Decorating the home and yard for Christmas was a tradition for many years throughout the nation until the energy crunch in the mid-1970s darkened streets and neighborhoods.

Residents in Salt Lake County were among those affected by the energy crisis and it marked the end of the annual Deseret News Christmas Lighting Contest.With the crisis eased a little, the tradition resumes this year for the search of the most interesting outdoor decorations.

Sponsored in cooperation with Utah Power & Light Co. and Intermountain Electrical Association, the contest is open to individual homes as well as neighborhoods throughout the Salt Lake Valley and South Davis areas.

Judges, members of the Illuminating Engineering Society, will consider the overall design and placement of lights. "We're not looking for a place with the most lights but the quality of the way in which they are used," a judge explained.

A list of all homes and neighborhoods registered in the contest will be published exclusively in the Deseret News, and Utahns will be able to use the list as a guide to view the entries. Judging will be divided into several regions throughout Salt Lake County and north to Farmington in Davis County.

Regional winners in the home category will have their choice of a 19-inch color TV, VCR or microwave. The grand prize winner will be awarded a 25-inch color TV from Granite Furniture Co.

Each member of the winning neighborhood will receive plaques to recognize their cooperative efforts.

Registration forms will be published regularly in the Deseret News and also will be available at any Utah Power & Light Co. office in Salt Lake and Davis counties. Deadline for registration is noon Friday, Dec. 9, and lights must remain on between 6 and 11 p.m. Dec. 10 through 14 for judging. - Keith West