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When the holidays arrive, some homeowners like to put up a few lights. And some homeowners, well, they go a step further. With new electronics and computer software, it’s easy to turn a holiday mood into a neon-lit spectacular. Meet three families who can show you how to set a jolly mood.

CLICK TO ENLARGE Scottsdale Spirit Chris Birkett’s first home to decorate was his grandmother’s, which he did when he was 12. Twenty-seven years later, his own Winter Wonderland — which includes snow machines in the Arizona heat — draws admirers from around the country.

Did You Know?

31 MILES Length of light strings used by the world record-holder for holiday lights. That’s 502,165 bulbs on one house.

Wow Factor: “I’ve built a suspension bridge that looks ‘down’ into a Christmas diamond mine — lights create the illusion that it’s deeper than a five-foot hole. And the backyard is ‘The Island of Misfit Toys,’ with foam icebergs floating in our pool.”

Holiday tip: “Simple is classier,” says Chris. “I own 400,000 lights, but only use about 150,000 to outline the different displays. That way you see the shapes, not a ball of bulbs.”

CLICK TO ENLARGE Louisiana Toyland Jackie and Walter Monkhouse have been turning up the dazzle in Alexandria, Louisiana, for 20 years. Their Magic Christmas display includes approximately five miles of wire to connect the 250,000 bulbs. “Walter designed and built the train set that rides around the animated display in the backyard — the younger people love that,” says Jackie.

Wow Factor: “On two big oak trees, we hang about 30 classic toys from the 1920s to the ’50s that we’ve outlined in rope lights. We’re always looking to add to the collection.”

Holiday tip: “Know your property and what would look best on the space you have. Start small and learn as you go, adding a few new elements year by year.”

Tip
Test out the safest ways to decorate your home with the Allstate Holiday Decorator.

CLICK TO ENLARGE Ho, Ho, Ho from Holland, New York Since their first holiday together in 1977, Dr. Greg Young and his wife, Diane, have made holiday decorations a part of their partnership. They call it Holland’s Holiday Lights, featured on their website, youngschristmas.com. “I’m inspired by watching the reactions of the children visiting our display,” says Greg. “Their reactions guide me in designing the different elements of our display.”

Wow Factor: “Kids get the biggest kick out of our ‘hosts,’ Ricky the Reindeer and Sammy the Snowman,” says Greg. “They’re talking figures that I’ve programmed to welcome guests and announce the songs that will play.”

Holiday tip: “Go with ‘full wave’ LEDs. They’re energy efficient, many strings can be plugged together safely, and the colors don’t fade.”