By now, surely somebody in the neighborhood has flipped the switch and set off a chain of holiday lights and Santas and reindeer inflatables.
Whether you grumble or bubble with delight at this time of year, it's time to dust off the boxes of decorations.
"It's adding color to the winter. We're already sick of the doldrums and gray skies," said Rich Schell, owner of Rich Design Homes. "I look at Christmas in several ways. It's religious, and it's also full of celebration for family and friends and being with people you enjoy, opening your home and cleaning and decorating."
A few local experts suggest some easy ways to get your home into the holiday spirit.
"It's an ushering out of a year, and looking to a new beginning of a new season," Schell said. "It's almost a celebration of making it one more year."
Walk into many homes around Christmas and there stands the mighty Christmas tree.
"I recommend the native white fir," said Debbie Bradley, co-owner of Harding Nursery. White firs are conifer trees with flat needles 2-3 inches long that are soft to the touch. They have light-colored bark, symetrical branches and a conical shape that make it a perfect looking evergreen tree, according to the website Coloradotrees.org. "They last really well," Bradley said.
Her tip? Don't let the water run out.
"If it runs out, and it (the tree) can't pull up any water," she said, "it starts to seal up at the bottom."
A freshly cut fir tree can last from the beginning of December until March, Schell said. He suggests buying one from a garden center, rather than a grocery store parking lot.
Bradley also likes Noble and Fraser firs. Nobles are deep green and have sturdy branches and needles that aren't too sharp - perfect for hanging ornaments. Fraser firs have 1-inch, soft, silvery-green needles with lots of space between the branches.
The tree decorating process doesn't have to be labor intensive.
"I am always in the less is more category," Schell said. "Get a live tree and put all one color ornaments on it for a beautiful modern look. That would create a major impact, versus mismatched ones (ornaments) all over the tree."
Theme trees are also a popular alternative, and one that allows for plenty of creativity. A few examples found on Pinterest, a content sharing service online, include a candy tree tree, with big lollipop ornaments, gingerbread houses tucked into the branches and pink and white decorations. There's the fake white tree with a musical instrument theme, including lots of hanging gold instrument ornaments and bows.
White fir trees also offer a healthy space between branches for lights near the trunk and plenty of room for ornaments to hang, Schell said.
If it's an apartment being decorated, and there isn't much space, a small tree is another option. Bradley likes to decorate little potted spruce trees, about 3 or 4 feet tall, and place them around the home. Rosemary trees in 4-inch pots can also subsitute.
"I just think they're cute," she said.
Christmas lighting and outdoor decorations
The numerous strings of holiday lights almost make up for the lack of daylight in the winter months, though the electric bill could make you see your own stars.
Neil Fairley, owner of We Hang Christmas Lights, has seen some extremely expensive bills during this time of year. One customer spent $12,000, another forked out $15,000 and a homeowners association once spent $25,000, he said.
"The great thing about lights, if you're a business owner," he said, "is if you have a Christmas party at your home, it's a tax write-off."
The lighting doesn't have to be complicated, he said. Just outline the front of the house with lights, doing both levels if you have them. Use LED bulbs if you can, he said. They're a bit pricier than incandescent bulbs, but the reduction on the utility bill will make up for it.
If it's an apartment, string lights around the railings, or around an outdoor tree or bush near the porch area. And decide if your family is an all-white lights or colored lights type before you start.
"It brings the Christmas spirit," Fairley said. "It's festive looking."
Inflatables and large wire decorations are also an option. Large home improvement stores,such as Home Depot and Lowe's, sell inflatables for the yard. Wire shapes of reindeers, Santa and angels come with lights attached.
Safety first, of course.
"Make sure you calculate the amount of lights you are plugging in to not trip a breaker," Fairley said. "You don't want to blow a fuse. Make sure to secure ladders properly. We've had cases of people stuck on roofs. They call us to finish the job for them."
Flowers, plants and boughs
There's no need to get fancy, just pick up some seasonal plants and flowers.
Robin Boutilier, perennials manager at Good Earth Garden Center, likes the elegant Paperwhite Narcissus and the bright, cheery reds of amaryllis plants.
"They're easy. They're kind of a bouquet," Boutilier said, "although amaryllis can be left potted, and moved outside in the spring. It will bloom again around July."
Mother Nature is also a reliable source for creating inexpensive decorations. Go outside, trim off some pine tree branches and gather some pine cones. Schell likes to fill attractive vases or bowls with pine cones.
Take the boughs and decorate the mantel, Bradley said, or put a candle inside a lantern and set the branches around the outside of it.
Wreaths are a staple during the holiday months. Find one with a 12-inch diamater, and use it as a table centerpiece with a candle or bowl in the center, Boutilier said.
A simple garland can be draped around doors, fireplaces and decks.
Luminarias are an easy way to lend a festive quality to an outdoor walkway. Paper bags are filled with sand and a votive candle. Luminarias can also be made of tin, glass, fishbowls and cardboard carryout containers. Many stores carry electric luminarias, which feature plastic or paper "bags" and an electric light. A 10-pack LumaBase is $32.40 at kohls.com.
Line them up along the sidewalk leading up to the front door or decorate the porch with a few.
Think outside the tree when it comes to ornaments.
If there isn't any room on a dinner table, hang some ornaments from the chandelier, Schell said, or safely hang some votive and tealight candles and do a candlelit dinner party.
"Instead of feeling like you've got to hang an ornament, fill a bowl or tall glass cylinder of balls all the way to the top and create a 24-inch vase with balls," Schell said. "It's beautiful on the dining table. You can do it without flowers."
Contact Jennifer Mulson at 636-0270.