Sharing the season – by Diane Morey Sitton

Make an entrance using baskets, foliage and colorful ornaments. Tie it all together with wide, red ribbon. All images by Diane Morey Sitton.

The sparkle of lights, the fragrance of fresh wreaths and Christmas trees, the camaraderie of the season: it was all on display during the 25th annual CASA of the Pines Christmas Tour of Homes in Lufkin, Texas—one of my favorite holiday events.

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During the holidays fill a wall basket with foliage and berry sprays.
Collections are fun, especially when the nutcrackers are constructed from painted flower pots.

Besides discovering festive ways to embellish entrances; new ways and places to display Santas, music boxes, Christmas teapots and other holiday collections; simple ways to decorate porches and patios using natural materials; imaginative ways to create holiday color palettes that complement existing interiors (be it a pink bedroom or a woodsy-brown loft); and practical ways to personalize holiday décor using family heirlooms or other meaningful items, tour-goers attending the fund-raising event helped a good cause. CASA of the Pines (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a social service organization that trains community volunteers to advocate on behalf of children in crisis.

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There’s no better time than the holidays to display family heirlooms, like this 1934-era, poinsettia-inspired quilt, a meticulously-pieced work of art quilted by hand. Click image for larger view.
It’s easy to transform a bird theme into a holiday theme…just add red accessories. Click image for larger view.

Highlights at the Neill home included heirloom quilts, animated Christmas toys, and ornaments crafted from vintage costume jewelry, among other family holiday keepsakes. The Crawford residence featured cozy porches decked out in greenery and repurposed “finds”, a garage decorated with jigsaw puzzles, and Christmas “trees” made from every imaginable item including Christmas tree stands stacked one on top of another. At the Morris residence folks were treated to collections: nutcrackers, music boxes and Dickens villages, not to mention stained glass and clocks. The Shafers welcomed tour-goers beside their garland-laced staircase and towering Christmas tree, both adorned in glorious gold and white.

Even an old tractor can dress up for the holidays! Click image for larger view.

Many tour-goers ended the evening at Knotin Top Venue where a large porch with multiple fire pit tables provided an ideal setting to enjoy refreshments and watch folks take photos at the antique tractor, decorated like Santa’s sleigh in red and green garlands.

Save a tree by making one from Christmas tree stands.

If you haven’t yet discovered the fun of attending holiday tours, you are in for a treat. Besides helping good causes, you acquire ideas and a good dose of holiday spirit.

This vibrant red tree seems to say, “Berry Christmas.”

Tips for attending holiday home tours
Usually, slightly discounted (non-refundable) tickets are sold in advance at specific locations and online. Otherwise, purchase a ticket on tour day either at one of the featured homes or at a central ticket location (check the sponsor’s website for specific information.)
It’s common for hosting organizations to include a tour map or written directions with ticket purchase. Directional signs posted at key intersections near each house are helpful, too. If you are unfamiliar with the neighborhoods, enter the addresses into your phone or GPS. Plan ahead to avoid backtracking.
It’s best to ask permission before taking photos (both indoors and outdoors).
Wear practical, low-heeled shoes to avoid twilight trips, and bring a jacket. Use a small flashlight or your phone to illuminate curbs and parking areas after sunset.
Carry a few extra dollars. Sometimes hosting organizations sell small gift items (bags of homemade cookies, candy or ornaments) as additional fund raisers.

Posted by Diane Morey Sitton
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