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Deck the Homes

LED lights, candles are popular this season

December 13, 2009
By RODNEY MINOR, The Leader-Herald

The house at 21 Gregory St. in Gloversville is loaded with decorations. There are all sorts of inflatable figurines, not to mention lights galore.

For Bryan Crounse, it just wouldn't be right if he and his family did not decorate their home for the holidays. He knows other people enjoy looking at his well-decorated house as much as he and his family do. Many times drivers passing by have slowed down their vehicles and pointed at the house, he said.

"It's a wonder it hasn't caused an accident," he said with a laugh.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

A house on Gregory Street in Gloversville is shown Tuesday.

For Crounse and many other people, Christmas time means the home gets to be decked out in holiday cheer.

Ron Forshay, the consumables team leader at the Target store in Amsterdam, said the wire snowmen and deer have been big sellers so far this season.

For most people, he said, decorating the home for the holidays is all a part of feeling festive, and sharing it with others.

"They want to share that holiday spirit," he said.

Crounse said he and his wife have been decorating their house every Christmas since they moved there 16 years ago. They started with just some lights and a few decorations. Over time, they have added more and replaced the ones that had to be taken out of service. They now have a yard covered with decorations, including many inflatables.

Ed Mally, a manager at Ace Hardware in Gloversville, said he has not actually been able to get any inflatable lawn ornaments into the store this year. He has tried ordering them, but they never seem to be in stock.

What he has been selling a lot of are strands of Light-Emitting Diodes.

"[LEDS] use a lot less electricity than [incandescent] lights," he said.

Hooking up five strings or regular lights - with about 100 bulbs per string - uses about 210 watts of electricity. By using LED lights, a person can hook up 43 strings of lights that have about 70 lights per string for the same amount of electricity.

Mally said more people are also buying remote control systems that allow them to shut off their outdoor decorations while still inside.

Mally and Michael Boucher, a manager at Noble Ace Hardware in Johnstown, both said candles to place in windows are also selling well this year.

"People like the simplicity," Boucher said.

Craig Clark of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Fulton and Montgomery counties said he recommends people wash their hands after putting up lights.

Clark said studies done by Cornell have found lights tend to have lead on them. So it is important for everyone, especially, children, to wash their hands after they are done with them.

Clark also is a big supporter of LED lights.

"Hopefully, more people are replacing their screw-in light bulbs with [LEDs]," Clark said. "[LEDs] are way more energy efficient."

Going 'green'

Design experts say there are plenty of ways to bring the sparkle and style of the season into your home without increasing your carbon footprint.

Search outside, Atlanta-based interior designer Mallory Mathison said, for natural materials such as ''leaves, branches, cones of all types and berries.'' She creates holiday centerpieces by filling bowls or baskets with fresh fruits and vegetables. Try an assortment of crimson and golden pears, Mathison said, or go red and green with pomegranates and artichokes.

With pine cones, ''collect as many different types as possible. They need to be dry, so lay them out in the attic or garage.'' Try displaying them, she said, in large silver bowls, long trays or ''a big, funky pottery bowl.''

Designer Brian Patrick Flynn, of the TBS series ''Movie and a Makeover,'' said many vendors of live Christmas trees will offer cut branches for free. ''I like to turn those into my own wreath. If you Google 'basket weaving,' there are easy instructions online,'' he said. ''It's great for those people who love something organic, because your entire wreath is made up of real tree branches.''

If you're buying a live Christmas tree, consider one that can be replanted after the holidays. Some are available in pots, others have their roots tied up loosely in fabric.

''They're usually shorter than the cut variety because they have the root ball,'' Mathison said. ''So use a large clay or metal container to boost the tree up to your preferred height. Drape the container with fabulous fabric or wrap it in paper. If you have small children, let them decorate the paper with white snowflakes or hand prints.''

Another eco-conscious strategy: Look for a ''Charlie Brown Christmas tree,'' Flynn said, ''the tiny one nobody wants, all beat up and half dead.''

Rather than letting a tree like that go to waste, he suggests buying it and giving it new life.

''If I find a little, tiny blue spruce, with the top healthy, bottom dead, I turn it into a mini tree and play up the idea of the 'Charlie Brown Christmas' - sparse and chic,'' he said. ''Then dress it up with super graphic, vintage ornaments.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.



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