Why not take a break Dec. 5 from your Christmas gift buying chores and soak up some of the ambiance of the holiday decorations instead.
More specifically, peak inside some grand homes around the Tri-Cities that are featured in the annual Christmas Home Tour, which is a fundraising event sponsored by the Dr. L.G. Spaulding Guild. Money generated from ticket sales goes to the uncompensated care of children at the Seattle Children's Hospital
There are seven houses on the tour this year, which is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $15.
Diane Wicks' Kennewick home is on the tour. And though it might be lavishly decorated, Wicks kept her spending to a minimum, she said.
"You would be surprised how much money you can save decorating for the holidays just using what's in your backyard, like pine cones," she said.
Wicks, who's been a decorator for many years, did purchase a few extra artificial prelit trees for her home this year because of the tour, but most of her home will be adorned with ornaments and accent pieces of things she already had from years past. "I think I spent less than $500 on decorations this year," Wicks said. "You really don't have to spend a lot of money to give your house a festive atmosphere."
How you do that, she added, is to rearrange your color schemes and draw on the creative side of your brain capitalizing on ingenuity and a whole lot of whimsy. Rustic and glitzy are a must, she said. Glittery sprays here, sparkly ornaments there and lots of garlands with multicolored lights.
Wicks tried to bring a different theme to each of the rooms in her home. The dining room was nature inspired to go along with the dining chairs with bird carvings on the backs. The grandkids' playroom employs a nautical theme -- a tribute to her retired Navy submarine commander husband, who now works for the Department of Energy at Hanford.
Even the home's bathrooms have holiday accents with tiny frames found at garage sales, that spell out JOY on the counter and vivid red and orange Christmas balls in a basket.
One of the guest rooms has a Hawaiian theme. The tree is dressed with all the memorabilia from the years Wicks and her husband were stationed in Hawaii. The tree even has some vintage postcards from the tropical isle.
In essence, as you stroll through the Wicks' holiday-decorated home there's no doubt you'll get a flavor of the people who live there, which could be said for most of the homes featured on the tour.
"We have much to be thankful for this holiday season," said Chris Grantham, co-chairwoman of the event. "Without the people's generosity and willingness to open their homes this tour would not be possible."
Brochures act as the ticket for the tour and include directions to each home. The guild recommends starting the tour at Beaver Bark in Richland.
◗ Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org