Christmas is in the air, as members of the Jay Educational Foundation prepare for this weekend's Holiday Homes Tour.
The event, which takes place as a fundraiser for the annual senior scholarships for Jay High School, is set for 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2.
Five spots are on this year's tour: the homes of Jean and Larry Bingham, Brian and Callee Lane, Judy Sturges and Chris and Jodi Waeckerle, as well as the retreat center Spring Valley Ranch.
Tickets are $10, and available at Grand Savings Bank and Arvest Bank in Jay. Tickets at the door - which has been moved to front entrance of Jay High School - will also be available on the night of the tour.
Participants are asked to come to the "check-in" at Jay High School in order to receive a map to the homes in exchange for their tickets. For those who do not wish to drive, shuttles will be available, between the locations.
Additionally, volunteers at the high school will have hot drinks and cookies available for tour guests. Christmas items will also be available.
Tickets will also be sold for a chance to win four passes to the Silver Dollar City Christmas Spectacular. Those tickets - available now from foundation volunteers and members of the 2018 senior class - are $5 each or five for $20. The drawing will take place at the end of the evening.
For Jodi Waeckerle, one of the organizers, the tour provides participants a chance to get into the spirit of the season - and find a few decorating ideas.
"I love Christmas lights and the coziness of Christmas, Waeckerle said. "Plus all of the money goes to the kids."
This is the first time since 2014 the tour has taken place. Waeckerle jokes she not only found enough stops for this year's tour, but also for next year's.
Waeckerle said the weather forecast for Saturday late afternoon, early evening looks favorable. She said while tickets remain available at the banks, past history indicates the biggest sales days come in the final days leading up to the event.
About the Homes
Chris and Jodi Waeckerle
Jodi Waeckerle describes her Christmas decor as "rustic."
"We have a log style home with a big open, cathedral living room," Waeckerle said. "Three floors will be decorated, including the living room, basement and the 10-foot wrap-around porch.
"Everything is lodge style, except for my daughter Rachel's room. She decorated in a beach theme."
Throughout the decorations, visitors will find an assortment of Waeckerle's collection of Santa Claus figurines, ranging from woodland themed Santas in her sunroom, to buffalo plad ones in the living room.
"I have quite a collection of Santas," Waeckerle said. "I try to get a new Santa and a new silver-based snow globe every year."
Jean and Larry Bingham
Jean Bingham laughs as she describes her Christmas decorations.
"Baby, I was country before country was cool," Bingham laughed. "Everything is country. I've got western ropes made into wreaths on both gateways, a tree in my barn door with a cowboy hat, wrapped in rope and bandanas, and lots of pine and cedar - all cut from my daughter's place or my neighbors.
"I'm just a country girl married to a country boy."
Bingham said she loves decorating for Christmas. She also loves finding ways to spend time with her family, as well as doing for others.
Initially she balked at being on the tour, saying she just decorates for fun rather than attention.
But tour organizers enlisted some help - they talked Bingham's daughter, Jay teacher Fawna Robertson, into twisting her mom's arm, using the scholarship fund as the key to her participation.
"I always decorate like a mad woman on the outside," Bingham said, adding that this year's decor includes an assortment of items on the ranch's barn.
Bingham knows several people - including Carter Rollman, are looking forward to when she turns on her lights. The young kindergartener even caught Robertson in a local store to find out when the lights would start.
She traditionally turns the Christmas lights on on Thanksgiving evening, but this year she decided to wait until the night of the homes tour - to add to the suspense.
She jokes her she and her daughters plan to have a test run on Thursday evening, just to make sure every light is in place.
Bingham said a majority of her decorations are handmade, with help this year coming from Robertson, as well as Jamie VanOver, Leah Eike and Samantha Robertson.
"There's nothing fancy, we made everything," Bingham said. "There's lots of cedar, pinecones and bows."
For Judy Sturgis, being on this year's Christmas tour gave her a chance to combine a lot of themes into her home.
While all of her decor features snowmen, every room is different - ranging from cheetah print in her living room, to a old-fashioned Christmas tree in the den.
One tree, a four-foot old fashioned tree, is in a copper pot placed on top of a Hoosier cabinet. It features items from her grandmother's collection including cookie cutters, a rolling pin and more.
Several areas in her home feature some non-traditional colors, including orange, blue, silver, teal and green.
Her office even features an old-fashioned pencil tree filled with a variety of toys.
She calls her decorations "farmhouse unique" saying there's something different in every nook or corner.
Bingham said she always wanted to be a spot on the homes tour - but did not volunteer until she moved into town.
A majority of her decorations are handmade. She was assisted by her daughter Marsha Moore and Chris Youngblood.
She hopes people walk away from her home, with a feeling of warmth and creativity. She hopes it inspires people to try new things with their decorations.
Callee and Brian Lane
As the mother of four, Callie Lane jokes that decorations come with the helpful hands of her 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds.
Every room in the home is decorated under a theme of "Classic Christmas" with a rustic twist.
Santas can be found throughout the home, with each room featuring a slightly different feel, with even the playroom decorated in an "elves gone while" theme.
The main focal point in the home - Lane's favorite spot - is the living area, hich features a decorated mantel and Christmas tree.
"I just feel like when you walk in and see it, it's just Christmas," Lane said. "It just screams family."
For the living room Christmas tree, Lane let her children be the creative force behind its decor.
"The kids touched all over it, and they hung all of the ornaments," Lane said. "It's definitely very personal.
"They helped with all of the trees, but with this one, I didn't move any of the ornaments."
She said each child's room has a different feel, with Hudson's room featuring a outdoors look, while Andlee, Charlee and Eilee's rooms are "definitely girly girl."
Ultimately, Lane said, the decor is designed to give her family a place to stop and share in Christmas.
"We [Callee and Brian] both come from large families," Lane said. "But for Christmas, everybody stops what they are doing and spends time together. Everybody makes time for Christmas."
Spring Valley Ranch
Spring Valley Ranch, owned by Sam and Stacy Jones, and managed by Michelle and Alfred Stevens is making a return visit to the homes tour.
The ranch, which is a Christian retreat center, includes the Timbers, which is a large gathering meeting space, the Meadows, an eight-bedroom hotel.
During the tour the Timbers will be featured, as well as other areas based upon weekend occupancy.
Michelle Stevens said Stacy Jones has created most of the decor, using a "warm, cozy, homey" feeling.
"Christmas at the ranch is so peaceful," Stevens said. "It's centered around family, God and bringing people together."
For Jones, the decor includes a lot of "lodge or country" touches, with mixtures of reds, golds and greens.
"It's a warm, inviting feeling," Jones said. "Like when you walk into someone's home."
Jones said her favorite piece on the ranch can be found in the Timbers - the decorated mantel.
"I love the tree, but I always love the mantel," Jones said. "We have a really big fireplace, with lots of greenery, picks, ribbons and Christmas balls."