When holiday-decor moguls begin to pound their chests, their less-adventurous, or not quite as motivated (for better or worse), neighbors, often sigh reluctantly and hit the hardware store.
How to keep the Joneses ogling, no matter where you stand on the decorating spectrum?
A few area experts offered their advice for decorating on a budget to create polished, complete-looking yard displays.
Alina Morrison of the Dorrancetown Townhomes in Kingston said she gets compliments all the time for her display.
A single planter with tall, white painted branches smothered with white lights sits on her small front porch.
A designer who grew up in Cuba, Morrison said she wanted to do something different and beautiful this year.
I had no idea it was going to be this successful. … You have no idea how people have been calling, she said.
With the help of a neighbor, Morrison said, she took branches she had collected from outside, painted them white and stuck them in the planter.
You really don't need a lot of money to do this stuff, she said.
Janet Flack, an interior designer who owns a firm in Wyoming, said when she begins a consultation, she starts with three questions: What is the client looking to accomplish? What is the space like? What kinds of decor do they already have?
You'd be surprised with what people already have in storage, Flack said.
The key for a decorator, she said, is before buying anything or dusting off bins full of lights from the attic, he or she must account for the architecture and color of the space.
Each space is different. … For each space, there's about 20 different ways (to decorate), she said. You have to look at the façade and design it with the same concepts as painting a painting.
To use color in a display, Flack recommends starting with what already exists in the space – colored shutters, for example, or a porch railing.
Lisa Benkowski, co-owner of The Flower Warehouse in Forty Fort, said sticking to a small color palette is best.
Multi-colored lights… I've never been a big fan of those, Benkowski said.
She said a traditional two-tone red-and-green combination offers a classic look, but persisting with a single color really stands out.
Nothing but all-white branches looks great, she said, confirming Morrison's technique, and accenting with white lights only strengthens the theme.
Flack said you can almost never go wrong with white LED lights. They are fairly inexpensive, last much longer than traditional lighting and look great.
Mike Danko, a self-employed private contractor from Wyoming, spread out a little further than Morrison but kept his display confined to his front porch and flower beds.
It's my wife's and my opinion that small is classy, Danko said.
Illuminated stars hang from the porch, and glowing red candy canes stick out from the flower beds, a display much different from Morrison's. But the Dankos had tucked the whole thing neatly into a single part of the house.
They left dark the garage, the front yard and other windows so the passerby's attention is drawn straight to the display, an effect he said was like the Macy's department-store windows: compact yet complete.
A few tips from the pros:
• Pick a single feature in the architecture or landscape.
• Be consistent with color.
• Scour your basement for decorations you already have. There may be things down there that will inspire.
• Look at the big picture. Ask, how does your display fit in with the rest of your house?