Another open house success

6000+ visitors. Oh my!

Our first open house was on December 5, 2009. We normally open the doors at 6:30 in the evening. My youngest grandson and I were taking care of some finishing touches on the garage diorama and he wanted something from out front so I did a quick jaunt through the house, out the front door and bumped right into a gentleman standing on the front step. When I looked past him there was a line of people all the way down to the corner, a block and a half away. After recovering from shock since I didn’t expect anyone to be out there, I politely explained that the doors wouldn’t be open for another half hour. To my surprise I heard a chorus of “that’s OK, we’ll wait.” Needless to say, I went in, put the dog and two cats back in the bedroom, grabbed Jordan from the garage, put on our hats and opened the doors. It was just too chilly to leave them all standing out there. The first

Indoor decorations
Indoor decorations

open house was definitely a success with over 600 people coming through in about five hours. We visited with everyone, answered a ton of questions and received many hugs. To the right is what they saw, if they entered thru the front door.

The next two open houses had over 600 visitors each night. Santa even showed up and talked to all the kiddies and some adults, too. There were lots of pictures made, loads of questions asked and plenty of fun had by all. My family just loves participating every year. The grandkids even sold hot chocolate and hot apple cider to the visitors because we had a very chilly December.
One of the primary reasons we purchased this particular home is because it has the perfect layout for an open house. You can stand in front of one wall and see all of the people coming in while also watching all the other rooms.

I just love my new Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eyeore and Piglet animated figures. We drove all the way to San Antonio to get them. They were definitely a hit with the little ones and became one of the traffic congestion areas so we got a chance to pass out candy canes and talk to the folks as they passed by. It made it easy for us and everyone knows where to come if they have questions.
You would be surprised how many people don’t notice my Santa rug until they are standing on it (see below.) It was a gift from my son and grandson in 2008. I don’t know about you but I get Christmas decorations for every gift occasion including Mother’s Day, birthdays and Valentine’s Day. The family says I’m the easiest to shop for. Just get me something Christmas related and I’m a happy camper.
My doll nativity always gets a lot of attention. I’ve had so many visitors want to buy the set, but I refuse to part with it because each doll reminds me of one of my grandchildren. The drummer boy looks just like my third grandson, the large angel looks like my only granddaughter, the oldest and youngest grandsons have look-alike dolls in the shepherds and the other grandson looks exactly like one of the kings. He often reminds me that he is the only one that resembles a KING! (see above)
Our living room is decked out in everything Christmas. This is the primary showcase for my collection of animated figures (they are displayed in the windows all across the front of the house,) a couple of large trees, garland, my Santa collection, and so much more. We even have a Santa airplane that flies across the room and is a favorite with moms and teachers because he sings about kids being respectful, minding their manners and brushing their teeth. The guy people see in the Santa shirt is my husband. Those of you who attended PLUS2005 in Pigeon Forge might remember his hula dancing. You gotta love a guy who will do the hula to win his wife a wire frame from Lori’s Lighted D’Lites.
As people walk through the house there are motion activated music boxes, figures and even a five foot tall talking Grinch. One thing I can say about the Grinch; people either love him or hate him and there is no in-between with this guy. As for me, I love him. In fact, I think he’s probably the only animated figure I have that I didn’t wait until the after-Christmas sales to buy.

More indoor Christmas decorations
More indoor Christmas decorations

The last feature in the open house is our dining room. If I had to pick the favorite room for the visitors it would be this one. I’ve even had couples ask if they could hold their weddings there (without the table and chairs.) The dining room was my favorite last year when it was done in Santas and toys, but this year I just loved the white decorations in the forest green room. There’s an arch tree that fits perfectly over my buffet (see above.) Almost every ornament was purchased during our tour of duty in Germany. Clear crystal, blown glass and small dolls dressed in white surround my Dresden nativity, a gift from my mother while visiting us in Heidelberg. There are two smaller nativities that were a gift from a lady who just drove up to the house last year and started unloading Christmas items she no longer needed. I never caught her name. She simply said that when they were downsizing, she knew right where to bring the Christmas stuff. The shelf in the corner was made by my darling husband. It works great for just about anything you want to display on it. This year I chose to put a couple more nativities, two porcelain snowman sets, and some of my animated snowbabies on it to carry out the white, gold and silver theme for the room.

Still more indoor Christmas decorations
Still more indoor Christmas decorations

Remember me mentioning in the past how you don’t have to spend a fortune on garland? We use them in the dining room. Just the $4, nine foot sections from Wal-Mart with some white mini-lights, bigger specialty lights, a few picks, bow, some large clear class ornaments and my favorite gold blown-glass pine cones bought during the after-Christmas sales. All of the windows and doors in the house get some kind of garland treatment.

All-in-all we had six open houses where we just threw open the doors and let people walk into our home. We figure close to 6,000 people participated and that’s if I don’t count the people who walked in when we weren’t having an official open house. That happens especially if my family walks in because people assume the house is open and simply follow. Now we put signs on the door with the dates and hours of the open houses. I guess we’ve been doing it for 26 years so people expect it to be open all the time. It’s work but we meet so many wonderful people and receive so many nice comments in our guest book that none of us would have it any other way.

Now I’ve told you about our indoor display and open houses so I’d love to see some pictures and hear a little bit about yours. If you would like to have your indoor display included in the next indoor display article, send me a picture and a few comments on how it went. We don’t have a lot of space but would love to give you the opportunity to show off your work. Send them to Till next time. Marilyn

This article was included in the March 2010 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.

By Marilyn Caron

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