen and holly used in abundance in window boxes, planters, over windows, on mantels, tables and on doors.

Get your amaryllis, cactus, poinsettias, and other live flowers just before the tour to prevent missing prime bloom dates.  Don't position them near the doors where visitors are coming and going.  Don't set beside head sources.  They will get freeze or heat burns and wilt/die. 

Live trees are wonderful for tours, but, they will definitely not make it through to Christmas.  Plan on replacing with another tree within the month.  Same with live greens inside the house.  They will all be highly flammable when they dry.

Decorations on a fireplace mantel should be well away from the fire and heat.  Not only for preserving the beauty but it's a fire hazard.  No tour of homes should be interrupted by a visit from the fire department.

Have plenty of family and friends on hand to help manage the crowd and make sure there are no items stolen or damaged.
If you're a gardener, it's fun to incorporate herbs and spices, dried leaves and flower heads into arrangements.  And then, there's the all important pine cones!  Put the pine cones in a plastic bag and in the freezer for a couple of days.  This will kill all insects hiding in the little crevices.  Then, lay them on a newspaper for a few days to let them open and the sap to run out without staining your home surfaces later.

It's alright to have some rooms "off limits" and that can be accomplished by hanging a pretty red bow on the door handle and thumb tacking the end to the door frame.  I've seldom seen a teenager's room open for a tour - there are just some things that would be impossible - cleaning, decorating and their need for privacy.

The most important thing for Christmas home tour guests and hosts is to have a good merry time.
“The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!" ~ Charles N. Barnard, American author, travel writer
(The same might be said for holiday tour of homes!)

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