REMEMBER THE 1960s, when many homes and neighborhoods in the Salt Lake Valley were transformed into fantasy-, candy- and winter wonderlands? Remember when Fenway Avenue suddenly became Santa Lane and outdoor triptychs along Blaine Avenue told the story of Christmas?
Over the past year or two, interest in outdoor decorating and lighting has been picking up. This year, the Deseret News will help that revival by co-sponsoring, with Utah Power & Light Co. and Intermountain Electrical Association, the outdoor lighting/decorating contests it used to promote some 20 years ago.As homeowners, you can enter the contest. And with a little ingenuity, creativity - and luck - you might even make it to the winners' circle.
To help you combine the magic of light and creative outdoor decorations, here are a few tips that could turn an average decorating/lighting job into an award-winning one:
- First, focus on decorating.
Craig Carter of Pool Display & Fixture Co. says, "One of the first things is to establish a plan of decoration, then establish a budget to carry out the decoration plan. Ideas can be gleaned from newspapers, magazines, do-it-yourself books - or just walking through local shopping centers."
Why not start your search by looking through your garage, basement and/or shed. You might just uncover objects that could be used for decorations - old wooden wheelbarrows, sleighs, toboggans, etc. Then fill these objects with boxes covered with plastic wrapping.
Wood cutouts make an attractive addition. But keep the design simple - a scene of the Nativity, a Christmas train, or Santa and his reindeer. If you have saved a few Christmas cards over the years, take a look at them for additional ideas.
Decide on your cutouts and make preliminary drawings. When you are satisfied with the small sketches, draw them full size on newsprint paper and cut them out. (End rolls of newsprint can be picked up free at the Deseret News.) Transfer these outlines to plywood, cut with a saber saw, and coat with paint and sealer.
Relatively new on the market are flat objects such as angels, deer, gingerbread men, camels, trains and lighted nativity scenes.
Three-dimensional sculptures are eye-catching, but much more challenging to construct. Papier-mache objects must be heavy and weatherproofed to withstand the wind and moisture.
These 3-D objects can be purchased, but they are relatively expensive - in the neighborhood of $600 per unit.
If you are concerned about vandalism, place the decorations high enough so they cannot be reached - attached to rooftops or suspended from trees.
Wrap your mailbox post, pillars, etc., with vinyl or plastic ribbon that is weatherproofed, giving them a candy cane effect. When guests are about to arrive in the evenings, line homemade luminaries along your driveways and sidewalks.
Windows can also be painted with Christmas scenes. Draw objects on newsprint paper and tape to the outside of the window to guide you with your painting. Then, from inside the house, outline objects with black paint and fill in areas with colors. Use water-based paint for easy cleanup. Spotlight the window from outside so passersby at night can enjoy more than just silhouettes.
For exciting visual effects, you can make a stained glass window. Use a clear plastic backing, colored tissue paper and strips of black paper for the tracery. You can create an elaborate design by drawing the objects on black paper and cutting away areas with an X-acto knife or scissors. Once the stained glass window is complete and in place, it will brighten up the interior of the home during the day, and add color and excitement to the exterior at night.
Carter points out that "home decorations have a chance to be seen twice - once in the daylight and the other at night. You or your decorator will have the option of decorating for day or night, but preferably both."
Day-only materials should emphasize color and form. But night calls for lighting.
- So, second, focus on lighting.
You can tape strands of light around window frames inside the home. Or you can nail them to the outside of the window frames.
When stringing lights outside, use only lighting equipment designed for outdoor use. And consider the cost. Stringing three sets of miniature lights (23 watts each) and using them four hours a night for a month will cost about .69 cents. However, three sets of the larger C.7 outdoor bulbs will cost $5.29 for the same period of time.
"There are many ways to install lights in trees," Carter said. "Normally lights on a deciduous tree are strung through the tree to give it a pleasing effect. On large evergreen trees, the lighting can be wrapped around the unit, top to bottom, or can be run vertically up and down the tree. On larger evergreens, the homeowner may need to secure mechanical means, such as a cherry picker, to reach the higher portions of the trees."
If there is no available tree, invent one. Attach long strands of garlands and lights to one end of a long pole and stick the other end in the ground. Then form a large circle with the other ends of the garlands and lights, attach to pegs, turn on the lights - and you've got an attractive "Christmas tree."
Only one floodlight is needed for flat figures. But when 3-D figures are used, two or more spots are much more effective.
Well-lighted decorations, twinkling bulbs and dancing reflections will contribute to an attractive display as well as add special magic to the exterior of your home and neighborhood during the holiday season.
So get moving! Don't keep all that holiday joy and festivity locked up inside your house. Share them with others by letting them spill outside through use of attractive decorations and innovative lighting.